Meet the Beetles


meet the oldest beetle

Jan was built in the original Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg.

In 1971 Volkswagen South Africa and Wheels Magazine held a competition to find the oldest Beetle in South Africa. The winner was Mr David Rubin of Middelburg, who received a brand-new 1300 Beetle in exchange for Jan the Beetle.

According to Jan’s “Birth Certificate” we know the following:
• Jan was born on Wednesday, 14 September 1949 (he’s no Monday car!)
• And imported into the Union of South Africa in that year
• Jan was built to standard spec, i.e. without chrome and cable brake


VOLKSWAGEN's 1st autonomous car

Herbie was born in 1963 and by the age of five he became the most famous Beetle in the world.

Herbie is not only a film star, a serious contender in motor racing, but also well known as Volkswagen’s first self-driving car.

It was his debut in the 1968 Disney feature The Love Bug that first earned Herbie his fame. Six years later Herbie Rides Again was released and Stefanie Powers starred alongside Herbie shooting her to fame shortly thereafter. This was followed by Herbie goes to Monte Carlo (1977) – yes he beat Charlene Wittstock to the principality! He then set a Guinness World Record as the first car to go through the Panama Canal during filming of Herbie Goes Bananas (1980). This was followed by the most recent; Herbie: Fully Loaded where he starred opposite a 19 year-old Lindsay Lohan.


the most beautiful beetle

Nomhle was born at the Volkswagen plant in Kariega in 1967. She shares her birth year with South African musicians Claire Johnston (of Mango Groove fame) and Dave Matthews, and the world’s first heart transplant which was performed in Cape Town
by Dr Christiaan Barnard. Being born into such an illustrious year and her additional bling might account for her slightly elevated sense of self – and so she received a name appropriate for any beautiful woman of the Eastern Cape: Nomhle (translated from the isiXhosa as “the beautiful one”).

Underlining her superiority was the fact that Nomhle and her fellow 1500 Beetles were assembled on a separate production line in Kariega using a South African body and trim and an imported chassis and running gear – so she’s part-German.

To match the dazzling exterior is her extraordinary engine which was only introduced for a short while during 1966 as a semiimported 1600cc with a displacement of 1493cc (1500) (then recently released in Germany to wide acclaim). This naturally makes her a bit more racy…the 1500 engine developed 53hp, three more than its predecessor, the 1300, and so the new disk brakes on the front wheels came in handy!


the only beetle never to have had work done

Delilah is a unique beauty – she has had no “plastic surgery”and is in totally original condition. You might think that strange for a Beetle, but as proof, see her impressive low mileage! (under 1 000kms).

Delilah was purchased for her first customer on Wednesday, 2 February 1972. It appears that she was part of a settlement deal, however her first owner, did not have a driver’s licence so she went to cool her heels in a garage for 24 years until the owner passed away. She was then placed on the auction block in Petrusville (northern Karoo) and bought by Mr John Bouwer in May 1996 for the princely sum of R 45 000 – almost 25 times her original sales price of R 1 848! Well that’s because she was such a beauty!

A few years later, Delilah was bought by Beetle admirer Mr Ben Minaar for R 50 000 and she remained in his possession until his death in 2007 when the AutoPavilion acquired her as the most splendid original condition Beetle in its fleet.


the last african beetle

Matti was born in Kariega on an extraordinary Thursday: the 18th of January 1979. It was extraordinary because after almost 28 years he was to be the last Beetle to roll off the line in South Africa. Matti and his siblings changed the automotive landscape in South Africa forever and although he was the last, he is symbolic of a family of vehicles which continues to delight customers and ensure the largest employment of citizens of the Eastern Cape by a private company. Volkswagen is the only car company to include the concepts of “people” (Volk) and “car”(wagen) in its name and
so the employment both direct and indirect of thousands of South Africans is as important as the products themselves.

Matti has had an interesting life – he left the production line a bronzed Adonis with all sorts of special accessories lovingly fitted by Volkswagen employees. He had a huge bouquet of flowers on his bonnet and probably glanced nervously at his successor, a little snub-nosed car which ended up defining a generation, the Golf.

For the next 27 years he remained in show-stopper condition until the fateful day he was on his way back from an event in Cape Town. The vehicle carrier transporting Matti and other rare Volkswagens and Audis, overturned. Matti had a mere 200 kms on his clock, but he was in critical condition. Over the last 12 years he has undergone serious surgery and had many transplants! In 2017 however, a specialist Volkswagen Product Engineering Team in Kariega, together with expert body work and paint specialists in Gqeberha completely restored him. All of Matti’s mechanical parts that could be salvaged, were reused. And most of his interior is original.


the trans-saharan traveller

To say that Jeroen is well-travelled is an understatement. He has in fact lived on three continents! Firstly he could have been called Jerónimo as he was actually born at the Volkswagen plant in Puebla, Mexico in 1982. However he was adopted by a kindly Dutch teacher called Jos Oosterbroek in Amsterdam and so received his Dutch name and Nationality as is visible by his number plate with the obligatory “NL”. He does however now see himself as a South African.

Jeroen’s story is worthy of inclusion in Gulliver’s Travels, but there was nothing fictional about the intrepid Dutch traveller and his 20 000km odyssey across Africa. He came to rest, fittingly, at the Volkswagen plant in Uitenhage and decided to stay. The trip took Jeroen, with his driver Jos, four months and he has lived in Uitenhage since April 2013.

Jeroen now spends his time parked outside the VW AutoPavilion in a special display that includes desert plants. He watches visitors enter and exit the museum and gladly poses for selfies. He is known as one of our “survivors”: an unrestored and truly authentic Volkswagen, evidence of the valiant and unpretentious nature of the Beetle…well almost all Beetles.