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The 70th anniversary of the first Volkswagen Beetle imported to the United States will be celebrated Sunday by the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance with a special class titled Custom Coachwork VW Beetle.
While that might sound like a far-fetched theme for one of the world’s most revered concours, Amelia is known for its imaginative special classes that add so much charm and color to the Florida show, now in its 24th year.
“The Volkswagen with custom coachwork is the flipside of the Bug’s original American mission and message, and thus the perfect fodder for an Amelia Concours special class,” Bill Warner, founder and chairman of the Amelia Island Concours, said in a news release.
The first VW Beetle was imported to the United States in January 1949 as the German automaker sought to establish itself in the market. Just two cars were sold that year, but interest and sales of Volkswagens blossomed after that, so much so that VW created a U.S. sales division in 1955.
There were certainly many VW customs built by both established coachbuilders and talented individuals as throughout the ’50 and ’60s, the VW platform was found to be an ideal basis for custom bodies.
“We’re delighted that the Amelia Island Concours chose to host a class for the Beetle with custom coachwork,” Klaus Bischoff, head of Volkswagen Design, said in a VW news release. “While everyone knows the humble Beetle, it’s less well-known that the Beetle platform was used by a number of coachbuilders in Europe to produce the amazing, unique vehicles on show this weekend.”
The 12 custom-bodied VWs that make up the class are:
• 1950 Hebmueller Type 14A
• 1951 Rometsch Beeskow Coupe
• 1951 Tempo Matador
• 1953 Rometsch Taxi
• 1953 Dannenhauer & Stauss Cabriolet
• 1954 Dannenhauer & Stauss Coupe
• 1954 Rometsch Beeskow Coupe
• 1956 Beetle by Troutman and Barnes
• 1957 Rometsch Lawrence Convertible
• 1960 Rometsch Lawrence Coupe
• 1965 Karmann-Ghia Type 1 concept
• 1969 Beetle Wedding Car
“This will be the first time that this many custom-coachwork Volkswagen vehicles are assembled in the same place, and the first time that a number of these cars will be seen in public in the U.S.” Volkswagen said in the release. “The 1965 Karmann-Ghia Type 1 concept, which belongs to Volkswagen, and the 1951 Rometsch Beeskow Coupe, which belongs to the Grundmann Collection, have been shipped specially from Germany for the occasion.”
Other special classes for Sunday’s concours at the Ritz-Carlton Resort are the Porsche 962 Dynasty, Revolutionary Innovations of the Indianapolis 500, Cars of the Rock Stars, Mercedes-Benz 500K-540K, Mid-Engine Sports Cars, the Cars of Heads of State and the 60th Anniversary of the Ferrari 250 GT SWB Coupe.
For more information, visit the Amelia Island Concours website.
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