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  Volkswagen Golf Mk1  

Volkswagen began producing prototypes of possible Beetle replacements as far back as the early 1950s, and may have received design proposals from Porsche earlier than that. This process continued without a viable replacement for more than 20 years. In 1971 the United States' government ended international convertibility of the US dollar to gold in what is termed the Nixon shock. One outcome of this was that the Deutsche Mark rose 40% against the US dollar in 1971. This, combined with a 10% import duty on cars entering the US, caused Beetle sales to plummet in what had become a critical market for Volkswagen. In 1972 Opel's share of the German market rose to 20.4%, making them Germany's largest automobile manufacturer and overtaking Volkswagen in their domestic market.

In 1972 the Center for Auto Safety published "Small—on safety: the designed-in dangers of the Volkswagen", which examined the safety deficiencies of the Beetle just as Ralph Nader's earlier book Unsafe at Any Speed had done for the Chevrolet Corvair. All of these factors combined to result in Volkswagen posting a DM807,000,000 loss in 1974. In the same year Volkswagen of America alone posted a DM200,000,000 loss.

Rudolf Leiding replaced Kurt Lotz as Managing Director of Volkswagen from 1971 to 1975. Commenting on the situation at Volkswagen as he found it, Leiding said: "The global situation for VW was more critical than we had once thought – to put it simply, we were dealing with the survival of a giant group, which employed more than 220,000 people worldwide ..."

In 1969 Lotz and Italian Volkswagen importer Gerhard R. Gumpert visited the Turin Auto Show. After selecting their six favourite cars at the show, they discovered that four of the six were designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro and his Italdesign studio. Giugiaro was invited to Wolfsburg in January 1970 to work on development project EA337. Giugiaro produced a design that reflected his signature folded-paper style, emphasizing sharp corners and flat planes. Giugiaro would come to consider it the most important design of his career. During development, candidates for the name of the new car included Blizzard and Caribe, but these lost out to the final choice of Golf.

Production started in March 1974, and sales officially began in May 1974, it was replaced by the Mk2 in 1983, with Mk1 production continuing around the world until the last cars were produced in South Africa in 2009, during this time 6.8 million units were produced.

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Last Edit: 07/01/2023   Page Added 31/12/2022