Scirocco I (1974–1982)
Volkswagen began work on the car during the early 1970s as the replacement for the aging Karmann Ghia coupe, and designated it the Typ 53 internally. The platform of the Golf/Rabbit and Jetta was used to underpin the new Scirocco, although almost every part of the car was re-engineered in favour of a sportier drive, and the model's all-new styling, penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro, was sleeker and sportier than that of either the Golf or Jetta. Launched six months before the Golf, in order to resolve any teething troubles before production of the high volume hatchback started, the Scirocco went on sale in Europe in 1974 and in North America in 1975. Mark I models featured a range of four-cylinder engines with displacements from 1.1 to 1.6 L (1.7 L in North America (1975 1.5L (1471), 1976-77 1.6L, 1978 1.5L (1457), 1979-1981 1.6 (1588cc), 1981 1.7 (1715cc) USA models), all featuring a single-overhead camshaft and two valves per cylinder. 1975-1978 model year USA vehicles had 4-speed manual transmissions; for the 1979 model year, USA vehicles had 5-speed manual transmissions. Understandably, automatic transmission-equipped Sciroccos were rare.
The car changed little before being replaced by the Mark 2 version in 1982 (Europe). However, air conditioning became available as an option on the domestic market in August 1975. The possibility to retrofit the installation, together with a larger battery, was offered to existing owners.
During the production of the Mark I, there were subtle changes to the body and trim. In 1977 (1976 was first year), the conventional two wiper system changes to a single wiper which parks on the passenger side of the windscreen. In 1978, the separate front side marker and turn signal, changed to a combination wrap-around orange lens. Other mid-life changes include chrome bumpers with rubberised end caps to a plastic one-piece wrap around bumper. In 1979, the one-pieces "flag" style outside mirrors transitioned to a two-piece shrouded mirror. There were also special variants throughout the Mark I production. Most distinguishable by paint schemes and trim, there were special versions called "Sidewinder", "Sidewinder II", "Champagne Edition", "Champagne Edition II" and the "S". The Champagne Edition II only came in white with black accents. On the NA models the 1980 "S" versions came in only three colours, Alpine White, Black and Mars Red with unique colour accents. This was followed by the 1981 "S" versions which only came in Cosmos Silver Metallic, Cirrus Gray Metallic and Mars Red without the colour accents. Manually retractable sliding steel sunroofs were an available option on the "S" versions, and possibly non-"S" vehicles, too.
Scirocco II (1982–1992)
A heavily re-designed "Mark 2" variant (internally designated Typ 53B) went on sale in 1982, although it remained on the A1 platform. One unique feature of the Mark 2 was the location of the rear spoiler midway up the glass on the rear hatch. A mid-cycle update occurred in 1984, which included minor changes over the 1982 model: removal of the outlined "SCIROCCO" script from the rear hatch (below the spoiler), a redesigned air conditioning compressor, and a different brake master cylinder with in-line proportioning valves and a brake light switch mounted to the pedal instead of on the master cylinder. Half way through the 1984 model year, a new space-saver spare wheel was added, that provided room for a larger fuel tank (with a second "transfer" fuel pump). Leather interior, power windows and mirrors, air conditioning, and a manual sunroof were options for all years. Engine power and torque steadily increased over the years. The 1984 model year saw the return of two windshield wipers (vice the large single wiper), absent since the 1976 models. 1982 and 1983 models produced 74 hp (55 kW) and 90 ft·lbf (120 N·m) of torque. The engine code was EN. The 1984 models produced 90 hp (67 kW) and 100 ft·lbf (140 N·m) torque, the engine code was JH. In mid-1986, a 16-valve model was released in the United States and Canada, which included a full body skirt, larger rear spoiler, and tear-drop shaped wheel slots to distinguish it from Mark II 8-valve models. The two engines offered were the PL code (with 123 hp (92 kW) and 120 ft·lbf (160 N·m) of torque), and the Europe-only KR code (139 hp (104 kW)), which had no emissions equipment.
Like the first generation Scirocco, the car was assembled on behalf of Volkswagen by Karmann of Osnabrück.
Scirocco sales continued until 1988 in the United States, 1989 in Canada, and 1992 in Germany.
The Scirocco was effectively replaced by the Corrado in the VW line-up, although this had been on sale since 1989 and aimed further upmarket.