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- VW Golf, GOLF MK.I
The first Golf began production in 1974. Marketed in the United States and Canada from 1975 to 1984 as the Volkswagen Rabbit, it featured the water-cooled, front wheel drive design pioneered by the Citroën Traction Avant in 1934 with the addition of a hatchback pioneered by the Renault 4 in 1961. The Golf was Wheels magazine's Car of the Year for 1975.
While the Golf was not the first design with this layout (earlier examples being the Austin and Morris Mini of 1959, the Austin Maxi in the late 1960s and the Fiat 128 3P of the early 1970s), it was very successful, especially since it married these features with Volkswagen's reputation for solid build-quality and reliable engineering.
In 1978, Volkswagen commenced producing the Rabbit version of the Mk1 Golf in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, thus becoming the first European car manufacturer in modern times to produce a vehicle in the United States.
The GTI version, launched in Europe in 1976 and in the US in 1983, virtually created the hot hatch genre overnight, and many other manufacturers since have created special sports models of their regular volume selling small hatchbacks. It was one of the first small cars to adopt fuel injection for its sports version, which raised power output of the 1588 cc engine to 110 PS (81 kW/108 hp).
There was a minor facelift in 1980 for North American versions only, which saw the adoption of larger rear lamp clusters (more in line with Guigiaro's original concepts), larger bumpers, square headlights and a new dashboard with a more modern-looking instrument display.
The convertible version, named the Cabriolet, was sold from 1980 to 1993 (a convertible version of the Golf II was not made.. It had a reinforced body, transverse roll bar, and a high level of trim. The A1 Volkswagen convertible is of unibody construction built entirely at the factory of Karmann, from stamping to final assembly; Volkswagen supplied the engine, suspension, interior, etc. for Karmann to install. The vinyl tops were insulated and manually operated, with a glass rear window.