Thieves mourn the Citi Golf, It was number one on hijackers’ wanted list’.
Even car thieves have been left with lumps in their throat as the last Volkswagen Citi Golf to be produced goes into retirement at a museum at the manufacturer’s plant in the Eastern Cape town of Uitenhage.
I don’t know how many I stole, but the car is a legend
Volkswagen punted the Citi Golf as South Africa’s best-selling car, but didn’t mention that it occupied poll position on the “wanted” lists of criminal networks.
Some criminals said the Citi Golf ranked as one of the vehicles most likely to be taken away from its owner – either through theft or by force.
As the curtain comes down on a made-in-South-Africa motoring legend, convicted car thieves shed some light on why Citi Golfs are in high demand by criminals.
“The demand for the Citi Golf is always there in the townships,” said a 35-year-old convicted car thief and hijacker, who asked not to be named, and who is now serving a 15-year term at Durban’s Westville prison.
“I don’t know how many I stole, but that car is a legend. You can customise and do anything you want with it; I think that is why people like it so much.”
His cellmate, a 37-year-old serving 20 years for the same crimes, said: “I stole many cars . BMW 325s, Jumbos [VW Golf mark 2] and VR6s [Golf mark 3]. But the Citi Golf was always the easiest to sell.”
Both men claim that they never shot their hijacking victims.
The 37-year-old said they would go to various Durban suburbs or to the inner city looking for a specific car to steal, but would hijack a driver only if they couldn’t find one parked.
“Hijacking is a more serious crime than theft,” said the 37-year-old.
When hot, a new Citi Golf would be sold for between R6,000 and R8,000.
“Hot” refers to the period shortly after the car was stolen or hijacked and before its identity was changed, he said.
Once the car “cooled down,” thanks to an expert who removed and re-stamped vehicle identity tags and engine numbers – and in some cases re-sprayed it – its value would increase.
“When it had been completely done, we would sell a new Citi Golf for between R10,000 and R15,000, depending on the condition and skill of the person doing it. If you trust that person, and he has worked on cars before that never had problems with the police, then you could charge a good price,” said the 37-year-old.
New Citi owners were outraged in 2007 when a major insurance company refused to insure Citi Golfs assembled between 2004 and 2006 because of the rate at which they were being stolen.
The move affected about 2000 policyholders though the insurance company, Hollard, has since changed its stance and now provides cover for the car.
But not even the threat of parting with the vehicle unceremoniously would deter those who loved the Citi from buying it.
Bank employee Sibusiso Goba, a confessed VW fan, who bought his VeloCiti in 2005, said: “My philosophy is that I will never deprive myself of something that I love because of another person.”
First introduced as the VW Golf mark 1 in 1978, the car was later given a face-lift and re-introduced as the Citi Golf in 1984.
Volkswagen intended to produce it for only five years – but ended up making it for the next 25.
In 1984, available in yellow, blue and red – thanks to some creative input from fashion designer Jenni Button – it proved a hit.
And for decades South Africans were sold on its stylish looks, reliability and economy. Some have even confessed to having had some hanky-panky in a Citi. More than 600,000 of them were sold in South Africa, despite their lack of safety features. But some have wondered what the fuss is all about.
Jeanne Fochessati, owner of a black Citi Rox, said on the car’s farewell website www.goodbyeciti.co.za : “True what they say – if you’ve never owned one, you’ll never understand.”
source: Time Live