The VW Golf, a short review …
Over the years I have had a couple of golfs, a classic 80s (and onwards) car from the Volkswagen stable. The first was a bogstandard white MKI VW golf which did a decent job for several years, the only problem we had was when the fuel pump went but it was a trip down to the scrapyard to pick up a replacement, a couple of hours to get it sorted and off we went again. It was a really easy engine to work on. It was bloody brilliant in the snow, coping with 6″ of virgin snow on the road that runs alongside Ladybower, Derwent and Howden reservoirs.
Many years later, my second golf was the poor mans Golf GTi – the Driver as a replacement for our Renault 19 which almost made it to the Moon (over 200,000 miles on the clock) when the cambelt snapped and killed the engine. The golf was a great buy – with sports suspension, that car could really corner!
Until I read the Wikipedia article on the Golf, I had never realised that it was named after the Gulf Stream! Nor had I realised that it has been designed by an Italian.
The Golf was built as a replacement for the Beetle but had a really boxy appearance. It is still in production (2012) although it seems to now be less of a hot hatch and more of a family saloon. Throughout the years there have been a number of variations incliding the GTi, the saloon version called the Jetta, a cabriolet style and a pickup called the caddy plus of course the aforementioned driver. The third generation golf to me was a disappointment and, in my opinion, will be asbout as much a classic car as the Austin Allegro – it just looked like a bogstandard vehicle that we see so many of on the roads today. When I said to a mate, 10 years younger than me, that “all cars look the same to me these days” he said “that makes you sound really old”. It’s not a case of being old before my time, it’s true. Manufacturers all seem to have the same basic look, with very few exceptions.
When buying a classic golf, one of the biggest issues to look for is rust. Because of the shape and virtually no rust protection of the bare metal from which the body panels were made, they suffer badly. They were particularly poorly protected prior to 1980. From 1980 onwards, they were given better base anti-rust protection treatment, thicker paint and wing liners. The main problem areas are the inner wings, under the wheel arches, the front valance, sills and door bottoms plus under any seals. Check carefully the base of the windscreen pillars as rust here affects the structural strength of the car. Oh yes, and the spare wheel well. OK, everywhere really!
Watch out on the Mk I in particular for the clutch cable escaping the housing and sawing its way down through the bulkhead.
When buying an old VW golf, don’t just buy the first you see, take a good look at it and have a look at plenty of others and you should be able to locate yourself a good one.