A bunch of engineers at VW’s HQ in Wolfsburg can lay claim that they created the world’s first ever hot hatch back in 1976. Feeling that the newly launched Golf’s chassis could handle a bit more punch, they set about squeezing a 1.6-litre lump under the bonnet, toughening up the suspension and slipping some well bolstered seats into the interior. The basis for our scene was born with the Mk.1 Golf GTi.
Over the next six generations of evolution, more than 26 million Golfs have been churned out, and a fair proportion of them have been modified to chuff. The Golf is not just ‘another modded motor’; it has created its own scene within a scene. Whatever mods you can imagine in your wildest, drunken dreams, you can bet that somebody in the world has already tried ’em on a Golf, but a big part of this car’s appeal is to try fresh things and be the first with an all important killer twist.
While tidy Mk.1s and Mk.2s are already nearing classic status, Mk.3s have never been more affordable and Mk.4s and Mk.5s are just beggin’ to be transformed.
If there is one motor that you have to get your stance sorted on it’s the Golf. Whether you’re going for tuck, poke or just trying to fill up every last ounce of your arch, you just have to get your hatch sitting pretty.
Now you’re more likely to have the opportunity to french kiss the Queen than find a wheel that hasn’t already been fitted to a Golf, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have fun looking. Splitties, Porsche, retro, banded steelies, Yanks and even space savers have all been seen before, so look to colour and detail for your choice of hoop to make it stand out a treat.
The interior of any Golf is a solid black chunk of German sturdiness, and it’s entirely up to you where you decide to take things. As always, any form of modification is a purely personal matter, and this is never more true than when it comes to this legendary hatch.
Rulebooks just don’t exist with the Golf, and over the years we’ve seen everything from 100 percent stock innards to wicker door cards and carbon buckets – there are no limits! As a very rough guide the OEM+ look is always a winner with plenty of leather getting involved, and you can look to the Euro-style cars for a real touch of class.
While in some cars it’s almost essential to have the most powerful, sweetly tuned engine possible lurking in your bay, the Golf takes a rather more relaxed approach to things. In fact it’s entirely possible to have a sweetly styled yet insurance-friendly Mk.3 1.4 grab more scene points than a 300bhp Mk.5 GTi – while of course it can deliver a load of fun, power isn’t the big issue with any VeeDub, really.
If you do like a fuckin’ big kick when you nail the loud pedal into the bulkhead, then the world’s your lobster as everything seemingly fits under a Golf’s bonnet. The gorgeous sounding VR6 and infinitely tunable 1.8T 20-valve lumps are the pick of the bunch for most people.
I’m gonna make an admission here – I was never the biggest Golf fan when I was a nipper as I always thought there were more stunning cars out on the block. However, like a good pair o’ tits and a tight ass, the classic style of the Golf means it just keeps getting better the longer you look at it.
Take a gander at any VeeDub meet and you’ll quickly see that a retro chic Mk.1 can easily line up against an ultra smooth Mk.5 and both will receive and equal amount of nods of approval from showgoers. Styling a Golf is all about finding that last dose of originality, whether that’s in the form of a dead tidy paintjob or an ultra sweet sticker – it’s all in the details.
FIRST PROJECT MK.3 GTI 8-VALVE
Engine: 1984cc; 115bhp
Max speed: 123mph
Price range: £300-£1800
PERFECT PROJECT MK.4 1.8T GTI
Engine: 1781cc; 150bhp
Max speed: 134mph
Insurance group: 14
Price range: £1500-£7000
ULTIMATE PROJECT MK.5 GTI
Engine: 1984cc; 197bhp
Max speed: 146mph
Insurance group: 17
Price range: £7000-£16,000
An all-time legend and generally regarded as the hot hatch that started it all, the Golf has been around longer than our G and it’ll probably be around long after he’s gone (nice – Initial G). It’s pretty hard to sum up 40-odd years in a word but when it comes to awesome build quality and no-nonsense style, I’d go for ‘Germanic.’ Sounds like a Golf, eh?