1983 Volkswagen Polo Classic C Formel E Saloon 1.1 petrol from UK and Ireland


A cheap, lovable, reliable and nippy car


The clutch went without warning at 118,000.

The gearbox went about a year later.

I had a lot of problems with the overheating of the radiator. No garage could figure it out, until I got a new radiator fitted, when they cut up the old one it was full of Rad Weld that some idiot in a garage had tipped in. So this wasn't really the cars fault.

The overheating led to the head gasket going at 140,000 miles.

Lately some problems with starting in the wet when its cold. But when I spray WD40 it's fine again.

Loses a lot of oil since the head gasket went.

General Comments:

I love this car and have never regretted buying it.

You hardly see any booted saloon Polos, and I like the way nobody else has a car like mine.

I have spent around £4000 on it, not on problems but a Powerflow sports exhaust which makes a nice noise and more power!, new seats, big bass stereo, smoked lights, too much to list!

Although sluggish when it's cold, once it gets going it's quick. I love the way it's so easy to drive, the littlest touch on the accelerator will rev the engine.

Basically a lovely little car with a lot of character, I intend to keep it forever!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 13th January, 2002

25th Jan 2002, 16:53

Does the engine make a distinctive "ticking" noise?

5th Aug 2002, 04:37

Have got a 1983 Formel E, now with 210,000 mls. Runs brilliantly, does up to 60 mpg when reasonably driven long distance, average and town 35. Very few problems:

- not holding tick-over due to disintegrated tube on carburetor, fixed easily.

- occasional high speed fading, cures when left standing for a few moments (not yet solved, possibly heated up ignition component, coil or condenser; suggestions?)

- back lock kicked off 7 times, burglars looking for the screwdriver to get into other cars...

- pinking and uses oil. Quite OK at that age...


11th Nov 2002, 09:32

I've got a 1984 Classic C Formel E which has now done 153k miles without major mishaps/expense - I have had it about 7 years. I am very impressed with it and intend to run it as long as I can.

My only real problem is the headlights which are really dim. They are halogen ones. Has anyone else had these problems and what have they done about it. I was wondering if the reflectors needed adjusting maybe.

23rd Mar 2003, 10:54

About the headlights, all the models before 1985 had an older, lower power alternator that might not be able to power your halogen headlights sufficiently, as they draw too much power.

As for the pinking, my Haynes manual says that, while most models of Mk2 Polo can take fuel down to 90RON (the equivalent of the old two-star), for some reason the Formel E requires 98RON (the equivalent of the old four-star). Modern "Premium Unleaded" is 95RON, so you will need to use "Super Unleaded" to prevent the pinking.

20th Aug 2003, 09:40

I own a 1982 CL Classic and it is undoubtedly the most fun, economical and reliable car of its age. Admittedly it has cost me a fair amount of money these past few months, 1200 pound on a respray, 77 pound for a new clutch, but she is worth it! If looked after correctly, they will last indefinitely and will live on far longer than any of their automotive rivals out there. I'm afraid I am hooked by my little Polo and have contracted whats known as the "VW bug" and will probably still have her when I'm in my 80's!