49 Club -Dr Luftschule’s Split Oval VW Beetle

Welcome to our latest installment in the lockup, and this is a treat! A 1949 beetle straight into the grasps of Dr Luftschule from RSVP … let’s begin

“Having had a pretty rad OG paint Low light Ghia on air, and the taunts that brought from within the hallowed ranks of RSVP, the challenge was set by wheel whore RSVP Dave Hall to join the 40’s club with an OG paint split bug. It seemed pretty apt as I was turning 40 the same year so the search started for a suitable car to match my pretty strict criteria.

It had to be OG paint, unmolested and with as many of the correct parts as possible. When I started to think about what I wanted, one of those moments went ping in my head and I immediately remembered previously creaming my weasel over a 49 STD that had been on the Samba for some time. A quick trawl through the Samba classifieds and there it was sitting on page 6. Three pictures and the briefest of descriptions was all it took to get me dribbling over the keyboard. Instantly an email was dispatched to Arizona to see if a deal could be done.

Initially the car was a little out of my price range so some pretty upfront discussions followed. I think the conversation went a little like this, “This is what I have, will you take it, if you will it’s sold, if you won’t then thanks but no thanks”.

To my amazement and, sadly due to the sellers personal circumstances a deal was struck in less than 24hrs and a deposit was sent to sunny Arizona.

The 49 was finally bought and paid for by the end of January 2014, and was on its way to a chilly UK mid way through March 2014. Shipping was a bit of a mission, multiple trucks into Arizona due to size restrictions in the small pickup town, delays at the port, and then the damn boat calling into every port on the western seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico. I have since found out the car was a Belgian supplied STD in grey. It remained in Belgium until 1967 when it was shipped out to the states. It remained there until I prized it out of GFK member Tim Millers hands.

Finally the day for collection from Felixstowe arrived; remember I had still only seen 3 pictures of the car at this point, so was fuelled with both excitement and trepidation. Wheel Whore Dave joined me for support; after all it was his fault I had bought the car. However we needn’t have worried neither of us were disappointed with what was waiting for our collection. The car was truly bad ass with only a few parts missing and two flat tyres. Tyres were whipped off, courtesy of the poshest jack known to mankind from a imported Bentley, re-inflated and loaded up for its final stage of its journey to Wiltshire.

The car was dropped off to the “chicken barn” for the fun to commence. The car did run and roll but it needed allot of loving to get it rolling how I wanted it.

It was striped back to an empty shell so years of crust and paint could be removed from the interior. This revealed a pretty solid car. Just a few pin holes in the rear halves of the pans and a crusty jacking point were found.

I already knew it needed a door bottom on the driver’s side and as a result the window mechanism has become insecure. As a temporary measure a Plexiglas window was fitted to make the car water tight again. The electrics were run through and corrected and cable brakes re-adjusted. The engine ran, but needed a full service and set up. It’s only a 30 horse unit, but now purrs like a pussy cat once you get the stubborn thing started. There’s a definite knack to starting an early motor.

The box was removed and new mounts fitted and about 15kilos of crud removed where it had been run with split boots and dusty roads. It was re-fitted with new boots and shifts well considerering it is the original crash box to the car.

The interior was cleaned and refitted, and is all OG and original to the car. It’s torn and ripped but looks and smells perfect for the era. Much to the amazement of me and to other UK suitors of the car who had contemplated purchasing it was that the majority of all the hard to find STD interior and exterior parts were with the car, external horn, window mounted mirror and correct bumpers were all present. Inside the correct dash pod and switches were fitted with an awesome reverse working speedometer. Rear view mirror was correct as was the steering wheel and pedal assembly; the car also came with a super cool period correct locking shifter. Unfortunately the dome light was beyond repair so a repro was sourced and a dash blanking pod was also ordered up from the same guy Sam Steel in Spain. While cleaning out the car a super rare Oval only clothes hook was found by Dave under the rear seat. Thanks to his eagle eyes and knowledge of all non-essential vintage VW tat it was put straight up on the samba for sale. This sold instantly which meant the real fun part could begin.

With the money from the hook being received from Hawaii, a set of bespoke adjustable spring plates were ordered up from transporterhaus. These were created using one of the originals from the car as a template for dimensions. The existing horseshoe adjustors were ditched at the back and the new plates fitted up. The new stance was born, and I freakin loved it. The front already had a 6 inch adjustable beam and dropped spindles fitted so this was turned right down to its lowest setting to match the rear. And there it sat quite literally unable to move!!!. The 49 was on its ass flat out and unable to roll due to tyre interference.

The headlight bowls were clearanced and the rear plates adjusted up 5mm and it was ready to roll. The stance was epic with the deep arches and the low slung bumpers of an early bug; all it needed was dem rims to finish it off. This is where my negotiation skills had come to the fore. Originally the 49 was being sold on stock rims, but the 3 pics I did have had it sitting on crazy chromed super cool 5 stud Fumigalis, an aftermarket VW rim from Brazil. As part of the price negotiations not only had I scored my dream car but I also managed to secured it on the said set of chromed Fumigali’s and all for the price I wanted pay, extremely happy days indeed. So the rims were removed re- polished and bolted up. They completed the car so well. Intense bling against the blandness of the grey, a proper match made in heaven had been created.”

Literally 10 minutes after making the final running adjustments the car was driven to RSVP headquarters in Redditch for a late night buff session, and then onto to Lincolnshire to debut at SkegVegas where it came home with two trophies. I’ve continued to use it ever since and attended as many shows as possible. As with everyone on the VW scene my eyes have been turned by better and rarer things, as a result the 49 will be making way for my new top secret project, watch this space for another bad man RSVP ride hitting the streets later in 2015.


Photography: Alex Mills (Rothfink)
Art Direction: Alex Mills (Rothfink) / Jason Cooper (Rothfink)
Ride courtesy of: Dr Luftschule / RSVPVW
Model: Amy Bowers
Originally featured in: UltraVW