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Authenticity Series - Part 3 - 1949-1952

05 December 2022
1949 Deluxe VW Beetle
Part 3 of our series on detail changes throughout the production of the VW Beetle, this time concentrating on the start of the Heinz Nordhoff era - the beginning of the deluxe Beetle.

May/June 1949 saw some big changes to the split Beetle, in an attempt to change the car from a sparce utilitarian vehicle into a more modern (for the time) luxurious car, the new 'deluxe' version of the car was introduced. The deluxe was primarily built for the export market, with chrome trim added to the side and running boards. Chrome was also added to the bumpers (previously 'export' Beetles also had chrome bumpers). Headlight rims, door handles, hubcaps were also chromed. Inside there was more headlining, ivory dash pods with aluminium trim and ivory switches along with a new 'batwing' steering wheel replacing the old 3 spoke wheel. The hubcaps were changed to have a smaller VW logo and the fuel tank was enlarged (moving the reservoir handle to the centre of the car). Other changes on the deluxe included hydraulic brakes replacing the old cable operated system. The design of the bumper was changed to include a horizontal groove and the big banana over riders were shortened down and rounded off.

At the rear, the old number plate pressing was removed and some of the rivets removed from the licence plate light to make it a little smoother. The previous big chrome ring on the tail light was removed and a small aluminium ring replaced it, which in turn was removed completely in 1950. The front bonnet (hood in the US) no longer had a rotating handle but was instead opened via a cable inside the car. Also added were the two chrome horn grills, left side open for the horn and the right side solid.

In 1951 in an attempt to allow fresh air into the cabin, vents were added to the front quarters that could be opened from inside the car. These have become known as 'crotch coolers' due to the location of the cold air coming into the car.

Also introduced in 1949 were the two convertible models - the 2 seater Hebmüller and the 4 seater Karmann. Early models crossed over some of the above features, such as cable brakes and large gas tank, but as these cars were part of Nordhoff's deluxe programme these included Ivory Interior parts and exterior chrome (except police models made for the domestic market).

  • New Grooved style bumper with smaller overrider.
  • Raised 'pressed' area around number plate removed
  • Small tail lights with thin aluminium ring, followed by no ring
  • 'Popes nose' licence plate light with no rivets around the lens.
  • New 'Batwing' Steering wheel
  • Ivory Dash Pods with aluminium trim
  • Chrome door handles
  • Larger fuel tank
  • Spare wheel panel with tool shelf.
  • Cardboard gloveboxes
  • Fusebox mounted on front quarter
  • New small logo chromed hubcaps
Vintage VW