autoevolution
 

Speed Racer Tried to Sell the Volkswagen Golf GTI in the 1990s

Speed Racer is probably one of the most popular race cartoons ever made. Years after being shot, people still talk about it or fall in love with the Mach 5. The Volkswagen Golf GTI is also a known name among hot hatchbacks. Volkswagen once managed to join Speed and the Golf GTI in a now legendary car commercial shot in 1996.
Speed Racer once tried to sell the Volkswagen Golf GTI with a fun commercial 12 photos
Speed Racer once tried to sell the Volkswagen Golf GTI with a fun commercialSpeed Racer once tried to sell the Volkswagen Golf GTI with a fun commercialSpeed Racer once tried to sell the Volkswagen Golf GTI with a fun commercialSpeed Racer once tried to sell the Volkswagen Golf GTI with a fun commercialSpeed Racer once tried to sell the Volkswagen Golf GTI with a fun commercialSpeed Racer once tried to sell the Volkswagen Golf GTI with a fun commercialSpeed Racer once tried to sell the Volkswagen Golf GTI with a fun commercialSpeed Racer once tried to sell the Volkswagen Golf GTI with a fun commercialSpeed Racer once tried to sell the Volkswagen Golf GTI with a fun commercialSpeed Racer once tried to sell the Volkswagen Golf GTI with a fun commercialSpeed Racer once tried to sell the Volkswagen Golf GTI with a fun commercial
The video starts in the same way most Speed Racer episodes do: with the realization that the Mach 5 had been sabotaged. That was the best way Speed’s competitors found to try to beat him: cheating, either on track or before hitting it. Spritle and Chim-Chim were the ones who often saved Speed from trouble. Curiously, they were not explored in the commercial as much as they should have been.

When the Mach 5 has its hood up and smoking, a mysterious man appears and handles Speed the keys to a (then) brand new Golf GTI. Who is that man? A Volkswagen executive? A dealer? A fan who just bought the hot hatch and wants to help Speed win? We’ll never know: the racer just accepts the offer and puts Trixie, Pops, and Sparky in the car, which also makes no sense at all.

Race cars need to be as light as possible. The extra weight would make the GTI lag behind the race cars even more than expected for a production vehicle, but there may be a reason for that. If a fully-loaded GTI could be faster than race cars carrying only the pilot, what an amazing hot hatch it would be! Unfortunately, that was just marketing, I mean, fiction.

When Trixie asks Speed Racer to go faster, he effortlessly does so and overcomes other competitors to get the checkered flag and win the race. That’s when we hear Pops saying that it “seats four.” We had the impression it could accommodate five people, but reviews from 1996 state that it was really limited to fewer passengers. Spritle and Chim-Chim tried to illegally make it carry six by hiding in the trunk, as usual.

The commercial ends with a narrator saying: “On the road of life, there are passengers, and there are drivers.” Volkswagen’s motto at the time was “Drivers wanted,” but Speed’s ad leaves no doubt about what the company tried to suggest with that: that Volkswagen customers are more than drivers: they are the ones in control. It is an interesting snapshot of what cars represent to so many people. It also explains why so many of them are reluctant to stop driving when they get older.

Ironically, Speed Racer never gets old, while the Golf GTI shows signs that it will not resist the EV transition. When Volkswagen goes fully electric, the hot hatch will only survive in car collections and in the memory of those who loved how versatile and fun it was.

 
 
 
 
 

Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories