Jeans: August 1976, June 1978
Like the Jeans Beetle of 1974, the Polo Jeans featured denim upholstery and special ‘Jeans’ badging on the front wings, side ventilation trim and tailgate. The badges were made to look similar to that of a jeans metal stud, and were paired with a blue and red side stripe. Sold only on the Continent, the Jeans also boasted H4 halogen headlamps, reversing lights, front seat head restraints and an imitation leather steering wheel.
Fashionable: the Polo Jeans, like the Beetle Jeans before it, featured denim upholstery. Based on the base-model Polo, black-painted bumpers replaced the silver versions
The Polo Jeans was powered by both the 895cc 40bhp and 1093cc 50bhp engines and featured wider-than-standard 145 SR 13 and 155/70 SR 13 tyres respectively. The second edition of 1978 was available in different colours. Alpine White, Mars Red and Mexico Beige replaced the Oregon Beige and Carolina Green of the 1976 version, which was limited to only 1,000 units. Prices were DM8995 for the 40bhp model and DM9265 for the more powerful 1.1-litre car.
Flushed with success from the Golf GTI’s launch in 1976, Volkswagen took the opportunity to launch a sports variant its smallest car when the Polo was facelifted for the 1980 model year. Making a ‘hot’ Polo was easy – the basic car only weighed 685kg, and so a powerful, large capacity engine wasn’t needed. The engineers took the 1272cc unit that was already giving service in the range-topping GLS version on the Continent – UK GLS cars had the 1093cc 50bhp engine fitted, the Derby saloon having the 1272cc 60bhp version sometime later – and installed it into the GT. By adding sporting addenda and interior trim, the ‘performance’ Polo was born.
Hot: Polo GT was powered by the 1272cc 60bhp engine from the continental GLS. It had a unique front spoiler and grille and side trim borrowed from the Series 1 Golf GTI
Destined only to be sold on the Continent, and therefore not to be produced in right-hand drive (and not sold in Britain), the GT posted a 0-62mph time of 12.9 seconds and a top speed of 92mph. The model was introduced to the public at the Frankfurt motor show in September 1979, with customer deliveries beginning at the end of that year. Extra equipment over the GLS included a front chin spoiler, red-trimmed grille borrowed from big brother Golf GTI, red and black painted steel wheels with wider 155/70 SR 13 tyres, ‘GT’ badges on the front grille and rear tailgate, and special ‘GT’ side stripes – again, a feature borrowed from the hot Golf.
Interior changes included a ‘GT’ emblem steering wheel, a rev-counter, red-trimmed instruments, and very bright red-striped seats. As with the original Golf GTI, the Polo GT was only available in Black, Diamond Silver Metallic, Mars Red, and Alpine White. Paving the way for modern sporting Polos, the Series 1 Polo GT died in the autumn of 1981, when the Series 2 was introduced. There was then a one-year wait for the next chapter in the sporting Polo story – the Polo Coupé GT arrived in 1982.
A limited-edition run-out model, the LX was introduced in September of that year. Based on the N with no external brightwork, it was available in only two metallic colours – Diamond Silver and Regatta Blue – and featured a laminated windscreen, silver painted dashboard, halogen headlamps, polished chrome hubcaps and wider 155/70 tyres. Special ‘LX’ waistline graphics and trim were applied to the body sides and front wings. Buyers on the Continent could additionally choose Alpine White or Monaco Blue paint colours, and the full range of 40, 50 and 60bhp engines.
Available on a limited number of LXs was a high compression version of the 1093cc engine, 3+E gearing, a fuel consumption indicator and a change-up light. This was the first use of Volkwagen’s new Formel E system economy system, which was to spawn a whole range of models in the early 1980s.
Rarity: a limited run of Series 1 Polos were produced trialling Volkswagen’s new fuel-saving Formel E technology, complete with higher-compression engine and 3+E gearbox
Derby CLS: 1981
Only available in three metallic colours, the Derby CLS had special coachline and C-pillar graphics fitted, while the bumpers had colour-matched inlays. A ‘Derby’ badge was also fitted on the nearside of the grille. Special equipment included a rev-counter, door pockets, trip mileage recorder and unique gear knob. The CLS was powered by the 50bhp 1093cc engine as found in the mainstream S and LS.