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VW 1303 Cabrio and VW Golf I Cabrio: Two topless from VW

Hardy Mutschler
VW 1303 Cabrio and VW Golf I Cabrio in the driving report
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M ichelle had one of the first . She was a bit older and had wealthy parents. The VW Golf Cabriolet was a present for her 18th birthday - she came to school with it when we were still taking the Hercules Ultra or the tram to high school. It was a VW Golf GLI in silver, and we didn't like it.

To tennis with Duran Duran in the Golf Cabrio

When we also had our driving licenses, we drove R4, used VW buses from the post office or a Yamaha RD 200. We would not have wanted a VW Golf Cabrio, not even as a present. A VW Beetle convertible, on the other hand, does. Because we were already reading auto motor und sport back then, playing car quartet under the school desk just before graduation and dreaming of a Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7. The VW Golf Cabrio was the car of the better daughters and sons who drove across the Rhine to tennis training in yellow cashmere sweaters after school, and who listened to Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran more than Rory Gallagher and Patti Smith.

That was over 20 years ago. The time was gracious to the VW Golf Cabrio. Today it looks small and harmless, even in this late version from 1991 not as sober and sensible as it was back then. A facelift had given him wheel arches and plastic bumpers that were on display for the past few years, which one can no longer imagine that they were meant seriously at the time. Today they seem awkward, a bit like a mature lady with the fashionable accessories of a Viva presenter. Our VW Golf Cabrio is a special model from the Classicline series with 15-inch shiny aluminum, light leather in the interior and a rich dark green paintwork. You don't have to take him seriously anymore and that's exactly how he collects sympathy points.

The hearts belong to the open Beetle

Points that the VW Beetle no longer needs. Even in its latest stage of evolution and as a convertible, it is above all a Beetle. He doesn't have to strive to win hearts. All you have to do is turn the key in the ignition lock to the right as far as it will go. The engineering office of Professor Porsche certainly had no sound engineering department in 1934 when the air-cooled four-cylinder boxer engine was on the drawing boards. But even the most skilled developer couldn't have done the noise better.

The noiseof the fan wheel, the metallic stapling of the valve train and the puffing of the puny Solex carburetor always sound a bit like childhood. It calms down and lulls you like the fairy tale cassette that you heard before going to sleep. And it sharpens the senses for the smells and nuances of an evening trip, which can perhaps only be experienced in the VW Beetle Cabrio.

1979, when the appearance of the VW Golf Cabriolet with the handle, the imminent end of the VW Beetle Announced convertibles, the 1303 was at the end of its development potential. The sophisticated trailing arm suspension with the front suspension struts was so good that even car testers found little to complain about. It also worked excellently in the Porsche 924, so that it survived almost unchanged in the four-cylinder Porsche until the 968. 'This elaborate combination ensures good and problem-free driving characteristics, and the suspension comfort is convincing,' noted tester Gerd Hack in a short test of the VW Beetle Cabriolet in auto motor und sport 16 from 1977.

Today there is more than one Trace left. The almost new VW 1303, as well as the VW Golf Cabrio from the holdings of the Volkswagen Museum Foundation, with its large 175/70 tires and finely tuned suspension struts iron out bumps that cause many a modern convertible with low profile tires to jump. The late VW Beetle also enjoyed the Golf rack and pinion steering, which has such easy play with the lightly loaded front wheels of the 1303 that the question of power steering does not even arise.

The 50 hp of the VW Beetle Cabrio are easily enough

That leaves the engine of the VW Beetle Cabriolet. With him, too, time reconciles us. Its 50 hp are easily enough, at least for inconspicuous swimming in traffic. At least if you follow the old beetle rule that says: He has to cheer. That is to say, it moves quite well when you taste the gears up to the rated speed. Because despite its 1.6 liter displacement, it is no wonder when it comes to elasticity. We cover a gracious cloak of oblivion over its consumption values. All I can say is that it's not as bad as it is often rumored with the 50-horsepower boxer. You have to reckon with ten to twelve liters, of course. However, if it is considerably more, there is usually something wrong with the ignition or the carburetor. A VW Golf Cabrio is of course satisfied with a little less, even in the 95 hp Kat version from 1991.

The 1.8 liter long-stroke engine is inconspicuous in the VW Golf Cabrio. Perhaps the funniest thing about him is the type name of his injection system: It's called Digifant. Otherwise he is a loyal, tinny journeyman from the 827 engine family, who doesn’t skimp on pithy vibrations and somewhat listless four-cylinder hum. After all, it ensures decent driving performance, which does not make even stretches of the motorway or long vacation trips a torture. The VW Golf Cabriois over 170 km /h and accelerates from zero to 100 km /h in around 12 seconds.

You have to put up with the fact that the VW Golf Cabrio hardly exudes any motor stimuli. After all, the North German Plain is not Emilia Romagna. And the late 1970s, when the VW Golf Cabrio was invented, is not exactly an era in which particularly emotional automobiles were created. The VW Golf can do something different: it can easily replace an everyday car, especially in its late, most mature form. You can buy it so cheaply that the purchase price becomes a minor matter. It is economical, offers plenty of storage space and is at least as reliable as a new small car.

In addition, it comes with a roof construction that is almost as complex as that of a Rolls-Royce Corniche. It consists of five layers of fabric and lining material, but the whole thing can be folded back wonderfully easily. Then it sits like an oversized backpack on the rear of the VW Golf Cabrio. It looked even worse with the first VW Golf convertibles manufactured before 1982. The folded top was built ten centimeters higher.

Golf I Cabrio - the most beautiful when closed

In any case, the effort for the expensive roof was worth it. The convertible top of the VW Golf Cabrio stays in shape even at top speed, the wind noise remains minimal. And thanks to the large, heated rear window made of glass, the interior appears airy and spacious even when the roof is closed. Some people even claim that a closed VW Golf I Cabriolet is the most beautiful Golf ever.

Even after looking at it for a long time, there is something to it. The tightly cut roof takes some of its sobriety away from the puristic Giugiaro shape. It gives it the elegant lines of a coupé, which no copycat Henkel convertible has come close to. The VW Golf conquers the heart in a roundabout way. It now seems like he's gotten younger over the years. And it is certainly no coincidence that there are currently more Golf I convertibles than Golf I sedans on our roads.

More similarities than you think

Could be the ones who made him almost 25 years ago have hated and accused him of fratricide, today let their nostalgic, glorified gaze wander over the back rows of the flag dealers, where many a VW Golf Cabrio from well-kept previous ownership is waiting for an understanding buyer. If he warms up to one of these cars and takes it home, he will soon find that the once hostile brothers have more in common than we wanted to believe. They are not only connected by the Osnabrück birthplace. The dull clap of thick raindrops on the lined hood sounds equally homely in both, and the simple process of opening the roof opens up new worlds here and there.

What they also have in common is this unique VW feeling of North German solidity, with which the doors slam shut or switches click into place. The VW 1303 from 1979 and the VW Golf Classicline from 1991 mark the end points of the development of two model series that, during their literally decades-long construction period, had reached a level of maturity that is rare in today's model cycles.

Which one I would like to have? We don't need to talk about the VW Beetle Cabrio. Actually, there should be one in every household. You only notice how much you miss it when, after a long period of abstinence, you get into an air-cooled VW and start the engine. The VW Golf doesn't make it that easy. Today you have to get strange looks when you are out and about in the Classicline. But that will change soon. Then some will wonder why they didn't buy a VW Golf Cabrio back then - when things were cheap and only a few realized that they would soon become coveted collector's items. Don't let it get that far.


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