The cult of the modified Golf has blossomed and evolved since its inception in 1974. Volkswagen’s ubiquitous hatchback is such a common entity that it’s become a part of the furniture of modern living, like a Billy bookcase or a branch of Starbucks.

It’s just one of those things that’s everywhere. But 1974 was a very different place to the world of today, and the launch of the Golf was a staggering departure from what people thought they knew about the VW brand; replacing the aircooled, rear engined, rear wheel-drive Beetle with a crisply angular hatchback that featured a front-mounted, watercooled engine and front wheel-drive was a frankly astounding manoeuvre.

And when the GTI concept was announced at the 1975 Frankfurt Motor Show, all bets were off. This was a new era of performance city cars. While the Golf GTI wasn’t technically the fi rst hot hatch, many would argue that it’s the best.

Over its various generational shifts, the Golf has passed from lightweight baby through to muscular runabout, lardy nineties plaything, turn-of-the-millennium chic, next-level uberhatch and beyond, but one thing’s remained constant throughout: it’s always responded very well to modifying.

And there’s always been a huge scene around them too, with endless hordes of tuners keen to eke out the very best from this robust and malleable platform.

Here we’ve got a pair of Golfs which neatly bookend the model’s story thus far – a retro Mk1 and a boxfresh Mk7. Of course, being Fast Car, we had to bring you cars with a bit of a twist, so the Mk1 is like no other first-gen you will have seen, while the Mk7 seems to think it’s some kind of supercar. See the images and you’ll see what we mean…

Want to see more? Check out the full feature in Fast Car magazine issue 400 on sale now in all good shops, the Fast Car online shop or alternatively download Fast Car magazine 400 now.