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Unusual 1974: before launching the Golf, Volkswagen made it suffer the worst road trip


To validate the durability of the new compact, a road trip is organized with two drivers at the wheel of two Golfs, over 30,000 kilometres, a final test before half a century of success.

The two drivers are accompanied by two brand engineers and followed by a Combi Bay Window responsible for carrying supplies, food and spare parts. But where do these adventurers go?





Three months of road-trip will be used to refine the development of the Golf

Land of Fire

The departure was given in October 1974, from Fairbanks in Alaska, heading south. On the menu, Yellowstone Park, the Great Salt Lake, Death Valley. The crews cross almost all the countries of Central America.

The Rocky Mountains, the steppes of Nevada, Chile, the Andean highlands of Peru, Bolivia and the Pacific.

The adventure will last 94 days on roads culminating at 4,843 meters in Abra Anticona in South America with a scheduled arrival in January 1975 in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego.



The stock Golfs get just a few accessories and under-engine protection.

The stock Golfs get just a few accessories and under-engine protection.

Golf first name

The two Golfs used are strictly original three-doors with a 70 horsepower engine. The only preparation is to affix a plate under the vehicle to protect the engine, the oil pan and the box on rough terrain.

Added to this are a pair of fog lights, additional lights, a radio, a tachometer and an oil pressure gauge. The rear seat is replaced by a storage space. Let’s go for the adventure.



No serious breakdown will slow down the Volkswagen Golf

No serious breakdown will slow down the Volkswagen Golf

dangerous roads

From the first part of the adventure, things get complicated with frozen roads, ravines, the absence of safety rails and steep slopes for more than 2500 kilometers.

Nothing is spared the Golf which shows off its front-wheel drive on this terrain. The significant temperature differences throughout the journey allow engineers to measure the resistance of the cooling system of the German compact.

In Mexico, change of atmosphere. In the land of Ladybirds, the mere appearance of the Golf provokes riots. Everyone wants to touch the new Golf!



Crossing the American continent will not be without difficulty

Crossing the American continent will not be without difficulty

Hostile Guatemala

The arrival in Guatemala will be less warm. In the middle of the jungle, under oppressive heat, the crews had to face attacks and fights. The

Border crossings are more complicated. A detail compared to the impassable swamps that force crews to take a ferry to reach Colombia.

Thinking they have seen it all, the pilots and engineers will have to face horrible weather conditions in Ecuador before finally entering Peru.



These two Golfs will pave the way for an eight-generation dynasty

These two Golfs will pave the way for an eight-generation dynasty

Amazing Reliability

During 30,000 kilometers of extremely demanding tracks, the only damage will be a cracked exhaust, a loose timing belt and a hole in the gas tank. Roadside repairs.

Once the journey is over, the two Golfs are sent back to Germany for inspection. The brand’s engineers are surprised by their condition after such an adventure. A few bumps, damaged headlights, a leaking tank and ripped stickers testify to the journey, but both cars drive perfectly.

The mission is successful, Volkswagen can launch its Golf safely. Today these two cars are carefully preserved by Pirelli and Volkswagen. One at the “Automuseum” in Wolfegg, Germany, the second at the Volkswagen Museum in Wolfsburg.



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