Like it or not, Golf GTI is one of the hottest hatches on the planet over the last four decades, and arguably one of the most influential cars in the world – at least from an enthusiastic point of view. He took the sportsmanship to the masses and managed to prove that a car does not need much more than a good engine, a good set and cool style to be desirable for those who enjoy cars.
This last part – the style – was what helped turn the Golf GTI into an icon. A basic hatchback with clean, elegant and harmonic lines (work by Giorgetto Giugiaro), with simple modifications like a front spoiler, a red frieze around the grill, extended mudguards on the sides and, inside, a beautiful plaid Fabric that has become one of its biggest brands.
Of course, it was not the GTI who invented the plaid coating (or tartan, as the Scots say) on the benches. It is a classic look that has already been adopted by Mercedes-Benz in the Gullwing 300SL of the 50’s and other sporting brand at the time (and also in some trucks); By the Dart SE, cheap version of sports appeal sold by Dodge in Brazil; And even Porsche.
However, it was the Golf GTI that popularized this coating standard. But how did VW decide to use chess on the seats of the Golf GTI?
The CarThrottle folks went after the answer to this question, and found. And it came directly from the person in charge of the choice: this nice lady.
Her name is Gunhild Liljequist, and she was the first woman to work in the Volkswagen design department. She was hired in 1964 by the Volks and stayed there until 1991. Before that, she was a professional porcelain painter (!), And perhaps her aesthetic perception was exactly what VW sought. In 2016, when Golf GTI turned 40, Volkswagen published a short interview with Gunhild, in which she tells how she came up with the idea of using chess inside the Golf.
It makes sense: plaid (or plaid-like, tweed) is something traditional in the UK: different tartan patterns represent clans, nobiliarchic houses and old Scottish families (see the list of tartans here). Jackie Stewart, one of the greatest legends of the golden age of British motor racing, for example, used the classic Stuart Royal Clan print on his helmet and to this day does not appear without at least one plaid piece of clothing on display.
Of course, chess was not the only standard available for the first-generation Golf GTI, but it was one of the most popular. It was not for nothing that some variations were adopted in later VW models, such as the Scirocco and Polo GTI. Re-interpretations of chess were also made in subsequent generations of Golf GTI.
By the way, Gunhild also had the idea of putting a golf ball on the Golf GTI shift lever – after all, golf is a sport and the GTI was a Sports Golf. At first, the idea was ridiculed by the team, but eventually became another of the trademarks of Golf GTI.
It is not today that the Volkswagen are all somewhat similar to each other: in the 1970s and 1980s, the Brazilian subsidiary adopted some aesthetic elements of the European VW. Have you noticed, for example, how the lanterns of Golf Mk1 and Gol BX look alike? So it is not surprising that the GT Gol (and later, the GTI and GTS models) have adopted the golf ball shaped shift lever used in the Golf. But the name of the car is Gol, inspired by football . Thus, the 1982 World Cup used to exchange the golf ball for our dear little girl.