It’s been called “VW plaid” or “VW Golf plaid” – but whatever you call it, this print has breathed new life into an ancient tartan pattern.
In 1976, the debut of the VW Golf GTI caused a stir with its unique print now known as the VW Golf plaid. Few details distinguished it visually from the original Golf, which had transformed the compact car into an affordable sports car for the masses and, at the same time, caught the mood of the post-war era.
So where does the iconic VW print come from? It originated with Gunhild Liljequist—a porcelain painter and chocolatier candy-box designer by trade.
In 1964, when she was just 28, she was hired by VW’s Department of Fabrics and Colors in Wolfsburg, Germany.
Initially, her work focused on paint hues, trims, and interior detailing. When the first Golf GTI came into production in the 1970s, she was tasked with designing various elements of its interior with a mind toward the sporty.
According to News Press USA: “Liljequist’s genius centered on giving the GTI two distinct, but simple, textile elements: a tartan seat pattern and a golf ball-style gear knob.
She told the news outlet in a recent interview: “Black was sporty, but I also wanted color and quality,” Liljequist said. “I took a lot of inspiration from my travels around Great Britain and I was always taken by high-quality fabrics with checked patterns … you could say that there is an element of British sportiness in the GTI.”
And as for the famous golf ball gear knob, which she also designed?
“That was a completely spontaneous idea!” Liljequist told News Press USA. “I just expressed my sporting and golf associations out loud: ‘how about a golf ball as the gear knob?”
Although she retired in 1991 her legacy is literally intertwined within the very fabric of VW design even today. Of course, being revolutionary, her ideas, such as the VW Golf plaid print, faced some resistance from the higher-ups initially. Yet they went on to become iconic parts of the GTI design.
Color was in fact the hallmark of Liljequist’s professional work at Volkswagen for over three decades – despite the fact that she preferred to dress in black and white. She even went on to contribute to some of the German automaker’s most iconic paint colors, trim materials, and interior details, while designing some special models of her own for the VW brand.
Some of her other iconic contributions to the Volkswagen world include:
- The 1987 limited edition Etienne Aigner Mk1 Golf Cabriolet, with a design influenced by the luxury maker of leather handbags, luggage, and accessories.
- Her formulation of an iridescent, pearl color that she applied to a car’s surface, using a transparent foil. In fact, the metallic quality of paint on modern cars has roots in some of Liljuquist’s experiments in paint and coloring.
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Shopping for a Golf? The turbocharged four-cylinder VW Golf GTI has a proven track record thanks to its lively engine, strong torque, and smooth manual transmission.
In fact, German engineers have refined the GTI’s formula for more than four decades – something you can definitely feel when you drive one.
With the optional dual-clutch automatic you experience plenty of driving pleasure thanks to lightning-quick gear changes and shift programming.
You can get from zero to 60 in 6.2 seconds and reach a top speed of 154 mph. The BBC called it the “preeminent people’s car” and this popular hatchback offers plenty of driving fun starting at about $32,000.
The Golf GTI’s 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine generates 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque when fed premium fuel. Driving Mode Selection is one of several performance features paired with the powerful 2.0L turbo engine, allowing you to choose between five driving modes with names like Eco, Comfort, and Custom.
Want something as unique as the VW Golf plaid print? Check out the latest in our VW dealership!