October 6, 2022

From a fast turnaround observe automobile challenge, Matthew Powney’s tuned Polo G40 has advanced into an eight-year, ground-up restoration drawn from the quickest motorsport groups – and he’s not completed but…

Function from Efficiency VW journal. Phrases: Alex Grant. Images: Mark Rodway. 

Though it’s not as synonymous with its efficiency variations because the Golf, the Polo has quietly racked up a not-inconsiderable race historical past because it joined the vary 46 years in the past, and never simply with non-public groups. The GT-G40 was a velocity endurance record-holder in 1985, earlier than Volkswagen Motorsport engineering gave it its personal race collection that lasted into the Nineties, and it didn’t cease there.

By 2000, the 6N2 16V was out there as a factory-built junior rally automobile, and the Polo’s rallying profession would progress via wide-arch S1600 and S2000 variations peaking with a aggressive stint within the WRC and underneath later R5 regs. Loads of inspiration to work with, if you understand the place to look.

You’d have needed to look arduous to take cues from this one, at the least till lately. Going in opposition to the grain of painstakingly documented social media construct threads, the eight-year re-work of Matthew Powney’s Polo G40 unfolded behind the digital curtain of a personal Instagram account earlier than breaking cowl on the Retro Rides Gathering final 12 months. It’s a road authorized observe and hill climb-ready machine, honed with all the benefits of long-held concepts – a few of which return a lot additional than its final change of proprietor.

“A buddy of mine had a basic Mini with a 2.0-litre turbo redtop in it, and about eight years in the past we each determined to construct a observe automobile, simply as a little bit of enjoyable,” Matthew tells us. “I had executed my apprenticeship at Volkswagen – I’m a panel beater – and labored for them for years afterwards. Certainly one of my pals there had just a few Corrados and Polo G40s, and that’s what received me fascinated with these. It’s the sound they make, they’re fast for what they’re, and it appeared like an fascinating choice.”

Tuned Polo G40

There are simpler locations to start out. Though the facelifted Mk2 Polo was comparatively widespread, the G40’s complexity made it nearly as dear as an 8V Golf GTI, and Volkswagen solely bought round 500 within the UK. Costly mechanical failure, accident harm and rot-riddled casualties of the British local weather imply simply over 100 have survived, and house owners don’t are inclined to half methods simply. The upshot? An 800kg kerb weight, 113hp with heaps extra in simple attain, and magazine-tested in-gear dash instances that confirmed it might run rings across the Corrado G60 when it launched, not to mention its closest rivals. Fairly the underdog.

In fact, this didn’t make for a speedy begin: “It took some time to discover a first rate one,” he remembers. “I attempted shopping for just a few off boards they usually’d both bought, or individuals would change their thoughts. Then this one got here up in Yorkshire. It had been in {a magazine} a very long time in the past, but it surely had been messed about with and was a bit tatty.

Tuned Polo G40

Somebody had used and abused it, and it wanted some bodywork. I feel I solely drove it for 2 weeks earlier than I took it in and began engaged on it.”

With Matthew’s background in metalwork, reviving the shell was by no means going to be a fast job. Rust had set in on the sills and, as earlier house owners hadn’t shared his eye for getting this proper, a lot of the panels would wish some type of restore earlier than it went wherever close to a paint sales space. Whereas righting the wrongs, all of the undesirable visible litter – such because the aspect repeaters, rear wiper and tailgate badges – has been deleted, and the Polo was beginning to tackle inspiration past the unique job sheet.


The elements of the completed shell aren’t dissimilar to a G40 Cup automobile. As soon as the foundations have been strong, Huxley Motorsport sew welded alongside its structural seams and added with a customized six-point roll cage to dial out any flexing on observe, then Matthew put within the additional hours to get the remaining as much as scratch earlier than sending it to The Motorworks for paint. The crusty spare wheel properly has gone, changed by a flat panel, and the free house underneath the rear bench hasn’t gone to waste. That side-exit exhaust, and the port lower via the quarter panel to a low-hanging tailpipe, was solely potential due to the gasoline system being relocated into the cabin.

Tuned Polo G40

“The automobile was once Royal Blue, however I knew I needed to do a color change and the thought was to go for a Berg Cup look,” he says, hinting that pre-build analysis went past factory-built race Polos. “On the time I used to be going to Mini exhibits with my buddy and his automobile, and I noticed just a few in Tweed Gray with totally different arches. It simply labored. However the arches have been an absolute nightmare. The primary set didn’t match, so I ended up importing these from Germany, they usually went on completely. You will get these things for Golfs, simply, however something for Polos is a nightmare.”

Tuned Polo G40

It’s a small value to pay for that stance. The tuned Polo G40 had gained an additional three inches of wheel capability at every nook and, with not one of the restrictive manufacturing unit metalwork left behind the flares, Matthew didn’t need to compromise whereas filling them out. Choosing three-piece Schmidt TH-Strains meant the fitment might be tailor-made to the automobile; 13×8 with zero offset, with unstretched Toyo R888R observe tyres the place you’ll be able to see, and Wilwood four-pot calipers with the biggest potential 256mm discs the place you’ll be able to’t.

Not a choice to be taken flippantly, he explains: “I had been researching Berg Cup automobiles and what they’d used, so initially I needed ATS Classics, however I might solely discover them in 7J and I wanted 8J to fill the arches. Then the brakes are for a Mk1 Golf, and other people saved saying they wouldn’t match. I knew they might, I’d appear individuals use them, however the zero offset provides that additional little bit of distance as a result of the calipers are fairly extensive.”

This isn’t nearly visible affect. The physique is cornerweighted on KW coilovers – confirmed Berg Cup {hardware} – and has anti-roll bar mounting blocks based mostly on Volkswagen Motorsport’s design for the Polo G40 Cup automobiles. These pull the bar ahead and down on the entrance, giving just a little extra optimistic caster on the entrance wheels, leading to a keener turn-in whereas cornering. There’s additionally a disc brake setup behind the rear wheels, utilizing the lighter Mk4 Golf aluminium calipers, which in flip required a bias pedal field and Wilwood cables for the handbrake. The reservoirs are tucked in underneath the scuttle panel, the place the battery was once.

As is normally the case as soon as they’ve been via just a few fans, the manufacturing unit 113hp was a distant reminiscence. A pockets stuffed with receipts from JabbaSport exhibits the ‘charger had been ported to R1 spec, then paired with an ECU chip which additionally raises the rev limiter. The distinctive whine over the standard G-lader hum comes from a toothed belt package, which steps down the pulley dimension to 65mm to up the enhance, then avoids any belt slip and any ensuing lack of energy proper to the highest of the tacho.


Tuned Polo G40

As a substitute of chasing extra energy immediately, the rebuild centered on tidying earlier corner-cutting. Matthew changed the crudely fitted front-mount with a Forge merchandise, then fabricated his personal pipework to channel enhance into the Polo’s enlarged throttle physique. JabbaSport’s induction package is shielded from the warmth of the engine bay and attracts in chilly air from behind the headlight, whereas the hoses that might normally return unused enhance again into the opposite inlet have been eliminated. It’s a tried and examined path to round 160hp, and an influence to weight ratio that’s roughly consistent with a Mk7 Golf R.

“I needed to change the crossmember to mount the intercooler and oil cooler, and that meant there was nothing for the highest of the bumper to bolt on to. A few my pals have been utilizing bonnet pins, however I discovered some smaller ones which have been actually easy so I’m utilizing these as an alternative. It’s a fast launch; you simply push a button and the bumper slides on and off utilizing the unique mounts on the aspect,” he tells us.

Tuned Polo G40

Not one of the inside trim made the lower. The aspect home windows are light-weight polycarbonate, whereas the roll cage protects a full OBP gasoline system with a swirl pot and Sytec pumps, in addition to the racing-spec battery within the footwell behind the driving force. A pair of Stack gauges imply Matthew can regulate the engine, whereas the raised CAE shifter places a a lot shorter throw inside simpler attain of the steering wheel than the manufacturing unit setup – significantly necessary while you’re harnessed into fastened bucket seat.

“The shifter feels actually good,” he provides, opening the driving force’s aspect slider window. “It’s not simple to arrange, because it takes a little bit of time to get the best place for each gear, however I modified all of the engine mounts on the similar time to assist stiffen it up and keep away from any motion whereas accelerating or decelerating. It’s all actually strong however the lad I purchased it off fitted a Polo GT gearbox, so the ratios are actually brief. I’ve received a G40 gearbox and I’m planning to suit that as an alternative, so I’ll get a limited-slip diff on the similar time. That’s one of many subsequent jobs, he instructed us.”

It’s the product of spectacular endurance, given the time concerned. With evolving concepts, the Polo has come collectively via ongoing refinement of the spec checklist and no matter components Matthew has been in a position to observe down alongside the best way. Maintain-ups, he says, have principally come from changing out-of-stock trim items – the once-common Polo components now not out there over-the-counter or from scrap – than G40-specific objects. However the largest delays have come from life occasions getting in the best way, and it’s taken an surprising injection of spare time to get it again on the street.

“Everybody at Retro Rides was asking me the place it had come from, as a result of I don’t submit on social media,” he laughs. “I began a thread on one of many boards after I purchased it, but it surely didn’t final. Then homes received in the best way, I by no means had time, and it by no means made it to the observe as a result of I took so lengthy constructing it. However lockdowns helped, as a result of I had six or seven months off work and spent day-after-day within the storage ending it off. It gave me a push to get it again on the street, and I’m hoping to get out to extra exhibits subsequent 12 months.”

See also  Modified BMW M3 E46 | Lightweight Track Car

Tuned Polo G40

Predictably, like most newly ‘completed’ initiatives, there’s nonetheless room for some refinement. Apart from the diff, the rest of the tuned Polo G40 want checklist features a Polo Efficiency Elements Stage 3 subframe, which can stiffen up the entrance finish much more and convert the observe management arms to a extra exact wishbone setup. However, after eight years of ready, it’s now not evolving behind closed curtains, placing in appearances at Caffeine & Machine and Final Stance alongside his brother’s show-spec Nova. Model one, he says, holds collectively fairly properly.

“It drives properly, it’s loads smoother than I believed it might be, however it’s a bit loud. I’ve solely received one silencer, as a result of I constructed the exhaust myself and I wasn’t positive how loud it might be. The glovebox is filled with earplugs, so I’ve received one other silencer which ought to make it extra bearable on the street, however in any other case it’s good and I feel the subsequent step is extra energy. Lots of people go for a turbo conversion, however I’m occupied with a G60 ‘charger as an alternative – I don’t wish to lose the supercharger.”

With plans nonetheless in place to job this with the observe time it was at all times destined for, it must also add just a little additional inspiration to the Polo’s motorsport historical past. The junior member of the Volkswagen vary may need missed out on a number of the sizzling hatch highlight on-road, however race-bred engineering means there’s no cause why it may possibly’t maintain its personal when it issues. And, when you want any proof, we are able to inform you precisely the place you could look.

Tech Spec: Tuned Polo G40


1272cc supercharged four-cylinder petrol, JabbaSport R1 ported supercharger, toothed belt package with 65mm pulley, JabbaSport induction package and warmth protect, Forge front-mount intercooler, customized enhance pipes, enhance return pipes eliminated, four-branch manifold, customized exhaust with aspect exit, full OBP gasoline system together with gasoline cell, swirl pot and braided traces, Sytec gasoline pumps, Mocal oil cooler, polished rocker cowl, JabbaSport chip with 7,500rpm rev limiter, ported throttle physique, GT gearbox, polyurethane engine mounts, kill change


13×8 ET0 Schmidt TH-Line three-piece rims, 225/45 Toyo Proxes R888R tyres, Huxley Motorsport six-point weld-in roll cage, sew welded shock towers, KW coilovers, Polo G40 Cup Automotive nylon anti-roll bar mounts, Wilwood four-pot brakes with 256mm discs (entrance), Mk4 Golf aluminium calipers with Mk2 stub axles and discs (rear), Wilwood handbrake cable package


Full respray in Tweed Gray, 3in Berg Cup arch flares, steel arches eliminated, rear badges and wiper deleted, aspect repeaters deleted, F1-style carbon fibre mirrors, polycarbonate home windows with Polo Fox quarterlight seals, fast launch entrance bumper


Stripped inside, customized carbon fibre door playing cards, Cobra Monaco Professional bucket seats, Sabelt four-point harnesses, OBP pedal field with braided traces, OMP steering wheel, Stack enhance and oil strain gauges in customized din pod, PowerVamp race battery, spare wheel properly eliminated and blanked, CAE shifter