Updated: 25-Aug-19

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Facts & History

Production History

Production Timeline

Factory Photos

Production Numbers (calendar year)

Total built in 1979: 11,795

Total built in 1980: 25,982

Total built in 1990: 37,561

Total built in 1991: 38,953

Total built between January 1979 and April 1993: 388,522

How Many Are Left?

Good question.  It is virtually impossible to get a definitive number.  However, we can come up with an estimate: In looking over European registration figures for the past 20 years, there is a trend of an average annual loss of 6%.  If we apply this figure to all production years, 1979-1993, as of 2011, this yields an estimated total of approximately 23-33% of the total number of Cabriolets produced remaining in the world today.  With the modern propensity to dispose of vehicles that are considered to be simply old, unreliable, and mechanically not worth fixing, Cabriolets are being sent to the crusher at a higher rate today than they were just 10 years ago.

More information can be found on the Registry page.

Sales History

Facts vs. Fiction

Myth: The Volkswagen Golf I Cabriolet is just a Golf I hatchback with its roof chopped off.

Fact: The Volkswagen Golf I Cabriolet is of uni-body construction (with reinforcements welded in) built entirely at the Karmann factory, from stamping to final assembly. Volkswagen supplied the engine, suspension, interior, etc. for Karmann to install. The Karmann badges exist on all Cabriolets to pay tribute to the company that built the cars, from top to bottom; therefore, there is no such thing as a "Karmann Edition".

Myth: European Volkswagen Golf Cabriolets had a diesel engine as an option.

Fact: Research shows that diesel engines were never a factory option for the Golf I Cabriolet anywhere in the world.  However, there were, reportedly, a handful of 1.6L diesel Golf Cabriolets sent to the UK upon special-request for 1981; these are extremely rare (if they were indeed produced) and sport "Golf GLD" badges.

Myth: The Volkswagen Golf I Cabriolet is a Type 1, Type 17, Type 19, etc.

Fact: The Golf I Cabriolet is, in fact, a Type 155.

Q: My buddy across the pond keeps mentioning his Golf Cabriolet GTI.  I thought there was no such thing as GTI Cabriolets?

A: Factory-built GTI models of the Cabriolet were indeed sold in the UK and only in the UK.  On mainland Europe, the GTI-equivalent in Cabriolet form was the GLI.  Rumor has it that when Volkswagen was considering GTI-ifying the Cabriolet in the early '80s, there was outrage among GTI purists ("No true GTI has a soft-top!").  Volkswagen wanted to give buyers the option of GTI-performance for the Cabriolet, thus VW (actually, Karmann) installed the GTI mechanicals into many Cabriolets and sold them as GLI's instead.

Names & Monikers


A1 is the official Volkswagen chassis designation given to the first generation Golf/Rabbit convertible.  All of these convertibles are A1 chassis cars (an A2 chassis convertible was never produced).

Mk1 (pronounced "mark one") is a British moniker meaning "version" (referring to the car's body style) given to the first generation Golf/Rabbit convertible.  All  1979-1993 Golf/Rabbit convertibles are Mk1s; the 1988-1993 Cabriolets are usually referred to as "Mk1 Clippers" to distinguish the later models.

Golf I is the European moniker used to distinguish the generations.  All 1979-1993 Golf/Rabbit convertibles are Golf I generation cars.


  • Golf Cabriolet

 Worldwide, outside North America: 1979-1993

 Canada: 1988-1993

  • Rabbit Convertible

North America: 1980-1984

Austria: 1991

  • Cabriolet

USA: 1985-1993

Canada: 1985-1987

Bottom line for the above: Golf Cabriolet = Cabriolet = Rabbit Convertible = Golf cabrio = Rabbit cabrio.

"Cabriolet" is French for "convertible" and, therefore, "cabrio" is just like saying "'vert". Using "cabrio" is most certainly not incorrect, but those in North America posting on Volkswagen forum sites should be prepared to be badgered by those who are language ignorant due to Volkswagen's ingenious idea of naming the A3 Golf convertible "Cabrio" in the States. When posting about your car on these car forums, always use the year of your car.


^That graph reproduced from the IIHS safety report from April 1991: http://www.iihs.org/externaldata/srdata/docs/sr2604.pdf .