• Nov 4th 2009 at 10:20AM
  • 35
Volkswagen CitiGolf – Click above for high-res image gallery

The original Volkswagen Golf Mk1 arrived as a replacement to the Volkswagen Beetle way back in 1974. Sold in the States as the Volkswagen Rabbit, the early front-wheel-drive hatchback had a transverse-mounted (water-cooled) 1.5-liter four-cylinder rated at just 70 horsepower. It was good for a 93 mph top speed and nearly 38 miles per gallon. While the standard Rabbit was rather ho-hum, the late-to-arrive Mk1 "GTI" ushered in the hot-hatch movement with its 90-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder, slick manual transmission, and upgraded suspension. It was a seriously cool car.

In 1984, Volkswagen introduced the Golf Mk2. As the successor was bigger, wider, and more expensive than the original – and customers may have been turned-off by the "improvements" – VW chose to continue the Mk1 production and sell it as the low-cost Econo Golf, or CitiGolf.

Over the past 25 years, more than 500,000 units of the venerable Mk1 have rolled out of a South African assembly plant for sale in markets abroad. Variants have been fitted with a wide range of engine choices (both gasoline and diesel), from 1.1-liters up to 1.8-liters of displacement. Transmissions have included 4- and 5-speed manuals, plus the (obviously outdated) 3-speed automatic. Lacking nearly all of today's necessary safety equipment (a driver's airbag was eventually fitted), time finally caught up with the CitiGolf this summer and the South African plant was closed in late August.

Interesting side note: the tooling used to build the CitiGolf all these years in South Africa was reportedly originally used to make the Rabbit at Volkswagen's Westmoreland plant in Pennsylvania. Thanks for the tip, Doug!

[Source: in4ride]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      When I lived in Pittsburgh I remember the old timers telling a story about VW having a plant near there. The Germans and the union never got along and to show the Germans who was boss the auto workers screwed with the cars on the production line. The costs to repair what they did became so high that the company told the union that if quality didn't improve they would close the plant. It didn't they did.
      Always wondered where all that equipment went to.
      To bad a bunch of knot heads put 25 years of manfacturing work in South Africa when it could have put Americans to work instead. Go Figgure!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Can these be inmported to US ?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Maybe I've got this wrong, but I thought a person could get around the red tape by having the car and drivetrain shipped separately, and then assembled at the destination as a 'kit-car'. I'm probably missing some details.
        • 5 Years Ago
        1. Import to mexico.
        2. Drive crappy golf across border
        3. Hire banditos to swap VINs
        4. Drive back.

        • 5 Years Ago
        In 25 years, they can.

        They don't meet 2009 US safety standards, nor do they meet 2009 US emissions standards, so they'll have to wait until they're classics.
      • 5 Years Ago
      My first car was one of these. Bought it for $500. It was rusted out, the electric was shot, and the AC didn't work. At 65 mph it would rattle and shake but if you pushed through to 70 it would smooth out ride like a dream. Some bondo, coat of paint, new clutch, and wiring around the circuit panel and I had a car I sold for $500 5 years after I bought it.

      You never forget your first.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It would probably cost loads more than it would be worth, but if you really wanted one of these, I'd imagine you could disassemble it and ship it over as parts, and put it all back together on the floorpan of a US-spec Mk. I Golf.
        • 5 Years Ago
        No floorpan on a Rabbit. Rabbits were full-on unibody. You'd have to carve it up to merge two cars.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Heh, I saw a very clean red MkI on the way to work this morning and it reminded me what a great, simple car it was. Now you tell me they were still made only now they are to be discontinued? What a shame.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If the Golf Mk1 had been produced since 1974, wouldn't that be 35 years in production?
      • 5 Years Ago
      This doesn't completely surprise me, VW and other companies have done this with other car models as well. VW kept making air-cooled beetles in Mexico until just a few years ago, and a company in India was making WWII style willy's jeeps decades after the war. The only problem is that these vehicles don't even come close to the safety or emissions requirements of the US or any western european country.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Reminds me of my 1800 lb. 1975 Mk1 Scirocco. Good memories.

      Putting a Mk3 2.0L 8v (much less a 1.8T, 2.0T, or VR6) in this car will make it absolutely quick...
      • 5 Years Ago
      I REALLY miss my 93 Mk1 Cabriolet. Every time I see a quad headlight Mk1 I think of that car... :(

      Are they still making any of the other generations of Golfs? Are they going to start production of the Mk2 in S. Africa now?
      • 5 Years Ago
      VW still produces both Jetta Mk2 (face-lifted several times) and Passat MK2 in China.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Bought an '81 diesel Rabbit for $700 in '92. Drove the hell out of that thing all over San Francisco/San Jose. Sold in in 2004 for $100, and it was stil going strong. Recently talked to the guy I sold it to. He said he'd just given it to a friend of his, and never had a lick of trouble from it. To tell the truth, I wish I'd never let him have it. It was a real fun car to drive, got tremendous MPGl, tho I don't know just how much because the speedo cable was broken when I bought it. I replaced it, but was never felt the odo was as accurate as it should be. Still, my best guestimate would put it at about 45-48 MPG.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I remember when my father's 1989 Rabbit diesel finally bit the dust with 289,000 miles. My father was so pi$$ed off because he wanted to get 1M miles on his like some guy got with his Mercedes Benz diesel. To this day he doesn't think he got his money's worth out of the car.
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