When the Mk2 Volkswagen Polo debuted in late 1981, the body shape drew a lot of criticism. Fans of the model saw it as a massive step back from the svelte Mk1 it was replacing.
Public reception was so bad in fact, that VW released a coupé variant just a few years into production, which nowadays is seen as the more sought-after model. I’m one of those who thinks the earlier ‘Breadvan’ shape is fairly awkward, but after seeing Alex Lambert’s example at Ultimate Dubs UK a couple of weekends back, I may just have been converted.
The colour on this Polo is absolutely sublime. The candy red really picks up the sharp body lines, and the wide arches have been custom-crafted specifically for this car. The rear arch shape in particular makes a world of difference, with the radius allowing the back end of the car to drop versus the standard ‘flat-topped’ arches.
Tucked into the big arches are a little set of split-spoke Image HT wheels with very aggressive specs. The fronts measure 13×8.5-inch and the rears are 13×9-inch, with offsets of +2 and +10 respectively.
Small touches around the exterior really lift the fairly plain body shape. Period-correct Auto-Plas rear window louvres add a bit of sportiness to the side profile of the Breadvan, while the carbon fibre racing mirrors highlight its sporting intent. Porsche door handles are a must-have modification on a retro VW.
Alex removed the Polo’s bonnet on Saturday night during the show setup, so Sunday provided the perfect opportunity to check out the menacing crackle-black engine bay in the light.
The 1,473cc G40 engine now features a Jabba Stage 4 supercharger as well as a ported inlet manifold, large throttle body and a four-branch exhaust manifold for easy breathing. Engine timing is taken care of by an aggressive PSD camshaft in a big-valve head and fuel comes via a set of larger G60 injectors. Forged pistons for strength and a charge cooler help ensure reliability on what isn’t VW’s most steadfast engine configuration. All in all, this little Breadvan is producing a healthy 192bhp.
I’m told it struggles to find full-throttle grip up to motorway speeds, and seeing as it must weigh the same as a Converse sneaker I am not surprised.
The suspension is a trick air setup utilising a mix of OEM parts for maximum drop. Mk1 and Mk3 Golf struts, track rod end trickery, chassis notching – these are all familiar terms to Dubbers, I can assure you.
The Polo’s interior might even be more radical than the car’s exterior. There is hardly any of it left, but what is there is entirely custom. Every touchable surface in the upper cockpit is suede-trimmed, switches aside. The seats are a pair of Cobra Evolution Pros with SCHROTH Racing harnesses, while the ETB DigiDash2 is complemented by an AEM Failsafe air/fuel ratio gauge.
An anodised black pedal box and footrest complete the front of the cabin, but the real party is in the rear. Here, a satin black half cage cradles the onboard fuel cell, which appears to be running Goodridge braided hoses and fittings for reliable connections.
My personal favourite touch is the custom filler neck which stretches up from the fuel cell to the rear driver’s side window. With a car this small, no one wants to be crouching down into the boot, struggling to fill up. Not only that, but the polished filler neck really stands out in the expanse of black that is the Polo’s interior.
I may be a Polo coupé fan first and foremost, but this bad-boy Breadvan is just too cool to ignore. Alex has created a really awesome little pocket rocket.