Lot 182

St. Moritz 2023

1978 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Offered from The Iseli Collection


CHF26,450 | Sold

Switzerland | St. Moritz, Switzerland



Chassis No.
Engine No.
EG 084266
Swiss Carte Grise
  • Offered from The Iseli Collection
  • Arguably the genesis of the “hot hatch”; Volkswagen’s benchmark ‘Mark 1’ Golf GTI
  • Finished in Black over a black, red, and white tartan-trimmed interior—now a trademark of lavish Golf GTI specification
  • Powered by a 1.6-litre Jetronic-injected engine paired with a four-speed manual gearbox; factory-rated at 109 horsepower
  • Exhibits desirable features including electric windows, sunroof, and a quad-headlamp grille
  • Delivered new to Parma, Italy; odometer shows only 34,752 kilometres at the time of cataloguing

By the end of the production cycle of the air-cooled Volkswagen Beetle, the 1930s-designed car had achieved cult status but on a practical level it was dated. Compared to modern alternatives from rival manufacturers, the Beetle was limited by its rear-engined platform as the front-wheel drive, front-engine set-up became de rigueur in the 1970s. While the industry shift towards the front-mounted, water-cooled engine type signified a marked departure from the Beetle, Volkswagen was not minded to miss out on the trend.

Giorgetto Giugiaro and his Italdesign studio were hired to design the Golf, and the ‘Mark 1’ entered production in 1974. The Golf was received with widespread acclaim thanks to its various contemporary features and clean-cut, modern styling—especially when viewed alongside its air-cooled predecessor. Volkswagen had found little need or encouragement from customers to develop a faster version of the Beetle, yet the Golf’s adaptable and cutting-edge powertrain facilitated the option to hone a more powerful Golf.

The arrival of the Golf GTI, revealed at the 1975 Frankfurt Motor Show, heralded the dawn of the “hot hatch”. Other manufacturer-endorsed small sports cars had come before it, yet the Golf GTI is widely recognised as the catalyst that sparked the popularity of the factory-fast performance hatchback, typified by its front-mounted engine platform. The first Golf GTI was propelled by a 1.6-litre petrol engine, tuned with a greater compression ratio for an output of 109 horsepower. Aesthetic changes including a larger front spoiler, black grille with a red frame, and extended plastic wheel arches set the GTI apart from the standard Golf, while the fettled engine was complemented by reduced ride height, ventilated disc brakes, and the addition of anti-roll bars for improved handling.

The Golf GTI offered here is a ‘Mark 1’ model made in 1978. Finished in Black over a black, red, and white tartan interior—now synonymous as GTI trim in the seven generations of Golf that have followed—the car features many desirable optional extras, not least its electric windows, sunroof, and quad-headlamp grille. The Golf GTI belies its 45 years, and remarkably the odometer shows only 34,752 kilometres at the time of cataloguing. Delivered new to Parma, Italy, the Golf has clearly lived a sheltered life, commensurate with the fine condition it is presented in today.