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Polo Was Once a Funny Car

The Volkswagen Polo once had a funny-looking variant. Hold on, don't judge a book by its cover! Volkswagen tried its humor on this April Fool which made me write this brief vintage comic that tells the story of the adorable Volkswagen Harlequin.


The origin story of this Harlequin is a mystery – even Batman couldn't crack it. While the Joker might come to mind, the inspiration might be less serious, like a classic clown from theatre. Here at the office, we like to believe a VW executive fell in love with a colorful brochure (green, yellow, red, and blue representing engine, interior, chassis, and options). These same phone card ads were a hit, too.

Fellow enthusiasts made it happen, bringing the Harlequin to life at the 1995 Frankfurt Motor Show. Even surrounded by serious cars, the clown car stole the show – people love a little humor! Volkswagen saw the laughs and made 1,000 Harlequins, each with a special keychain and certificate. More importantly, the car was legally registered as multi-colored and there are a bunch of fakes repainted to look like one.

The Rise

Volkswagen received way more than 1,000 bookings! They happily built 2,806 more Mk3 Polo Harlequin editions. These came in four surprising color combinations. The brand brilliantly made the colors random, so buyers only knew their unique Harlequin at delivery. This was a clever way of saying they didn't want any dead stocks from the mixing and matching.  

Beyond the disorienting body colors, the Mk3 Harlequin Polo didn't shy away from colorful interiors. It also sported a driver airbag, clear headlamps, and sporty bumpers. Everyone loved seeing these Polos on the road. Believe it or not, McDonald's (not a circus company!) bought 500 Harlequins, stickered them up for publicity, and gave them away through a lottery.

The Harlequin came back as a Beetle in Mexico and a Golf in the States but never reached India.  Honestly, I'd take any of them in my garage just for the fun! Since the land and of the free had never seen a Polo, Volkswagen decided to give them a Harlequin opportunity through Golf, you can see one of them in the images. 264 units were made in the US and unfortunately, the dealers found it hard to sell them all. So they even pieced back together to make a Ginster yellow, Pistachio green, Chagall blue, and Tornado red single-colored Golfs.

TopGear Magazine July 2024