Heritage

This woman is responsible for the iconic Volkswagen GTI's plaid interior

Her name may not be familiar to the average customer, but Gunhild Liljequist's plaid design helped Volkswagen reach a new audience in the 1970s.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Plaid is nearly as iconic in the Volkswagen enthusiast world as the Light Bus and the Beetle. When it debuted in the 1976 Golf GTI, it was thanks to one woman, one of the company's first female designers, Gunhild Liljequist.

Life wasn't always all horizontal and vertical lines for Liljequist. She was a porcelain painter and chocolatier candy-box designer by trade who made a career change to join Volkswagen's Germany-based Department of Fabrics and Colors in Wolfsburg in 1964. She was 28.

With the first Golf GTI set to come into production, Liljequist was tasked with designing a variety of interior elements of the compact car. Her work primarily focused on paint hues, trims, and interior detailing. At a time when bold patterns in muted colors was commonplace, Liljequist gave the GTI two distinct design elements - a tartan seat pattern and a golf ball-style gear knob.

Gunhild Liljequist Volkswagen Clark PlaidLiljequist sits in the Golf GTI she helped make popular.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

"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."

She, unsurprisingly, faced resistance. However, the tartan seat pattern, now known as Clark Plaid, and the new style of the car's shifter knob made it through to production.

Though she's more of a black and white pattern gal, Liljequist dove deep into the color spectrum during her time at Volkswagen. The culture and rapid pace of vehicle evolution allowed Liljequist to experiment with her influence reaching into some of the brand's most iconic paint hues, trims, and interior accents.

Clark Plaid is available in the 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI Rabbit Edition.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

She also contributed to the 2987 limited edition Etienne Aigner Mk1 Golf Cabrioet, a car that was influenced by women's leather accessories. Liljequist formulated the iridescent pearl color that is on the vehicle's exterior and applied it using a transparent foil.

Liljequist retired in 1991 but her legacy endures. U.S. buyers can currently purchase a 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI Rabbit Edition, which features Liljequist's Clark Plaid in its seats.

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VW purchased the rights to the iconic Scout name and plans to make new EVs under the brand.

Volkswagen

Automakers bring back names and brands from the past all the time, but it's not every day that a major company purchases a brand name specifically for the purpose of reviving it. That's exactly what Volkswagen just did with Scout, the name of an ultra-popular off-road SUV that was built by International Harvester in the 1960s and 1970s.

As for the types of vehicles we'll see from the brand, we currently only have the renders to go on. The pickup truck and SUV both feature throwback styling that is reminiscent of the original Scout shapes. Beefy off-road tires and lifted suspension are the only other clues available in the drawings.

Volkswagen has its own EVs, and its other brands like Audi and Porsche have made significant progress with electric vehicles as well. That said, VW doesn't really have a solid off-road option from any of its brands at the moment, so the Scout purchase opens doors for the automaker in that arena.

The announcement sounds exciting, but we've still got plenty of time to wait before there's a Scout-branded EV on the roads. Volkswagen said the plan is to release vehicles by 2026, but it won't be sitting idle between now and then. The VW ID.4 is still very fresh and the automaker says it will launch a total of 25 new EVs in the U.S. by 2030.

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The ID. Buzz enters production in Europe soon.

Volkswagen

The Volkswagen ID. Buzz is one of the most anticipated EVs in a sea of desirable and exciting new vehicles. With retro styling and an all-electric powertrain, the van promises to be a funky, futuristic people-hauler with plenty of new tech. Today, VW handed out specs and information on the van during its global launch.

Volkswagen ID. BuzzInterior and exterior design ooze retro style. Volkswagen

Two configurations are available: A five-seat passenger version and a three-seat cargo version. Both ride on Volkswagen's modular electric drive platform (MEB), and both are rear-wheel drive. Power output lands at 201 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque, and the van's top speed reaches 145 mph.

Inside is where the magic happens. The passenger van features five seats, and in top models the seats come with massaging functionality. The three-person bench seat in the second row can be folded flat or folded 60/40, and the seat slides up to 5.9 inches front to back. Six-passenger seating is standard, but an extended wheelbase seven-seat configuration will be offered.

Inside, a ten-inch digital gauge cluster is standard, and pairs with a ten-inch infotainment touchscreen. A 12-inch display is available, and touch controls handle climate controls and audio volume. Rather than a traditional gear selector lever, Volkswagen uses a stalk mounted on the steering column. The Cargo version gets special storage functions, including a removal center console and several storage bins.

Volkswagen ID. BuzzBoth passenger and cargo configurations are offered.Volkswagen

ID. Buzz Cargo production starts in Europe early this year, with production of the standard van following shortly after. The European launch is scheduled for the third quarter of 2022, and the van will launch in North America in 2024. Volkswagen has not yet nailed down the model year for the new van, and will release more information closer to its release.

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