View original topic: September 1955 Karmann, 61,000 mile barn find Page: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5  Next
oldsplitvw Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:10 pm

I was very, very lucky to pick up a 1956 oval convertible in amazing original condition. I purchased the car from the second owner, who has owned the car since 1957. The car came out of southern California, and hasn't been driven since the 1970s. Fortunately, the owner kept the car covered and dry, and it is in great shape considering the amount of time it as been sitting. The engine turns over by hand, and the ebrake still works.

The car finally made it to my garage late last night. I have to give a HUGE thanks to a known SoCal VW enthusiast who sprinted out with a trailer to pick up the car, then held it in his garage until I could make arrangements to bring it up north. If he wants to make himself known I am sure he will chime in here.

The car had a set of bias ply wide whitewall tires on it, and amazingly they still held air. Not very well though, as one exploded on the trailer, and the others looked pretty scary. The tires have already been replaced with Firestone wide whites from Coker Tire, although the brand new whitewall looks a little out of place against the old paint.

Receipts documenting oil changes, brake work, transmission work date back to the 1950s. The tires that were on the car when it was hauled out were purchased in 1963, and cost $10.70 each.

Production numbers put the car's build day in the very beginning of September, 1955. Everything matches, including the engine. All 4 fenders, hood, decklid, all original.

But enough talk, onto the pics.


Interesting, it has the "hump" fuel pump. Correct for Sept 55? Or replaced at some point.

oldsplitvw Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:17 pm

I spent the morning wiping out 30 years of dirt and grime. The nose is super clean, the hood is flawless. If you ever want to see what the factory radio delete looked like, here you go. I've seen it in a few other cars, there is a piece of vinyl on the back side of the radio hole, and there are some miniature "witch hat" seals for the speaker grill mounting tabs.

Oval nerds will also notice the bakelite flasher box. The early wiring cover is nice beyond words.

The speedo is dated 9.55. Cool stuff, it has the metal nut for the speedo cable, and the factory hunk of waxy paper to show it has never been removed.


downsbs Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:18 pm

I don't like you.

I want that kinda luck!!!

oldsplitvw Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:25 pm

So here's the really crazy part: My previous original oval convertible, also white, is only about 200 cars later than this one. What are the chances?

The only real difference between this car, and my earlier white vert is the interior. In my old car the seats were solid navy. This car the seats are a navy and white 2-tone. I would have thought they were recovered, except for
1) The seats are shown in a pic from 1957
2) They have the metal "vent holes" in the back of the front seats
3) Another local enthusiast, Rick Spohn, has a clone of this car. White, with the same white/navy seats.

The 2 convertible-only short/long visors are just about perfect.

There is some rust, it has had a battery sitting in it this entire time and will need pans. But overall it's a great survivor that you just don't find for sale anymore.

Current plans are to fix the rust, put a top on it, and drive it as a survivor rather than blowing it apart for a full resto.



Some Rust:

More Glue:

oldsplitvw Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:38 pm

Last post for now. I posted the first picture in the oval convertible thread. I did violate the 1st rule of barnfinds, and the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, and that is "Don't post pics of your find until it is yours, and in your garage!". But like I said before, a true friend helped me out, and It wouldn't be mine if it wasn't for his hard work.

The woman in the picture is Norma. She is the sweet, kind, generous previous owner who sold the car to me. Part of the reason she sold it to me, was I promised to make it road worthy, take care of it, drive it, and keep it alive. I intend to do exactly that.


You can see a dent in the driver's side, rear fender in black and white pic. Same dent, still there in 2014. It would almost be a shame to bump it out.

The drag out! Moving after 30+ years of sitting. When it was parked, the EBRAKE WAS NOT SET!!!! YIPPIIEEE!!!!!

Wide whitewall tires from 1963. Can't believe they still held air. Kinda. The pic from 1957 also has the wide whites, so it was a no-brainer what kind of tires to put on it. Looking at the recipts, it is likely that the tires from 1963 were the second set in the car's life.

79SuperVert Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:47 pm

Great stuff. Best of luck with it.

belairman Fri Feb 28, 2014 3:08 pm

Great find Will. good luck with the preservation of it.

wcfvw69 Fri Feb 28, 2014 3:23 pm

Very nice. What a time capsule!

Jake Martinez Fri Feb 28, 2014 3:43 pm

Very nice find! Can't wait to see what you do with it!

ConcreteAce Fri Feb 28, 2014 4:02 pm

That is one Awesome find!

janerick3 Fri Feb 28, 2014 9:55 pm

The fuel pump is original and correct, as is the air cleaner.

Should have a 4-slot generator pulley, though--but you never know with these cars

Rich's 50 Fri Feb 28, 2014 10:15 pm

Very nice and Congrats on such a great find!

MDKG Sat Mar 01, 2014 12:45 am

Incredible find, concratulations! Love the picture with the former owner 8) . Also good to get the confirmation again that Karmann painted all parts like gas tank, bumper brackets and convertible frame body color on these early verts. How is the condition of the wood parts and what are you going to do with the top?

Rustforlife Sat Mar 01, 2014 6:21 am

That wiring cover is beautiful, I wish I could find an original in that condition.
Say..uh, where do you live? 8)

aa390392 Sat Mar 01, 2014 10:27 am

Lucky Bastid..where was it? what state?

RareAir Sat Mar 01, 2014 11:19 am

aa390392 wrote: Lucky Bastid..where was it? what state?

Where all the early verts are, in Southern California

AlteWagen Sat Mar 01, 2014 11:46 am

I can honestly say "that will buff out!"

beautiful score,congrats.

You should make a repro of that wire cover while its out.

2003nbc Sat Mar 01, 2014 1:13 pm

Great car, congratulations Nice original engine the intake manifold looks mostly black rather than the grey we often see on restorations.

ngobet Sat Mar 01, 2014 3:02 pm

oldsplitvw wrote:

What is the switch on the left of the steering column? I have it on my car too, but it is not hooked up.

RareAir Sat Mar 01, 2014 7:55 pm

ngobet wrote: oldsplitvw wrote:

What is the switch on the left of the steering column? I have it on my car too, but it is not hooked up.

Interior dome light located just above the rear window

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