Classic: 50 years of Audi 50: A Polo called Audi

Things have become quiet around the small entry-level models.

Classic: 50 years of Audi 50: A Polo called Audi

Things have become quiet around the small entry-level models. It is already clear that we will not have a successor to the current Audi A1. As with other small cars, the trend towards electromobility is making life difficult for the A1. The batteries are expensive, large and heavy - so many car manufacturers prefer to start with the compact class in order to be able to make money. When the first generation of the VW Polo celebrated its premiere in spring 1975, it was only number two. Because the Polo only came onto the market seven months after the almost identical twin Audi 50. The angular design coined by Bertone and Grandini was presented to the world public half a century ago in the shadow of the similarly styled VW Golf I and was enthusiastically applauded. But this isn't as surprising to outsiders as the fact that the Volkswagen factory is listed as the manufacturer in every Audi 50 letter. Why this is so is quickly explained. Within the VW Group it was clear from the start that the Polo would roll off the same Wolfsburg assembly lines as the Audi 50 almost six months later. However, there is an exception here, as one prototype lists Audi NSU Auto Union as the manufacturer.

Die-hard 50s fans only count the real, so-called A0 series of the Audi 50 as the 43,002 vehicles that were built before the start of production of the 7,500 DM, 40 hp VW Polo. More precisely: the vehicles whose production date is between August 1st, 1974 and March 1st, 1975. In total, exactly 180,828 examples of the Audi 50 rolled off the assembly line by July 1978. With a length of 3.49 meters, the smallest Audi ever built was offered in two variants from the start: the LS, which cost 8,400 DM at the time, and the GL, which was 500 DM more expensive. The latter is characterized on the one hand by 2.6 centimeters more length, which is due to rubber strips on the bumpers, and better standard equipment. These include, among other things, a Tufü carpet, cigarette lighter, steel-belted tires and a lockable fuel cap, which is a feature that should not be underestimated a good year after the start of the oil crisis. In addition to the difference in length and equipment, the GL has 60 hp and ten more hp and torque increased by eight to 83 Newton meters. Both power and power are sent to the driven front wheels using a four-speed gearbox.

However, the higher performance values ​​do not result from a higher displacement within the four-cylinder petrol engine - which is 1.1 liters in both versions. They are the result of higher compression through higher pistons, a Y-pipe exhaust and other carburettor configurations. It was only in the last year of its production that the Audi 50 was given a 1.3 liter larger engine. It only produces 60 hp, but in contrast to its equally powerful brother, which runs on premium gasoline, it only requires regular gasoline. Fuel consumption for all variants is around 7.5 liters per 100 kilometers. The biggest differences within the 1.56 meter wide and 1.30 meter high Audi 50 versions lie in the performance, where the stronger one does slightly better. At 13.5 seconds, it takes 1.9 seconds less to reach 100 km/h and its top speed of 152 kilometers per hour is exactly ten km/h higher than the little one - that's actually it.

All variants have a trunk that can swallow 257 liters of luggage in normal condition and 637 liters with the rear seats folded down. VW even certifies that its identical Polo has up to 900 liters of trunk space. The 650 kilogram five-seater, whose 40-year-old surcharge list still includes things like headrests, a right wing mirror that costs 24 DM, a rear window wiper and a heated rear window, can carry up to 415 kilograms and can even pull up to 650 kilograms behind it. For the sake of completeness, it must be said that the heated rear window was added to the list of standard equipment just a year later. The location of the horn was also moved in the same year. To the annoyance of many Audi 50 customers, it has been moved to the steering column lever. But even more interesting is the compensation of the electric windshield washer pump with an ugly pump bag in the footwell. Audi also had to save money back then.

The distinctive roof edge that was incorrectly attributed only to the Audi 50 - it can also be found on the Polo - had to go in August 1976, because even back then every corner counts when it comes to the air resistance coefficient. If a Polo and an Audi 50 cannot be distinguished from each other by the edge of the roof, how can they? Ok, there are the rings in the front view and the lettering on the rear. It should also be noted here that the lettering is completely on the right until the model change in mid-1976 and is only then divided so that Audi 50 can be read on the left and the type on the right. Very few L versions still combine everything on the right side. In addition to these unusual features, the main distinguishing feature is the rear quarter panel. While this was straight on the Polo until August 1976, on the Audi 50 it curved upwards towards the bottom edge of the tailgate. And if you want to know exactly: VW Polos produced up to that point have one less trim hole.

Anyone looking on the used car market needs patience and good nerves, because the Audi 50 can hardly be found on the relevant stock exchanges. The selection is thin and well-preserved vehicles in colors that were trendy at the time, such as Miami blue, are difficult to find. Most models have fallen victim to rust over the past five decades. Little is possible for less than 10,000 euros. And a stylish top model can sometimes go for 15,000 euros or more.