It’s only a one-off showpiece, but it’s still a welcome and refreshing sight in this troubled times

Volkswagen has brought back one of its most famous colorways for a one-off showcase that’s sure to delight — and somewhat disappoint — fans who have lived long enough to remember the famous color scheme. Twenty-five years ago, Volkswagen launched the Polo Harlequin — it was called the “Harlekin” in Germany — to tremendous fanfare. The Polo Harlequin ended up being such a big hit that Volkswagen turned it into a limited-run production model.

Fast forward to 2021 and Volkswagen Netherlands decided to tap into the old magic well, bringing back the Harlequin name and colors on a one-off 2021 Volkswagen Polo.

Volkswagen Brings Back Classic Color(s) to Raise 2021's Spirits Exterior
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The story behind the Volkswagen Polo Harlequin dates back to 1964 with an advertisement that Volkswagen released featuring a colorful Beetle. The idea behind that ad was to showcase the Beetle and demonstrate how interchangeable the parts of the car were from models from different years.

Volkswagen even showed off the body panels in different colors to identify one from the other. What Volkswagen didn’t know at that time was that idea would manifest itself 30 years later. The Polo Harlequin’s story jumps to 1994 when Volkswagen introduced a new production method that it called the “Baukasten system.” The method revolved around four building blocks — the color, drive, equipment, and options — that would allow prospective Polo customers to put together a model that subscribed to their tastes and preferences. Volkswagen put together visual codes for each of the color blocks with green representing paint colors, blue for drive, yellow for equipment, and red for options.

Volkswagen Brings Back Classic Color(s) to Raise 2021's Spirits Exterior
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The German automaker went as far as building 20 units of the Polo with each unit coming in scrambled colors. The 20 units were built initially for promotional purposes, but something happened along the way that neither Volkswagen nor all the would-be Polo buyers expected: the latter group not only loved what they saw, but they loved it so much that Volkswagen decided to call an audible and build a limited-run special edition model that eventually became known as the Volkswagen Polo Harlequin.

What was the process behind the creation of the OG Volkswagen Polo Harlequin?

Volkswagen Brings Back Classic Color(s) to Raise 2021's Spirits Exterior
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It’s a lot more straightforward than you think. Basically, Volkswagen built four Polo models and dressed them up with the four (red, yellow, blue, green) colors.

Once all four cars were built, Volkswagen would take the body panels from each of the four Polos and exchange them with each other, creating different multi-colored versions of the hatchback.

The process was so unique for its time that if you bought any of the Polo Harlequin units that Volkswagen signed off on, you wouldn’t know what kind of color scheme your Polo Harlequin would come in until the hatchback was delivered to you. You could get one with yellow bumpers, red doors, a green hood, and a blue roof or you could get one with red bumpers, blue doors, a yellow hood, and a green roof.

Volkswagen Brings Back Classic Color(s) to Raise 2021's Spirits Exterior
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Volkswagen initially planned to roll out only 1,000 units of the OG Polo Harlequin, but the model proved so popular that the German automaker ended up selling more than 3000 units in the four color schemes. The North American market even got in on the fun. It didn’t get the Polo Harlequin from Europe; instead, it received 264 units of the Volkswagen Golf Harlequin, dressed in a cacophony of colors that included hey Pistachio Green, Ginster Yellow, Tornado Red, and Chagall Blue.

It’s been almost 30 years since Volkswagen released the Polo Harlequin, and while we do still see some of them around, it’s been a while since a fresh Harlequin model has come out. Unfortunately, we are going to have to wait a little while longer because this new Volkswagen Polo Harlequin model is a one-off make created by Volkswagen Netherlands as a tribute to the original Polo Harlequin. Like the OG, it’s dressed in mix-matched colors featuring the original four colors of the OG model.

Volkswagen Brings Back Classic Color(s) to Raise 2021's Spirits Exterior
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Sadly, we can’t buy the new Volkswagen Polo Harlequin. VW hasn’t indicated any plans for the one-off Polo Harlequin, but the model is expected to end up in any of the German automaker’s museums in Europe, including its own auto museum in Wolfsburg, Germany.

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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