Saturday, 28 November 2015

Neil Smart's Unique Volkswagen Model Collection

Well the Volkswagen season here in the U.K. is all but over for another year, so this weeks blog is slightly different from the usual show reviews I post. This weeks blog is all about the amazing Volkswagen collection from my old school buddy, and long term mate Neil Smart. Neil (better know as 'Sausage Fingers' to his friends) has been around the U.K. Volkswagen scene for as long as I can remember, and is very well known not only in the U.K. but also in Europe. Neil was president of The Split Screen Van Club for many years and still has many contacts in the Volkswagen world and has owned several Volkswagen's including a blue and white split screen which he had for years and years. Today he drives a cool T25 Syncro. Neil has been collecting model cars for years and today his collection comprises of hundreds upon hundreds of 'Hot Wheels', 'Corgi' and 'Matchbox' models to name but a few. He also collects rare original Volkswagen books, pamphlets, signs and posters. To give you an idea just how big and extensive Neil's collection is, When I visited him at his home I asked how much money does he think he's invested in his collection. Neil thought for a moment and said "probably between 5-8 thousand pounds".!! Well I suppose you have to spend your money on something, and I guess it's better to spend it on something collectible and that will increase in value rather than just waste it on drinks, drugs and wild women.
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This is just one of the many hand made display
cabinets Neil has made to house all his models.
Apologies for the rubbish photo, I should have
noticed the reflection on the glass was so bad.

One of the first cars Neil showed me this Kaputt
Buggy G2 which was designed by Dave Deal, 

an American VW and racing cartoon legend in
in the 1960's / 1970's. The Kaputt Buggy had
the huge 'Bloatation tyres'

Alongside the Kaputt Buggy was another Dave
Deal designed car from the early 1970's, this
mad looking beetle which was another rare car
made by the Italian company Polistil who were
based in Milan. This bug was called the 'Go Bug'

I think Neil said that if they have the original box 
and both the original packaging and model are in
 perfect condition the the G2 Buggy and the
Kaputt buggy can today fetch something like
£200 each ($303 approx) and yes, Neil has
 the original boxes for both of these and both the 
cars are in perfect pristine condition.

Neil's model car collection is vast, there are so
many different variants of Volkswagen's on
show from different manufacturers and from so
many years. Some of these models are new
and some date back 40 -50 years.

Volkswagen's of all descriptions from numerous
manufacturers. The grey split screen on the top
shelf is a very rare tin model made in Italy some
50-60 years ago.

There are various size models to Neil's amazing
collection. I did like the larger scale khaki

 coloured Kubelwagen ( I think) with the soldiers
in it to the right of the photo.

This Johnny lightning boxed set caught my eye.
If like me you grew up watching The Monkees
on T.V. you'll instantly recognise this boxed set.
It features the 1960's / 1970's T.V. pop band with
 their their 'Monkeemobile' which in real life
started off as a Pontiac GTO.  The Monkeemobile
was sold in 2008 for $360,000.  WOW.!

This lovely miniature boxed set was made by
Schuco to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the
Volkswagen bus, and extremely rare.

This model collection really needs to be in some
sort of art gallery as you need hours to look at
all the models in Neil's collection. I had an hour 

or so in Neil's home and that was no where near
long enough to take it all in.

Neil recently purchased these beauties, a split
screen bus and a beetle for the game Scalextric
(slot car racing game) Needless to say they have 

never even seen the Scalextric track let alone 
been used to go racing on it.

Neil also has these original vehicle
specification charts. This one shows the
vehicle and fabric options available for the
beetle between August 1958 - July 1959.

Neil has 3 beetle charts dating from August
1957 - July 1960, a Notchback chart dated
January 1963 and one for the Karmann Ghia
dated 1957 - 1959.

These colour specification wall charts would have
been hung up in dealerships all across Europe
to show the customer the options available.

This photo shows what options were available
in the late 1950's / early 1960's. There are 3
colour boxes on the left hand side of the paint
 / interior trim poster. The far left hand coloured
 box is the vehicle colour with paint code, the 
middle coloured box is the corresponding seat 
colour and the box on the right is the door card 
trim colour and finally a lovely painting of the 
car in that particular specification.

Just one of the hand made display cabinets that
Neil makes. Neil was saying that although most
of the time the backing cards are the same size,
occasionally the backing cards vary in size which
makes the display non uniform, which after making
the cabinets to a certain size to hold a certain a
certain amount of models must be frustrating.

The cabinets are sorted into each Volkswagen
model. This one houses just some of the beetle
 models that Neil has. The collection constantly
gets added to, so Neil is constantly having to re-
arrange the display cabinets to accommodate the
new models that arrive on an almost daily basis.

You can see in this photo how the blister packs
and backing cards vary in size, which means
Neil has to continually make new display cabinets
to house all his new purchases. 

Who ever designs these radical Volkswagen
models has got a very impressive imagination
as some of the styles and paint schemes are
really cool.

These two cool looking beach buggies looked
identical to me, but to a keen collector like Neil
they are completely different. The top one was
apparently the general issue model that was
available in the usual retail outlets. The bottom
one with the 'BF Goodrich' white painted lettering
on the tyres was only available from Walmart.

The same applies to these 2 beetles. The top
one is from Walmart, and only being available
from one outlet must surely mean it's more 

exclusive and therefore slightly rarer?

Just one of Neil's walls in his living room. Who
needs pretty pictures hanging on the walls when
you have numerous display cabinets filled with
fantastic model Volkswagen's.

Just a very small selection of Neil's massive baja
collection, again so many different styles and

 paint schemes. 

This display cabinet had some really weird and
wonderful split screen bus models. I wonder if
anyone has copied one of these creations and
made their bus into an exact copy?

Just a handful of Neil's split screen bus collection
the designs and body styles go from the sublime
 to the ridiculous, but they are all still very cool.

A model loosely based on 'Herbie' and I'm sure 
Neil told me an interesting fact about this car, 
but I have totally forgotten what it was!

This Magnabeetle originated from A Manga
cartoon called Urashiman from Japan.

As well as the standard models of beetles and
buses, Neil also has some weird and wonderful
models of split screen buses.

This lovely gold beach buggy from Hot Wheels
is one of the special one in Neil's collection as
it's signed by the godfather of beach buggies
himself, Bruce Meyers.

Neil pointed this buggy out to me, as it doesn't
have any paint. The grey colour is the bare metal
of the die cast model.

So many buses on display. That looks like an
orange bay window on the left. Neil was saying
that the manufacturers don't seem to make
that many bay window models, which is a
shame, but than I suppose the split screen is
the more iconic Volkswagen bus. Those two
Pizza Vans look the same to me, but no doubt
they have some small difference that only a
collector like Neil can spot!

Just a few of the sandrail's and more baja's in 
Neils massive model car collection.

Beach buggies, Baja's and Beetles Neil's vast
collection has everything for everyone, no matter

what your into in the Volkswagen world.

It would take a long time for a Volkswagen
enthusiast to get bored in Neil's living room as
Neil has these cool hand made display cabinets
all over the place and each one is full of models.
And of course most of them have an interesting 

story behind them, which Neil did tell me in great 
detail, but I have forgotten 98% of what he told me.

Neil kept emphasising how important the original
packing was to a collector, in fact when he went
to show me one of his latest purchases, he took
it out of the shipping box but even refused to
remove the bubble wrap put around the model
case for protection whilst in transit.

I even spotted these ceramic Volkswagen
models in Neil's lounge... I'm starting to think
that maybe Neil has an obsession.!!

It's not all Volkswagen models in Neil's living
room. Next to the TV I spotted a pair of 1932
Ford Roadster models which looked so cool.

I didn't find anything out these models, but I did
like them. The '32 roadster is one of favourite
cars of all time just behind a fenderless 1932, 3 

window coupe with a 21 stud flathead V8 engine.

After looking around Neil's living room, he took
to me his spare room to see yet more models
that he hadn't put into display cabinets as yet.
There were boxes upon boxes of models from
numerous manufacturers and numerous styles
of Volkswagen's.

When Neil first told me about his model collection
I expected a lot of model's but I was truly blown
away by just how many he actually has.

Yet another box of unopened models. Neil was
saying that as well as Volkswagen's, he has
started to collect models of old Mini's and Fords.

This 'Hot Wheels' model is of the Simpsons car
which is based on a 1964 Plymouth Variant
sedan in bright pink. I can't quite see from this
photo, but in the cartoon Holmer's car has a
dented front wing. I can see on the printed

backing card it features Holmer's iconic bent 
aerial as in the cartoon.

This 'Hot Wheels' Rev Rod was a special edition
and the only way you could get one was to send
in the backing cards of (I think) 10 other model
cars. As Neil never removes the models from
the backing cards he couldn't do this, so he got
 in touch with them and sent in the receipts for
other cars he had bought which they accepted
and they sent him this special edition model.

It's not only model cars that Neil collects, he also
collects original Volkswagen publication material.
This lubrication chart was designed to be put up 
in Volkswagen service stations to show the 
lube points on early beetles.

This is an original chart and not a reproduction.
I don't know where or how Neil gets all this cool
stuff, but I'm seriously impressed.

This illustrated Volkswagen catalogue dates
from the early 1950's and it is in like new

The amount of detail this book covers is
amazing and it covers all the best selling points
of the Volkswagen car. The catalogue has some
awesome hand painted drawings which were done
by Bernd Reuters a German graphic designer and
commercial artist.

More fantastic hand painted drawings from the
amazing Bernd Reuters. The small line drawing
of the beetle at the bottom of the page is
 illustrating just how good the visibility is out of
 the windscreen is in a Volkswagen beetle
(illustrated by the yellow beam)

The amount of detail in the sales brochure from
the 1950's in truly amazing. Back in the day this
was probably the only way to advertise the
Volkswagen vehicles.

The brochure coves everything from the design
of the humble beetle to the benefits of the air-

cooled engine.

This dealership booklet from 1958 details all the
Volkswagen dealers across the whole of Europe.
It lists names and addresses of all the Volkswagen

dealerships in all European countries.

The booklet is folded in such a way that every
page has a map of a country and on the
opposite page a list of the dealers name,
address and phone number.

As I carefully turned the pages of this booklet
to take photos, I mentioned to Neil that I felt
like I should be wearing white cotton gloves.
He is the U.K. page with quite a detailed map
of the Great Britain.

Neil pointed out to me that on the U.K. page, 
they had Keith Garages listed in Aylesbury
as a Volkswagen dealership. I remember Keith 
Garages as a kid, and in fact there is still a 
Volkswagen dealership on the original site
today, although now it's called Lancaster VW.

This book is probably one of Neil's most
treasured possessions. Back in the day, if you
were going to build a building to use as a
Volkswagen franchise, Volkswagen would issue
you with this book. It details every conceivable
detail on how the building should look.

The 'handbook' contains lovely old black and
white photos of Volkswagen dealerships that
were operating at the time.

The photos in the handbook really are little time
capsules, and amazing to see.

The detailed German plans include where to
have the main garage (work station) in the centre
and the spare parts room (at the bottom of the
plan) This plan of a typical Volkswagen workshop
enables a vehicle to pass through the workshop
in the most time efficient way. 

A great photo of a Volkswagen service centre
way back in the 1950's. How cool does this look.

This photo gives more details on how a new
Volkswagen franchise should look to be super
efficient. The reception is at the front with the
interior cleaning bays to the right. From there
the Volkswagen's go to the two left hand bays
for lubrication and any servicing, then exit the
building on the left. This production line method
for servicing customer's cars proved most 

efficient way to clean and service the customers 
cars. You really do have to admire the precision
German efficiency.

The book also shows what tools should be kept
and how to store them. These tool racks are so
comprehensive, they must have a tool for every
conceivable job.

How about this for a tool station? The precision
and attention to detail 
of the German's really shows
 in this photo. Every tool has a place and 
every tool is in it's place.

This photo shows the nice neat tool boards.
Each of the boards hold the tools for a specific
part of the servicing process. On the right (if my
German is correct) are the tools for the trans-
mission, in the middle are all the tools required
for working on the front end and on the right of 

the are the tools for the rear axle.

This super cool tool trolley with stool looks great.
You do occasionally see these for sale for mega
bucks at shows / events.

This cool looking ramp for lifting buses is really
amazing. I wonder how many still exist today?

The handbook is so comprehensive that it even
covers what colour the walls and tiles should be,
so that the overall look of the new franchise will
be in keeping with all the others.

The caption for this photo (roughly translated)
states 'a light flooded hall made from a steel
structure' for the holding of customers cars, and
don't they all look lovely.

One of the photos of an early Volkswagen dealer-
ships / garages, I wonder if any of these gorgeous
beetles are still around today??

The photos in this book are fantastic. Not only
are the cars stunning but the cleanliness of the
area is amazing... no graffiti and no rubbish

How cool does the VW garage look? I love the
1950's styling of the building... and of course all
the beetles parked up outside.

This postcard Neil treasures deeply as it's from
the 1939 motor show in Berlin and features a
very rare blue stamp with a KDF beetle on it.

A close up of the unused and pristine stamp.
Whilst taking these photos I was scared to even
breathe on them, let alone touch them.

Just after the second world war, in the summer
of 1946 The Control Commission for Germany
held an exhibition to publicise the 'peoples car'.

The event was held just off Oxford Street in
London. By all accounts the exhibition was poorly
attended because we had just come to the end of
the war with Germany, and to exhibit German cars 
in London wasn't greatly received.

Just after the end of the war with Germany The
Control Commission for Germany was set up
to help get Germany's economy back on track
after being in control of the Nazi's.  
page details how the German Labour

Front spent the peoples money.

Once the war ended Germany was divided
into 4 parts, and the British zone had the city
of Wolfsburg, including the Volkswagen factory.
This page explains how the Control Commission
for Germany utilised German resources to help
make the peoples car, thus avoiding further
burden of the British taxpayer.

Everywhere you turn in Neil's home you see yet
more boxed models. These two are from Disney.

So that was a very brief look at Neil's amazing
Volkswagen model car and memorabilia 
collection. My photo's do not even scratch the
 surface of his collection. He really has so many
models that it would be impossible to feature
them all. As well as the very small selection I have
shown you, Neil also has boxes and boxes of other
model Volkswagen's at a friends house. A huge 
Thanks to Neil for allowing into his home to take 
some photos and have a chat about his collection.
 It really was a eye opening experience. 
Thanks a lot mate.

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