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Your repairs – 1992 Volkswagen Polo GT

Your repairs

Since day one, Haynes has been all about helping you, the home mechanic, to carry out your own repairs on your vehicles. Here, we celebrate those who use their spare time and Haynes Manuals to repair and improve their pride and joy.

DIY champion: Rhys Durham

Vehicle: 1992 Volkswagen Polo GT (with… the odd tweak)

Haynes VW Polo cover

Rhys Durham likes Polos ever since he spent many an hour keeping his other half’s 1988 breadvan Polo in fine fettle.

He grew to love the car, but also knew that he wasn’t a huge fan of the angular styling. Square it certainly was, but edgy it was not. That’s why Rhys wanted a Polo Coupé. Much cooler.

But as with many cars of the era, Polos are becoming increasingly scarce, so he spent quite a while looking for the right one – but eventually in late 2021 he found the GT Coupé you see here, which cost him the princely sum of £1000, mainly because it has some front-end damage. Rhys wasn’t fazed, and soon had everything pointing the right way.

Tuned VW Polo GT

Looking good, but slow

The Polo was certainly a looker, but the problem was that people had plenty of time to look at it because it was also a bit… lackadaisical about the way it got down the road.

Rhys wanted it to accelerate with a bit more determination, so set about fitting a high-lift camshaft and a stainless four-into-two-into-one exhaust. Parpy.

These mods meant the engine was demanding more fuel, so Rhys ditched the car’s fuel-injection system and replaced it with carburettors from a Honda CBR600 F3, which sat atop a custom-made inlet manifold. The engine-management system was then modified to cope with all the shiny new parts.

Rhys explains: “I started with the camshaft, and obviously the Haynes manual is the bible for this job. The thing I like is that, being a car from the golden era of motoring, everything is included in this manual, and it's comprehensive. With this in hand it was back up and running in no time. I wanted to make sure the car ran okay with the upgraded camshaft on the standard management and fuelling to ease the diagnosis of later teething issues.

“Next was the bike carbs and ignition system. This entailed a seven-month-long head-scratching period where I was constantly chasing my tail with issues and problems. I sat for three evenings with Haynes Manuals for both the pre and post face-lift Mk2 Polo open on the bench, studying each wiring diagram and thinking of ways to integrate them.

“After a lot of reading, some head scratching and a few swear words, I had soldered together a complete plug in engine loom, connecting to the original body loom.

After eventually getting all these pieces together, the car was running, albeit roughly. Then, after months of tweaks, it was done. I put it on the dyno, where it produced a mighty 59bhp, only 4bhp more than standard. However, after some fine tuning of the carbs and ignition timing, I left the dyno station grinning from ear to ear with a sheet saying that I had achieved 96bhp, and 118nm torque, almost double the standard engine output.” 

Tuned Polo engine bay

VW cylinder head disaster

But the story doesn’t end there. Last November, the car suffered a cylinder head gasket failure. Out came the Haynes Manual once more, and Rhys changed the gasket with no issues. Or so he thought. The cambelt had also been damaged by the leak, and 30 miles after putting everything back together, the stretched cambelt jumped a tooth, which allowed the valves and pistons to become rather more intimate than VW ever intended. Gutted.

Many would have admitted defeat there and then, but not Rhys. He’s spent the past few months gathering together all the parts needed to get the car back up and running, and has set about rebuilding the top end of the engine, using his trusty Haynes Manual every step of the way. He’s documenting everything on his own YouTube channel, so give him a follow. We’ll certainly be keeping an eye on progress, and can’t wait to see (and hear) the car running again.

Tell us what you’re repairing

Rhys’s story is exactly why we want to hear your stories of the satisfaction, frustration, bleeding knuckles and sheer joy that you experience while keeping your vehicle on the road, or giving an old car or motorcycle and new lease of life. Your DIY journey doesn’t have to be as full-on as Rhys’s, because just servicing your car or motorbike can also be a source of delight, so we’d love you to show us what you’re working on and how you’re using Haynes to help you out.

Just send us a few details about yourself and your vehicle to

Tell us about any issues you’ve encountered or any problems you foresee, plus a few pictures, and we’ll feature you on our website and social channels.

After all, fixing your car or motorcycle isn’t actually that difficult, and can bring feelings of gratification and exhilaration. It will also save you a whole load of money, so let’s tell everyone about it.

Tuned Polo rear