Interior view of Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf GTI Interior Design Origin

Why Does the Volkswagen Golf GTI Have Plaid Seats?

For anyone who is familiar with the Volkswagen Golf GTI, the most notable aspect of its design is its eye-catching plaid interior. What started off as a design choice has developed into a worldwide symbol among automotive enthusiasts. But why exactly does the Volkswagen Golf GTI have plaid seats? This guide is here to give you all the answers.


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Gunhild Liljequist – From Chocolate to Cars Gunhild Liljequist sitting in Volkswagen Golf GTI

The VW Golf GTI was first introduced in 1976 and lit off sparks from the very beginning. While just a few details separated it from the VW Golf, the Golf GTI quickly gained traction and attention thanks to one designer in particular.

Gunhild Liljequist began working for Volkswagen in 1964, hired on with the Department of Fabrics and Colors. At just 28 years old, the porcelain painter and chocolatier candy-box designer was about to take the world by storm. In her time with VW she focused on interior detailing, trim, and exterior color shades, and once the Golf GTI went into production she was given the task of designing the vehicle’s interior. After settling on two, now iconic, design elements – plaid seats and a golf ball for a gear knob – and originally facing some resistance, her legacy would continue on with VW for years to come.

When asked about the seats in a Volkswagen press release, Liljequist was quoted saying, “Black was sporty, but I also wanted color and quality. 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.”

The iconic pattern is now known as “Clark Plaid” and continues to be a staple design element, along with the golf ball shift knob, in the current Golf GTI models.


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If you’ve ever wondered why the Golf GTI has plaid seats, the answer is simple. One designer’s choice left a lasting impact on the Volkswagen brand and more specifically the Golf GTI. You can find a plaid-filled Golf GTI at Quirk VW in Braintree, MA. Visit our online inventory to view our entire lineup of available VW models today.