Steve looks through five Volkswagens that lasted longer in production than you might think!
The last Volkswagen Beetle rolled off the assembly line in Wolfsburg-German in 1978 for the hard top and 1980 for the Karman cabriolet; however that wasn’t the end of the story. Production continued in South America where there was still high demand for cheap, simple transportation at assembly plants both in Mexico and Brazil. Despite the introduction of the Golf, Beetles were still being officially imported from Mexico by Volkswagen Germany well into the1980s. Personal imports continued in small numbers, until two professional car import companies started importing larger quantities of Mexican Beetles from 1996 right up to the end of production in 2003. The Mexican Beetles were based on the late 70s body and chassis, similar to that of the 1200 but fitted with a 1600cc fuel injected engine producing 90bhp and catalytic converter. The Mexican Beetles also benefited from an electric washer bottle as opposed the vacuum system as found on the 1970s versions, as well as front disc brakes as standard.
Besides these alterations the Beetle remained relatively unchanged, keeping the same suspension setup and four speed manual gearbox as found on the older versions. UK importers were generous with options lists which included right hand drive conversions, folding sunroofs, CD players and even heated windscreens. Even with the novelty factor the Mexican Beetle remains a rare sight on UK roads.
Ultima Edicion Beetle
VW Transporter bay window
Just like the Beetle, South America was in high demand of the bay window transporter due to its versatility where both van and minibus versions were produced in Volkswagens Brazilian plant. The name was changed to kombi but the same 1970s design soldiered on with an air-cooled engine, until 2006 when new emissions rules were brought into force in Brazil. To prolong the life of the Kombi Volkswagen Brazil fitted it with a 1200cc water cooled engine which could also be found in the Fox, this not only reduced emissions but it meant the old designed gained a front radiator grill. Professional importers started bringing the kombi into the UK at the start of the Millennium, where buyers could select from a variety of interior and colour options, but more importantly allowed them to have the retro looks but within a brand new vehicle. Unfortunately progress left the Kombi behind, thanks to safety legislation production ceased in 2013.
Last Edition Kombi
VW golf Mk1
The first generation Golf was launched in 1974 as a direct replacement to the much loved Volkswagen Beetle. For buyers the golf was a vast improvement over the beetle, as it was available as a five door hatchback or two door cabriolet as well as having more powerful water cooled engines. Just like the Beetle the Golf developed a loyal following, and the model built on Volkswagens reputation for providing reliable family transport. The sporty Golf GTI was launched in 1975 which marked the introduction of the “hot hatch” and became a benchmark for other manufactures to follow due to its practicality and fun driving characteristics.
The Mk1 Golf ceased production in Europe in 1983 for the hard top, but the cabriolet remained in production for another decade and final bowed out in 1993. However that was not the end of the story, because as we’ve seen previously in this article certain countries still required cheap and economical transportation. The Golf Mk1 continued to be produced in Africa until 2009 but was renamed Citi Golf so as to differentiate itself from the later model Golfs. The Citi Golf was available with either a 1.4, or 1.6 fuel injected engine and was available in four trim levels; CitiRox, CitiSport, TenaCiti and CitiStorm.
2003 Citi Golf
VW Jetta Mk2
The Mk2 Jetta was noticeably longer, wider and taller than the previous model and was available in three and five door saloon. The second generation Jetta was released in 1984 and immediately became a sales success in America, where it outsold the Golf and even achieved bestselling European car of the year in America in 1991. In the same year the Jetta was introduced into the Chinese market in complete knock down (CKD) form, but this later changed in 1995 when China started their own production using locally sourced components. The Jetta was the first Volkswagen to be released in China but due to Volkswagens strong reputation the Jetta has become a popular choice for taxi drivers in China even despite the Mk2 Jetta production ending in 2013.
VW Golf Mk4
The fourth generation Golf was introduced to the UK in mid-1998 to replace the aging mk3 model and was available in 3 or 5 door hatchback, estate or cabriolet even though the latter was just a facelifted Mk3 Golf convertible which naturally confused buyers. The Mk4 Golf brought with it various improvements over the outgoing model as it was both longer and wider than the previous model as well as being taller which all improved the cabin space. In early 2004 the Golf Mk4 was replaced by the fifth generation in continental Europe, but it continued to be sold as the Golf City in Canada and in South America until 2010. The Golf City was facelifted in 2007 and was available with either a 2.0 115hp petrol engine or a TDI engine, and sold well due to being competitively priced at $15,300 Canadian dollars. In south America the Golf City was available in either a 1.6, 1.8 or 2.0 petrol engine and was available in two trim levels.