We’ve all been there. You buy a car and immediately get the urge to find out where it’s been and who’s bum’s been sat behind the wheel before you. It’s all part of the allure of owning an old car and it lets us ‘bond’ with our new acquisition. But all too often, sadly, the only thing we manage to uncover is an assortment of anonymous names from crumpled garage bills and that’s about it. Okay, if you really get lucky there might be the feint remains of a dealer sticker, or a garage name on a keyfob which will allow you to fill in a few more holes in the car’s history. However, for 43-year-old Håkon A. Solberg, the Norwegian owner of this mostly original paint ’52 Beetle, this would never be quite enough. He was on a quest to dig much deeper, tracing his car’s past right back to its very first owner!
If you know the scene, you’ll appreciate that people with Beetles from this era rarely come to own them by chance, so it will come as no surprise that our budding Sherlock has a long-held interest in Volkswagens. He commented, “My closest neighbour had a garage full of old VWs and Porsches, and from the age of six I became fascinated by them. My family drove a ’68 Squareback when I was born, and we had a ’70 Beetle when I went to primary school. In fact, me and my dad ended up restoring that car in 2007.” However, that particular Bug was just a bit too new for Håkon. No, he likes Beetles with a little more history behind them, which explains why he’s always leaned towards cars from the ’50s. His ‘baby’, as he calls it, is a low mileage ’57 Oval which he bought in 1994.
The ’52 here joined his collection in 2007 having sold his ’50 Beetle, which was in bits at the time, to fellow Sechs Volt club member Are Sletta – the finished article appeared in our June 2017 issue. As Håkon told us, “All four guys in Sechs Volt restore Split Window Beetles in our barn, so we do a lot of swaps inside the gang. Despite the ’52 being totally dismantled, everything was there and it was much better than my Split, so I did the deal.”
The original engine was still with the car, but as it needed too much work at the time to get it going Håkon decided to install a super solid 36bhp unit instead. As for the rest of the running gear, it’s mainly original – but where restoration hasn’t been possible, he’s tried to use only genuine replacements. As he puts it: “If parts were missing, or in bad shape, I took a look at my shelf and found a suitable alternative. And if I didn’t have anything, having restored so many cars, my friends would usually be able to help out.” He’s done virtually all of the mechanical work himself, with assistance from his dad, Tore, Knut Sommerstad and other club members.
As for the all-important condition of the bodywork, suffice to say pretty much everything was solid with only a minimal amount of welding being necessary. “I wanted to maintain the car’s ‘soul’, keep the original patina and not take any short cuts,” he told us. And because the majority of the body is still in the original L90 Sand Beige (apart from the roof which was painted by Are Sletta) it was more a case of preservation than restoration.
The same is true of the interior which also remains miraculously intact for an early ‘50s car – with the few trim repairs being carefully undertaken by Håkon himself, mother-in-law, Hege, and his buddy Erik Sitje.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Newton Commercial has been producing automotive interior trim products for the last 40 years, though the history behind this family-run firm goes back much further. Paul Knight finds out more...
Welcome to the mag
The rapid rise in value of our air-cooled VWs over the last few years is proving both good and bad news for owners.
Bus front step replacement
It’s probably one of the most common rust spots...
WOLFSBURG IN EGGENBURG
This one-day event in Austria is so good it attracts VWs from all over Europe
NICE ONE, SHERLOCK!
It’s fun investigating a car’s past – especially if the vehicle in question dates from the early fifties. That said, the Norwegian owner of this ’52 Beetle discovered more than he bargained for when he donned his deer-stalker
SUBTLY DOES IT (FOR US!)
So often, less is more. And we reckon that’s definitely the case with this oh so subtle ’66 Ghia
The Army era
It may have escaped your notice, but it was recently the 70th anniversary of Britain giving Volkswagen back to West Germany. The years of 1945 to 1949, when the British military ran Wolfsburg, were more crucial than many enthusiasts appreciate
PUTTIN' ON THE SHOW
When it comes down to rating the most desirable air-cooled VWs, I think it’s fair to say that a ’50s Karmann Cabriolet is gonna’ be pretty close to the top of the list. Now add some accessories, Fuchs and a decent stance and you’re talking about the stuff dreams are made of…
Car of the month
Car of the month
A TASTE OF DEUTSCHLAND
Inspired by a couple of renowned German VW events, the So-Cal Vintage Treffen attracted 200 of the oldest and most rare VWs stateside
GODZILLA VS. KONG
Alexander Skarsgård, Rebecca Hall, Millie Bobby Brown In theaters and on HBO Max March 31 PG-13
SPECTACULAR NATIVE SILVER - Rarer Than Gold in Specimen Form
When it comes to naturally occurring precious metal specimens on Earth, finding native silver is not as easy as finding native gold.
GOING BIG WITH THE 1974 MOTION 454 VEGA
King Kong is Alive on Kong Island! “The title sounds like bunk, you say? Well, what would you call a street Vega with a 454-cubic-inch big-block, Aunt Mary?
The Scars Of Japan's Employment Ice Age
Japanese open up about the difficulties they’ve faced in charting career paths
INTO THE DEEP
Florida Spearfishing Adds Element of Adventure to Favorite Pastime
GOOD CITIZENS NEED NOT FEAR
VIRUS PANDEMIC RESHAPING AIR TRAVEL AS CARRIERS STRUGGLE
In a bid to survive, airlines are desperately trying to convince a wary public that measures like mandatory face masks and hospital-grade air filters make sitting in a plane safer than many other indoor settings during the coronavirus pandemic.
DAYS EXPLODES! BEN AND CIARA'S WEDDING DAY DRAMA
It’s Ciara and Ben’s wedding day, and the bride-to-be wakes up sick as a dog. “Obviously, it doesn’t put Ciara in the best mindset,” says her portrayer, Victoria Konefal. “But her main goal is to marry Ben, no matter what. She’s not in the mood to let a stomach virus stop her from marrying the love of her life.”
5 Questions with Konvent Guitarist Sara Nørregaard
FANS AND CRITICS have called Konvent’s Puritan Masochism the doom metal highlight of 2020, an instant classic and/or pretty much everything in between.