October 22, 2018

Epic Book About Renovation and History of the VW Beetle From 1941

Volkswagen Beetle is not just an ordinary car, it's an icon. More than 21 million of these cars have been sold since the start of its production in the 1940s until the end of 2003. It has become the most produced car without any significant change in design in the history.


The Czechs can boast with the oldest surviving Beetle. This Beetle is now parked in the garage of the veteran lover Ondrej Brom who was working on the demanding restoration of this gem for several years. Restoration is finally done and everything about the restoration process, history of this specific car and VW history is written in black and white in 350 page book which is now offered via Kickstarter.

The poor thing was beaten up and repaired many times during the socialism in Czechoslovakia when parts were rare but the final result of over 5 years of renovation is simply mind blowing!


Chapter One
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

I have met with this car for the first time in 1988 when I was still a student,” recalls Ondrej. “I have noticed this car at my brother's friend Ladislav Rojka. The poor thing was parked beneath a giant tree, under the layer of clay halfway through the wheels. It was an ungrateful and sad sight.

Nine years later, when he found out that the wreck is for sale, he immediately rushed there. He had only four thousand Czech crowns in his wallet.

"The price was 60 thousand Czech crowns. So I asked the owner if he could wait until I get to the bank. Thank God he agreed,” says Ondrej.





Chapter Two
THE HISTORY UNRAVELED BY THE POLICE TECHNICIAN

He had no idea what an unique car he acquired when he purchased the wreck of this Beetle. He knew he was the new owner of the original KdF war type, but further information about his car remained a mystery. There were no production labels to be found, let alone a body number that could reveal more.

In order to find out the history of this Beetle, Ondrej had to literally do the detective work. He searched for a ways he could recover the serial number of the car from the body that was covered by many layers of the paint. He consulted with experts, tried special X-rays, even tried to call the Ministry of the Interior. Eventually, he remembered that he has a friend with the criminal police who worked as a technician.


Layers of pains and asphalt hiding everything from the body number to the original black paint.

My police technician friend came to my workshop with a number of strange things - variety of test tubes and containers full of liquids, droppers and brushes - I felt like in a small chemical lab. He gradually applied the chemicals to the hood of the car. Me and my wife were watching and examining the location where the serial number should be,” recalls Ondrej.

Eventually, the number 20 revealed under the layers of the paint. After the long dive in the archives it was clear, the first owner of this KdF was the famous Berlin composer Paul Lincke, who lived in Marianske Lazne, Czech republic since 1943. However, all the Sudetenland Germans including him, were relocated after the WWII. But the car remained in Czechoslovakia and was taken by the state health official Zdenek Krasny. Tesar family owned the car after him.

Unfortunately the fate of Lincke's car between 1958 and 1997 can not be documented well. What I have learned from the memories of Antonin Tesar the younger is that the sale of the car happened sometime in 1958. However, I was not able to find out who bought the vehicle. Everything is under the dust of times and fog of a strange totalitarian times in Czech republic,” says Ondrej about the history of the car.

Paul Carl Emil Lincke, first owner of the car back in 1941.


Chapter Three
DON'T BUY SPEEDOMETERS OF eBAY

After investigating the history of the car, Ondrej went through true and honest renovation of the car that took him several years. His work was also complicated by the fact that very few photographs and other materials on KdFs from 1941 have been preserved (for example documentation of the older prototypes are pretty common). Despite all of that, Ondrej went all out and tried to get the smallest details into a form that most closely represented the 1941 reality. He tried many types of paint, he was handwriting letters and numbers for the license plate in accordance with the regulations from November 1940, and was looking for original parts amongst foreign dealers. But not everything went smooth. One time Ondrej auctioned KdF Beetle war speedometer on the eBay.

It was not clear from the photos whether it was an original component or a replica, but I did not have any choice at the time and I bought the speedometer,” Ondrej recalls. As soon as he had unpacked the box with the speedometer, it was crystal clear that it is a scam.

Ondrej was able to get the original one (with 2 km on it) and celebrated 1000 km on June 24, 2018.


Chapter Four
FAST AS DURING THE WAR

Despite of all the obstacles, he managed to complete the renovation of the car successfully, and the KdF war Beetle is cruising the roads again. Almost in the same form as nearly seventy years ago.

It is not possible to compare the driving ability of this car with any modern cars,” he says. “Nevertheless, driving is very pleasant, especially when everything works the way it suppose to. The 958 cc engine was a great surprise for me. The engine is very flexible and it can make the car easily go 100 kilometers per hour, just as it was at the time when the car was produced.”.

Ondrej talks about his KdF Beetle from 1941 (turn on the subtitles for English):




The car looks like this now (studio photos made for the book):








Chapter five
EVERYTHING IS DOCUMENTED

Bilingual large-format 350-page book (almost 2.5 kilos) is written in English/Czech. Anyone interested can buy it on Kickstarter only, the campaign launched 21 days ago and is 78% funded. Enthusiasts who decide to support the project can get one of the 800 self-published and already printed first edition books, A3 photographs, B2 posters and A3 calendars with the legendary KdF Beetle and much more.

This is a project of just a small group of enthusiasts and awesome Christmas present for anyone who love history, Beetles or simply design and nice photographs. (Money from Kickstarter are going towards the production cost of the book and new restoration project this group of people are preparing.)

This is how the book looks like:



Video about the book:




HONORABLE MENTIONS

Special thanks must also go to all the people who helped with this project from the renovation (videos below) of the “Lincke's car”, trough the documenting process of every step of the reconstruction, to our wives who were crying alone home while we were playing with our toys in the workshop abroad.

Jacek Krajewski about KdF41:A phenomenal figure in the KdF 1941 story. Jacek is actually the one who found out about this vehicle and he was catalyst of all the activities that led to the reconstruction of this car. For me, however, the biggest luck is me and Jacek becoming friends and I greatly appreciate it.




Christian Grundmann about KdF41:Before we started this journey Christian was an KdF & VW collector icon for me. But he helped me during the reconstruction many times, for free. Why? He explained that to me after the reconstruction was completed." In his own words, "I saw that you have approached the project with your heart, and that is essential!




Richard Hausmann about KdF41:Richard is yet another icon for me. He is a big fan and collector of the KdFs and early VWs. I'm glad that Richard allowed me to photograph his 1943 car in my book for the demonstration of the main differences between those cars.




Tomasz Sobkowiak about KdF41:Yet another grand guy from Poland who took part in the reconstruction of my car. Tomasz manufactured front and rear lights and put together the entire electric system in the car. I shall not forget also Roman Sobkowiak, father of Tomasz. Roman renovated the engine and both front and rear axles.







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