Ondřej Brom: Saving Number Twenty

We love to feature customer vehicles and tell stories from shows far and wide. We can’t purport to have supplied any parts for this vehicle but this ‘fairytale’ from the Czech Republic was just too good to pass up. Our thanks to both Ondřej Brom, the vehicles owner and also his friend David Gaberle , who took these great shots within a week of us first discussing it, allowing us to create this exclusive content in a such short time.

The basics

We’ll throw some facts in quickly before we get to the story. This is the oldest surviving production ‘Beetle’ that is known to exist. Technically it is a 1941 KdF-wagen Typ 60 – The VW name didn’t come along until 1945. It was made on a proper production line, and was originally a gift to the famous Berlin composer Paul Lincke. This is chassis number twenty out of an eventual 21 million!

20 questions?!

There are so many things to ask when you hear about a vehicle like this. We haven’t nearly enough space to tell the tale in full, but there is a whole book dedicated to this 1941 KdF available to purchase through Kickstarter now. Ondřej first discovered the car in 1988 “I was a student and I noticed this car under a giant tree, with a layer of clay halfway up its wheels” he tells us “it belonged to a friend of my brother.”

The purchase

Nine years after first sighting the car, Ondřej learnt that it had come up for sale. “I rushed to the house to buy it. I had only 4,000 Czech Koruna in my wallet – the asking price was 60,000. Luckily the owner gave me time to go to the bank!” In pounds sterling that equates to a £2k asking price and about £150 in loose change. This wouldn’t be his first Beetle purchase though, he’d owned 3 or 4 before picking up this KdF-wagen in 1997, unaware of the history he was set to uncover. Ondřej also owns a 1944 KdF Kubelwagen, a 1302 and a tuned 1303

Buying blind…

With a bit of Volkswagen knowledge behind him Ondřej had a hunch this car was KdF era, but it took painstaking paint removal, X-rays and Police-issue chemicals to uncover the chassis number stamp beneath layers of paint. Discovering #20 only spurred him on further. We should clarify, Ondřej is not a mechanic or professional restorer; he runs a printing company as his day job.

Support from the family

As with so many classic car projects, things can get out of hand and a quick ‘make over’ turns into a nut and bolt rebuild. “We discovered what the car was in 2011 and it was then that the support from my family changed from ‘he’s bought another Beetle to fill up the garage’ to something more encouraging and now we all enjoy the KdF41 very much. In hindsight I can see I was walking on really thin ice with this one!”

Calling in the professionals

Whilst the project started off at home, with Ondřej carefully removing and storing parts such as the bakelite dashboard, steering wheel and rear view mirror, it was in 2012 that Polish renovator, Jacek Krajewski entered the picture and agreed to take the project on to the level that was required for such a special car. Many parts were stored even if they couldn’t be re-used, just for reference, in case a new one needed to be made.

What to do with it now?

It’s pretty clear from Ondřej that this car certainly won’t be going up for sale. The car is being taken to vintage vehicle events where in his words “people can appreciate the quality of the reconstruction and its heritage.” We are in discussion about getting it to the UK in 2019.

Last question…

I wrap up my interview asking ‘would you do anything differently if you found KdF #19 in a field tomorrow?’ Of course the chances of this are pretty slim, but Ondřej humours me and offers a reply. “This is a question I have never thought about before, but the answer is pretty simple. I would do everything exactly the same, the only difference being that I would now know who to talk to. Jacek would do the renovation and everything would be solved.”

A huge thank you to Ondřej, David and also Ben at KdF41 HQ for translating the interview for me. As mentioned above you can check out the KdF41 story in full in the book. Follow the rest of the journey on their Facebook page too.

Comments

  1. Back in 1962 my Dad bought a 1946 beetle that had been imported by REME(Army) for evaluation by Rootes, everyone knows the rest of that story!
    I learnt to drive in the ‘46 and kept it for a couple of years.Looking at this wonderful ‘41 car and it’s story brought back great memories and so many recognisable features such as the dash and the rounded tank! Can’t wait to see it in the UK next year.

  2. Hi Ondrej ,what a great story,i drive a 54 oval ,when i was 20yo ,
    i went out an d bought 40 beetles in one year and bought my first
    house for cash i just turned 21 …thanks for your time Des.

  3. I am excited by this text and photos. Thank you very much for great comments. I hope the journey to England will succeed.

  4. What a marvelous vehicle you have. Beautiful little Bug. I owned and drove daily in my life; a 1961 ragtop sunroof beetle, 1965 Beetle & a 1967 Transporter Double-cab P/U. I also had projects but sold 1959 Single-cab P/U and a 1963 Beetle. I don’t own any now, but I love them and the interesting history of Volkswagen. Thank you so much for sharing the history and photos of your extraordinary work.

  5. Great story and fantastic pictures. Saw the car in Germany at last Bad Camberg.
    If you come to the UK it would be great if you came to our Stanford Hall meeting. 2019 will see the 43rd year of the meeting and the car would look great as the star of the Historic Display in front of the Hall. Event attracts about 12000 visitors with best historic display in the UK. Hope to hear from you. We are on Sunday May 5th.

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Newsletter sign up