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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The time has come to start work on this project, which with its interesting background may just be TCL material. The subject is a seemingly unassuming almost base model 1999 Volkswagen Polo. It was ordered new via Denmark, and then spent the first 8 years of its life at the Thule Air Force Base in northwestern Greenland - 700 miles north of the Arctic Circle and less than 1,000 miles from the North Pole.



By reading through the documentation supplied in or with the car, it was found that the car was driven approximately 3x,000 miles on the base, before being partially stripped (reasons unknown) and sold via a military depot in southern Virginia. There were four Polos brought into the USA at the same time; this one had no engine, but the best body from what I could tell from the small online photos provided by the liquidation company. I was able to view all of them briefly while on the base, and discuss them with a few personnel, and this car did seem to be best metal structure wise.

This is all we had to go on when purchasing the car:



auction said:
No Engine, Running condition unknown.
..

Along with the car, I received the original build sheets for the car, plus the military service history and a few other goodies. It was ordered with the following specifications:

  • Manual Windows, Manual Door Locks, Manual Mirrors
  • Manual Steering
  • Cloth Seats
  • Heated Seats
  • Height Adjustable Headlights
  • Blaupunkt AM/FM Cassette Stereo
  • Steel Wheels, Hubcaps, with Michelin Non-Studded Snow Tires
  • 1.9L non-turbo diesel engine
  • 5 speed manual transmission (Linkage shifter, but hydralic clutch).
  • ABS Brakes


It then appears to have been fitted afterwards with a 110 volt distribution block in the engine bay, which had one wire running to the inside of the car (unknown to what it connected to), with a crudely installed external plug. It also received a roof antenna, and a receiver (+ transmitter?) inside - only the wiring was left installed when I received it.

One interesting thing that will become apparant is that the car is COVERED in a fine layer of dirt/silt. It is everywhere. Inside every vent, every seal, throughout the interior, engine bay, underside and on top of the car. I can only guess that once the snow has cleared, the dirt/dust must get blown by the wind pretty severely up there at the Base. The base is of course famous for its location and use throughout the Cold War, with B52s flying out of there 24 hours a day (and infamously, one crashing near the base while loaded with live nuclear warheads).

Any paint that was scratched or scraped away has rust under it, but underneath the car it is almost entirely rust free - perhaps they don't salt there (losing battle?), and the low temps remove moisture from the air? The base is the only Air Force location with a deep sea port, and this specific car obviously had access to the port (the sticker is still on the windshield..), so it couldn't have been too far from the sea salt though at any point of its life.

Plans for the car? Well, first there's a laundry list of items that are missing or broken - rear bumper, taillight, drivers door handle, drivers door interior panel, front subframe and engine mount, engine, transmission, axles. Some things are there but are junk - wheel bearings (rusted and no rolling with no axles killed them), wiring harness (cut off in the engine bay) and probably more things that will turn up later.

So, these obviously need to be addressed first. Keeping it a diesel would be the obvious choice, but there's literally nothing left except the fuel lines. I'd like something a little quicker in that case.. something that can never lose perhaps.

Wheels, suspension, bodywork, interior? All to be decided, although with the neat background, the logos on the car and a 'fun fund' that's more closer to forced rat-look than trailer queen build, it's likely to stay as near to stock as possible.

I'll leave this first post with the photos taken directly from the auction site, and then one from the journey home (!). Initial thanks to Vanaman for finding the car, and Dean et al in Richmond, VA for huge help getting the car home.

Enjoy, Jamie.

















More to come.. :)
 

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very cool find! what do the door badge and the window sticker look like? :)
 

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not to be nosy, but how much did you pay for that? I hope it wasn't a lot...
 

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great car, we have the same one, its only badged as seat cordoba
the sdi engine will last forever, they are very economical, there is a lot of space inside for such a small car
pic:
 

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My brother had a sedan version. 1.6 75hp and lowered to be barely driveable :eek:
With a Seat cupra (or vr6?) front lip, it kinda looked bad ass from front when sitting so low
It wasn't that bad, but then again, I was a kid.

About that SDI-engine, maybe it was a good thing that it's being taken away :laugh:
Sure it's strong, but a TDI probably gets better mpgl and it's more enjoyable to drive

edit: have to say, I loved the interior over our much newer corolla
 

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About that SDI-engine, maybe it was a good thing that it's being taken away :laugh:
Sure it's strong, but a TDI probably gets better mpgl and it's more enjoyable to drive
only on highways, on normal roads no.
65hp is small amount of horsepower but for everyday driving you actually dont need more. plus this cars are great in the snow
 

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only on highways, on normal roads no.
65hp is small amount of horsepower but for everyday driving you actually dont need more. plus this cars are great in the snow
i don't remember driving the 1.9 SDI, but heard comments about it. I know it isn't always about horsepower, but i don't think it has the easy going torque as TDI's have.

I've driven few thousand miles with a 2.4D (n/a) VW Caravelle and it was bad. It doesn't have a rev range where it performs well and absolutely no "grunt" of a diesel. You can get the thing moving pretty easily by just letting the clutch off, but that's about it. Even the 1.9TDI's in those are considerably better
 

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Interesting find! I didn't think there were any Polos at all in the US. Getting bits for it is going to be interesting :what: Lots of time on ebay.de methinks :)

A tweaked TDI would be fun in there :thumbup:
 

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I don't get the attraction to these things, but looks like a cool project nonetheless.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
not to be nosy, but how much did you pay for that? I hope it wasn't a lot...
About $500 for the shell.

great car, we have the same one, its only badged as seat cordoba
the sdi engine will last forever, they are very economical, there is a lot of space inside for such a small car
You're spot on, it is just a rebadged Seat Cordoba - same production line, and a lot of the parts have VW Spain or SEAT Spain stamped on them.

Interesting find! I didn't think there were any Polos at all in the US. Getting bits for it is going to be interesting :what: Lots of time on ebay.de methinks :)
I've been sandbagging on the build thread a little bit. I have already got most of the missing parts imported to the USA, and ready to bolt on. This should help keep the time length of the basic get-it-running-again build quite a bit shorter ;)

This is actually my third Polo in the USA. I just brought in a 1982 Breadvan for my wife as well (one owner, low mileage). This estate is very unusual though, as it's much newer that can be personally imported.

I don't get the attraction to these things, but looks like a cool project nonetheless.
Unusualness, and a nice little wagon with interesting specification for a late 90s car.
 

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I don't get the attraction to these things, but looks like a cool project nonetheless.
Different for being different's sake, I would guess. VW guys get off on it.

I remember my aunt had a Polo just like this in England before moving up to a Golf Wagon. I remember it being small and crappy even when I was a 14 year old. Probably had to do with her having two little kids at the time too.
 

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i guess the obvious question is even though its been imported by the us goverment, how are you going to get it tagged, titled, and insured for road use being that its relatively new?
 

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It then appears to have been fitted afterwards with a 110 volt distribution block in the engine bay, which had one wire running to the inside of the car (unknown to what it connected to), with a crudely installed external plug.
I'd guess it's had a block heater fitted, to warm the engine up before starting it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
i guess the obvious question is even though its been imported by the us goverment, how are you going to get it tagged, titled, and insured for road use being that its relatively new?
Definately a good question. Happy to report that it's all taken care of already. I was not going to put any money into the vehicle until it was all sorted out.:thumbup:

I'd guess it's had a block heater fitted, to warm the engine up before starting it.
Absolutely. From what I've read, -30'C is not uncommon, so I suspect that when the engine wasn't running, it HAD to be plugged in. I wouldn't be surprised if it had several heaters, hence the distribution point.
 

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Damn, that's one hell of a project. Awesome history though, will be worth it when its done :)
Can't wait to see it progress. Never seen a polo in my life.

If I had to guess how it arrived in such an abismal state .. Perhaps it stopped running (or was just in bad condition) and it was raided for parts to keep the other base Polos running. Can't be too easy to get overnight parts from Japan shipped to the effing North Pole.

Edit: that 1.9 diesel is probably the same one found in mk3 Jettas (and Canadian Golfs, I'm told), right? Perhaps also the B3/B4 Passats.
 
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