04 August 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Limited edition with punch: 1978 Polo RX

Limited edition with punch: 1978 Polo RX

One of the 1970s stars of Volkswagen’s rejuvenated and company-changing range of new front-wheel drive and water-cooled cars, the lifespan of the Mk 1 Polo was only six years, but a small number of special editions were wheeled out in that time to either bolster interest and create something special – Polo Jeans, 1976 and 1978 – or to rekindle demand towards the end of its life – Polo LX, 1981.

There was another, more elusive limited edition, though – the Polo RX. Not to be confused with the 600bhp Polo RX rallycross car of today, the 1970s Polo with the similar name had around ten times fewer horsepower and looked a lot less extreme. Only available in Belgium during 1978, production was limited to 1000 examples only.

Sports styling
Sports styling took nods from the Golf GTI – then only two years old remember – and previewed the Polo GT which arrived a year later in 1979. A matt black rear window surround matched the black-painted metal bumpers perfectly, while stripes in a similar shade emblazoned with the ‘RX’ legend adorned the side panels. A large badge on the front grille left cars in front in no danger of what was behind them, while under-bumper front fog lights further added to the menace.

While the appearance of the Polo RX was similar to the later GT, the engine was, too. A 1.3-litre four-cylinder unit taken from other models in the Volkswagen range was installed in the RX’s engine bay, and made the same 60bhp as the ‘proper’ hot Polo, too, with 0-62mph coming up in 12.9 seconds. Inside, occupants were treated to dark-coloured padded seats, a rev counter and a water temperature gauge.

The brochure promised: ‘The “RX”, a special edition of the Polo. With much punch.’ There was more: ‘The Polo is like no ordinary vehicle. But here is really something extraordinary.’ The RX certainly worked its magic on Geoffroy Thirion, who has owned the Polo RX featured in the photos here since 2012. Geoffroy is from Belgium and likes the fact that the RX is so rare, even more so that it was a limited model for for his own country.

Rarest Polo models
Probably one of the rarest first-generation Polo models, Geoffroy has lusted after one since he was a young boy: ‘Since I was a kid, one of my dreams was to one day be able to make the acquisition of a Polo RX – they have become so rare! To my surprise, while rummaging in period magazines at the 2011 Techno Classica Essen show, I came across the photo of a Polo RX. A year later I managed to buy one!’ he enthuses.

Geoffroy’s car has worn various wheels over his five-year ownership, from the standard 13-inch steel wheels (not as nattily painted as the red and black rims on the GT), through red cross-spoke alloys, to ‘telephone dial’-style rims. It also has a spoiler from the Polo GT nestling under its front bumper. The car sits alongside his 1979 UK-specification Polo GLS in his garage, and is an award-winner, too, having won the Best in Show’ prize at the 2015 WPG20 show in Belgium which celebrated the Polo’s 40th birthday.

With only one other Polo RX owned by a member of the Belgian Typ86.be Polo forum, the question is where have the other 998 cars got to? We suspect by the age – 38 years is a long time in first-generation Polo circles – that sadly many are no longer with us, but it doesn’t stop us holding out hope that one day, a collective rasp of RXs will line-up in all their red and black-striped glory.

Once that has happened, we need to look out for the perhaps even scarcer ‘J’ and ‘CLE’ special edition first-generation Polo models, as well as the ultra-rare 850cc-engined version sold in selected Scandinavian markets and early ‘square-roof’ cars… Find out more about the Mk1 Polo special editions here.

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