Amelia Island

8 March 2014

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Lot 134

1955 Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet by Karmann

  • Chassis no. 1 0906 325

Sold for $82,500

36 bhp at 3,600 rpm, 72.74 cu. in. 1,192 cc air- and oil-cooled horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine with a single Solex carburetor, four-speed manual transmission, four-wheel independent suspension with torsion leaves in the front, swing axle suspension with torsion bars in the rear, and four-wheel hydraulic brakes. Wheelbase: 94.5 in.

  • An outstanding restored example
  • Matching-numbers original engine
  • Multiple factory-optioned accessories
  • Correct and beautiful original colors

The Beetle, conceived by Ferdinand Porsche in 1932, was developed as a mass-produced, low-priced vehicle that was available and affordable for all Germans, and the phenomenal success of the now-beloved “people’s car” stands among one of the most remarkable automobile stories of the 20th century. The charming Beetle was just hitting its stride in 1955 when, by year-end, the Wolfsburg Works had produced a total of 279,988 cars in one year alone. Annual production increased by 50,000 or so, until the million-car mark was achieved in 1965.

Like the phoenix rising from the ashes, following WWII, after the Fallersleben plant was partially destroyed, the Volkswagen project was offered to Henry Ford II, who felt the car wasn’t “worth a damn.” The American public’s strong anti-German sentiment aligned with Ford’s, and no one wanted the Volkswagen.

But one man did. Ben Pon, a Dutchman who brought the car to the United States, partnered with foreign car importer Max Hoffman, and helped fill America’s great demand for affordable transportation in the immediate post-war years. By 1952, at a time when Americans were demanding hefty V-8 engines in chrome-laden land yachts, Volkswagen produced and managed to sell over 100,000 of the funny-looking little air-cooled cars, in a choice of five models, which included the Standard, the Deluxe, the Deluxe with Sunshine Roof, the Type 2 Microbus, and the top-of-the-line Cabriolet.

This 1955 Volkswagen Cabriolet has been faithfully restored to the last esoteric detail, and it is, in the words of one Volkswagen expert collector who recently inspected the car, “[It’s] probably the finest example I’ve ever seen.” It was heavily optioned from the factory when new, and its sparkling silvery blue Mittelblau Metallic paintwork showcases the original and proper fender skirts, the gleaming whitewall tires with chrome hubcaps and trim rings, the chrome wing mirrors and rare, optional two-into-one chrome exhaust tip, the twin fog lamps, the illuminated semaphore turn indicators, the European “Heart” tail lamps, and the City Arms (Wolfsburg crest) badge.

The immaculate interior features seating that has been upholstered in pale blue leather, and it offers the driver and passenger every amenity available in 1955, including a mid-century porcelain blumenvasen (a panel-mounted bud vase), translucent plastic sun visors, twin door panel pockets, an original Blaupunkt “Frankfurt” pushbutton LMUK radio, and twin leather-upholstered bolster pillows to the rear. An extremely rare factory-option feature, the “Deluxe Panel” dashboard clock, is located in the center of the dash.

The car is flawless throughout. It is presented in as-new condition, its fresh and strong original engine is bulletproof, as all Volkswagen bug enthusiasts will recognize and expect, and it has received only test mileage since its thorough and extensive restoration. It is now being offered from an esteemed collection of rare vintage Volkswagens and Porsches, and it is most certainly the very best Beetle Cabriolet available.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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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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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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

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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

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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