Lot 183

Arizona 2013

1953 Volkswagen 'Zwitter' Beetle


$66,000 USD | Sold

United States Flag | Phoenix, Arizona



Chassis No.

30 hp, 1,131 cc air-cooled four-cylinder boxer engine, Solex carburetor, four-speed manual gearbox, four-wheel independent suspension by torsion bars, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 94.5 in.

• Rare “Oval Dash Split-Window,” Zwitter, or “interim” model

• Refinished in factory-original Metallic Blue with grey/beige interior

• Original tri-fold canvas sunroof, with split oval rear window and oval dash

Pre-1968 Volkswagens are commanding the strongest collector interest due to their purity of design. They were built of quality materials and retained the charm of the first cars: metal dashes, chrome bumpers, simple controls, low seat backs, and six-volt electrical systems. In 1968, the VW Beetle was re-designed to adapt to new safety standards, including high seat backs, padded dashes, and rubber bumpers. To the purist, the Beetle lost much of its charm.

The Volkswagen Beetle Type 1 offered three basic models, the sedan, the sunroof sedan, and the cabriolet. Even with a high-production car, a rare variant will often attract astute collectors; this is one of those cars. Part of a five-month change-over of Beetles built from October 1, 1952 through March 10, 1953, the ‘Zwitter’ (short for the German Zwitter Kafer, or hybrid beetle) was built with the old split-window body, the new dash from the new Oval-Rear-Window cars, and featured many Zwitter-only parts, such as a unique dome light and other interior finishes.

Split-window Beetles were produced from 1948 to the end of 1952, and they are considered to possess the purist essence of the original design. During the summer of 1952, Wolfsburg changed production lines from the split-window to the oval-window. The Zwitter was assembled with the split window, but chrome trim was used instead of aluminum. They also received vent windows in the doors and a dash presaging that of the oval window cars. Less obvious differences were interior lamps, a starter button, chrome trim, bumpers, headlamps, tail lamps, and the air cleaner.

This very rare Beetle is presented in its original factory L35 Metallic Blue, with a faithfully restored cloth interior and a factory tri-fold canvas sunroof. It was discovered in Eastern Europe some years ago and was brought back to the United States for a comprehensive restoration. The rebuilt engine is original to the car and is mechanically sorted and cosmetically beautiful. All systems are in perfect working order, including the unique rearview mirror-mounted wind-up clock, and this rare Zwitter is ready for concours competition and Volkswagen club events. Smiles are guaranteed when the new owner slides behind the wheel!