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Volkswagen golf 1 1979

How to identify a 1976 - 1983 Volkswagen Golf MK1 GTI

This identification guide for the Volkswagen Golf GTI MK1 includes both the 1.6l and 1.8l versions sold mainly throughout Europe and the UK up until December 1983. This guide does not cover special editions of the GTI such as the Campaign / Trophy Edition, the 16v Oettinger, GTI Cabriolet or export (U.S.) market GTIs. Those vehicles will be covered in separate guides. The Golf GTI is widely recognised as the first ever mass appeal “hot hatch”, and continues to attract the attention of enthusiasts and collectors, with prices steadily rising for good original examples, a trend which is expected to continue. The GTI is based on the standard Golf MK1 chassis, however, many modifications were adapted to improve the vehicle's performance and appeal throughout MK1 GTI production. It is important as a prospective buyer to have an understanding of those differences and features when looking to purchase a genuine vehicle.

This guide provides information in important areas for the MK1 Golf GTI, including characteristics of the body, interior, driveline as well as specific details relating to the engine and chassis number, among others.

Production period: June 1976 – December 1983 (Note: Some early demonstration vehicles were produced prior to June 1976)

Production numbers: Multiple sources quote different figures for overall worldwide production. Passiongolfgticonfirms a total of 461,690 GTIs were produced (this figure refers to the hard top MK1 cars, and includes all special edition models such as the Campaign, but excludes the Oettinger edition). A breakdown of production figures and additional notes have been provided below, from a variety of sources listed at the base of this guide. The GTI's share of Golf MK1 production is 8% according to Germany's VW Classic website. The same official VW source suggests a total of approximately 450,000 GTIs were produced, which closely supports the figure from passiongolfgti.

Only 22 GTIs were sold in the UK this year (sold as LHD cars)

1500 Cars were sold in the UK in the 1979 year (factory RHD car introduced).

Number included 1.6l and 1.8l cars (including Campaign Edition, but excluding the 16 valve Oettinger edition GTI)

Please contact us if you have any additional production number information you believe would be helpful here, so we can improve the information quality in this table.

Please note, this guide has been written based on a variety of online sources and enthusiast input. You should not rely on this guide to make any purchasing decision and we make no representation that all information is accurate. You should always seek independent professional advice when looking to purchase a unique car. If you have additional information, photographs or corrections you believe need to be made to this page, please contact us by clicking the button at the top of this page, or comment below.

  • The majority of cars are based on the 3-door hatch body. A 5-door version sold in Europe for the 1981 model year, built from 12/1981 - 6/1982.
  • Flared mudguards with plastic flare edges/extensions.
  • Plastic front air dam spoiler. This feature was absent on pre-production/demonstration cars.
  • Side decals on lower door / rocker panel (black or silver, depending on car's paint colour).
  • Red pinstripe frame around front grille. (Colour is "Mars Red", code: L31B).
  • Matt-black decal surrounding rear windscreen (Note: not applied to cars painted black).
  • Black window frames.
  • Sunroof available from March 1978.
  • All non-Campaign MK1 GTIs had single front headlamps (many MK1 cars have been upgraded to quad lamps aftermarket).
  • "GTI " badge front LHS grille and "GOLF GTI " badge on rear RHS tailgate.
  • Three factory 13" wheel options were available, all fitted with 175/70 HR radial ply tyres:
    • 5.5” X 13" steel wheels with no covers. (Available all years in all markets, painted "VW-Audi Wheel Silver" (Code: L091)).
    • 5.5” X 13" 12-spoke alloy wheels. (Available on the 1.6l GTI from 1979 - 1980).
    • 5.5” X 13" 9-spoke alloy wheels. (Available from 1981 onward on both 1.6 & 1.8l GTIs).
  • Two bumper bar designs were available depending on the vehicle's year (examples of each are labelled in the images):
    • Pre-August 1978 = black metal bumpers (non-wrap-around) with plastic corner covers.
    • August 1978 onward = larger plastic (wrap-around) satin black bumpers.
  • Two tail light styles were available depending on the vehicle's year (examples of each are labelled in the images):
    • Pre-August 1980 cars had small tail lights.
    • August 1980 onward cars received larger tail lights.
  • Bodies built from 1979 onward benefited from improved rust proofing (thicker paint, wax injection cavities / bonded seams).

The GTI had a major interior revision from August 1980, and this section has been split into pre and post-facelift. Only the most significant interior features / changes have been outlined in this section.

Pre-facelift series 1 features (1976 - July 1980):

  • Trim pattern options were as per the table in section 2 of this guide (consisting of black-red or black-silver tartan).
  • Glovebox lid added August 1977 (previously an open cavity).
  • Speakers in rear parcel shelf added from August 1978.
  • Engine temperature warning light standard from August 1978.
  • Gear pattern was printed on gear knob from August 1979.
  • Aluminium three spoke wheel with leather wrapped rim and deep black rubber central boss with the "Wolfsburg" logo in the middle.
  • Two lower dashboard instruments (temperature and clock).
  • Two-point lap rear seatbelts.

Post-facelift series 2 features (August 1980 - 1983):

  • Revised dashboard layout introduced.
  • Trim pattern options were as per the table in section 2 of this guide (black-red stripe, black-silver stripe, green stripe, smoke grey stripe). Front seats had new square adjustable headrests, and a horizontal seam on the rear of the backrest. Rear seats had a revised (lower) squab design and thinner middle seat.
  • Introduction of a new 4-spoke steering wheel.
  • New plastic coating applied to door cards and rear side panels.
  • The three lower dashboard console instruments (voltage, oil pressure, temperature).
  • In September 1982, a MFA trip computer was added. The lower dashboard console instruments mentioned above were replaced by a blanking plate (instruments were reinstalled by some owners).
  • January 1981 saw the introduction of a fuel economy gauge, change-up light and A pillar trims.
  • Three-point belts introduced to the rear seats (middle retained 2-point).
  • Retention strap added to jack and spare tyre well.

4. Original Paint Colours / Codes - Volkswagen Golf GTI MK1

In addition to those codes, the engine capacity of either 1.8 or 1.6 will be printed on the side of the engine block. Examples of the engine prefix, engine number and various codes on the chassis plate, labels and block have been provided in the images.

The gearbox number is located on the under-side of the gearbox housing, near the flange edge where the clutch cover joins the main housing. You will be able to see a raised / flat area, containing the gearbox code (as outlined in the table above), followed by a 5-digit number. See the images for a better description of the location.

  • 4-cylinder SOHC engine with Bosch K-Jetronic mechanical multipoint fuel injection.
  • The 1.6l engine was known as the "EG" motor. This was a 1588cc engine up to September 1982, with an increased bore of 1781cc from September 1982 through to June 1983, known as the "DX" motor. The 1.6l produced 110 PS, and the 1.8l engine produced 112 PS.
  • The EG motor was fitted with several transmission options over time, including:
    • "GE" 4-speed transmission (used until June 1979)
    • "FM" 5-speed transmission (July 1979 - December 1980).
    • "FJ" 5-speed transmission (January 1981 - March 1981).
    • "FK" 5-speed transmission (April 1981 - July 1981)
    • "FD or FH 5-speed transmission (August 1981 - June 1983)
  • From July 1983, the 1.8l (1781cc) engine was introduced known as the "DX", which was fitted with:
    • "9A" 5-speed transmission, or;
    • "7G" 5-speed transmission from July 1982 onward.
  • Front disc brakes (239 X 20mm).
  • Rear drum brakes (same as standard Golf MK1).
  • Stiffer torsion beam suspension than standard Golf, with the GTI also sitting slightly lower.
  • 5.5” X 13" wheels (3 variants available as per section 1 of this guide).
  • 175/70 HR radial ply tyres were originally fitted.
  • Post-1980 cars had inner wing liners, better treated metal and thicker paint.
  • All GTIs were fitted with an oil cooler.

The following sources, among input from many owners and enthusiasts, have contributed to the creation of this page. If you have any further information you believe can be added, please let us know by contacting us or commenting below.