The 1970’s is a period close to my heart, not only it is the decade of my birth it is also the decade which inspired an automobile icon. In South Africa you will see VW Citi Golfs in abundance- every street, parking area or downtown area is filled with different models, colours and conditions. It is in many ways one of the icons for me of the 1970’s, a period which is characterised by contradiction. A number of key events impacted on the era including the energy crisis, the Cuban missile crisis, the woman’s liberation movement, the Yom Kippur war, the Helsinki Accords, the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm (1972) and the South African student uprisings. These events influenced popular culture of the era as well as design styles. The rise of technology and computing created a new world to explore. During the 1970’s the first microprocessor was released, as well as the programming languages, and basic home computers like the Apple II and the Commodore PET. Video games became very popular, with Atari establishing itself as the principal producer of home video games.
In 1974, the first Golf, which would eventually become known as the Rabbit in North America, leaves the factory floor. It would take another 5 years before the car is produced in North America though. The design of the car reflects a more energy conscious society with a focus on fun, humour and economy. The physical design moves to a more angular aesthetic with straighter lines and a rectangular grill section. The Golf I was introduced in South Africa in 1978. In 1984 the Citi model, based on the Golf Mk I, went into production at VW’s plant in Uitenhage. From 1984 to 2009, the plant in Uitenhage produced almost 380 000 Citi Golfs. In November 2009 the last Citi left the production floor, replaced by production of the VW Polo. In 2008 the 1.4i Citi Wolf is introduced at the Johannesburg Motorshow and the in 2009 the Citi Mk 1 is produced in limited numbers to mark the end of production of the Citi. On 2 November 2009 a design icon is retired, but not forgotten. Look down any street, driveway or across any town square and you’ll see it.
Happy anniversary Rabbit.