Decisions, decisions. There you are in the dealer showroom, one hand clasping the brochure, the other hand clasping a cup of coffee so hot that it must have been brewed using molten lava. You enjoyed the test drive, you’ve accepted the finance deal and have ticked all the options. There’s only one thing left to do – decide on the colour.
The brochure offers you an array of colours to choose from, including solid, metallic and pearlescent. After what seems like an eternity, you’ve narrowed the choice down to four. Ginster Yellow, Chagall Blue, Pistachio Green or Flash Red. Sensing indecision and fearful of losing the deal, the helpful salesman offers you an unbelievable solution. Why not have all four? It is at this point that you should glance around the showroom to locate the nearest exit, before making your excuses and running for the door. A four colour car? What is this, circus time?
To most people, the idea of a four colour car is some kind of sick joke. The kind of vision that wakes you in the middle of the night and leaves you in a cold sweat. But believe it or not, there are approximately 3,800 people across the world for who this vision is a thing of beauty. How do we know this? Because approximately 3,800 people bought a VW Polo Harlequin.
The Polo Harlequin was officially launched at the London Motor Show in 1995. The purpose of the launch was to assess the public’s reaction to such a bold colour scheme, so you can blame the Brits for the fact that a few months later in 1996, the Polo Harlequin went on sale. Based on the 1.4 CL, the Harlequin featured a bespoke interior and ‘sports’ bumper.
Harlequin customers were still treated to a somewhat lucky dip style delivery process. In the showroom, they could spec the colour of the roof, rear pillars and sills, but the rest was down to the guys in Wolfsburg to decide. You can almost hear the hilarity and joy as the chaps on the production line bolted the car together, “zose krazy Britisch viv zer krazy senz of humor”. Apparently this added element of surprise was all part of the sales package. However, I’d imagine the biggest surprise would be reserved for the moment the buyer arrives at the showroom to pick up their new Polo. This is the exact point that the fact that they actually did tick the Harlequin box dawns on them.
But let’s look on the bright side. When you come to your senses and decide to sell it on, there’s a ready made list of buyers in the form of children’s entertainers, party shops and Noddy impersonators. It also bypasses the ‘laid up on the front garden’ look when it reaches bangerdom and most panels have been replaced.
And for all of the obvious flaws, it must have a certain amount of collectability in 2010. There appears to be none for sale in the UK today, so they’re either locked away in private collections or owned by loving drivers who cherish them and couldn’t bear to part with them. Let’s also now forget that VW were so inspired by the Polo, they went on to launch the Golf equivalent, of which there are rumoured to be 260 or so in existence. There are even rumours in Wolfsburg that VW is planning a Tourareg Harlequin – surely the ultimate car for the daily school run. No chance of children being ridiculed for their parents’ choice of transport.
But one final question. Just what colour do the DVLA list a Harlequin on the V5 document? Maybe, rather like the 2010 UK General Election, the DVLA just can’t decide what colour it is. A case of a hung Harlequin perhaps?
Thanks to vwpoloshow.co.uk for the helpful information and to Wikipedia for the images.