If it’s your birthday today you share it with one of the most successful nameplates in the world of motoring as the VW Golf turns 45 on March 29.

Click here to read about a recently launched high-performance VW Golf GTI.

A top seller

When the little hatchback was launched in 1974, it was conceived as a replacement to the much-loved VW Beetle. At the time of introduction, few would have guessed that the model would span seven generations and sell in excess of 35 million units worldwide.

As VW’s press blurb states: “In purely mathematical terms, a new Golf has been ordered somewhere in the world every 41 seconds, every day, without interruption, since the start of production 45 years ago. That is an average of around 780 000 vehicles per year.”


The very first VW Golf rolled off the production line on this day in 1974, but the car went on sale in showrooms a few weeks later in July.

The earliest Golf was available in 2-door and 4-door body styles. Buyers could choose between a 1,1-litre four-cylinder that developed 37 kW or a 1,5-litre four-pot that produced 51 kW; both were petrol units. In typical Golf-fashion the engines were transversely mounted and drove the front wheels.

In their own words

Ralf Brandstätter, COO of Volkswagen: “The Golf is at the very heart of our brand. It stands for progress and technology like no other car. For example, the Golf made safety technology affordable for millions of people for the first time. Thanks to this, it made its mark on an entire generation. For seven generations, the Golf has made a contribution to the development of Volkswagen as a brand and as a group – into one of the most important automotive producers in the world.”

Dr Stefan Loth, plant manager at Volkswagen in Wolfsburg: “In 1974, our employees were facing the challenge of switching from the Beetle to the Golf. Since then, we have consistently continued to develop our main plant and today, in addition to the Golf, we produce the e-Golf, the Golf GTE, the Golf Sportsvan, and three additional models here in Wolfsburg.”