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Forever Plaid: The woman behind the Volkswagen Golf GTI’s iconic upholstery

When it comes to Volkswagen Golf GTI upholstery, Forever Plaid isn’t just a Broadway musical. And we have Gunhild Liljequist to thank for that.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/10/10/woman-behind-volkswagen-golf-gti-iconic-upholstery

Is there possibly an association of the Clark Plaid with race car driver Jim Clark?

Owned a MKVI and now a MKVII GTI, and I love the Tartan cloth…wish you could option all trim levels with it, like you can in Europe…of course you can also get GTI and Golf R sportwagens there too. Sigh.

Sold shoes in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Aigner was quite hot then, and the Michigander women would come in behind to see the latest “Aagnur” bags, shoes and such. Just hit me, the keys to our X5 are on an Aigner keychain I gave to my then fiance’ for Christmas '81!

Triumph started manufacture of the TR7 with plaid seats in September 1974, ahead of the GTI I believe, the TR7 going on sale in the US in January 1975 (to a combination of both fanfare and derision). The plaid seats had people firmly in both camps. For myself, I like them, a pix of the gold tan seats from my 1980 TR7 is attached.

My wife’s first car was a new 1980 Black GTI with a sunroof. Marketed as the Rabbit GTI in Canada. I have very fond memories of that car. The tartan seats were very distinctive and were part of a German tradition of plaid seats dating back to the 300SL Mercedes and the Pepita seats in Porches.

Not surprised to learn that a women was behind this distinctive design feature, along with the golf ball styled shifter knob which was especially nice because it was connected to a 5 speed transmission.

The Golf GTI Mark 1 achieved iconic stature and defined a new segment of the market known as “Hot Hatches”.

Congrats to Gunhild and to Hagerty for telling her story, in an otherwise male dominated field.

Sadly, these cars became very degraded quality-wise when VW made the unwise decision to manufacture in the US to US standards of the day, rather than German standards. That’s what makes the Mark 1’s so special since they were German built.