The time has come to start work on this project, which with its interesting background may just be TCL material. The subject is a seemingly unassuming almost base model 1999 Volkswagen Polo. It was ordered new via Denmark, and then spent the first 8 years of its life at the Thule Air Force Base in northwestern Greenland - 700 miles north of the Arctic Circle and less than 1,000 miles from the North Pole.
By reading through the documentation supplied in or with the car, it was found that the car was driven approximately 3x,000 miles on the base, before being partially stripped (reasons unknown) and sold via a military depot in southern Virginia. There were four Polos brought into the USA at the same time; this one had no engine, but the best body from what I could tell from the small online photos provided by the liquidation company. I was able to view all of them briefly while on the base, and discuss them with a few personnel, and this car did seem to be best metal structure wise.
This is all we had to go on when purchasing the car:
..Originally Posted by auction
Along with the car, I received the original build sheets for the car, plus the military service history and a few other goodies. It was ordered with the following specifications:
- Manual Windows, Manual Door Locks, Manual Mirrors
- Manual Steering
- Cloth Seats
- Heated Seats
- Height Adjustable Headlights
- Blaupunkt AM/FM Cassette Stereo
- Steel Wheels, Hubcaps, with Michelin Non-Studded Snow Tires
- 1.9L non-turbo diesel engine
- 5 speed manual transmission (Linkage shifter, but hydralic clutch).
- ABS Brakes
It then appears to have been fitted afterwards with a 110 volt distribution block in the engine bay, which had one wire running to the inside of the car (unknown to what it connected to), with a crudely installed external plug. It also received a roof antenna, and a receiver (+ transmitter?) inside - only the wiring was left installed when I received it.
One interesting thing that will become apparant is that the car is COVERED in a fine layer of dirt/silt. It is everywhere. Inside every vent, every seal, throughout the interior, engine bay, underside and on top of the car. I can only guess that once the snow has cleared, the dirt/dust must get blown by the wind pretty severely up there at the Base. The base is of course famous for its location and use throughout the Cold War, with B52s flying out of there 24 hours a day (and infamously, one crashing near the base while loaded with live nuclear warheads).
Any paint that was scratched or scraped away has rust under it, but underneath the car it is almost entirely rust free - perhaps they don't salt there (losing battle?), and the low temps remove moisture from the air? The base is the only Air Force location with a deep sea port, and this specific car obviously had access to the port (the sticker is still on the windshield..), so it couldn't have been too far from the sea salt though at any point of its life.
Plans for the car? Well, first there's a laundry list of items that are missing or broken - rear bumper, taillight, drivers door handle, drivers door interior panel, front subframe and engine mount, engine, transmission, axles. Some things are there but are junk - wheel bearings (rusted and no rolling with no axles killed them), wiring harness (cut off in the engine bay) and probably more things that will turn up later.
So, these obviously need to be addressed first. Keeping it a diesel would be the obvious choice, but there's literally nothing left except the fuel lines. I'd like something a little quicker in that case.. something that can never lose perhaps.
Wheels, suspension, bodywork, interior? All to be decided, although with the neat background, the logos on the car and a 'fun fund' that's more closer to forced rat-look than trailer queen build, it's likely to stay as near to stock as possible.
I'll leave this first post with the photos taken directly from the auction site, and then one from the journey home (!). Initial thanks to Vanaman for finding the car, and Dean et al in Richmond, VA for huge help getting the car home.
More to come..