Mk1 Golf GTI - First and Finest of the Hot Hatches

by Christopher Santos.

In every decade, a great car is launched. In the 1970s, it was Volkswagen's Mk1 Golf. This was the modern front-wheel drive replacement for the hugely successful Beetle and when launched became an instant hit. But Volkswagen were not going to rest on their laurels for they were about to create one of the most influential cars in motoring history. 

The Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk1 has become a much imitated icon. Released for sale in 1976, it was the world's first proper hot hatch, defining what was to become an all important motoring genre. Such was the desirability of the Mk1 Golf GTI it effectively killed off the affordable sports car market for almost a decade. Throughout the passing decades and evolutions, VW's benchmark sporting hatchback has remained the class leader, and the accomplished models of today still bear the genes of its revered ancestor. 

Mk1 Golf GTI Campaign (1983)

The words Volkswagen and GTI have long been associated with the Golf. In recent years, however, VW has tried to replicate the magic by adding more models to the GTI family. But for many, the initials "GTI" will remain synonymous with the Mk1 Golf. In this new Millennium, classic car enthusiasts are beginning to appreciate how much the original Golf GTI contributed to the motoring scene we have today. It is because of this that many experts are predicting a dramatic rise in value and desirability of these models during the next decade.  




Cars relating to the 1980s will soon become very sought after and none more so than the Golf GTI Mk1. It is also encouraging to see the original Golf GTI is now included in many respected hard-back classic car books and its participation in such publications, along with other well established marques, can only raise the profile of this iconic car even further.

Pristine examples of the Mk1 Golf GTI are now regular participants at the established Volkswagen shows put on throughout the year.

This website celebrates more than 30 years of enthusiastic ownership. Back in September 1983, I was one of the lucky few who took delivery of a brand new Mk1 Golf GTI Campaign.

Today,  I have one of the first factory UK RHD examples that were available for sale during a brief period in the Summer of 1979, and thanks to some fortuitous circumstances, the same Mars red 1983 Golf GTI Campaign I had from new more than 30 years ago.


Various motoring publications have suggested that my 1979 Golf GTI may be one of the finest early RHD examples remaining in the UK. This car has featured in an official Volkswagen press advert - as well as many VW magazines and classic car books.

Mk1 Golf GTI (1979)

I also find myself in the unique position of owning my 1983 Golf GTI Campaign for the second time in its life. After owning it from new in 1983, I subsequently sold it in 1986. 15 years later I bought it back again. This car was featured in Autocar magazine's Golf GTI supplement that celebrated 25 years of the marque - it has also been featured in other magazines including Volkswagen Driver.

20 years on from restoration - 1979 GTI underside remains free from road grime.

Photographs of these cars have also been used in the official Volkswagen Mk1 Golf classic parts catalogue (VW Heritage.) This website was also shown (briefly) on the Discovery Channel programme, 'Wheeler Dealers.'

This site features the professional restorations of my 1979 and 1983 Golf GTI - together with other archive information on the Mk1 Volkswagen Golf GTI.


The Mk1 Golf GTI -  still a great drive.


Spare time fun.



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