10 January 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Our cars: 1991 Polo GT Coupé –
report six

After a lengthy absence, PoloDriver.com contributor Simon Kimber updates us on the story of his 1991 Polo GT Coupé. This time he reports on his ongoing replacement suspension track control arms saga

1981-1994 Volkswagen Polo track control arms

Regular readers may recall that sometime ago I had the front track control arms on my 1991 Polo GT coupé replaced for a pair of TAS adjustable ones at C&R Enterprises. Now these arms are starting to show their age, with creaks coming from the original-type ball joints.

After much searching and with a few enquiries to companies such as Eibach at GTI International, I am seeking a little assistance and guidance to build my own as my search for replacements proved fruitless. I have been able to find gas pipe that will be plenty strong enough from a contact at Red 9 Design, who assures me it is of the required strength. The plan is to buy a pair of new arms from one of the many aftermarket suppliers, as VW are running down supplies of track arms – if I were to buy directly from my local retailer they would cost about £70 each, although there is only one single arm available with no possibility of obtaining a pair if I wanted to. And not at £140 a pair if I could anyway.

1981-1994 Volkswagen Polo track control arms

The aftermarket track arms are far cheaper, somewhere in the region of better than half price. Superspares Balham High Road suggested I go to Stockwell Motor Accessories, who said they can order a pair of TRW arms at the suggested price of £31 each. They arrived one Saturday back in August, and on comparing the new arms with the adjustable arms still fitted, they appear to be around 7mm longer. I have emailed TRW to find out if the specifications have been altered and what kind of settings I could possibly end up with once they are fitted.

When I stripped the front suspension and compared the relative lengths of the track arms, the new and unmodified arms from TRW were only 3mm longer in the crucial area between the inner mounting bush and the anti-roll bar locater outboard. This actually meant no modification was deemed necessary – I would assume to be in the region of 10’N from the original settings using the arms fitted so long ago by C&R Enterprises. I am guessing that TRW may have adjusted the design to suit the Camber specs to somewhere in the middle of 10’+ +/- 30′, which leaves me a little bit miffed by not being able to brew my own special pair of arms.

1981-1994 Volkswagen Polo track control arms

The C&R replacements have lasted well, though, as they have been subjected to regular trackday use in addition to everyday driving over the past 11 years and 90,000 miles. Their condition wasn’t brilliant, but then I have owned this 21 year-old car for a very long time and am pretty aware of what alarming noises early Polo suspension can make and what each little creak and crackle actually means. So, overall I am very satisfied with the replacements.

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24 June 2010 ~ 0 Comments

Our cars: 1991 Polo GT Coupé –
report five

Simon Kimber reported on an upcoming MoT in his last report. With that now out of the way and an advisory notice, he ponders the second replacement of track control arms on his 1991 Polo GT Coupé…

You might remember that it was nearing MoT time in my last report for H714 ERP. With advice of a worn nearside track rod ball joint, I thought that I might try and find a replacement at GTI International, on 26-27 June at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground, Leicestershire. PoloDriver will be there, too – just look out for the bright orange T-shirts.

Of course, other joints are starting to play up a bit now, but I suppose it comes with increasing age. ERP has now started to get a creaking noise from the offside front over slight bumps and small steering inputs, which calls for some WD40. It can only be the bottom ball joint creaking the inside ones are spherical bearings on my car which are not normally prone to creaking.

That should keep it quiet for a bit longer, but I think that the main cause is the nylon bushing drying out, causing it to groan. A quick squirt of the anti-creaking spray should put off replacing them for now, as I don’t want the expense of buying two more track control arms. The last pair were fitted back in the summer of 2001 – some 60,000 miles ago – when I took the car to C&R Enterprises in Nottingham.

I have been going to GTI International now for years and haven’t missed one since it was held at the Transport Research Laboratory. It was there that I spoke to Steve Cresswell who informed me that adjustable track control arms had become available from a company called TAS (Trim Auto Sport). The standard track control arms are of fixed length with a rubber bush on the inside end and cannot be adjusted.

The manufacturer’s method for changing the camber was by elongating the mounting holes on the chassis, which to me sounds like a poor way to adjust camber, apart from the fact that you can never get enough adjustment without weakening it. The measurements of the camber before fitting the track control arms was 1 degree 50′ negative whereas it should be 0 degrees +/-30′ negative, so something had to give.

The main thing most owners of Polos up to 1994 (except G40 owners who have spherical bearings as standard) may notice as the miles have been piled on and if wear has made itself audible, are joggling noises from around the footwellls when traversing potholes or over bumps. This is mostly due to the rubber bushes hardening up and becoming loose, which can cause changes in wheel location and increased wear on all the components around them.

The replacement arm consists of the outer end of a standard track arm, the other half being binned in favour of double threaded adjuster with a motorsport spherical bearing (rose joint) at the other; spacers are supplied to fill the gap left by the rubber bush. They’re all put together very securely and it really shows the thought that went in to fabricating them, although I did additionally order a set of silicon rubber dust caps to prevent any dirt or muck getting to them from Demon Tweeks.

The upshot of fitting adjustable track control arms is as greater adjustment of camber to a better than factory setting, meaning that the tendancy to understeer is effectively moved to a higher speed. This also allows a more neutral handling behaviour and possibly oversteer – but not snap oversteer, although it is slightly more prone if the throttle is backed off mid-corner. But then, that is of course the same for all front-wheel drive vehicles as a whole, regardless of who manufactures them…

Costs this month: £0

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11 March 2010 ~ 0 Comments

Our cars: 1991 Polo GT Coupé –
report four

This month, Simon Kimber tinkers with service items and saddles up his 1991 110,000-mile Polo GT Coupé for its MoT test

This month sees ERP going for its MoT test, and like I do every year, I put it through its paces to rid myself of any surprises and to reassure myself that there are no lurking faults that might get the old stager a red ticket. I do all this in the month leading up to the test day itself, and although I have had the odd amber advisory before now, it has never been for anything more than a worn tyre or suspension top mount.

More importantly, this is also the time to carry out a service, and this year, it was the 110,000 mile one. All the important things like spark plugs were done this time last year, which reminds me I must change the fuel filter sometime soon. I booked the car at my employer’s garage on a Saturday for one reason; for it to be ready for the emissions check, the engine has to be at running temperature to be accurate. So, the drive in is the warm up and hopefully I will be able to get this checked first as I don’t want to be using fuel needlessly (not to mention that the running may adversely affect the fuel consumption).

The actual test went without too many hitches; a headlight aim just a tad too high and a non-working driver’s side repeater the only things of note. However, there was one advisory. The near-side steering arm ball joint was showing signs of movement, not enough to fail it but when I ’m told of it there is only one thing I can do, which is to replace it while I remember, saving a red ticket being handed out next time.

Looking at it the other way, ERP didn’t do too badly for a 19 year-old car. All I have to do now is decide what way to go with the ball-joint; embark on a possibly fruitless search to obtain the correct one as Euro Car Parts and GSF don’t list one separately, or buy a complete track rod from my local Volkswagen retailer (which also happens to be my employer, so I won’t have to worry about collecting it). Update to follow…

Costs this month: £50.35 (MoT test fee)

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23 February 2010 ~ 2 Comments

1990-1994 Polo GT Coupé profiled in Volkswagen Driver magazine

Monthly UK title Volkswagen Driver features the 1990-1994 Polo Coupé GT as the star of its model profile section in its March 2010 issue. With five detailed pages devoted to the spritely small Volkswagen, the magazine looks back at the Coupé GTs life with period Volkswagen photographs and ‘anorak’-type panels covering the colour and trims available as well as a full technical specification. The page of owners’ opinions also features two of PoloDriver’s long-termers, with Simon Kimber and Rich Gooding explaining why the sometimes overlooked GT appeals to them.

Grab a copy of the March 2010 issue of Volkswagen Driver from all good newsagents (find your nearest stockist here), or contact Autometrix Publications on 01525 750500.

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26 January 2010 ~ 0 Comments

Our cars: 1991 Polo GT Coupé –
report three

Simon Kimber’s last update on his 1991 Polo GT Coupé concerned suspension surgery, where the car’s tired old Weitec dampers finally gave up like the proverbial ghost and had to be replaced. How have the new replacements been?

A few thousand miles have now passed under the wheels and I think it’s safe to say that the Konis which now occupy the Weitec’s previous homes in the wheel arches are pretty good considering they were the only option available. The performance is progressive and neither overdamped or too soft.

This set-up actually suits what is being asked of the car day to day, whether it be speed humps (of which I encounter many during a week’s driving) or having to deal with the snow and ice we all experienced a few weeks ago. That’s the GT, there, on the right nearest the camera in the picture above.

I don’t know about you, but I find that I treat the snow and ice as my own personal playground and there are certainly benefits to having an nineteen year-old Polo. One of those is that there is no room for airbags or ABS/traction control electrickery and the car will actually pull away in third gear without any complaint.

Not having all this modern-day wizardry is actually more of an incentive to stay on the slippery stuff, as even ABS can be made to look a bit of a fool sometimes and not even ESP is completely immune from the odd Bambi moment! Long may the bodywork of your Polo be undamaged in this weather and may the traffic always be behind you and not in front…

Costs this month: £0

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