Amelia Island | Lot 134

1955 Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet by Karmann

$82,500 USD | Sold

United States | Amelia Island, Florida

8 March 2014

Chassis No.
1 0906 325
  • An outstanding restored example
  • Matching-numbers original engine
  • Multiple factory-optioned accessories
  • Correct and beautiful original colors

36 bhp at 3,600 rpm, 72.74 cu. in. 1,192 cc air- and oil-cooled horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine with a single Solex carburetor, four-speed manual transmission, four-wheel independent suspension with torsion leaves in the front, swing axle suspension with torsion bars in the rear, and four-wheel hydraulic brakes. Wheelbase: 94.5 in.

The Beetle, conceived by Ferdinand Porsche in 1932, was developed as a mass-produced, low-priced vehicle that was available and affordable for all Germans, and the phenomenal success of the now-beloved “people’s car” stands among one of the most remarkable automobile stories of the 20th century. The charming Beetle was just hitting its stride in 1955 when, by year-end, the Wolfsburg Works had produced a total of 279,988 cars in one year alone. Annual production increased by 50,000 or so, until the million-car mark was achieved in 1965.

Like the phoenix rising from the ashes, following WWII, after the Fallersleben plant was partially destroyed, the Volkswagen project was offered to Henry Ford II, who felt the car wasn’t “worth a damn.” The American public’s strong anti-German sentiment aligned with Ford’s, and no one wanted the Volkswagen.

But one man did. Ben Pon, a Dutchman who brought the car to the United States, partnered with foreign car importer Max Hoffman, and helped fill America’s great demand for affordable transportation in the immediate post-war years. By 1952, at a time when Americans were demanding hefty V-8 engines in chrome-laden land yachts, Volkswagen produced and managed to sell over 100,000 of the funny-looking little air-cooled cars, in a choice of five models, which included the Standard, the Deluxe, the Deluxe with Sunshine Roof, the Type 2 Microbus, and the top-of-the-line Cabriolet.

This 1955 Volkswagen Cabriolet has been faithfully restored to the last esoteric detail, and it is, in the words of one Volkswagen expert collector who recently inspected the car, “[It’s] probably the finest example I’ve ever seen.” It was heavily optioned from the factory when new, and its sparkling silvery blue Mittelblau Metallic paintwork showcases the original and proper fender skirts, the gleaming whitewall tires with chrome hubcaps and trim rings, the chrome wing mirrors and rare, optional two-into-one chrome exhaust tip, the twin fog lamps, the illuminated semaphore turn indicators, the European “Heart” tail lamps, and the City Arms (Wolfsburg crest) badge.

The immaculate interior features seating that has been upholstered in pale blue leather, and it offers the driver and passenger every amenity available in 1955, including a mid-century porcelain blumenvasen (a panel-mounted bud vase), translucent plastic sun visors, twin door panel pockets, an original Blaupunkt “Frankfurt” pushbutton LMUK radio, and twin leather-upholstered bolster pillows to the rear. An extremely rare factory-option feature, the “Deluxe Panel” dashboard clock, is located in the center of the dash.

The car is flawless throughout. It is presented in as-new condition, its fresh and strong original engine is bulletproof, as all Volkswagen bug enthusiasts will recognize and expect, and it has received only test mileage since its thorough and extensive restoration. It is now being offered from an esteemed collection of rare vintage Volkswagens and Porsches, and it is most certainly the very best Beetle Cabriolet available.

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