In 1971, Volkswagen South Africa held a competition to find the oldest Beetle in the country, with the winner receiving a brand-new 1300 Beetle in exchange. The winner was David Rubin of Middelburg, whose Beetle, named Jan, had rolled off the production floor at the original Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg, Germany, all way back on 14 September 1949.
After being discovered, Jan the Beetle went on tour around South Africa before returning to the Volkswagen factory in Uitenhage, where he left to deteriorate in storage.
Now though, more than 67 years after he was built, Jan the Beetle caught the attention of Jan Schiedek-Jacht, the Head of Product Engineering at Volkswagen SA.
Schiedek-Jacht, a classic car expert and enthusiast, along with a team of engineers at Product Engineering, set about restoring Jan. “The team under the leadership of Jan Schiedek-Jacht donated their spare time to fully restoring Jan,” said Thomas Schaefer, Managing Director of Volkswagen SA. “I am humbled by the dedication, passion and love of our automotive heritage that this team has shown during the restoration.”
Jan has now been completely restored to original condition and color, with original components having been brought in from sources in South Africa, Germany and the United States. The restoration is not all show-and-no-go though, with Jan having made the trip to the George Motorshow last month, the trip of 600km being his first since restoration.
Jane the Beetle is now on display at the AutoPavilion at Uitenhage, Volkswagen SA’s Automotive Experience Centre and Museum.
By Sam Spiller
Images sourced from Quickpic.co.za