When it comes to cars, the GDR was mainly known for the Trabant and the Wartburg which were equipped with two-stroke engines. But even in the German socialist state there were Western cars. Here Volkswagen played a key role as tens of thousands of Beetles and Beetle derivatives were driving around in Eastern Germany, even before 10,000 Golfs were delivered to the GDR in 1978. At the end of the 1980s, Trabant and Wartburg models received modern VW four-stroke engines. In 1989 the Berlin wall felt which meant the end of the GDR and also any independent form of automotive industry. The Volkswagen AutoMuseum celebrates 25 anniversary of wall fall with this special exhibition.
Harbinger of the (German) reunification. Volkswagen in the GDR.
4 November 2014 until 11 Januar 2015
Exported to the GDR, then sold against Ostmark (currency of the GDR): Both the Golf I (10,000 units in 1978) and the Transporter T3 (2,400 units in 1985) went to the Eastern part of Germany as compensation deliveries. In no way were either model sold to functionaries but to "best workers" and people with company recommendations. The Golf was priced in the same class as the Wartburg whereas the T3 was twice as expensive as the customary Barkas light-duty van.
Assembled in the GDR but too late on the market: As part of the inter-German engine joint venture, a factory was set up in Chemnitz to build Volkswagen four-stroke engines. Some of the engines were fitted to Wartburg and Trabant cars from 1988 onwards while the rest were returned to Volkswagen as base engines. The Trabant Tramp 1.1 remained an exotic specimen, which was ridiculed as the "mummy with a pacemaker". On the other hand, the Rovomobil in the background is based on a Volkswagen "Kübelwagen" (bucket car) and remained a one-off model.
"The T2 abc" - special exhibition concerning 20 years of IG T2.
18 October until 23 December 2014
Innovation and emotion are two reasons why the second generation of the Volkswagen Transporter has found a lot of enthusiasts, both in the past and today. In 1994 the fan’s community joined together in the so called “Interessengemeinschaft T2” (IG T2). To celebrate its 20 anniversary, the members have moved a selection of their club vehicles to the limelight of the AutoMuseum Volkswagen. The museum has further supported this exhibition with Bulli models from its own collection, including the four wheel drive Transporter. Starting with the T2 Pickup with crane, to the T2b and the T2c built in Brazil until 2013, all model ranges are on stage and provide a view to the many uses of this All-rounder.
Registered formally as „special purpose vehicle civil defense“, the Bergwacht Schwarzwald e. V. (mountain rescue service black forest) bought this T2a Kombi with optional equipment, which is essential for the rescue operations in remote mountain areas. Thanks to the adequate gearing, rear axle differential and radio transceiver, this T2 Kombi has been for around 40 years an active and reliable equipment to rescue people from dangerous situations. The IG T2 bought this Bulli after its immobilization in the year 2006.
Nowadays Crew cabs are very rare. This also applies for the second generation of the Transporter. First owner of this Bulli was Stadtwerke Hannover AG. It has been ordered with a rotary plate for the transportation of long objects. Together with its special trailer for long pipes, this vehicle provided every day service for the maintenance of public lighting by carrying street lighting poles.
In cooperation with Williams Research Corp. (USA), the research prototype GT-70 project used a 170 kg weighing gas turbine unit in twin-shaft design with integrated reduction gearbox. The gearbox comes from the VW 1600.As a result of good experience gained by ships and airplanes, cars have been equipped with gas turbines on an experimental basis. Benefits were the high efficiency, minimum size (as usual at the rear) and the operation with both gasoline and diesel.
Up from 2006, the Brazilian made, totally modernized T2c got a water cooled 4-cylinder in line engine. This allowed both the usage of gasoline and methanol. Volkswagen Transporters have been built in Brazil up from 1957.Related to statutory obligations the T2c has been entirely deleted from the program in the end of 2013. VW do Brazil offered a special and exclusively equipped series limited to 1.200 pieces, which does not find its way officially to German.
The big anniversary exhibition: 40 years of the Golf – the early years.
24 July until 05 October 2014
In 2014, Volkswagen is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the ‘new class’, which began with the Passat, continued with the Scirocco and Golf and was then completed by the Polo. The first mass-produced Golf – which was followed by over 30 million more in seven generations – came off the production line on 29 March 1974. The exhibition is dedicated to the Golf I, which was still produced in South Africa until 2009 under the name Citi Golf.
In this unique exhibition, the Volkswagen AutoMuseum is displaying various exhibits, some of which are borrowed and have never been seen before in that form or composition. There will certainly be some surprises on show, including what are probably the oldest specimens of the Golf I still in existence, an electrical version, a Porsche in Golf’s clothing and an early pre-series Golf from 1973 with a sliding door, not to mention various experimental versions.
Bodywork production Golf I: Production facilities had to completely redesigned for the Golf. Volkswagen introduced robots to build the bodywork. New standards were set in terms of increasing productivity, quality and humanization of the workplace without having to make any cutbacks in social provision. This era also saw the introduction of the typical khaki-green overalls worn by the body construction workers.
Golf I sliding door: Volkswagen supplier Lunke & Son in Witten (Germany) and specialized in door and bonnet hinges, modified the 1973 prototype to give it a sliding door on the driver’s side. The background to this project is no longer totally clear, possibly with the view to developing a special version for the disabled. This Golf has features as the door and window handles from the Beetle.
Alaska-Feuerland Golf: Probably the two oldest surviving mass-produced first generation Golfs were subjected in autumn 1974 to a spectacular strength test. Motoring journalist Fritz B. Busch and his party took both vehicles on a 30,514 kilometre journey from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. One of these cars is branded with the name of the tour’s sponsor, Pirelli, and can usually be seen in the Fritz B. Busch Motor Museum in Wolfegg in the Allgäu.
ESVW II: ESVW stands for Experimental Safety Volkswagen and, in this case, was made using a mass-produced Golf. Volkswagen was guided by the US safety standards in force at the time, which stipulated in detail how vehicles should behave in a crash situation. The car featured bumpers that could easily cope with light impact.
Golf Cabriolet prototype: Back in 1976 Wilhelm Karmann GmbH presented a fully functioning prototype of the Golf Cabriolet to the Volkswagen board. The significant difference from the model that went into mass production at Karmann in 1979 was the lack of a roll bar and the consequent “free floating” operation of the side windows. The fold down roof also came lower down than it later did.
Rabbit: This Rabbit was the first to roll off the production at Volkswagen plant in Westmoreland, PA. This car contains features that corresponded to US safety standards, such as bumper pads hit hard objects up to 5 mph without causing any damage and side reflectors as well as headrests incorporated into the cabin. A red light lit up on the dashboard to warn drivers if they weren’t wearing their seatbelts.
Artz Golf: Only two examples remain of the Porsche 928 in the Golf body. The idea for this project came from Günter Artz, manager of the Autohaus Nordstadt in Hanover. Only the doors of the Golf were used, and all the other bodywork components were wickedly expensive custom-made parts. Compared with the originally Golf I, the car was 21 cm wider and 30 cm longer. The interior cabin was the same as the Porsche 928.
The special exhibition: When the Beetle found its feet.
16 May until 13 July 2014
‘When the Beetle found its feet’ is the title of the new special exhibition being held at the Volkswagen AutoMuseum from 16 May until 13 July 2014. The photos on display provide a detailed and vivid insight into Beetle production in the 1950s. They were taken before and during shooting for the corporate film Aus eigener Kraft about Volkswagen cars and the factory.
When the Beetle found its feet. A talk with the author, Bernd Wiersch.
Sunday, 18 May 2014, 3 p.m.
As part of the special exhibition ‘Als der Käfer laufen lernte’ (‘When the Beetle found its feet’), there will be a talk with the author of the book of the same name, Dr Bernd Wiersch, at the Volkswagen AutoMuseum. Wiersch will talk about Beetle production and the company’s high level of social commitment towards its employees in the 1950s. There will be an opportunity to have the book signed by the author afterwards. Admission: €3