1959 VOLKSWAGEN Beetle Flat Screen 1600View vehicle description
The Volkswagen Beetle has one of the greatest turnaround stories in motoring. It started out as the pinup of the fascist propaganda machine and yet graduated to the darling of the free-love movement – all in less than 30 years. That’s quite the swing. The secret of its transformation was the basic and endearing nature of the vehicle itself. It was always free of pretension, it was just a mode of transport that every man and woman could afford. Mobilising the masses had been done before the Beetle, of course, most famously with Henry Ford’s Model T, but the Beetle out-did the Ford by nearly five million and spawned two retro redesigns.
Beetles didn’t really start being made in great numbers globally until the 1950s when it established its markets and men and materials became available again after the war. The model received its first major wave of updates at the same time, including revising that twin oval rear window into a single large oval. There was also a new instrument panel, hydraulic brakes, an optional folding fabric sunroof and revised rear brake lights. As newer and better-quality fuel became available throughout the world, the Beetle’s engine also gained some more compression with correspondingly modest increases in horsepower.
This left-hand drive Beetle started its life in February 1959 as a ‘Deluxe Sedan’ according to its build sheet from Wolfsburg. It was also originally painted black but has since been vastly improved by the application of a quality coating of light blue (carried out in 2017). The car was imported into the UK in 2005 but sadly, we know very little of its time abroad other than the information above.
Since landing in Blighty, the car has had five keepers and has just recently had its 1.2-litre engine replaced with a brand new 1.6-litre alternative. The car is, of course, tax and MoT exempt and represents a fantastic opportunity to experience the charm and style of an early Beetle with the power and usability of a much later one.
On the Outside
The purity of design of early Beetles has long endeared them to collectors of VW’s best-selling machine. Its minimal body chrome and lack of later ugly plastic adornments have won it many fans. This example benefits from super cool two-tone painted white and body-coloured steel wheels, each finished off with huge domed hubcaps, adding yet more chrome and flair to the mix. The fabric top is another desirable option that’s ideal for those summer drives along sun-drenched coastlines.
The paintwork is in very good order throughout, we had to take a long look to find anything even slightly amiss with it. We did find a little mark just to the right and above the Wolfsburg badge on the snout but that was about all. The fabulous, period-correct trafficators illuminate and pop in and out as you’d expect. Elegant side mirrors on long chrome stalks perfectly compliment the chrome flutes and side stripes. It’s as evocative of its era as an episode of I love Lucy.
On the Inside
The period charm of the 1950s continues in the cabin from the Bakelite steering wheel, gear knob and switches to the tweed fabric. The custom matching side cushions in the back are a nice touch, as are the pretty discreet JVC CD and USB stereo tucked up under the dash (passenger side) and its rear passenger footwell-mounted Vibe speakers. All the trim in here displays little to no wear whatsoever, though there’s the odd spot of patina that we’d keep exactly as it is. For example, the pitting on the chrome trim through the centre of the dash remind you that this machine is 62 years old. It’s nice to see that there has been the odd concession to modern motoring added however, not just the stereo, but safety equipment like the addition of the front inertia-reel seatbelts.
The underside of this Beetle certainly hasn’t been ignored, in fact, it’s almost as clean under here as it is on top. The factory underseal has made way for paint – a darker shade than the body colour to differentiate the car’s chassis and major components. There’s very little corrosion to be found anywhere and this underside would certainly show up any. Having said that, there’s a couple of patches of surface crud just starting to break the paint on the front edge of the floor, where it meets the front axle, but it appears to be well within the margin of saving without the need for welding.
The paint does look fabulous but the lack of underseal does potentially limit this car’s use to fine, dry summer days. The brand-new Autolinea (Brazilian) engine block is hard to miss as its near pristine finish is certainly an uncommon sight under an old Beetle (outside of the VW show scene). The exhaust manifold and system has been upgraded to a stainless-steel alternative that looks great, although we did notice that the right-hand tailpipe is exiting the back at a different angle to the left one. A minor quibble that’s likely easily fixed.
The bulk of the history for this fantastic Volkswagen emanates from its time on our shores. There are MoT certificates going back to the mid 2000s and the V5 confirms the car’s import date of 2005. Further back, there’s an official Volkswagen August 1965 Sedan and convertible manual included and the confirmation of build date (February 1959) and original specification from the VW Auto Museum.
The big highlight in the history is undoubtedly the bills pertaining to the replacement engine. Bills for supply and fitting come to £3194,74 and it’s also reassuring to see that the new Weber 32/36 carburettor and motor were correctly run-in and given a tune on a rolling road. This took place at BD Engineering near Sittingbourne, Kent whose technician found the carb’s main jet to be too lean so changed it for a better flowing alternative. This, and the fastidious former owners, have ensured that this Beetle drives every bit as well as it looks.
What We Think
Beetles from this era are some of the most popular out there. They retain much of the classic look of the original ‘Käfer’ but with greater usability and safety. Though this example takes things a step further still with its punchy 1641cc engine and its more reliable electric fuel pump. The Weber carburettor is also a popular and useful upgrade, especially as it’s been tailored to this engine on the rolling road. All adding up to a Beetle that looks like a classic but performs like a much newer vehicle. That, combined with this VW’s excellent condition inside and out, is why we’re happy to place its reserve at between £12,500 to £15,000.
Viewing is always encouraged, and this particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; to arrange an appointment please use the Contact Seller button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.
If needed, please remember we have a network of suppliers we work with regularly including: Classic & Sportscar Finance for purchase-financing, Footman James for classic car insurance, Classic Concierge for storing your car plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping.
BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at the vehicles delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.
Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.
Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using simple cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.
Please note that this is sold as seen and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, return policy does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.
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