No, this technically isn’t a Golf, but it’s perhaps the first Volkswagen design to foreshadow the Golf’s basic formula – and it did so twenty years before the Golf’s introduction. While VW was busy cranking out billions of Bugs, its engineers were hard at work on their first in-house design. That car – known as EA 48 – couldn’t have been more different from the Beetle. Power came from an air-cooled flat-twin placed up front, which drove the front wheels. In lieu of the Beetle’s front torsion beam suspension, the EA utilized MacPherson struts.
Ultimately, nothing immediately came of the dumpy-looking prototype, but it profoundly shaped future Volkswagens to come. Although it was certainly smaller than the finished Mark 1 Golf/Rabbit the EA 48’s front-engine, front-wheel-drive, MacPherson front suspension arrangement lived on.