COMMON.GEAR/Shoreline Antique Auto Connection:
"Der Volkswagen" vintage sales brochure artwork circa 1950Our 1950 Volkswagen Model 11c, Deluxe Beetle
(new as of 11/28/2007;
"reactivated" as of 12/6/2009)

Navigational Links for this page:
Overview
Data from Volkswagenwerk Archives
Significant Dates in our 1950 VW's history
Tom Shoemaker's article about his 1950 VW from the August 1984 VVWCA Newsletter, Vol. 9, No. 8
Marine Midland Automotive Financial Corporation advertisement appearance
January 1988 photos of the 1950, on the day we took possession
The June 2000 Norwalk, CT "Record" Gathering of Split Window Beetles
What we have done on the car so far, since owning it, and also thinking ahead (new additions of 5/31/2008)
An esteemed new nickname as of May, 2008: "Thrashwell Junior" (new as of 5/31/2008)

Other Related Pages of Interest:
(stay tuned as we make more progress...)

Questions, Comments, Ideas, Suggestions? => Please feel free to e-mail us!

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"Watercolor" effect to image of 1950 VW, from 1999 Town of Durham, CT 300th Anniversary Parade - click directly on image to bring up larger, unaltered versionOverview

In recent months it's been noticed that old VWs in general seem to be increasing in value. It's our observation that the antique twin-windscreen "Microbusses" have had steep value growth over the last, say, 10 years or so. Not being Microbus owners, however, that trend hasn't affected us much (aside from making us a bit depressed knowing that we'll likely never be able to afford one!). But slowly, it appears the other early models-the ones with very perceptibly early-type designs, that is (like the way those twin front windscreens make the '67 & earlier Microbusses so uniquely different-looking than the '68 & later ones)-like the split and oval window Beetles-seem to be creeping up in value as well.

We have the unique good fortune to own a 1950 Beetle, which would be termed a "split window," due to the two small back windows separated by a rib (same reason the '63 Corvettes are also called "split windows"), and had been thinking the past couple of years about selling it, due to how little we seem to have been actually using it (due not in small measure to some sort of ignition problem that has cropped up within the past couple of years, that I still haven't gotten around to tackling, but which has obviously made the car not able to be driven). Thankfully we hadn't gotten around to selling this '50 VW, though, since, given the current apparent value trends, I have a feeling we'd soon be kicking ourselves.

But it's not just the dollar value, we are now realizing, that has caused us to gradually alter our thinking about this particular '50 Bug. Having recently taken the time to reflect about our own history with the car, look at old photos, and talk with others who know the car and its early history, we are realizing what a unique bit of automotive history (both in the Connecticut VW hobby world, and the history of VW in the United States) it represents.

Max Hoffman, from March 2007 New York Times articleOur 1950 VW is a Deluxe model, VIN 1-0185699, which, according to a letter from Volkswagenwerk archives that the previous owner received in response to his inquiry, was produced on August 17, 1950, and delivered on September 6, 1950 to New York. At that time, a New York-based new car dealer and expatriate Austrian named Max Hoffman had sole US importation rights for the Volkswagen, and sold a total of only 328 Beetles during 1950. Apparently residual anti-German sentiment after WWII did not make the VW a very popular car back at that time. The list price for the 1950 Deluxe Beetle was also $1480, when a 1950 Chevy two-door could be purchased for as low as $1413, so the unfavorable price comparison probably also contributed to the low sales numbers for the 1950 VWs. In the letter that the previous owner received from Volkswagewerk, it was stated: "Since the car was delivered to New York in September 1950, it might well be that it belongs to those imported by Max Hoffman. However, we are unable to tell you definitely." Given everything, we do feel reasonably confident that our '50 VW is indeed a Hoffman car--one of the 328!

IMAGE AT RIGHT: This picture accompanied a March 18, 2007 article in the New York Times entitled: "Max Hoffman Made Imports Less Foreign to Americans," by Donald Osborne. It was noted in the article that Max Hoffman was born in Austria in 1904, grew up working in his father's bicycle manufacturing business and later became a race driver. He moved to New York shortly after the outbreak of WWII, and opened the Hoffman Motor Company in 1947. He initially started supplying Jaguars to the eastern US in 1948, and soon recognized the potential of the VW in 1949. Quoting from NY Times Osborne article: "...The going was tough, however, as Americans had not yet realized the charms of the Beetle. After four years of struggling, VW decided to take the distributorship back and Hoffman gladly sold out; he later acknowledged that it was one of his few mistakes..." Max Hoffman died in 1981.

Tom Shoemaker, October 1984Relating the significance of this 1950 VW to the Connecticut VW hobby world is that it was previously owned by the late Mr. Tom Shoemaker, who founded the Connecticut Chapter of the VVWCA; in our eyes, Tom Shoemaker essentially originated the Connecticut antique VW hobby. So, in all, we do indeed feel quite fortunate not to have let this 1950 VW slip through our fingers.

Tom was a huge influence on our antique VW enthusiasm, and I could write pages and pages about how his infectious excitment and enthusiasm really spurred us on and made is want to get more involved in the old-VW hobby. He was quite a sparkplug, taken away much too soon from this world...

As it turns out, I got to thinking about Tom again and remembered that I had a couple of pictures of him, from the 1984 "Holbert's" VW meet, where some old pictures of the 1950 on this page were taken (see the Tom Shoemaker VVWCA article transcription section). I am pleased to add a picture of Mr. Shoemaker to this page.

IMAGE AT RIGHT: Tom Shoemaker himself, attending the "Holbert's VW Octoberfest" VW enthusiasts' gathering at Holbert's VW in Warrington, PA, on October 27, 1984.

The accompanying PHOTO NEAR THE TOP OF THS SECTION (slightly stylized via "watercolor" electronic effect), taken by a co-worker of ours, is from the Durham, CT 300th Anniversary Parade , held Saturday, August 14, 1999, down Main Street (a.k.a. Route 17), and that's Bob Ruggiero's 1932 Graham Model 56 four door sedan with dual side mounts right behind us. In the shot, we are crossing the Mill Bridge over Allyn's Brook (not far from where the annual "Time Machines" car shows used to be held, as a matter of fact--now since moved to the Guilford Fairgrounds in more recent years). You can click HERE or directly on the photo to bring up a higher-resoluction version without the watercolor effect. Another image taken in the same parade, possibly by the same co-worker, appears BELOW:

The 1950 VW, as it appeared driving in the 1999 Town of Durham, CT 300th Anniversary Parade

The front plate is an obsolete "Shoreline Antique Auto Club" member plate, and there is also a Vintage VW Club of America badge attached above the plate, usting one of the plate attachment fasteners. As you can see, we opted for whitewall tires for the refinished wheels, which were done two-tone--which is technically incorrect for a 1950 VW. We are currently seeking to assemble another set of proper 16" diameter by 3" width VW wheels, to refinish in the correct monotone body color (VW color code L11, "Pastel Green") and fit a set of proper blackwall tires. Good memories-and hoping to "reconnect" back with them in '08...

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Data from Volkswagenwerk Archives

Letter dated February 14, 1984, from Volkswagenwerk Aktiengesellschaft, P. Kroschewski

"Chassis No. 1-185 699

Dear Mr. Shoemaker,

Thank you for your recent letter.

Gladly we comply with your request and provide you with all data available on your above Volkswagen Beetle:

Model No. 11c
Engine No. 1-221 133
Produced August 17, 1950
Delivered September 06, 1950 to New York

As you can see, the engine in your car is still the original one. Unfortunately, we are no longer in a position to tell you the colour code of the car and to send you any literature and photos. Furthermore, we are sorry to have to advise you that teh needed parts are not available any more.

Since the car was delivered to New York in September 1950, it might well be that it belongs to those imported by Max Hoffman. However, we are unable to tell you definitely.

Perhaps, it would be worthwhile to get in touch with one of the Volkswagen Beetle clubs in the U.S.A., should you have any further questions in connection with your vehicle.

Very truly yours,

P. Kroschewski"

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Significant Dates in our 1950 VW's history

July 1999, new CT EA registration for the 1950 VWAugust 17, 1950 - Date of production of 1950 VW chassis no. 1-185 699

September 6, 1950 - Date of delivery of 1950 VW chassis no. 1-185 699 to New York

November 25, 1983 - "Odometer Mileage Statement" signed by Guy A. Thomas, "seller" (we guess this is the person who sold the 1950 VW to Hand VW-Chevy-Olds of Manchester, VT). The odometer reading was noted to be 94,241

January 1984 - Purchase of the 1950 VW by Tom Shoemaker from the Hand VW-Chevy-Olds dealership of Manchester, VT

Spring/Summer 1984 - Registration of the 1950 VW by Tom Shoemaker, with Connecticut "Early American" plate no. 6077

October 27, 1984 - 1950 VW shown by Tom Shoemaker at the "Holbert's VW Octoberfest," Warrington, PA (see pictures in the following section)

August 18, 1987 - Date of purchase of 1950 VW by present owners from Tom Shoemaker

July 1995 (or thereabouts) - "Cosmetic fix-ups" on the 1950 VW by present owners

July 27, 1999 - Registration of the 1950 VW by present owners, with Connecticut "Early American" plate no. 32565 (see image at upper right). The odometer reading was noted at the time of registration to be 17,167

August 14, 1999 - Participation in the Town of Durham, CT's 300th Anniversary Parade. A Town of Durham history highlights page reported the following about the parade: "...August 14 1999...2:00 p.m. parade followed by Town-wide picnic and fireworks at the Durham Fair Grounds. The parade took about two hours. Rain delayed the fireworks Until August 16th, Monday evening. Fantastic display!..." (from: http://www.townofdurhamct.org/content/16154/16162/16164/default.aspx - also see the Overview section of this page for photo & photo description)

June 4, 2000 - Participation in the "Record Gathering" of Split Window Beetles, at Norwalk, CT (see the applicable section elsewhere on this page)

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Tom Shoemaker's article about his 1950 VW from the August 1984 Vintage Volkswagen Club of America Newsletter, Vol. 9, No. 8

The following is an exct transcript of Tom's article that appeared in the August '84 VVWCA Newsletter:

"I've only been a member of our club a year. I started out with (and still have) a 1957 Deluxe Sedan. After attending 3 VVWCA meets, I was seriously infected by the "split fever!" Who isn't ?!

I've never been a lucky guy. However my luck just turned around. I advertised in the December 1983 Newsletter for a "split window any year..." I received several phone calls from VVWCA members about cars for sale. I also got a nice letter from Sweden! The call that "changed my life" was from John Hand of Hand VW-Chevy-Olds in Manchester, Vermont.

1950 VW at Holbert's VW Octoberfest, October 27, 1984Apparently a client had "this old car" in a barn and needed room. John bought it and calledme up on a Wednesday morning. He called back on the next evening and we agreed for me to drive up from my home in Connecticut to see it. I really didn't know what to expect.

It wwas a snowy cold day in January. I got there and greeted John. Nice man, nice dealership. He took me to the car in his service area. I didn't know much about splits, that is standards vs. deluxes, etc. I checked out the several numbers and it turned out to be a 1950 Deluxe. It was an avocado green with herringbone cloth interior. It was pretty and yet it was sort of rough.

The pans is completely rust-free. Original 25hp engine with transmission. Round horn grilles, solid VW emblem, original trim and running boards all there. Headliner is completely intact. Semaphores work fine except for bulbs and one lens. It also had a set of rear seat cushions. And to top it all off it started right up and I drove it around the parking lot!

John and I chatted and agreed upon a price. I towed it home in a bad snow storm.

I wrote to VWAG and they said it was made on August 17th, 1950 and delivered to New York on September 6th, 1950. I guess tha makes it a Hoffman car.

I'm building a two-car garage next to my house to house my two VWs and various parts. I hope to restore it bit by bit. Advertise! It works! Tom Shoemaker, Naugatuck, CT"

ACCOMPANYING IMAGES ABOVE RIGHT AND BELOW: These are pictures I took at the "Holbert's VW Octoberfest" VW enthusiasts' gathering at Holbert's VW in Warrington, PA, on October 27, 1984. They are my earliest photos of the 1950 VW. Tom Shoemaker had owned the car almost one year at the time of these shots.

1950 VW at Holbert's VW Octoberfest, October 27, 1984

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Marine Midland Automotive Financial Corporation advertisement appearance

Marine Midland ad featuring 1950 VW - click directly on the image to bring up a larger versionAt some point during the time that Tom Shoemaker owned the 1950 VW, he allowed it to be used as a "model" for a print advertisement for Marine Midland Automotive Financial Corporation. I recall hearing Tom describe how he had to bring the car in to New York City for the photo shoot. At the time of our purchase of the car from Tom, he presented us with a very nice print of the Marine Midland ad, which I've scanned and presented at the right (and clicking directly on the image, or HERE, will bring up a larger, higher resolution copy of the scanned Marine Midland ad). Unfortunately we do not know the year of the ad nor the name of the magazine in which it appeared.

The text of the ad read as follows:

"We've been in this business since it started getting ugly.

Some 40 years ago in the car business, something happened. It started getting fiercely competitive. With imports. And comparative advertising.

Something else happened too. A new financial source from Marine Midland Bank started helping dealers play the new game.

Today, the competition is uglier than ever. Which makes Marine Midland Automotive Financial look better than ever.

We're now a national company. With the experience to understand the kinds of problems car dealers face.

Unlike many financial sources, the automotive business is our only business. So you get quick response. Plus some of t he industry's most innovative financing options.

And we can finance virtually any need a dealership has. Covering everything from sales, to leasing, to construction.

Call 800-448-3400, ext. 329, for the name and number of your local representative.

We'd be glad to discuss any need you might have.

We know your business. Because it's our business. And we can help you get the bugs out.

Marine Midland Automotive Financial Corporation."

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January 1988 photos of the 1950, on the day we took possession

I have in my files a number of photo prints with "January 1988" imprints on the backs of them, suggesting that we took possession of the 1950 VW from Mr. Shoemaker at that time (even though the bill of sale indicates August 18, 1987 as the date of the sale--I'll guess that perhaps we had worked out a time payment plan with Tom for the purchase). The photos, to the best of my recollection, were taken on the street in front of Tom's house, in Naugatuck, Connecticut. I can't think of too much in the way of descriptions, so I'll just paste in the scans of my photos below, for documentation sake.

It is interesting to note the amount of snow that was on the ground in Naugatuck at that time!

1950 VW, Naugatuck, CT, January 1988

1950 VW, Naugatuck, CT, January 1988

1950 VW, Naugatuck, CT, January 1988

1950 VW, Naugatuck, CT, January 1988 1950 VW, Naugatuck, CT, January 1988

1950 VW, Naugatuck, CT, January 1988

BELOW: VW archives confirmed we have the original engine, altough it can be seen that a later carburetor and distributor are fitted. Hoffman experts also suggest that the "T" air cleaner may not be typical of Hoffman cars--rather the "cyclone" type apparently more typical.

1950 VW, Naugatuck, CT, January 1988

BELOW: The speedometer does read in miles per hour, as per Hoffman cars imported into the United States. As you can see, there is an accessory cigarette lighter installed between the left glove box and the speedometer pod.

1950 VW, Naugatuck, CT, January 1988

BELOW: According to J.T. Garwood's "Volkswagen Beetle - The Car of the Century, Volume 1, 1930-1960," the standard equipment interior cloth upholstery and door panels are "P71 Beige." The steering column, gear lever, and handbrake lever are L71 Beige (since this is a Deluxe), although our steering wheel also appears to be beige, rather than "567 Ivory" as Garwood states is correct for Deluxe models. The horn button and horn button case do appear to be "567 Ivory," however, in accordance with Garwood. The seat frames, which look black in this picture, are evidently supposed to be "L71 Beige," per Deluxe specification, according to Garwood. We'll guess the surviving carpeting is "278 Gray Beige" per Garwood, and the rubber floor mats to be "071 Beige."

1950 VW, Naugatuck, CT, January 1988

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The June 2000 Norwalk, CT "Record" Gathering of Split Window Beetles

Here's something memorable that we were fortunate to be able to participate in with our 1950 VW...

Norwalk, CT split windows gathering, June 2000, Roland Metz image

Per Bill Silvestri's article in the February 2001 Der Kafer Fahrer newsletter, there were 15 split window Beetles mustered here, at the Connecticut VW Association's "Northeast Classic," held Sunday, June 4, 2000. I finally counted them for myself, and Bill was indeed correct. Also, as I recall, this "record gathering" was eclipsed by one car for a total of 16, a couple of months later, at the "Connecticut Bug-A-Fair" event in Terryville, CT...but "The Norwalk 15" did make for one heck of a photo-op...photos here are by our friend Roland Metz from New York--thanks again for the superb photodocumentation, Roland! Our 1950 VW was the seventh from the left in these shots, sporting a metal roof rack (and Roland's former '53 "Zwitter" Sedan, in semi-gloss black, was the left-most vehicle).

We wish to give credit to our friend Bill Silvestri who spearheaded the effort to attract this memorable gathering of split window Beetles, and also the Connecticut VW Association for their enthusiastic support and hosting of the gathering at beautiful Cranbury Park in Norwalk, CT. And, yes, Bill also had his former '50 Bug in the June 2000 Norwalk record splits muster too--Bill's former CT-based pastel green '50 was 8th from the left in the lineup, though is now reportedly living on the west coast again--check out this "Mr. Okrasa" image of it on thesamba.com: http://images.thesamba.com/vw/gallery/pix/326606.jpg (though this picture looks to have been taken before the car left CT???). It was also one of four pastel green '50 Bugs at Norwalk--our friend Chuck Pisconski's '50 (also believed to be a Hoffman car--it is VIN 1-0185779--that's only 80 serial numbers away from ours!), is to the left of ours (6th from left), and, according to the report Bill Silvestri prepared for the September 2000 DKF newsletter, the one to the left of Chuck's (5th from right; no roof rack) belongs to a Mr. Ed Capwell from New Jersey. Click HERE to bring up a copy of the page from the Sept. '00 DKF news with the actual list of split attendees (again featuring one of those gorgeous Roland Metz photos)!

The Der Kafer Fahrer folks also deserve a tip of the hat for their strong support--we could not find an active web site for DKF, but we did see the VVWCA hosting several electonic copies of old DKF newsletters here: http://www.vvwca.com/archives/ - and last but not least, hats off to VVWCA for their making these old DKF publications available--along with all the myriad other good things they do for antique VW enthusiasts!!

Norwalk, CT split windows gathering, June 2000, Roland Metz image

Here are links to a couple of "composite" Roland Metz images that I also scanned and posted at thesamba.com:

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/album_page.php?pic_id=263713
and
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/album_page.php?pic_id=263714

Split Window expert from MA John Henry also posted a couple of his own shots of that Norwalk gathering, also at thesamba.com:

http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/album_page.php?pic_id=253949
and
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/album_page.php?pic_id=253950

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What we have done on the car so far, since owning it, and also thinking ahead

1950 Bug cosmetic "fix-up," July 1995As noted from the chronology presented elsewhere on this page, we owned the 1950 VW since August of 1987, but didn't do much with it for several years, aside from provide the car with a dry, secure storage place, so that it would not deteriorate--since we knew we'd want to get around to activating it eventually.

Not being professional autobody and and paint people, we were still undeterred, and dove in to do several items of a "cosmetic fix-up" nature on the car, some time around the 1995 time period. A couple of pictures dated "July 1995" are included here. Items we tackled included the following:

* Strip, repair and refinish fenders, engine lid, wheels, plus an accessory set of original Foxcraft fender skirts. Wheels prep included breakdown and sandblasting by a local professional sandblast person. New hubcaps were also purchased, and the embossed "VW" emblems on the hubcaps painted black.The wheels were two-toned, with L87 pearl white centers and body color outers; we realize this is technically incorrect for a '50 VW, but it was something we wanted to do at the time.

* Purchase and install five new tires on the refinished wheels (including the spare); the tires were 5.25x16 Firestone bias ply, with wide whitewalls, sourced from Coker Tires..

* Purchase and install new single-tip muffler.

* Purchase and install new 6-bolt battery.

* Purchase and install new rubber seals for the tail lights and "nose" light on the engine lid.

1950 Bug cosmetic "fix-up," July 1995

As I recall, when I was finally able to get the car put together enough to take to CT DMV safety inspection, the inspectors flagged the front end for play, and so I had to take the car to a specialist to get the front end king and link pins redone. I have a receipt dated July 1999 from Werner Hardt Associates, Inc., Foreign Car Repairing of West Haven, CT, for that job; the total came to $305.

As of the time of origination of this page, November 2007, we are happy to be "rediscovering" our 1950 Bug, and hope to be driving it again in '08. We have some brake parts on order, as well as some slip-on "interim" seat covers (due to the rather "disintegrated" state of the original seat upholstery), and then we also have some ignition parts set aside for dealing with the non-running situation that cropped up about 2 years ago, and which caused us initially almost to "lose touch" with this little gem of a car.

Thankfully we still have it, and we hope to keep it in our stable for the forseeable future!

* NEW SHOES FOR '08 - Well, we did finally get the old '50 going again in Spring of 2008, and to add a little extra "spice" to our newly-reactivated dinosaur, we decided to try to assemble another set of 16" wheels, and re-do them with proper blackwall tires. We're happy to report that it all eventually worked out, and are pleased to show you our '50's "new/old look," complete with some proper small-logo hub caps as well, BELOW (photo date: May 16, 2008; photo location the old Stony Creek Schoolhouse, Stony Creek, CT):

1950 VW, May 2008; photo location Stony Creek, CT

We also posted a "higher-res" version of a similar image at the AACA Photos Forum, please be sure to view: http://photos.aaca.org/files/3/4/2/2/2/50vwstonycreek17may08a.jpg

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An esteemed new nickname as of May, 2008: "Thrashwell Junior"

Our sister-in-law (actually, my sister-in-law--she's Diane's sister) Sue, who now lives in California, recently gave us permission to "borrow" what we think is a rather fitting nickname for our 1950 VW, which also has unique family history...VW-related history, even! Please do take a gander at the new page we just created focusing on where this name came from, and its significance to our family:

Sue's 1964 VW Bug - The Original "Thrashwell Snailbee"

Thanks again Sue for permssion call our 1950 Bug "Thrashwell Junior!"

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More sections possibly to come???...

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