Golf V Part VII: Golf Chronology

Below is a chronologic listing of the last four generations of Golf’s (A1-A4 generations)….

The first generation (1974
until 1983):

The Golf generation I was launched in 1974 and is still available
today, albeit extensively optimised, as an economically priced entry-level
model in South Africa parallel to the current model range. Number produced
so far: 6.8 million units.

1974: Debut of the first Golf
1976: 500,000th Golf in March

1,000,000th Golf in October

First Golf GTI

First Golf with diesel engine

1978: 2,000,000th Golf in June

Debut of the US version Rabbit in July

1979: 3,000,000th Golf in September

First Golf cabriolet

Debut of the Caddy delivery van


1982:  5,000,000th Golf in February

First Golf with turbodiesel engine (GTD)

1983:   phase-out of the first generation in Western Europe after
the production of 6,780,050 units

The second generation (1983
until 1991)

The Golf generation II followed in 1983. 6.3 million units
of this generation were produced in ten years – on average approximately
630,000 units per year.

1983: Debut of the second Golf
1984: First Golf with closed-loop catalytic converter

Debut of the second Golf GTI

1985: 7,000,000th Golf in March
1986: First Golf (GTI) with 4-valve petrol engine

First Golf syncro with visco coupling (four-wheel drive)

Golf syncro starting August – the first Golf with ABS

1987:  ABS available for all GT and GTI models

Closed-loop catalytic converter also available for smaller engines


Golf GT syncro becomes first model with ABS standard

1988:  Debut of the Rallye Golf G60

Debut of the Golf Limited G60

10,000,000th Golf in June

1989:  11,000,000th Golf in October

Debut of the Golf City Stromer and Golf Hybrid

1990:   all Golf petrol models available with closed-loop catalytic
converter from February

Debut of the Golf Country

1,000,000th Golf GTI in November

12,000,000th Golf in November

1991: First Golf from the Mosel plant near Zwickau in March

Phase-out of the second generation in Western Europe after

the production of 6,301,000 units

The third generation
(1991 until 1997)

The Golf generation III, of which 4.8 million units were built, was
presented to its core markets in 1991. In the nine year period up until
and including 1999 (initially, it was produced in parallel with the
Golf generation IV), this Golf was – again, statistically – sold to
over 530,000 customers per year.

1991:  Debut
of the third Golf

First Golf diesel with oxidation catalytic converter

First Golf with six-cylinder engine (VR6); simultaneously

the first model in the lower mid-range with six-cylinder

1992:  13,000,000th
Golf in February

Driver and front passenger airbag available from August

1993:  First
Golf with turbodiesel direct injection (TDI) engine

Debut of the second Golf cabriolet

First Golf Variant

Debut of the second Golf syncro

14,000,000th Golf in March

1994: 15,000,000th
Golf in May
1995: First
Golf with naturally aspirated diesel direct injection (SDI) engine
1996:   20th
anniversary of the Golf GTI / anniversary model of the Golf GTI

First Golf GTI with turbodiesel engine

All Golf models available with ABS standard from September

Introduction of optional side airbags

17,000,000th Golf in November

1997: phase-out
of the third generation in Western Europe after production of 4,805,900

The fourth
generation (1997 until 2003)

The Golf generation IV debuted in 1997. Over the last seven years
until 2003, 4.3 million units of the bestseller were produced and,
on average, approximately 614,000 units were sold per year.

1997:  Debut
of the fourth Golf with fully galvanised body

First Golf with five-cylinder engine (V5)

1998:  Debut
of the new Golf Cabriolet

First Golf 4MOTION with Haldex viscous coupling

Introduction of optional ESP

1999:   Second
Golf Variant

First TDI engines with pump-injector unit technology in the Golf

First Golf 4MOTION V6 with six-speed gearbox

25th anniversary of the Golf / anniversary model Golf Generation

19,000,000th Golf in June

ESP becomes standard equipment in Germany

2000:   new
TDI engines with 74 kW / 100 bhp and 110 kW / 150 bhp

V5 with four valves per cylinder now develops 125 kW / 170 bhp

20,000,000th Golf

2001: more
powerful 1.9 TDI with 96 kW / 130 bhp replaces the 85 kW TDI

1.9 TDI with 74 kW /100 bhp meets Euro4 emission standard

Golf GTI 132 kW as special edition marking the 25th anniversary of the
Golf GTI


Golf with petrol direct injection (FSI with 81 kW)

Golf GTI now standard with 132 kW / 180 bhp

In addition to the front and side airbags, the head airbags are
included in the standard equipment

Production of the Golf overtakes the Beetle, at 21,517,415 units of
the most-produced Volkswagen model

Debut of the Golf R32, the most powerful Golf ever with 177 kW / 241


The Golf
is offered in seven trim versions 

(Golf, Trendline, Comfortline, Highline, GTI, V6, R32)

and with 14 engine variants

Debut of the direct shift gearbox DSG® in the Golf R32

End of year: phase-out of the fourth generation after sales of more
than 4.3 million units

End of August 2003: world premiere of the fifth Golf generation

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For more photos of the car in this story, click on the link to our gallery at the right.