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This British Volkswagen Came to America and Became an Exotic

European compact car VW Polo driving in NYC.
European compact car VW Polo driving in NYC.

The Volkswagen Polo is regular traffic in many countries around the world. But it was never sold in the U.S., so it stands out to anybody paying attention. Johnny Komar is the kind of person who pays attention. He’s also one of the only car guys I’ve ever heard describe his project as “complete.” That alone is a heck of an accomplishment. And he’s got an interesting perspective on design. This latest episode of CARISMA talks about “the right car finding you.” It’s a fun way to look at project-car planning. Sometimes you know you want to work with a certain platform, but sometimes a car you might not have expected to like just finds its way into your headspace. I can relate to this for sure, having owned a handful of cars. Some I sought out, others kind of presented themselves to me. To be honest, the ones that appeared in my life a little unexpectedly usually ended up being my favorites. But while Komar initially discovered the Mk 2 Polo without really looking for it, once he got one, his accessorization choices were very deliberate. The car has a cool set of white rally wheels and an OEM roof rack, both period correct, both purposefully sourced for their specific look. The result is a clean and classy vehicle that definitely looks special to car people, even if it probably just looks old to the normies. The car was imported from the U.K. on a leap of faith, bought sight unseen, and shipped to New Jersey where Komar sounds like he was pleasantly surprised to find it running and drivable as it came off the boat. That’s a good attitude to have about a purchase like that. Tough to buy anything without looking at it, let alone a 30-year-old economy car. But I’m glad this worked out! Watching this video is the most time I’ve spent thinking about the Volkswagen Polo in my entire life. But what a neat machine—not quite a Golf, not quite a wagon, just a funky little hatchback with a lot of ’80s European flavor. I can see why one of these could become somebody’s dream car. Got a tip? Email us at tips@thedrive.com