Golf GTI Mk1
How they were built.
A day in the life of a Golf.
From Volkswagen Audi News, June 1979 ©
WHEN you next sit down to a hearty breakfast before leaving for work, you may consider that at Volkswagen the task of assembling a Golf (Mk1) is already well under way, writes Lesley Timpson. In fact, the day begins as early as 4 AM with the arrival at Wolfsburg of one of the many freight trains bringing in components and raw materials from all over Europe: a train for instance, carrying coils of processed steel weighing between 25 and 30 tons each. By 5.30 AM the first of these coils is being trimmed in preparation for pressing into body panels, helped by a small handling robot better known as "Robbie." The largest of this army of almost 1,000 metal working machines are taller than a four-storey building, with foundations to match.
6.30 AM - and yesterday's pressings are already on their way to the assembly shop, via part of the 120-mile long network of chain conveyors suspended beneath the roof.
By 8.15 AM the units of the shell have been welded together and each car has an identification number by which we can follow its progress.
"Our" Golf now gets its doors, hatch and bonnet, and the body is sanded to a fine finish.
It's now mid-morning and the car is off to the paint shop, where 10 tons of paint are used every day. Here the car takes a detergent shower to eliminate dust and grease, and is treated with a grey protective coating before more washing with desalinated water. Then into the electro-coating immersion tank containing, surprisingly, a weak solution of 10 per cent paint and 90 per cent water. By this relatively new process particles of paint are precipitated out of the solution by electric current into every crevice of the car to form a thick even coating.
Alter drying, the car receives its anti-corrosion treatment and it is now ready for its final spray of paint in the customer's choice of colour.
Throughout these various processes, computer punch cards have been kept and the right one for our car is now inserted into the computer to trigger off all the correct assembly programme. At this point in the car's story, all the other manufacturing processes which have been taking place elsewhere in the factory are brought together. The computer now takes over to bring together all the correct pieces of equipment to the right place and in the right sequence, and prints out an instruction sheet which is attached to the car.
It's now 5 PM and our car still has to undergo 130 different operations before completion. As the tyres, steering gear, engine, transmission, drive shafts, exhaust, rear axle and suspension are all fitted. Quality assurance inspectors check every stage and will not allow the car to proceed further until the inspection card has been stamped "OK."
A few more additions, including wiring, brake cables and hoses and oil and fuel and the car can be driven under its own power for the first time.
By 8 PM the car is on the dynamometer, going through its paces and having brakes and traffic indicators tested, as well as exhaust emissions.
At "Checkpoint 8" the car is inspected for the last time as final touches are made. The assembly process is now complete and our Golf moves on for the last time to receive a wax spray and further anti-corrosion treatment. It now joins the others in the staging lot before setting off for its destination on the train transporter and becoming another of the close on 3,000 (MK1) Golfs manufactured at Wolfsburg every day.
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