The Volkswagen Golf is one of he most popular cars of all time, now spanning eight generations.
With its roots as a humble family hatchback, millions worldwide have enjoyed the excellent blend of economy, practicality and performance that the Golf has provided since its release.
The VW Golf GTI is a particularly popular variant, and the yardstick by which all other hot hatchbacks are measured. You can read our VW Golf GTI buyer’s guide here for more information. Over the years there have also been some other great variants of the Golf, such as the legendary R32.
In fact, according to Volkswagen, over 35 million VW Golfs have been produced since the model’s inception and release in 1974. These incredible sales stats mean that the Golf is one of the top selling car models of all time (and for good reason in our view).
But why is the VW Golf called the ‘Golf’?
The naming of the VW Beetle – the brand’s other ‘hero car’ – is fairly easy to understand … the car looks like a Beetle.
But considering the Golf doesn’t look like a golf course (or ball, or set of clubs) what was behind the decision to use this name?
In this short edition of Car Facts we are going to explore the origins of the Volkswagen Golf name.
It Goes Like The Wind
Most people think that the Golf is named after the sport, e.g. because the name is meant to invoke ‘sporting’ connotations, or being a practical car you can easily fit a golf bag inside.
However, The VW Golf is actually named after the ‘Gulf Stream’ wind.
Golf is the German spelling of Gulf (as in ‘Gulf Stream’) coming from ‘golfstrom‘
It’s Not The Only Wind-Named VW
The Golf isn’t the only car in Volkswagen’s lineup that is named after a wind.
In fact, there have been several popular vehicles with meteorologically-inspired names, such as:
- The VW Jetta – Named after the Jet Stream wind
- The VW Passat – Passat is the German word for ‘trade wind’ (which is the “category name” for any of the prevailing easterly winds that helped mariners to sail around the globe, establishing trade routes and colonies)
- The VW Scirocco – The scirocco – sometimes spelled sirocco is a Mediterranean wind that comes up from the Sahara desert.
- As a side note, one interesting point here is that the sirocco wind is also sometimes called the ‘ghibli’, which is the name of a Maserati car.
- The Touareg, while not named after a wind, is named after a nomadic African people, the Tuaregs.
So as you can see, VW has plenty of history when it comes to naming cars after winds.
Volkswagen is also different to many other German manufacturers in the way that they prefer to use actual names as opposed to model numbers (like you see with BMW, Mercedes and Audi).
To conclude, let’s revisit the original question – why is the VW Golf called ‘Golf’?
It’s named this because of the Gulf Stream wind (Golf being the German for Gulf)
Volkswagen has had form with naming cars after winds, for example Polo being named after the Polar wind, and Jetta being named after the ‘Jet Stream’.