VW Golf I
comparing the origin of the Golf I with a forceps delivery is still understating the actual process. History obviously is repetitive, even for world champions of the car production. After Ford had sold in 1927 its 15 millionth Tin Lizzy, the factory was completely closed down for 7 months because Ford had failed to develop a succession model in time. This is comparable to the succession of the Beetle, produced in even more copies. The originally intended model with rear engine under the back bench has been stopped in a relatively late phase by the new chairperson Rudolf Leidig. His strategy is to switch to Audi technology.
A successor for the outdated Beetle is urgently needed. Especially English and French competitors produce successfully cars with compact front-wheel drives, transversely mounted engines and large tailgates. Audi introduces the Audi 50 in 1974. Technically, the Golf 1 is featuring just few new developments. Thus, e.g., the rear axle is brilliantly easy and, nevertheless, astonishingly effective. Interesting is also the diagonal division of the brake in combination with the negative steering offset. Otherwise the technology is standard to a large extent.
The body, however, is like a work of art; it becomes more beautiful over the years. If it had been developed approx. 50 years earlier, it could have been assigned to the famous Bauhaus style. The form is simple, straight-lined and without flourish, only the most necessary of geometrical tricks. Such a body is most often developed during difficult times. Once the company is back on track, courage and creativity are gone.
Further elements of this car are its favorable ratio of outside to inside measurements and its low weight. The first copies are just on the market, when first considerations for tuning are started. Every single kW of engine power makes its contribution to gain a speedy acceleration. Unfortunately, because the aerodynamics of the car is not optimal, this does not hold true for the maximum speed. The fuel consumption is moderate, though, thanks to the lightweight construction, reducing the weight even more by just having a maximum of 40 litres in the tank. A big disadvantage of the first models, however, is their rust friendliness. This is due to the hurried development and the limited use of car body metal sheets. Today, therefore, models from before 1976 are extremely rare.
In spite of compact outside measurements the Golf comprises of a relatively large engine compartment. This space is needed, because the Golf can be ordered with two clearly different engines, one bent towards the back and the other bent forwards. The latter is of course lighter and should load the front axle in such a way that with quick initial drive the wheels do not spin too quickly. This engine is later on enlarged to 1.6 litres of cubic capacity. However, for now it has a capacity of 1.1 litres. It is definitely the more modern one of the two possible engines, which needs no additional shaft besides the crankshaft and camshaft for the drive of the oil pump or distributor. The coolant pump is driven directly by the timing belt. Because it also works as a belt tension adjuster, leakages are common when adjusting the timing belt, unfortunately.
The backwards inclined engine has more capacity, originally a development from Audi from the time when the factory still belonged to Daimler-Benz. It disposes of a third, longitudinally arranged shaft by which the oil pump and the distributor and for the diesel engine the vacuum pump for the brake booster are driven. The coolant pump has its own belt drive. In spite of its age the engine will be used in various variations throughout the company.
The first Golf diesel is sensational. To date diesel engines in this performance range have approx. 2 litres of cubic capacity, their own, stable engine casing with a corresponding weight. The Golf diesel on the other hand is almost identical in design with the petrol-driven Golf, just the cylinder head is different, and there are several amplifications and the starting torqueses of the fixing bolts are different, too. With this engine the Golf is way ahead of its somewhat phlegmatic diesel competitors in terms of acceleration, in spite that they are most often equipped with much more cubic capacity. The engine is not particularly soundproof, though. The mileage standard for diesel passenger cars is around 10 litres / 100 km, but this Golf Diesel may even fall below 5-litre.
Successor: Golf II
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