Archive | Polo 1981-1994

21 May 2020 ~ 0 Comments

21 May 1990: the first Polo rolls off the line at Volkswagen’s Zwickau factory

Now the jewel in Volkswagen’s electric vehicle production crown, the company’s Zwickau factory is home to the first model in the era of ‘new Volkswagen’, the ID 3. However, three decades ago, the first Volkswagen to roll off the production line at the former East German factory in the Mosel region was a Polo.

The DM17,410 Alpine White Polo CL ‘DDR’ (Deutsche Demokratik Republik, East Germany) built on 21 May 1990 was the first of 2,525 Zwickau-assembled Polos that year. Initial Polo production got underway at the rate of 50 units per day, built from ‘knock-down’ kits. Fitted with a catalytic converter and a 1272cc, 55bhp four-cylinder engine, a total of 17,978 Polos were built at Zwickau until February 1991, when the car’s place on the production line was replaced by the second-generation Golf.

Communist-era car
A former Trabant factory, Volkswagen’s takeover of the Zwickau plant was completed in on 26 September 1990. The little communist-era German car born in 1957 had enjoyed a more modern engine during 1989-1990 with the fitment of the 1093 cc unit from the second-generation Polo, and so Volkswagen thought it made sense to build the small Volkswagen in East Germany, too. The cleaner-powered ‘Trabi’ began to banish its noisy, smoky, and two-stroke reputation in favour of a more environmentally-friendly image. Before the Trabant chapter in the Zwickau story, there are more links back to the Volkswagen Group as we know it today. Horch founder August Horch settled in the city in 1904, and brought with him the brand that bore his name, as well as Audi, DKW, and Auto Union.

The second-generation Polos built at Zwickau were identical to those coming off the lines at Volkswagen’s ‘home’ plant in Wolfsburg. Based on the first-generation Polo’s chassis, a very different body ensured that there was no mistaking the new car for the old. Styled like a small estate car, the second-generation Polo had improved engines, more practical features, and increased comfort. Clever ‘Formel E’ versions pioneered some of the BlueMotion technology enjoyed by more recent Volkswagens.

All-electric offensive
Fittingly, the factory which once produced a much cleaner range of Polos, is now spearheading Volkswagen’s all-electric offensive. The new ID 3, the company’s first purpose-designed, electric hatchback is available to order now, and the first examples silently emerged from the plant in November 2019. Marked by a lavish opening ceremony attended by German chancellor Angela Merkel, the factory now solely produces fully electric vehicles. The ID 4 SUV will be the next new car to roll off the lines.

Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH, as the factory complex is now known, now employs over 10,000 people at three locations, a massive increase on the 500 staff when that first Polo was built there in May 1990. A phased €1.2 billion e-mobility manufacturing transformation of the Zwickau factory will see a total of six all-electric models produced at the plant from 2021, with cars from Audi and SEAT added to the pair of ‘new era’ VWs.

Highly automated production lines
A total of 330,000 vehicles will be produced annually by the highly automated production lines, and it won’t be the first time other Volkswagen Group cars will have been made at the Mosel factory: bodies and chassis of Bentleys have been made there since 2001, with those of the Lamborghini Urus joining them in 2017. The luxurious Volkswagen Phaeton also had its bodies built at the historic former East German plant. The Polo may have played a small part in the Volkswagen Zwickau story, but being the first car to roll off the line wearing the fabled VW roundel, its role was a very important one. It helped established a vital grounding for what will now be a blueprint for Volkswagen factories of the future.

Update: the Zwickau factory produced its final internal combustion-engined car on 26 June 2020. Since 1990, a total of 6,049,207 Volkswagen cars have been produced at the plant, and the final petrol-engined car was an Oryx White Pearl Effect Golf R Estate. As well as the Polo, Golf, Golf Estate, Passat and Passat Estate models have also rolled off the Zwickau production lines. The ID 3 which replaces all of them at the factory, will also be produced at Volkswagen’s Transparent Factory in Dresden from 2021.

MOSEL MILESTONES: THE LIFE AND CARS OF ZWICKAU

1904
10 May
August Horch moves his company to Zwickau, and establishes A Horch & Cie Motorwagenwerke AG.


1957
Trabant production starts at the Zwickau factory, now named VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke.

1990
21 May
First ‘GDR’ Volkswagen produced, an Alpine White Polo CL.
August Trabant production ends (Trabants were fitted with Volkswagen Polo engines from 1989).
26 September Ground broken for new automobile factory.
12 December Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH formed.

1991
15 February
Volkswagen Golf production starts in a new purpose-built factory.
October 20,000th Volkswagen produced at Zwickau.

1992
23 July
Third-generation Volkswagen Golf production begins.
September 100,000th Volkswagen produced at Zwickau.

1993
September
Volkswagen Golf Ecomatic production starts exclusively at Zwickau.

1994
February
All-electric Volkswagen Golf CitySTOMER production begins.
August 250,000th Volkswagen produced at Zwickau.

1996
Volkswagen Passat joins Golf on the production line.

1998
Annual production capacity reaches 250,000 vehicles.

1999
9 July
One millionth Volkswagen produced at Zwickau.

2001
Bentley and Volkswagen Phaeton bodies enter production.

2003
One millionth Volkswagen Passat produced at Zwickau.

2005
Zwickau Volkswagen Golf production reaches one million.

2016

Volkswagen Phaeton body production ends, Bentley Bentayga body production starts.

2017
Lamborghini Urus body production starts.

2018
Transformation to an e-vehicle production hub begins, with a 1.2 billion euro investment. From 2022, 330,000 electric cars will be produced at Zwickau, including six models for three brands: Volkswagen, Audi and SEAT.

2019
4 November
Volkswagen ID 3 pre-production begins, with the build goal of 1,500 units per day.

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04 April 2020 ~ 2 Comments

‘Modern classic’ 1993 Polo Coupé CL fetches £3,150 for StarterMotor charity

Now that the earliest second-generation Polos are almost 39 years old, it could justifiably be called a ‘modern classic’. Even the earliest facelifted ‘2F’ models are now 30 years old (yikes!) so they, too, can be included in the new heritage wave of latter-day machines. And ‘modern classic’ is one description which could be applied to the 1993 Polo Coupé which has fetched over £3,000 at auction. Sale proceeds went to classic car charity StarterMotor.

The 27-year-old Polo Coupé had covered just 37,000 miles from new, and was a two-owner car when it was bought by insurer Hagerty UK on behalf of StarterMotor. A supporter of the charity, Hagerty UK agreed to fund the purchase of the Polo as a charitable donation, as it aligns with its desire to welcome a new generation to the world of classic cars, and celebrates the rising popularity of modern classics. Hagerty also insured the Polo while it was in the care of the Heritage Skills Academy (HSA) which prepared it for auction. The HSA also benefits from StarterMotor charity funding.

Lightly modified
The lightly-modified Polo CL arrived at HSA, based at the huge Bicester Heritage complex in Oxfordshire, in January 2020. Booked into the Bonhams MPH auction on 21 March, the Polo was then returned to as near-standard-specification by the HSA apprentices. The suspension was returned to standard specification, an aftermarket steering wheel was replaced and second-generation Volkswagen Golf-style steel wheels were replaced with near-original-spec 13-inch rims (they appear to be pre-facelift model ‘flat’ items), wrapped in Goodyear tyres. As well as the new components, all the non-standard parts were included in the sale.

The Polo also underwent a comprehensive service at HSA, and was also the recipient of a new cambelt, head gasket, tappets, top-end rebuild, and a water pump. Auto Waxworks then carried out a full detail. Overall, the rejuvenated Polo enjoyed 80 hours of workshop pampering. Marcus Atkinson, Hagerty UK managing director said: ‘Encouraging young people into the world of classic cars is of huge importance to Hagerty, and we have supported StarterMotor and the Heritage Skills Association from the start.’

Sealed bid
StarterMotor is a charity aimed at inspiring young people to learn about classic cars. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Bonhams MPH auction was held behind closed doors. The Polo raised £3,150 for StarterMotor via a sealed bid, which included sellers’ commissions that Bonhams returned to the charity. The final sealed bid’s value was £2,800. ‘To supply a car for this project was a pleasure, and to see it raise so much money at auction, even during these difficult times, shows there is always a buyer for a well-prepared classic car,’ said Atkinson.

As well as a provider of leading insurance products, Hagerty International is regarded as one of the world leaders in the market analysis and the valuation of classic cars. It publishes regular reports taking data from auctions, car sales, collectors, and owners from around the world to give an accurate overview of the classic car market. It also offers an extensive event programme, including the highly-regarded and popular Festival of the Unexceptional which champions more ‘everyday’ cars and it is also one of the world’s largest classic car content providers with digital, film, print and social media channels.

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12 July 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Event photo report:
Club Polo 2015 Polo Social

Over the weekend of 26-28 June, the UK’s leading organisation for Volkswagen Polo owners once again staged its annual gathering. Previously called the ‘Polo Show’, for 2015 the name of the event was changed to more reflect its status and nature, being more of a social meet-up than a full-blown ‘show’ in the traditional sense.

Show ’n’ Shine
Whatever the name, it didn’t deter Polo owners from all corners of the UK descending on Billing Aquadrome in Northamptonshire for three days of Polo-based antics. With a Show ’n’ Shine on the Sunday, we made our way to the event to present the PoloDriver.com trophy for what we thought was the best car at the show. Shane Biggs’ 6N2 GTI was awarded the prize.

Eight trophies in total were up for grabs, with four (1st, 2nd, 3rd best cars in show and ‘People’s Choice’) awards chosen by the event attendees. Club Polo organisers chose the ‘Best Wheels’, ‘Best Interior’ and ‘Best Rat’ winners.

A relaxed and informal atmosphere is one of the nice things about the event, and as usual, there was a nice mix of older and newer cars, though sadly no Mk 1 Polos made the event in the model’s 40th anniversary year. To find out more about Club Polo or to join, visit clubpolo.co.uk.

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03 July 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Webcon reintroduces 1043cc carburettor kit for 1981-1985 VW Polo and Derby

2015 Webcon carburettor kit for 1981-1985 Volkswagen Polo 1043cc

Sunbury, UK-based carburettor manufacturer Webcon has reintroduced its carburettor kit for 1043cc-engined Volkswagen Polo and Derby models, built from 1981 to 1985. Priced at £183.75 (€253.58) plus VAT, the kit features a genuine Spanish Weber replacement carburettor for cars originally fitted with the Solex 31PIC7 part. The new item’s part number is 1527075000.

No additional tuning
The new item has been designed to fit the original manifold and air filters, and is supplied fully jetted for the engine with no additional tuning needed. Also included is every bolt, nut, washer and gasket for the job, as well as comprehensive instructions. Webcon says, ‘If you can carry out basic home DIY maintenance on your car, then you will easily be able to fit a Webcon replacement carburettor kit’.

The replacement kit is available from Webcon direct or from one of the company’s appointed worldwide dealers. For further information, contact Webcon on +44 (0)1932 787100 or visit www.webcon.co.uk. Webcon is a long-standing manufacturer of carburettor systems and has used the same engineers since 1978. The company states that ‘every kit produced is designed to return your car to factory levels of performance’.

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17 June 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Owners’ cars: David Peters’ 1984 Volkswagen Polo C

Forget your ‘slammed’ and modified Polos. Bucking the Volkswagen scene trend, David Peters has unearthed a totally standard, base-model Polo C in a rare colour with the intention of a mild restoration and nothing more. Rich Gooding discovers more…

1984 Volkswagen Polo C: 'Barry's unearthing is a true breath of fresh air

It’s not just the sporty Polos which are coveted. David Peters from South Devon spotted ‘Barry’, a 1984 Volkswagen Polo C for sale on a classic car website and just fell for ‘him’. A one-family-from-new car with a genuine recorded 56,000 miles, the Irish Green Polo had been garaged all its life and only used for short trips.

‘Completely original’
‘“Barry” was located in Swansea. It was a long way from south Devon but I had to have him. He was completely original and the family still had the brochure and original receipt of sale plus the dealers keyring and original number plates,’ David recalls.

‘When I went to see him, although he was completely original he was very dirty and in need of some TLC. He drove all the way back to south Devon in holiday traffic – which took 5 hours – smoothly and with no issues at all,’ he continues.

David’s plan was always to make sure ‘Barry’ stayed completely original and standard, and with nothing added that was not available as a factory option, as well as no aftermarket additions. The first thing David did was to strip out the interior and seats and give them a deep clean.

The four-speed base-model Polo had three missing mud flaps, however David managed to find an original set still in the packaging from an online Polo forum. He also sourced a set of original mats and the search goes on to find original parts to replace the worn ones.

Total respray
David says that the major facelift for ‘Barry’ was a total respray as the paint work was too far gone to salvage. Repainted in the original Volkswagen colour of Irish Green, David has yet to find another Polo in the same shade. We certainly think it’s rare, and, as it turns out, is also the colour used on the Polo on the front cover of the Haynes manual for the 1982-1990 models.

The one addition which David has been searching for since he took ownership is an original set of headlight washers, which were fitted to contemporary Polo GL models. He finally sourced a pair from Poland and is very much looking forward to finally fitting them.

David is looking to keep ‘Barry’ for quite some time. And in that period, he fully intends to give the car the love and attention it needs. ‘Barry has recently come out of winter storage and I am looking forward to taking him to as many shows and events as I can,’ David says.

‘Future plans include the stripping and cleaning of the underneath (with every nut and bolt done) plus an engine rebuild to take “Barry” back to as close to showroom condition as possible. I will also keep sourcing rare and genuine parts as well as factory extras,’ he continues.

Pilfered for parts
In a sea of modified and ’slammed’ cars on the Volkswagen scene, we at PoloDriver.com applaud David’s dedication to return ‘Barry’ to ‘his’ previous as-new state and leave it at that. A genuine car from its steel wheels to its rare factory sliding steel sunroof, basic ‘Barry’ is a breath of fresh air.

Young drivers might not see it, but the show scene needs more cars like this, historical documents, and proof of Volkswagen’s past. Its success was built on by cars like this little green 31 year-old Polo, but so many are pilfered for parts or lowered to an inch of their wheel arches. Staying standard is the right thing to do with this car. David, we salute you.

Discover more about the history of the Mk 2 Polo in our heritage pages section here.

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