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VW Polo

The VW Polo from the first years was the cheaper alternative to the Audi 50. On the photo you can see the more luxurious "L" version of the first series. Image: VW
ER Classics Desktop 2022

The Volkswagen Polo developed into a crowd favorite after its birth in 1975. The Polo was positioned as the cheaper brother of the Audi 50, but soon it turned out to outperform it in popularity. The first series of the Polo sold well and laid the foundation for the current Polo success.

The Spartan Audi 50

Volkswagen developed the Polo together with Audi; the Audi 50 was launched seven months before the VW Polo. The compact front-wheel drive Volkswagen followed in May 1975. This was not only introduced to complete the delivery program of the Audi 50 downwards. The Polo also had the task of absorbing the strongly collapsing sales of the (savings) Beetle.


In 1975, the time-honored air-cooled VW only had the role of entry-level model within the Wolfsburger range. The VW Polo more or less had that function when it debuted. It was less luxurious than the Audi 50. In standard trim, it looked almost Spartan. The equipment of entry-level VW Polo N was minimal. Headrests, rear window heating, carpet, two-position ventilation / heating and halogen headlights were only available at an additional cost. A door lock on the right was missing; you had to close the right door from the inside: things that can hardly be imagined now.

Luxury boost to adulthood

The first VW Polo was - in the basic trim - a particularly minimalist version of the Audi 50. The simultaneously launched “L” version was the better and more fully-fledged alternative, which contributed to the Polo being the more luxurious brother of Audi in terms of sales. trumped. The 50 also suffered a lot from the larger Golf, which competed in price terms with the small Audi. In addition, the brand from Ingolstadt was assigned a role in the second half of the 50s in which they mainly started building larger and more luxurious cars. The Audi 1978 therefore disappeared from the scene in XNUMX. The Polo was now definitely on its own two feet. It continued to exist as an independent model.

The dashboard used in the Polo until the facelift in 1979 was austere, but well-arranged. This is the cockpit of the Polo L. Image: VW
The dashboard in the Polo used until the facelift of 1979 was sober, but clear. This is the cockpit of the VW Polo L. Image: VW

Expansion within the delivery range

In the meantime, the VW Polo delivery program had already expanded. This also applied to the engine range. Initially, only the 40 hp 895 cc power source was available in the Polo variants. From August 1976 this was joined by the 1.093 cc engine from the Audi 50. All Polos with a larger engine got at least the addition “S” on the tailgate.

For the 1978 model year, the top model - the VW Polo GLS - made its entrance, as a prelude to the then imminent farewell to the Audi 50. It was available with the aforementioned 1.093 cc engine, which generated 50 HP. The luxury Polo could also be equipped with the larger 44 kW powerful engine with a displacement of 1.272 cc. For VW standards, the GLS was richly equipped, judging by the placement of an electric clock, headrests, a windshield wiper on the rear window, lighting of the ashtray and heating levers, cooling water thermometer, and a covered steering wheel. He also received many things that were part of the standard equipment of the other versions.

The sporty equipped GT became available in 1979 after the facelift. Image: VW
The sporty equipped GT became available in 1979 after the facelift. Image: VW

Facelift

The VW Polo 1 was modified in 1979 by its makers. It received new larger plastic bumpers, a different dashboard and a modified, more bulky-looking grille. Items such as an improved heating system and an electric wiping / washing system were also added to the Polo. An important measure against rust from the first four years concerned a different way of gluing the roof.

The delivery program of the VW Polo was also supplemented with a sporty brother: the GT, which was equipped with the 44 kW motor that also found its way into luxury brother GLS. Models such as the Formel E (economical) and the LX (action model) also appeared in the latter days (1980 and 1981) of the modified first series. The Polo matured by the facelift somewhat lacked the charm of the first model series. Nevertheless, the modified and structurally improved VW Polo lasted until November 1981, after which it was replaced by the second series.

Still successful
The Polo, initially positioned as a frugal brother of the Audi 50, grew into a success number in its six years of production. Approximately 700.000 copies found their way to the buyer. It can irrevocably be called the basis for the success that the current Polo has today.

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