My First Car: VW Polo G40


It was 2001 and I wanted a Fiat Punto GT, preferably in black with anthracite wheels. It sounds silly now, but at the time I’d consider nothing less. Not even a yellow one. And so, when a friend spotted a rare Polo G40 slumped at the back of a grotty dealership in Harrogate, I really didn’t care. It was black but so what? But then the salesman began his pitch:‘Supercharged 1.3-litre with 113bhp,’(…I was curious). ‘One of only 500 ever made,’ (… interested), ‘As fast as a Punto.’ (… test drive?).

And so off we ripped, returning ten minutes later with the little Volkswagen sold. Sure, the driver’s seat was ripped, it had no service history and the mechanic at the local VW dealer advised against it; ‘too expensive to service the supercharger,’ he said. But by then I was hooked. Forget the Punto, ‘I’ll take it.’

The next night I picked it up with my dad. He wasn’t impressed. ‘Pah, a supercharger,’ he wheezed from the passenger seat, ‘I’ve told you before, there’s no substitute for cc.’To him forced induction involved cigarettes, not superchargers. I didn’t say anything, waiting instead for the road to clear before flattening it in first. By the top of fourth my old man had choked on his Camel and I’d made my point; 8.1 seconds to 60mph. It felt faster.

A shame then that the following week the exhaust fell off, the petrol tank collapsed and the rain flooded the foot-well. ‘Serves you right,’ my dad gloated, ‘too flash for your first car anyway.’ The first two faults the dealer fixed for free, but of the third he simply wiped his hands. ‘Not his problem’, he said, which was annoying, as the water leaked through a hole where the battery tray should have been. Leaking acid was the cause, but ‘not to worry’, the previous owner must have thought,‘I’ll just plug it with cardboard and waterproof the lot with an old carrier bag’. Genius. Until it rained. Which in Yorkshire is often.

For a while I just put up with it, lining the footwell with newspaper and sticking a fan heater under the carpets to blast the moisture away on weekends. But when a date complained of the water deep at her feet I had no choice but to find a fix. At the local backstreet bodge-jobber the man sucked his teeth. ‘I’ll have a go, but it’s pretty bad.’ And so when the car came back still leaking I wasn‘t one bit surprised. ‘More work needed’, he said. More money more like.

And that meant I didn’t sleep well that night. I was worried not only by the leak, but also by the cambelt and supercharger that would soon need attention as well. Best part of a grand I reckoned. Let’s face it; I’d bought a lemon. And so, after just two months of ownership it left me with that all too familiar dilemma - do I spend the cash and keep the keys, or do I clean her up and sell her on? The next day an ad went in the classifieds. It had to go. ‘Sold as seen’.

The first viewer redlined it from cold on the test drive. I felt like demanding the clown pull over and wait for the bus. Or the train. Whichever hit him first. Then a guy from London called. He wanted to know when he could come and collect it, no viewing necessary.

The next week I waited for him at the train station. It was a cold day, raining of course, and I stood there preying for a skinny kid to arrive, someone just as gullible and snivelling as me. But it wasn’t – he was a huge fella who was almost as wide as he was tall.

He spotted the leak immediately. ‘The carpet’s wet,’ he rumbled. I didn’t argue, I just stood there waiting for the pain to flow and my eyes to blacken. And yet the guy cared not one jot. Not about the leak, the ripped seat, nor the hole in the service history. It was to be his ‘project’ car, nothing more, nothing less. And so off he drove, him smiling and me relieved. ‘At last’ I thought, ‘I can now buy that Punto.’

Comments (71) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Raize 23 May 2012

    Ah if only it was still possible to afford such good first cars.

  • PaulG40 23 May 2012

    I agree the faults the G40 had (you can see from my username I was/am a G40 fanboy) as a 'supercharged' shopping trolley, compared back in the day to the R5, pug 205 1.6gti and Cit AX GT. It was never a MK1 golf GTI competition.

    It's main problem was the UK cars had smaller servo's than their German G40 brothers. The only difference in the braking system between a UK MK1 golf and a UK G40 was in fact a smaller servo due to the manifold and TB boost return setup on the right hand side of the engine bay. The German G40 had the same braking efficiency as a Golf, due to the brake cylinder and servo located on the left instead.

    The Anti roll bar was comedy, providing everything from steering, braking and accelerating. The Mk1 golf had proper wishbones.

    It's quite funny that lurking on the G40 forum as alot of the same age old questions and advice keep coming round almost annually as more and more younger drivers find out about these little gems. The wider availability now of the full wishbone subframes setup, originally salzmann were the only supplier and at over a grand too! There cheaper now and UK proven.

    A G40 now, with 256mm brakes and a wishbone setup is now considered a better equal to the MK1 Golf and 100kg lighter to boot!

    Their faults were as much their charm too! smile That and the noise, ohh the noise biggrin

  • Crow555 23 May 2012

    housen said:
    just sad theres not alot of info on the g40s and this is a happens to be 1 bit that isnt very flattering
    http://www.polog40.co.uk/forum/index.php

  • RichTBiscuit 23 May 2012

    rockandrollmark said:

  • housen 23 May 2012

    ok ok i see your points first car etc

    just sad theres not alot of info on the g40s and this is a happens to be 1 bit that isnt very flattering

    i miss my g40 sniff sniff

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