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 1.6L, 1.7L in North America, all featuring a single-overhead camshaft and two valves per cylinder. The 1975–1978 model year USA vehicles had four-speed manual transmissions; for the 1979-1980 model years, USA vehicles were offered a five-speed manual transmissions as an option. In 1981 the 5-speed bacame standard. Automatic transmission-equipped Sciroccos were generally 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.
Source: Wikipedia (original)