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On Friday, Volkswagen announced it had produced its 30 millionth Golf since the introduction of the nameplate in 1974… If you do the maths, this means no less than 2,000 Golfs were sold every day in the last 39 years! The Golf is therefore only the third nameplate to have managed to pass the 30 million unit-milestone after the Toyota Corolla with 37.5 million through 10 generations since 1966 and the Ford F-Series at 35 million units since 1948. It is however arguably the fastest nameplate to reach that figure. As a reminder, the Golf passed the 10 million units in 14 years in 1988, had to wait only 13 more years to break the 20 million unit-barrier in 2001 and therefore 12 years to add another 10 million to its total.
For comparison, the VW Beetle first generation sold 21,529,464 units between 1938 and 2003, making it still today the most successful and longest-running single car design in automobile history. Since the first Golf was launched in 1974, 7 generations have hit worldwide roads, with the 7th launched at the end of last year and looking set for similar success than the previous ones. The design of the Golf has only marginally evolved over the last decade, a bonus for the hardcore fans of the nameplate but a potential deterrent for new buyers.
The Golf has been the best-selling car in Europe for 25 of the last 30 years and the most popular model in Germany for the last 32 consecutive years (no interruption since 1981!) and for 37 of the last 38 years, with only the Mercedes W123 interrupting its reign in 1980… The second and third generation have been the most successful at home, with the Golf II peaking at 378,856 sales in 1987 and the Golf III establishing an all-time record for the nameplate at 414,132 units sold in 1992. The fifth gen was the weakest, dropping to 148,879 sales and 4.3% share in 2006.
See the full article featuring commentary/pictures for each generation below.