When did the VW Rabbit become the Golf?

By Product Expert | Posted in VW Golf on Monday, June 8th, 2015 at 9:52 pm
Volkswagen Golf name changes and origins

Volkswagen Golf name changes and origins

The Volkswagen Beetle gets all the popularity for being the first, and one of the most iconic vehicles from VW, but it’s the Golf that has really taken off in sales. SInce the MK1 came out, it’s been known as an affordable and reliable model. Except, it seems we often forget the Golf used to be called the Rabbit. The Volkswagen Golf name changes and origins actually seem to be a bit of a mystery.

Why did the VW Rabbit change to the Golf?

vw-rabbit-billboardThe thing is, the Golf was always called the Golf, except here in America, and in Mexico where it was called the Caribe (Piranha). It’s not clear why VW decided to give it a different name here, except the theory that the name simply wouldn’t be successful because of its association with the sport. Some claim the MK1 was named for the 1975 U.S. release date because it was “the year of the rabbit,” but this is equally unproven.

For those who did grow up driving a Rabbit anytime during the mid-70s to mid-80s, the name probably brings up fond memories. The Beetle was the “people’s car,” made to be simple to fix and affordable, but when the Rabbit/Golf came out it was no longer the top in innovation. The Golf was a tiny vehicle with maximum fuel-efficiency, and at the time it was also one of the fastest vehicles available in its class. The Rabbit name lived on for about 10 years, and then Volkswagen decided it was time to give it the same name here that it had everywhere else. That is, of course, until that brief time from 2006 to 2009 when the company mysteriously chose to bring back the Rabbit. Perhaps the aim was at our nostalgia, but it didn’t work and it seems the Golf nameplate is here to stay.

What does the VW Golf name mean?

We’ve already made it clear that the Volkswagen Golf is not named after the sport. One of the most popular theories is the Golf is 2015-golf-gti-and-mk1named after the Gulf Stream. There’s a running theory which states the Volkswagen named vehicles after winds, the Passat, the Jetta, even the Polo (which isn’t sold in the U.S.) have all been said to be named after winds, but Volkswagen is silent on the topic. As it turns out, there’s no actual proven etymology for the name, so all the rumors are simply theories.

Are there any things you find odd about Volkswagen features or names that you’d like to know more about? Leave us a comment and we’ll dive into it. We update our blog frequently, so keep checking back here for more articles on automotive history, news and local events.