Roofs and Roots

Dear VW-friends,

you waited a long time for this post, I know. I was very busy in the last two months, privat and business. The January, February and March were absolute record months at VEWIB, we never had a VW-season starting as well as this 2019. But we have a serious lack of skilled workers in the office and we are still suffering of the big movement we had end of 2017. Due to this sales as crazy on one hand and way to less people to handle all this work on the other hand, there was and there still is much more work for me.  Then there was the Volksworldshow in England and the Techno Classica in Essen too I had to attend…. so I hope you forgive me being a little lazy in updating the blog.

Thank god Mark Spicer is never lazy! In front of the Volksworldshow I visited him to check what´s the progress of the Samba. Before I present you the new results of his stunning work, share with me a view back in the summer of 2017 when Evelyn and Mark visited me to check out the remaining pieces of the Samba evaluating the possibility of a reconstruction. It was that day when he spoke this sentence the whole process started with: “Hmmm, I think it´s possible.”

During this inspection Mark also checked the front end of the roof and found some original remains of white color. He was excited about it: “It´s a true ´51, no doubt, only the early ´51 Sambas had a white roof!” I wasn´t deeply into early Sambas yet, but was happy about Mark´s expertise. See here this certain scene.

Even most VW enthusiasts would trash this piece of roof, but Mark explained why it is important to save it
Lots of moss and a little of white color. I was personally more excited by the moss, but Mark taught me it´s the white to be excited of!

And now see what Mark did about this front roof piece. Is this cool? He saved as much as even possible of the original substance and there is still some of the original white color proofing this here is in fact an early ´51 Samba.

Mark already fitted the roof piece into the Samba, it matches perfectly into the front he is reconstructing currently. Before you start wondering about the front looking way less complete than in Amersfoort please note that the front we showed in Amersfoort was just a provisional Mark welded real quickly to get the Samba ready for the show. All pieces were hold together by a simple subframe made just for show reason. What you see here is the real deal.

The A-posts and the inner front valance are entirely crafted by Mark, the windshield frame came from Klassik Fab, but the rest of the front will at least contain lots of the original material.
Note the right cab door in the background! In opposite to our show-front for Amersfoort this one here we can bolt on doors….

After returning from England I decided to go to the Eifel again, visiting the city of Mayen where the Samba was found. I created this little poster to put it on the walls in the inner city, hoping to find somebody who could tell me something about the Samba´s history, especially why it was dumped here in Mayen, but still with Cologne licenses plates bolt on.

The poster says: “Who knows this old VW-Bus? This Bus was dumped on a meadow here in Mayen in the 60s and I am currently restoring it. I would love to hear from you if you can tell me anything about the Bus´ history.”

There was zero result from Mayen, but from another place in the Eifel. I received the following amazing picture showing nothing less than a ´51 Samba, red, brown, white as mine. I recognized the place where the picture was made right away, it´s the “Bunte Kuh” near Ahrweiler, in the famous whine region Ahrtal-valley, just in the middle between Mayen and my hometown Bonn.

The backside of this breathtaking picture says “November 1951”
The same road 68 years later. Even the railway´s telegraph mast in the background is still in place even though it´s not in use since the 90s anymore.

The Samba has occupation license plates; these were used in Germany up to 1956. In the net I found a translation for old German occupation license plates and guess what…. The “R” on the plate means “British occupation zone, Rhineland County”, the “658” means “Cologne, inner city”. Due to the VW factory records my Samba was delivered to the VW dealership Fleischhauer in Cologne as a demonstration car and the dealership was (and still is) located in the inner city.

Now have a look on the license plate the Samba was found with. It´s the newer DIN-style all German cars had to be converted to in 1956. The DIN-plate “K-ER 571” is to be read “K” = Cologne; “ER” = inner city. Can you imagine my thoughts I had this moment?

Then I noted in the historic picture the strange accessory lights on top of the bumper. I remembered a little detail in the dashboard of my Samba. There was this tiny green control light I never couldn´t think what it was possibly good for. Now I guess I know what it is: a control light for some additional (fog-) lights, just the same way we all know it from any average car between 1950 and 1980 when fog lights weren´t standard but an optional extra.

See here my Samba´s dash board and the little control light on left of the speedo plate. Isn´t that most likely a control light for a set of fog lights?

A fog light…. Wait a minute! When I returned in summer 2018 to the meadow where the Samba was found to dig in the ground for some parts being still buried there (see my post “mad in the mud”),  I found a lot of car pieces which did not belong to the Samba, an Opel´s carb and some beetle parts for example, but I found also this single strange Hella fog light I never even could imagine that it possibly belongs to the Samba. See it here:

This fog light I found in the mud where the Samba was dumped is an early Hella one with an odd clear lens, used up to 1952 only.

Now compare this fog light to the one on the historic picture. I made close up for you.

Isn´t that the very same fog light?

Is this still a big coincidence? OK, the very same three color combination is no evidence, many ´51 Sambas showed this colors. But how many of the 261 ever build ´51 Sambas were based in Cologne inner city? How many of them came with this certain fog lights? Call me nuts, but am I too optimistic saying that the historic picture from the Eifel shows very most likely my Samba?

You better believe I will ask around in the Eifel this summer as many old people as possible. I am sure there is more material hidden between Bonn and Mayen! Isn´t any thriller nothing but boring compared to this story? I´ll keep you posted!

Best regards from Bonn


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7 thoughts on “Roofs and Roots

  1. Hi Florian,
    been following your blog from the very first day.
    I just saw a picture on Instagram and that reminded me of your bus. Definitely a 51 and also features fog lights – and the very same license plate. Not sure if you already saw the pic? Hope you can open the link, otherwise I can try to send by email

    Best regards,
    Haan next to Düsseldorf

    1. Hello Jan,

      yes, that´s my Samba. The picture shows a promotion tour of the dealership Fleischhauer, showing the brand new “Achtsitzer Sondermodell” to the public. The location is in the South of Bonn at the ferry between Königswinter and Mehlem. As far as I know the picture was never published for reasons unknown. It really makes you wonder, because it is a beautiful picture, very well composed and it would have been perfect to be printed in the newspaper or elsewhere. Some of the mysteries around the Samba, but maybe we will know some day.

      best regards


  2. Hallo Florian,
    exactly the region of my childhood.
    We had from the early 50´until the late 90´a restaurant at the Seilbahn Station in Altenahr.
    for some reason i always search for old pictures from the Ahr valley. Because i have the greatest memorys to this time.
    Over that i have found a nice website from our now local television and media company WDR. It called WDR digit. A nice idea against the lost of all those privat 8mm movies. every user can upload his private movie and the company digitalized this so save it for all others.
    My search keywords are allways “Altenahr” “Mayschoß” “Ahrtal” “Seilbahn” and so on.

    And then I remembered seeing something. So take a look at this beautiful movie, more precisely at 00:32 !!

    The scenry is in front of the winery in Mayschoß , less than 8 km from your picture at “bunte Kuh”
    Same time ? definitely ( early 50´s )
    Same Bus ? maybe ( because i see fog lights 🙂
    Only different are the logo from the bus travel company. Many of them started there business to to bring disturbed urbanites ( from cologne or dusseldorf ) to our wine festivals and bring some joy.
    maybe a new search approach: bus travel company

    best regards ( sorry for bad English )

    1. Hi Maarten,

      this is a cool website! I didn´t know it at all. There is A BIG LOT of cool VW pics, just punch in “VW” in the search line and you´ll find more than 2.000 pics, many of them very nice and quite a few Sambas, even BD Sambas. But my one is not there. Also the BD-Samba in the movie isn´t mine. It´s a later one, it got already a rear bumper, so it is later than March ´53. I can´t identify if the roof is white or brown, but at least the sun roof cover is dark, but since the movie is not later than 1956 due to the occupation license plates this is most liekly the still the first sunroof cover, so the roof of this Samba was brown.
      Also Mark sved a lot of the original red paint of the long side panel and there was the slightest remain of an advertising writing.
      And I would say that the mirror hangs downwards, so it would be between January ´53 and March ´55, but I am not sure about the mirror.
      But the fog light could be the same, that´s right. Interesting fact that this fog lights are today not to find anywhere. I am searching EBay upside down, but this fog lights are not on sale, not in Germany nor elsewhere.

  3. All I can say is, holly crap!!! That is exciting news!! I have been watching from the beginning as well and look forward to every word. I enjoy my VWs and trying to find their stories and history but yours makes mine look like matchbox car. Thank you for making all this so public.

  4. Hi Florian,

    what a great story! I‘ve been following your blog and restoration since the beginning and I‘m so excited about the latest news! Thumbs up! I wish you the best luck to dig out more valuable historic information about your white-roofer and perhaps the second fog light!? 🙂 Will you install them again? (I‘d love it).

    Best wishes from Nuremberg

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