Find of the Day: Harlequin Romance

Car makers aren’t ones to take risks. They employee teams of marketing muckety mucks whose sole purpose is to ensure the vehicles they make will be what buyers want to spend their money on. From time to time a passionate leader is able to push something special through the product pipeline. Something that they love and they want others to love, too. And that brand new shiny product risk can fly off the shelves if people love ’em. Or they can just sit there collecting dust. Unfortunately, the Golf Harlequin Edition was the second kind of risk.

The history behind this model didn’t start as a failure. Back in 1995 VW created a series of Harlequin Polos for Europe. The patchwork body panels in bright colors made the little car a hit. They were so popular that Volkswagen increased the initial run from 1,000 to over 3,800 little hatchbacks. With that success, a Golf Harlequin had to be a sure thing, right? Not so much.

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In 1996 Volkswagen produced 264 Golf Harlequin Editions for the United States and Canada. The production process was interesting: entire single-color cars were built, then they unbolted all the panels and swapped them from vehicle to vehicle in a specific pattern so no matching-colored body panels ‘touched.’ As interesting as they were, it’s noted that they languished on dealership lots. In fact, Jim Ellis Volkswagen in Atlanta GA is rumored to have swapped body panels back to make single-colored cars. If true, a pistachio green Golf may be roaming the streets today; they never offered the color in the United States. Unicorn indeed.

The good news in this story: Harlequin Golfs are now real collector’s items. This ’96 automatic model appears to be a well maintained pistachio green base (the un-swappable C pillar and roof color) car with relatively low miles. It sports the original interior, was recently worked on by a mechanic, and is mildly modified with a coilover suspension and some smart looking alloys from a MINI Cooper. The seller has all receipts from 2009 on and it sounds like the car can be driven anywhere.

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Like all limited edition cars, this one comes with a healthy price tag of $10,000. But unique cars like this often command a premium over their run-of-the-mill siblings. So if you’re looking for something completely different that you won’t see everyday, or ever again, this could be the car for you.

You can find the car listed on The Samba.