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Classic of the Month

Volkswagen Golf GTI

Forty-fifth anniversary

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Two years prior to the market launch in 1976, the plan was developed to realise a "sports Golf", and to thereby establish an entirely new class of vehicle – that of the sporty compact car: with a 1.6 litre 110PS four-cylinder engine and a kerb weight of a mere 860 kilograms, the GTI achieved a top speed of 183km/h.

Thanks to its combination of affordability – with prices starting from the then relatively low entry level of 13,850 Deutschmarks – and performance, it became a bestseller. The classic's characteristic features were a gear shift knob that looked like a golf ball, seats upholstered in a checked fabric, a three-spoke sports steering wheel and a red trim around the front grille.

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The Golf GTI – a success story

The Golf I GTI was unveiled at the 1975 International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt. From 1982 onwards, the sporty compact car was also available as a hatchback and with a 1.8 litre four-cylinder engine with 112PS. The initially planned production run of 5,000 vehicles grew into a staggering 461,690 first series Golf GTIs over the seven years of its manufacture, elevating the powerful compact car to the status of an icon that laid the foundations for the GTI success story. Forty-five years later, the eight generation of this compact car is still available for sale.

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A performance icon with a unique character.

• Along with seats upholstered in a checked fabric, the golf ball look gear shift knob is one of the Volkswagen Golf GTI's defining characteristics. (Photos: Autostadt)

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Look forward to more Classics of the Month: Learn exciting details about popular and less popular milestone models. Some of the anniversaries of the vehicles in our collection will surprise you.

The ZeitHaus multi-brand car museum is one of the world's leading automotive museums and part of the Autostadt in Wolfsburg. Its collection comprises around 260 vehicles by more than 60 manufacturers.