VW burned its biggest fans with this bad April Fool’s joke

By | April 1, 2024

VW burned its biggest fans with this bad April Fool’s Day photo

Volkswagen fans are a special breed. They are perhaps more committed than any other loyalists, sticking to their love of hot hatchbacks and German tuner culture as the company repeatedly plays the antagonist. VW has done this in the past by showing off retro-inspired concepts that it will never build, continually harkening back to the history people love in building cars that deviate from that heritage in all the wrong ways. To put it plainly, Being a VW diehard has been tough for over a decadeand the automaker once again poured salt into the wound.

VW posted a teaser on social media on March 28, suggesting it will be the beloved, multi-colored Harlequin models from yesteryear. These were factory built polos and Golfs with rainbow-like paint schemes where each body panel wore its own vibrant hue. Enthusiasts love it, and there are even registries that keep track of which examples still survive, where they are and who they belong to. It’s serious.

This was received with great applause. Facebook friends I made during my earlier days as a Dubber lit up with excitement and shared the post far and wide. It looked like VW was finally going to build something cool from its past, simply because it can.

Then it turned out to be an April Fool’s joke. VW once again failed to read the room and released this deflating announcement Monday morning under the guise of crappy humor:

Fans were expectedly disappointed. Levi Krohn, whose comment appears at the top of the screenshot above, is a Harlequin owner himself – he’s actually on his second. I reached out to Krohn to get his perspective as a VW guy, and the pain comes through in his response.

“I really think they shot themselves in the foot with this April Fools’ joke,” Krohn says. “VW is known for its niche ideas and has a very strong following for inventing and producing some wild concepts. I know many people would love to see Harlequin revisited in a new style, paying tribute to the original Polo and Golf versions.

“I think there is so much history with this brand. We’ve seen other automakers bring back old ideas and mess them up pretty bad. This one from VW seemed like a no-brainer to be an absolute home run, but unfortunately it was just a joke. Sad to see, but hopefully they get the message that the loyal community of VW enthusiasts would love to see this become a reality!”

As a man currently completing a rotisserie restoration on a Mk3 Golf Harlequin with fresh paint, a refreshed interior with OG Harlequin cloth, Air Lift suspension and a rebuilt 1.8-liter turbo four, Krohn is understandably let down by the news. And he’s not the only one.

I also spoke with Autrey McVicker, owner of BMP reconciliation and a well-known figure in the VW community. He is a big part of the German automotive aftermarket, and his own personal cars are featured in it Performance VW like Top gear‘s online site. McVicker also happens to own a Polo Harlequin that he will “never sell.” Of the more than 140 vehicles he has owned, this is one of his top five.

“For me, and I’m sure for many other VW enthusiasts, we want VW to be successful in everything they do,” McVicker told me. “We are their biggest group of cheerleaders and to see them play with the emotions of that core group as they re-release one of their more iconic concepts just breaks our hearts.

“We love what they’ve offered over the years, and we’re dying inside to see them do something exciting again, just because they can. There is no reason why the world’s largest automaker shouldn’t be able to do unique things or reinvent things.” because.’ I understand that a lot of people won’t find it that deep, most have no idea what a harlequin is or what its heritage is, and that’s okay too… but what VW doesn’t seem to understand are the poor kids who could couldn’t afford when it came out in the ’90s, or who were too young to drive at the time, are now all grown up and willing to spend money on things that excite them or are unique. They took a very good opportunity to jack their base and squandered it with a joke that no one thinks is funny outside of their marketing department.

You may remember that a few years ago VW told an April Fool’s joke that no one else found funny. It pretended to change its name to Voltswagen on March 29 and so many people fell for it, including legitimate publications. That’s probably because even the automaker’s PR department refused to say whether it was a joke or not.

This Harlequin drama goes even deeper as it plays with the brand’s core fanbase. They’re just people who want to see VW build cool stuff and pay really good money for it. It seems like they’re joking because they hoped the company would finally listen this time.

Do you have a tip or question for the author? Contact them directly: caleb@thedrive.com

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