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Restoration Audi 50 GL: Noble Polo - a gold piece in 800 hours

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Restoration Audi 50 GL
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Click, click, click. In September 1974 the photographers eagerly cleared every detail of the new German small car star presented in Sardinia called A udi 50. Almost 35 years later, an Audi 50 is again in the spotlight. This time not in Sardinia, but at a Motor Klassik photo session in Iserlohn.

My passion for polo flared up at 18

The clicking of modern cameras now sounds softer, and no slide films are exposed, but digital images are stored on a memory card. The times have changed. They only appear on the gold-colored Audi 50 to have passed by without a trace for three and a half decades. Was it frozen then and now thawed again? Not at all. The man who made this unusual encounter possible is called Michael Höcker. And he's not a magician, but a commercial clerk. 'In other words, an office stallion with two left hands,' says Höcker, summarizing the cliché concerning his professional group with a smile. But there are also butchers who write love poems, so Höcker defies the prejudices associated with his profession. He's actually a talented screwdriver. How could that happen, some will ask.

The trigger was Höcker's love for Audi 50 or VW Polo, which flared up in 1988. The then 18-year-old newcomer to his driver's license convinced his parents to buy him a used VW Polo - firsthand, with only 31,000 kilometers on the clock. 'At the time, I didn't listen to the advice to have the mars red car cavity preserved, and after three years the body was rusted through,' recalls Höcker. Many of his contemporaries gained their first experience in road traffic with briskly driven polos after passing their driving test. 'I grew up with these cars,' he says, explaining his weakness for this small car, which was given new impetus with the purchase of a stainless Polo in 1994.

Höcker decided to pay more attention to this series, which was increasingly decimated by corrosion, especially the Audi, which came off the production line in significantly fewer numbers than the Polo50 had done it to him. There was something to be screwed here and there. But Höcker did not stop at smaller screwdrivers, he delved deep into the subject. From his friend Wolfgang Lohoff from WL Motorsport in Hamm, he learned everything there was to know about the technology of a car. 'I can now take apart and assemble an engine almost in my sleep,' says Höcker. But he also had experts teach him how to repair body damage, as well as how to weld.

Takes care of: 1. IG der Audi 50 Freunde

Another important step in maintaining the The so-called Type 86, as VW Polo and Audi 50 and the later derby were called in-house, was the founding of a club. That was 15 years ago. From the beginning, the 1st IG of the Audi 50 Friends offered its members and other Type 86 interested parties every possible support when it came to questions and problems relating to these small cars. Through this intensive communication with like-minded people, Michael Höcker, who heads the club, found out in 2003 about an Audi 50 that was for sale in Soest. Since this was only a few gas bursts away from his home, he drove there a week later to have a look at the car. Before him, others had already inspected the specimen painted in Hellas. 'But the various rust stains and the rust on the edges apparently scared off those interested,' recalls Höcker.

Since he has been working intensively with the Type 86 in theory and practice for a while and has acquired an almost lexical knowledge of it of course, he immediately noticed from the chassis number that one of the first built copies of an Audi 50 GL was standing in front of him. The rust stains seemed far less bad than they looked. Only the clear lacquer on the roof had come off when the rubber mats that had been lying on it for a long time were lifted. None of that frightened him, but the asking price was steep. Höcker negotiated for several weeks until the seller finally gave in and was satisfied with less money. The engine of the car, which had only run 31,000 kilometers, could still be started, and so he drove his new acquisition home on the move.

It was only there that he soon realized what a piece of gold he had actually landed with the Audi 50 GL. First of all, there were the many details such as the two bonnet locks, the special rear lettering and the two number plate lights in the rear bumper, which had already fallen victim to the red pencil in versions built from March 1975. As typical GL details, his car had side trim strips with hard plastic edges, additional rocker panels, ram protection strips on the bumpers, two gas pressure dampers on the tailgate and a load-dependent brake pressure regulator, to name just a few. But there were more reasons to celebrate.

Everything out, everything apart and sleeves rolled up

The body of the Audi, which was deregistered 24 years ago, turned out to be surprisingly healthy, Höcker only registered surface rust, but no real rust perforation. Incredible. In 2007 he finally dared to restore it after having practiced enough on other specimens. Incidentally, the Audi produced at the beginning of September 1974 has a number of other special features, such as the missing edge running below the rear window and about three times as many weld points on the body as on other Audi 50s. 'This is because the car was still before full automation the production line was created, 'says Höcker. This of course spurred him on to work even more meticulously than he usually did.

He set to work with verve, with his girlfriend helping him occasionally. After the Audi 50 GL had been completely dismantled, Höcker first turned to sheet metal. He removed all underbody protection and all insulation mats and removed rust from the corroded sheet metal parts with a sandblasting device. If there was still rust anywhere, he would find these places, he told himself. That's why he also dismantled the headliner because Audi had used a hygroscopic adhesive underneath. Yes, he even flared up the hood edges and doors to look for possible rust behind them.

He even removed the sealant over the weld seams to protect the metal from the brown plague. He drilled the weld points of the front sheet metal in order to be able to inspect and process hidden folds. This front sheet had a small dent, which is why it had to be bulged. Because Höcker could not replace it with a new part, 'because the shapes, creases and folds cannot be compared with any available replacement sheet metal. Not even with the sheet metal that was used in the Audi 50 just a month later,' reveals Höcker.

The perfect Audi 50 in 800 hours

Since this early example of the Audi 50 GL has a number of unique components, its large spare parts store was sometimes useless. These components could not even be found in parts catalogs - all that was left was to recondition them. In the end, Höcker found a small hole in the sheet metal that was caused by leaked battery acid. Welding was only required for this repair and when assembling the dismantled front panel, nowhere else. Incidentally, in the lacquered interior, Höcker did without gluing insulation mats, which is why everyone can admire the unwelded, completely intact floor panel. He treated the primed underbody with original VW underbody protection that could be painted over and the wheel arches with original VW stone chip protection.

Of course, Höcker also dismantled the engine into all its individual parts, despite the low mileage.He renewed main and connecting rod bearings, piston rings and pins, oil strainer and seals, valve springs and all Simmerrings. A number of add-on parts, including the throttle cable holder, have been sandblasted and powder-coated in black. Other parts such as brackets or screws were bead blasted and then yellow galvanized. With the same care, Höcker tackled the chassis and all other parts of the car. Either he used a new part or he overhauled the corresponding components. He left nothing to chance, he always did all the work with great care. His now completed work met with great admiration everywhere. After around 800 hours of personal work, a perfect Audi 50 was created, which would also have cut a fine figure at the presentation in Sardinia in 1974.

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