Volkswagen Builds A One-Off Harlequin Polo To Splash Color On A Gray World

Illustration for article titled Volkswagen Builds A One-Off Harlequin Polo To Splash Color On A Gray World
Photo: Volkswagen Netherlands

Do you miss bold, vivid car colors as much as I do? Do you wish cars were offered in more than just gray, other gray, black and white? Well, Volkswagen’s Netherlands division is here to show you how things used to be with a Polo wearing the colorful Harlequin paint scheme.

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On Monday, Volkswagen showed off a Polo wearing the striking Harlequin (Harlekin in Germany) paint scheme in Holland. The occasion? Celebrating a quarter-century since the last Polo Harlekin.

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Photo: Volkswagen Netherlands

That circus of a car was designed to showcase Volkswagen’s Baukastensystem — a modular system that cut the Polo into four categories. Customers configured their Polos through a color-coded system to select the desired drivetrain, equipment, options and paint color. The Polo was a visual representation of that system, and the cars came painted in Ginster Yellow, Pistachio Green and Tornado Red.

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Photo: Volkswagen Netherlands

Originally, only 1,000 Harlekins were meant to hit the road. Turns out that more than 3,800 were produced up to 1997. McDonald’s even raffled off 500 of them.

The 1995 Polo was not the first nor the last appearance of the Harlequin paint scheme, named for the costume of pantomime performers. Carscoops notes the colors made an appearance in a 1964 ad. It depicted a Beetle in the colors to tout the vehicle’s ease of service and bold colors. Here in America, we also got a Golf wearing the Harlequin colors. Those are exceedingly rare, as only 264 made it to American highways. The Harlequins are so loved that some people will even rescue them from junkyards!

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Photo: Volkswagen Netherlands

This tribute to the Harlequins of past is even rarer as a one-off. Still, it’s a beautiful reminder that cars don’t have to be boring shades of gray or colors so muted they may as well be gray. I feel so tempted to do a Harlequin-inspired color scheme on one of my own cars.

Staff Writer at Jalopnik and learning pilot. Smart Fortwo (x4), Honda Beat, Suzuki Every, AmTran Bus, VW Jetta TDI (x2), VW Touareg, Audi TT, Buell Lightning, Triumph Tiger, Genuine Stella...

DISCUSSION

There was a Walgreens in the town I grew up in where two Harlequin owners worked. There was also a third one in that same town, which I occasionally saw parked alongside the two that were normally at Walgreens.

According to VW, they only made 264 Harlequins, so ~1% of them were concentrated in a town with fewer than 5,000 residents. Idk, I thought it was neat.