Unlike their closed top counterparts, VW Cabriolets were built in a separate plant by Karmann. Volkswagen convertibles manufactured prior to 1958 seem to be the most valuable. They were renowned for build quality and such luxury features as a 3 layer sound deadening top. The 1954 update to a 1200cc 36 hp power plant resulted in a roadworthy car comfortable at US legal speeds. Volkswagen collector and expert, Tim Hayes, participated in this VW’s refurbishment. His road test finds it to be smooth, responsive, and reliable.
The present owner collects bug by the swarm. He states that he was intrigued by this car when he first heard about it more than 15 years ago. It had stayed in the possession of one Chicago family until its travel to California for restoration and resale. Its “Bamboo” finishes were attractive and desirable. Since purchase it has been used sparingly and has been continuously housed in a protected and dry facility. The car is believed to have its original engine and a VW Birth Certificate is pending.
The legendary Volkswagen “Beetle” had any number of influences. Legendary engineer Josef Ganz, already a contributor to the development of the cars of Daimler Benz and BMW, is often credited with the origination of the concept. His 1934 Standard Superior bears a striking similarity to the “Bug”. Ganz was not favored in Germany and in the same year the project was assigned to Porsche, subsequently designing the “car for everyman”. Not acknowledged until the conclusion of a successful suit at the end of the war, Tatra provided many of the design cues. Production of the consumer model was delayed by the war but quickly ramped up in the late forties with a model being introduced in the US in 1949. That same year convertible production was initiated. Chassis strength was enhanced by reinforcing the sills and the side cowl panes and placing a transverse beam below the rear seat.
In preparation for its next owner this Cabriolet has been thoroughly reconditioned by G & S Motors of Fletcher, North Carolina. The seats and door panels were removed, cleaned and reinstalled. The fenders were detached, gaskets inspected, and minor paint imperfections on the undersurface addressed. Door gaskets were replaced. Hub caps were properly painted and replaced. New NOS intake and exhaust manifolds were obtained and installed. New Bosch spark plugs and plug wires were secured and installed as were points and a new distributor cap.
The braking system was refurbished using seals, lines and shoes from OEM supplier ATE. This car is equipped with a Becker Hi Fidelity radio with an appropriate separate factory amplifier. Its Wolfsburg crest and steering wheel present beautifully and are thought to restore items original to the car. All four-side windows, the vent glass, and even the glass of the convertible’s rear window is Sekurit.
“The 55-57 VW Cabriolets are the Cadillacs of the Volkswagen line.”>Ken Stern, G&S Motors
Designed in the mid 30’s by Ferdinand Porsche and in continuous production until 2004, the beetle might be the most recognizable auto design in the world. Its iconic status ranks it with the Cobra, Citroen 2 CV, and Porsche 911. The split window (until mid 1953) VW, the oval window (53-57) VW and the pre 58 Cabriolet seem to be the most collectable. Recent auction prices show a rising tide and establish the open top Beetle as the one to have. A well optioned 1955 Cabriolet sold for a record $82,500 at the 2014 RM auction at Amelia Island. A black 1956 convertible brought 47300 at Scottsdale in January of this year. Another 1957 Cabriolet from the Jones collection recently brought $54600 at auction.
Offered is an excellent example of the apogee of early VW convertible design. The extra measures done by Karmann to return rigidity to the convertible’s frame result in a stable open car. History suggests that the buyer will be the third owner of an icon which invariably brings smiles to user and viewer alike.