Johannesburg – There’s no denying that the Volkswagen Polo is South Africa’s favourite passenger car, with the current-generation hatchback and the generation-behind Polo Vivo often switching places at the top of the country’s sales charts.

While the Polo has a long and storied history in South Africa, it has been around for a lot longer in Europe, and not many people are aware that the original MK1 Polo was not even a Volkswagen in the first place. Of course, technically you could say the same about South Africa’s first Polo models, but we’ll get to those a little later.

This first-generation Polo wasn’t offered in South Africa, and we recently came across an interesting video posted by YouTube channel Big Car (see below) which takes us through the early years of the long-serving hatch and how it came into being.

Interestingly, the car was originally developed by fellow German carmaker NSU Motorenwerke, which specialised in motorcycles and small cars, and which also invented the rotary engine, interestingly enough.

However, the unreliable wankel’s warranty claims nearly drove the company under and in 1969 it was bought by the Volkswagen Audi Group.

*This article first appeared on IOL Motoring