Archive | Polo 1994-2002

20 January 2021 ~ 0 Comments

New Volkswagen Polo Harlequin created to brighten up Blue Monday

Here’s something to brighten up the darkest and bleakest January day. The enterprising Volkswagen importer in the Netherlands has created an updated version of the arresting Polo Harlequin, which was sold in Europe. Unveiled for ‘Blue Monday’ on 18 January, the new version of VW’s small car joker wears a brightly coloured wrap and is based on the current sixth-generation Polo.

It’s not the first time an updated version of the Polo Harlequin (named ‘Harlekin’ in Europe) has appeared of course, but this latest attempt is set apart by just how well it has been done, and by how ‘official’ it looks. But then it has, in effect, been made by Volkswagen Netherlands. There’s also the fact that its original Harlekin buddy in these images is in tip-top condition. It’s rekindling all sorts of rare Polo desires in us!

Originally on sale in the UK in April 1996 – yes, the Harlequin is now, unbelievably, 25 years old – after its its appearance at the 1995 London Motor Show, the Polo Harlequin was based on the 1.4 CL. Featuring their own unique upholstery, UK-bound Harlekins were equipped with a driver’s airbag, Polo GLX ‘sports bumpers’, white indicators, as well as darkened tail lights. The UK price at launch for the five-door-only model was £11,095.

‘Building block’ approach
Manufactured in batches of four (Yellow, Pistachio Green, Chagall Blue and Flash Red were the base car colours), the idea was reportedly born from how the continental, European-market Polo was sold. Employing a ‘building block’ approach where buyers could pick and choose between various option packs rather than the UK’s solid trim levels, the bundles were marketed with each one a different colour: blue for chassis and engine; yellow for equipment; green for paint colours; and red for options. Yep, you’ve guessed it, the same colours as the Harlequin panels.

The other innovative approach with the Polo Harlequin was that the buyer was unable to specify a particular panel to be a particular colour – the combination that their car arrived in would be a complete surprise! Around 250 Golf Harlequins employed the same idea in the US, and both the rainbow-coloured Polo and Golf may have been inspired by the ‘Ballyhoo’ Beetle of 1971 which was painted in the 10 colours of the UK-market model.

Initially a concept to gain a production acceptance, VW displayed the Harlequin at the 1995 Frankfurt motor show, and was inundated with customer requests to buy it. Twenty cars were initially made for the promotion of the ‘Baukasten’ building block option system, and a run of 1,000 cars followed. A total of 3,100 Harlequins were eventually produced. UK buyers bought only 113 examples, and a quick check on howmanyleft.co.uk shows that 27 Harlequin are still registered for use on UK roads.

Sadly, there are no plans to put the 2021 Polo Harlequin into serial production, the car clearly made just to brighten people’s spirits during what is traditionally a quiet and unexciting time of year. It has certainly succeeded. However, we think a production version could be just the ticket drivers need for 2021 as we hopefully start to slowly and steadily populate roads again, and see 2020 increasingly disappear in the rear view mirror. It’s also an anniversary ripe for exploiting. How about it VW?

[Images: Eric Van Vuuren / Volkswagen Netherlands]

Would you like to see a new and official production version of the Polo Harlequin? Let us know in the comments section below.

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10 November 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Our cars: 2001 Polo GTI – report twelve

With a slew of more modern machinery driven recently, Rich Gooding’s 2001 Polo GTI has taken some time off in the past few months. That doesn’t mean it’s been a quiet 11 months since the last update, though…

2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI

I was quite surprised that the last update to Y464 GHJ’s story was eighteen months prior to the most recent report. However, with time a precious commodity, this latest update is 11 months after the last one which was published back in January. The car, a 2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI hasn’t been without incident this year, though, even if it is now taking a small break with a recent roulette of test cars. More of which later.

10,000-mile service
First job on 2015’s maintenance list was the 10,000-mile service back in February. A little behind schedule, 12,000 miles after the last one, Sani’s Motors in Chelmsford (01245 460040) also repositioned the steering wheel (it had annoyed me that it wasn’t straight since I bought the car), and looked into the intermittently-functioning boot light.

It turned out that the boot lock, connector and microswitch all needed replacing. A common issue with 1999-2001 ‘6N2’ Polos, the microswitch can get wet from water ingress in the boot, causing it to stop working. The car was booked into Sani’s in March and had the offending parts replaced and an MoT was also carried out. I’d looked on VW’s ‘ETKA’ parts system online via the excellent vagcat.com beforehand and identified the parts required.

Rear tyres replaced
While Y464 was in Sani’s workshop, I also had the front off-side headlamp washer jet and pump replaced, at the jet itself wasn’t its usual graceful-appearing self, rising from the bumper when the washing action was requested. A pair of rear tyres were also fitted, which were flagged up when the car was in for the service.

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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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22 January 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Our cars: 2001 Polo GTI – report eleven

Rich Gooding updates the story of his 2001 Polo GTI, which, used almost daily, has seen a fair of share activity since the last report almost eighteen months ago…

Hot Hatch Sunday at Goodwood meant an early start

This report almost got broken down in several updates, it’s been so long since I reported on Y464 GHJ, my 2001 Volkswagen Polo GTI that I’ve owned since September 2011. The last report highlighted how fun the car was at the Guild of Motoring Writers’ Big Day Out at Rockingham Motor Speedway in the summer of 2013. So just what has happened in the intervening 18 months?

The car’s annual service was due last March and, at 99,963 miles, it was taken into the ever-dependable Sani’s Motors (01245 460040) in Chelmsford. Y464 only needed an interim tune-up, so all the usual procedures were carried out, with the addition of a new pollen filter and new front brake discs and pads. The only minor problem reported was a leaking offside headlight washer pipe.

Losing power
Nothing major then, and I thought the car left the garage fully fit and feeling better after its fettling. That was a mistake. That very same month, on the way to work, warning lights started appearing on the dash, and the car showed signs of losing power. The battery had been replaced a few months earlier, so my thoughts turned to the alternator. Or lack of it, as the car slowed to a halt a few moments later and resolutely refused to start.

Thankfully, I had decided to take a non-busy backroad route in case the inevitable happened, and so found myself just outside a waste management site with an hour’s wait for the RAC. The technician’s battery check proved that it was indeed OK, and that the alternator was the cause of the problem.

A quick call to work, and I was then on my way back to Sani’s with the RAC van following behind, in case the ‘borrowed’ charge petered out. With just two weeks separating its visits, Y464 was back at the Essex VW specialists having a new alternator, auxiliary belt and oil filter fitted. Another £218.51. In-between its visits, the car’s mileage had just toppled over 100,000.

Early summer saw me fit a genuine set of 6N2 Polo GTI front mudflaps. I’d managed to track down a pair on eBay, and although used, they were in good condition even if they didn’t come with new self-tapping screws. 6N2 GTI front mudflaps have mouldings which take into account the model’s deeper sills, and wraparound them snugly.

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27 April 2014 ~ 2 Comments

Track day terror:
Davie Fraser’s 300bhp Polo GTI 6N2

Modified Polo GTI 6N2s are nothing new. But Davie Fraser’s is something special. A track day special in fact. With 300bhp and 330lb/ft of torque, Davie recalls what modifications the car has to give it a more than double standard power output

Davie Fraser's 2000 Polo GTI 6N2: 2012 track day

I have been a VW fan for years and have had several Golf 2.0 TDIs, both standard and remapped versions. My wife runs a Touran 2.0 TDI 170 which I use to tow my Brian James tilt bed trailer to Knockhill racing circuit, our nearest here in Scotland. And the track car which sits on the trailer? That’s a 2000 6N2 Polo GTI. It’s not standard, though…

I bought the Flash Red five-door ‘X’-registered 6N2 Polo GTI in 2010 with 83,000 miles on the clock just after we moved house, as I had to commute back and forth to work. It was certainly no minter but I have had a soft spot for the Polo GTI for years and always wanted one.

It soon became apparent that the gearbox was on its last legs, and after a bit of research, I found out that it was actually on its third gearbox, soured from a diesel Polo! (6N2 Polo GTIs are known to have gearbox issues.) I had toyed with the idea of building a track car, so made the decision then to use it on-track instead.

After sourcing and fitting a CWX gearbox from the 100bhp 16V 6N Polo, Raceland exhaust manifold, cone filter and a set of coilovers, it was ready for its first outing at Knockhill – a 130-mile hike from my home. The Polo was still road legal at this point so I had to be careful when I was out on the track, and couldn’t drive it like I had stolen it as I still had to drive home.

That first track day was really great. The GTI handled really well, even though it was on standard road tyres. I had a few spirited runs against a Golf VR6 and surprisingly the Polo did very well against it on the track. From then on I was hooked!

My second track day was also great fun, until I started to get blown into the weeds on the straights by bigger cars. Knockhill is only 1.3 miles in length and is a ‘power track’, so the Polo was never going to cut it with the big boys. The majority of cars that were attending the track days then were Subarus and Evos.

I made my mind up on the way home that I was going to build something that would put the cat amongst the pigeons and said to my mate Steve, ‘watch this space’. I then totally stripped the Polo including all wiring and interior in preparation for my build. I should have taken more time and thought it out but I was eager to get started on the transformation. I have a double garage at home so I was fortunate to have somewhere to carry out the work, much to the frustration of my understanding wife…

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