18 January 2013

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Lot 183

1953 Volkswagen 'Zwitter' Beetle

  • Chassis no. 10454494

Sold for $66,000

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!

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 9... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. He is a life-long automobile enthusiast and ... read more

Don Rose

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United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Ian Kelleher

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California, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Politica... read more

Jake Auerbach

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California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Jonathan Sierakowski

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Ontario, Canada

Jonathan Sierakowski developed a passion for classic cars while working at a Connecticut restoration shop as a teenager. He graduated with a... read more

Kurt Forry

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California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. He att... read more

Peter Wallman

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007 following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, where he was based out ... read more

Shelby Myers

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California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more