VW Golf vs. Toyota Celica on 1/4 mile.
Like its predecessor the Volkswagen Beetle, the Golf has proved to be influential. In continuous production since 1974, the Golf was one of the first widely successful front wheel drive hatchbacks. In the USA, the Rabbit would spark another generation of VW-alike American compacts, such as the Omni, Escort and Cavalier in the 1980s, just as the Beetle inspired Falcon and Corvair in 1960s and subcompact Vega and Pinto in the 1970s. The Golf’s performance also defined the hot hatch before youth started tuning their imports.
Replacing the Beetle was a vital goal for Volkswagen’s continued survival. By the early 1970s, the company had fallen into financial woe. The novelty of the Beetle had worn thin. Sales were in terminal decline. The front-engine, rear drive small cars like the Toyota Corolla were refined enough to woo customers away from Volkswagen’s noisy underpowered engines and dated styling. The Type 3 and Type 4 fastback and squareback failed to attract much interest, whilst the NSU-developed K70 was a failure.
The solution arrived with Auto Union. They had attracted a small following with their technologically advanced Audi front wheel drive medium sedans. Volkswagen had acquired the Ingolstadt-based company in 1964 from Daimler-Benz. Audi’s expertise in water-cooled engines and front-wheel drive would be essential in developing a new generation of Volkswagens. FWD offered more performance with lighter weight and more room in a smaller package. The Audi technology in the Golf would regain for Volkswagen the engineering lead over rear drive cars that Ferdinand Porsche had bestowed on the original Beetle over its large conventional peers. The small Golf had to succeed in replacing the high volume Volkswagen sedan. The upmarket Dasher/Passat would be VW’s first front wheel drive car, and it was relatively well received for its lower volume market. The Golf would adopt an efficient “two-box” layout with a steep hatch rather than a formal trunk, which would be later added in the Jetta. The water-cooled engine would be mounted transversely in the front. Work on the Golf began in 1969, shortly after Kurt Lotz became head of Volkswagen.
The Toyota Celica name has been applied to a series of popular coupes made by the Japanese company Toyota. The name is ultimately derived from the Latin word coelica (IPA [selika]) meaning “heavenly” or “celestial”.
Throughout its life span the Celica has been powered by various four cylinder engines. The most significant change occurred in 1986, when the car’s drive layout was changed from rear wheel drive to front wheel drive. During the first three generations, American market Celicas were powered by various versions of Toyota’s R series engines. A four-wheel drive turbocharged model (designated All-trac in the US or GT-Four in Japan and Europe) was produced from 1986 to 1999. Variable Valve Timing came in late 1997 Japanese models, and became standard in all models from 2000 on. Through seven generations, the model has gone through many revisions and design forks, including the Toyota Celica Supra (later known as the Toyota Supra). The Celica was available as notchback and liftback coupes, as well as a convertible.