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hi all, I *think* this is the right place to start a build thread...so here goes.


Here she is - 1996, 1.4 8v AEX, owned from new  by my aunt, then briefly stayed with my dad, and finally ended up with me. It's got ~33k on the clock and I don't think it's ever been over 5k rpm until I got it.




Bodywork is pretty clean for the age. Aunt couldn't turn her head to the right very well so there's a few little scuffs on the right-hand side and it also has a new wing mirror there, and I've noticed around one sill on the left needs a bit of attention but otherwise it's very clean indeed and totally factory stock, arguably with the longest-running break-in process ever.


It runs very smooth and apart from a recent thermostat issue (likely has never had to open), it performs about as well as I could expect or hope for. She managed a consistent 104 on a private road in mexico until the thermostat issue cropped up.



It came on the factory steels with winter tyres so naturally as soon as I got it (summer) I put some nicer rims from my old golf gti (15x7x45 I think with yokis all round). It's no faster and it can have a good old lean on the corners but it basically grips like a go-cart now, is much more predictable under hard braking and steps out gradually and predictably. Massive improvement already \o/



So given I like it already, naturally I want to improve on it where I can...I like the cheap tax and general compactness/lightness of the 1.4L. I run it with the back seats down permanently and it's super practical and surprisingly roomy. But I definitely think it can go better.


I've been digginging around and it looks like mk2 golf suspension may possibly fit on this polo, which is handy since I have a set of coilovers left over from scrapping my old gti. They might be a bit hard but they were a bit soft for the gti so maybe they'll be just right here. The fronts look like a straight swap but the rears seem to potentially have some height restrictions (may not go low enough for some). I reckon I'll try to put the rears and see whether the height/travel is ok for me. If so will put the fronts on too.



That's all well and good but what about quicker?


So I've been mulling this over and looking into 3f/GT cams, exhausts and whatnot and ended up a little underwhelmed, especially for the drivability tradeoffs. I have no real complaints about how it drives low in the rpm range, it's when you're trying to get up to speed it runs out of juice. There's a nasty hole just before 4k which does my head in. Once you get past that the fuelling seems to be ok again but I seem to spend a lot of time around that rpm so it's pretty annoying. It's especially pronounced if you have a passenger or lots of luggage.


I started toying with the idea of a small turbo running quite low boost (e.g. 5psi) . The low boost should mean I can gently start down the road of turboing but won't have to mess with the compression (yet) and although the ECU seems to be of the non-reprogrammable type I have a couple of ideas of how to get the fuel enrichment it'll need. 


I love how the exhaust pipework is right there at the front (unlike the mk2 golf!) so should be super convenient to work on, and there's plenty of space for turbos and whatnot in that area. Basically the whole thing should more or less fit in the front there.


This should also simplify the exhaust side of things. I was sorta wanting a bonnet exit but given england's tendency to chuck it down I figured that wasn't going to work. Plus being after '92 it needs a cat so that'd be unlikely to fit with a bonnet exit.  The solution I'm leaning towards atm is basically to have a sports cat attached to the turbo and then exit bumper right. Very short exhasut path and efficient, as well as legal. That also means we don't have to lug an extra 20kg of exhaust around with us.


I've got a friend who runs a garage who I've been discussing the ins and outs of this project with, and it was mostly theoretical till it turned out he actually has most of the bits I'd need lying around his workshop from other cars he's worked on...so  I'm hopefully picking them up this weekend...so I guess this is happening then :)






Fair warning - I'm well aware that there's a pretty good chance this *won't* work as planned, and is probably a dumb idea on a number of levels, so there's no need to point it out. I'm ok with it. If I didn't do stuff for those reasons I wouldn't have done half the stuff people said I couldn't ;)




Edited by NorthCust
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  • 3 weeks later...
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at long last we haz turbos and misc turbo ingredients \o/


Still awaiting exhaust flanges for the turbos and a few other bits, but can't do much with them for the next week or so anyway due to work, but it's a step in the right direction.


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  • 8 months later...


sadly other builds taking up all my time. Polo now sold (to a very good home!) to make room for car/bike trailer, still have all the turbo bits if anyone else wants to have a go.


cheers :)

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