There are a few cars in Volkswagen’s history that stand head and shoulders above the rest in terms of both brilliant design and cult status. The obvious leader is the original Golf GTI, then the split-screened camper van so beloved of hippies and new age travellers the world over, the Karmann Ghia perhaps also joins this list, but it is the Ghia’s replacement that for many stands nearly shoulder to shoulder with the GTI as the pinnacle of VW cool – the Scirocco.
Named after a Mediterranean wind that can reach near hurricane speeds, the 2+2 Scirocco was launched in the middle of the ‘70s in an attempt to bring a sportier edge to the company, whose soft-sided Karmann Ghia had been soldiering on since 1955. Designed by Giugiaro the Scirocco then (like now) was based on the platform of the Golf, but its sportier design instantly caught the eye, and before it was replaced in 1981 the Mk1 Scirocco had shifted over half a million units. The replacement MkII was designed by Volkswagen’s in-house design team and arrived in 1981 at the Geneva Motor Show. Although equally as striking as the original (and arguably more distinctive from the Golf than its predecessor) the MkII would sell just over half as many cars before production ceased in 1992. Leaving a coupe-shaped hole in Volkswagen’s range that would not be filled until 2008 when, after a 16-year wait, the third generation Scirocco went on sale.