Head of Sale
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The Gstaad Sale / 1959 Volkswagen Beutler 1.2 Chassis no. 3395274
Sold for CHF158,700 inc. premium
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Head of Sale
European Sales Manager
International Chairman for Motoring
When the Beutler brothers, Fritz and Ernst, first presented their Volkswagen-based sports car in March 1954 in Geneva, the VW Karmann-Ghia had yet to be born. It was an attractive 'Ponton' design with an aluminium body, and if it had not had the basic mechanicals of a VW Beetle with a 1.2-litre engine and only 31bhp while costing more than a Porsche, it might have been much more successful.
Ernst Beutler learned his trade as a coachbuilder first at Carrosserie Worblaufen,a firm famous among other designs for their body on a 1924 Isotta Fraschini 8AF, which won the coveted 'Best of Show' award at Pebble Beach in 2015. In 1946 Fritz and Ernst Beulter opened their own coachbuilding workshop in Thun, and in 1948 won the contract to body six of the first ten examples of the new Porsche 356.
The Beutler Volkswagen boasted an aluminium body with stylised rear wings and was quite a bit larger than the Beetle it was based upon: the length grew from 4.07 meters to 4.35, with a width of 1.59m, some 5cm more than the Beetle. Despite being 40kg heavier, the resulting car handled better as the centre of gravity was lower and the body much more aerodynamic.
The pricing was ambitious: with a list price of CHF 14,950 against the CHF 6,490 for a Beetle de Luxe and CHF 8,650 for a Beetle Convertible, it was even more expensive than the Porsche 356, which had a 1,300 cc engine. The happy few clients, though, got a modern coachbuilt body with a larger boot and a dashboard with more instruments than the Beetle, plus indicator lights, a heater and foldable rear seats. The seats were specially developed by Beutler and trimmed in leather, as were the door cards. A novelty was the headlamp flasher, a rarity in those days. The car could also be ordered with a Porsche 356 engine and brakes at extra cost. A facelift followed in 1957 and it has been estimated that only some 28 Beutler coupes were built, of which only six had the Porsche engine.
A late example, this car was ordered new by the VW Garage Herzig in Vevey, Switzerland for a price of some CHF 11,400. The colour scheme was light brown metallic with contrasting black roof and a beige interior. The commission number was '1156'.
In the late 1990s the car was purchased as a restoration project and thoroughly restored in Switzerland, the body being removed from the frame in the process. Eugen Marschall's bodyshop assisted with the restoration and was fortunate enough to have in their employ Fredy Pfister, who had served his apprenticeship at Beutler and so was well acquainted with these cars.
The body was repainted again in light brown metallic, with the roof painted a more fitting dark brown, while the interior restoration was entrusted to Marcel Reusser in Spiez, who re-trimmed it in two-tone beige/dark brown leather. The boot and engine compartment were clad with stepped vinyl. At the same time the mechanicals were overhauled and the entire restoration took some 11 years to complete. Scarcely used since, the car is presented in beautiful condition throughout (see photographs and magazine article on file).