This was the first new (brand new) car I ever owned and it was the first time we were a proper two-car family. Margaret had learned to drive only a couple of years earlier so that she could take Sam and Claire London to the nursery in Whittlesey and at this stage of our lives (about 1988), the children were getting older and Margaret wanted a car to get them to places while I was at work.
It was a time when I was doing quite nicely, I had a better-paid job, a company car and I was running my motoring editorial business on the side, so we splashed out on a new VW Polo. It was almost the first Polo, a Mk 2, and was powered by a 1093cc engine with front-wheel drive and a four-speed gearbox. For a supermini, it was quite spacious, only three doors, but it had a very square back and had a decent amount of luggage space.
They were pretty popular cars, you saw a lot of them about because VWs (largely on the reputation of the Golf and Beetle) were considered pretty bulletproof and a cut above the Metro and Fiesta.
The Polo was well engineered, but it was a simple, unsophisticated car. For example, there were no electric windows, no central locking, no power steering and - most memorable - no servo-assisted brakes.
The Polo Mk 2 was the last car I remember that didn't have servo brakes and it was memorable because you forgot it at your peril. My first car - that side-valve Ford Popular had rod-and-lever brakes and you really had to stand on the brake pedal to get the thing to stop.
The Polo wasn't that bad, but it did require a firm stamp on the pedal. The number of times I jumped in it and, used to a power-assisted brake, got to the junction of Chestnut Drive and Station Road and brushed the brake pedal only to suffer heart failure as it seemed the brakes had failed. Just in time, I'd remember there was no servo, stamp on the pedal and stop just in time.
We had the Polo for about three years, then because the freelance I used to write my motoring column decided to quit, I had to take the writing back on myself so I had a string of test cars and wasn't putting the miles on my company car.
I gave the Polo to my dad, who was very pleased, not so much because he liked the car, but because he knew that I was doing well enough in my work to be able to afford to give him a car. He'd bought a Mini for me when I'd just started work and my Bedford van reached the end of its days and he'd also bought me an electric typewriter when I was getting my motoring business off the ground, so it was nice to give him something back. I'll always feel good about the Polo for that reason, although soon after I gave it to him, it needed an MoT test and needed new bushes on the front suspension struts. I think he got landed with a bill for about £180.
When dad died, my sister Margaret took the Polo so it came back to Peterborough and she used it for a number of years.It even survived a crash at the Dog in a Doublet when a car pulled out in front of her.
Ford Popular - click
Ford Popular - click
Bedford HA Van - click
Morris Mini - click
Vauxhall Viva HC - click
Citroen GS Club - click
Morris Marina 1.3GL - click
Talbot Horizon 1.1 LS - click
Vauxhall Cavalier 1.3L - click
Datsun Stanza 1.6GL - click
Ford Escort Mk IV 1.6D L - click