Volkswagen’s automotive museum, AutoPavilion, has recently had an upgrade and one of its new displays is Jan the Beetle.
Brian Joss – Jan was built on Wednesday, 14 September 1949 in the original Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg. In 1971 Volkswagen South Africa and Wheels magazine held a competition to find the oldest Beetle in South Africa. The winner was David Rubin of Middelburg, who received a brand-new 1300 Beetle in exchange for Jan the Beetle.
After discovery in 1971, Jan went on display around South Africa before coming back home to rest at the Volkswagen factory in Uitenhage. However for a number of years, no one paid attention to Jan and he was left in storage as his condition had deteriorated and could not be displayed. That changed when Jan the Beetle was brought to the attention of another very special Jan at Volkswagen, namely Jan Schiedek-Jacht, the head of product Engineering at VWSA.
Schiedek-Jacht, who is a classic car enthusiast and expert offered to give Jan a new lease on life. Soon, highly qualified engineers from Product Engineering at VWSA heard about Jan and offered to help.
“The team under the leadership of Jan Schiedek-Jacht donated their spare time to fully restoring Jan and seven months later when a pristine looking car. I am humbled by the dedication, passion and love of our automotive heritage that this team has shown during the restoration of the Jan the Beetle,” said Thomas Schaefer, chairman and managing director of VWSA.
It was decided by the team that Jan would be restored to his original condition and colour. As many original components as possible were repaired and restored, and only where required were new components sourced from special dealers in South Africa, Germany and the US.
Jan is now the jewel of the AutoPavilion vehicle collection. Thanks to his split rear windshield, Jan is the most desired little Beetle by collectors and enthusiasts alike. Jan proved that he is still fit for a jolly weekend drive after covering over 600 km to the George Motorshow early in February.
This was his first drive after full restoration, exactly 67 years 4 months
10 days after he was built.
The AutoPavilion in Uitenhage is VWSA’s Automotive Experience Centre and Museum and each year it attracts over 30 000 car enthusiasts, school children, tourists, families and friends.