The Beetle Clinic is no more

21 05 2020

My favorite Berlin VW workshop ceased to exist. The Beetle Clinic is no more. And it left already some long time ago. The end came quietly, at least for me. In May 2016, they still helped us bringing Taiga Lily through the TUEV, the German bi-annual roadworthy certificate. In 2017 we did not need a pit stop all year. With only short-distance camping weekends around Berlin and at the coast and the occasional shopping, we nowadays drive Taiga Lily not more than 3500 km per year. So only when 2018 came and she needed the next roadworthy certificate, I noticed that the Beetle Clinic had closed shop, probably already at the end of 2016.
The Beetle Clinic was situated on a mostly empty industry space in Wilhelmstrasse in the Western suburb of Berlin-Spandau. As with so many places in Berlin, this area has an interesting history. It was the site of the former Spandau Prison where in Nazi Germany Hitler locked up critical journalists and opponents, and where after the end of World War II and the Nuremberg trials, a number of Nazi top brass were imprisoned by the British, American, French and Russian forces. In my childhood in the 1970s and 1980s the bizarre situation was that it was kept in action only for one last prisoner, Rudloph Hess. When he passed away in 1987, it was demolished.
Sometime later the Beetle Clinic must have started out. I met them first in 2000. I had just arrived in Berlin and was happy and releaved to have found a workhop with knowledge, love and enthusiasm for air-cooled Volkswagens. They knew the cars, and they knew where to get the parts. And over the years they did some good work for me. The Old Lady received an egine overhaul  and a catalytic converter in 2002. In 2007, they took out the partition wall behind the front seats and installed two pilot seats. When Taiga Lily entered our family in 2010 and the front axle body was rusted through in 2014, they installed a new front axle body (here and here), and in 2016 a beautiful tow bar. They understood these old cars, and they did good work. And each time I dropped one of our buses off, it was exciting to look around what other cars and buses were around, like this T1, this early bay window brewery van or the beauties below. It is a sad this place with all its expertise is gone. All the best to Georg and Micha for their next adventures!

Taiga Lily with a Wulle Brewery van, 2014.

Karmann Ghia convertible, 2016.

 

Georg’s 1985 Karmann Gipsy T3 Campervan, waiting for its “H registration”

Volkswagen Type 3 notchback, photo taken 2015 at Beetle Clinic Berlin

 

Pre-1956 23-window barndoor Samba Bus under restoration. Photo taken in 2016 at Beetle Clinic, Berlin.

 





Split-window camper

3 04 2018

And another split-window T1 kombi, this time a camper, photographed in October 2015. You don’t see splitties on the road much at all any more in Germany. So I was super happy when this one parked right in front of our day care in our suburb in Berlin when I dropped off the little one. Looks like this bus started as a closed panel van (upper air intakes in the rear) and was later rebuilt into a camper, including fold-up roof and five louvered windows in the rear. Based on the T2-like rear lid (introduced in 1964), this one should be from between 1964 and 1967. The fold-up roof could be from Dormobile, folding up along the side of the van and not at its front or back as the Westfalia roofs do. You can find another beautiful Dormobile kombi here and the hinges look indeed similar. It has also become rare to see such a splitty with all the scratches and dints of 50 years on the road and not yet fully restored. Nice!

Image_1

Image_5





Costa Rica T1 Shorty     

1 04 2018

Hi to everyone out there! It has been a long time with no blog post. Family life with two small kids and work got the upper hand for most of last year. We are now proud parents of a school kid, and the little one is making her way through Kindergarden. Berlin had a bit of a no-real-winter-at-all. Mostly way too warm, then finally a week of minus -5-10°C, but still hardly any snow. Bit of a disappointment for the little ones. But a few days ago I received the photos below from my old friend Siegfried who is touring Costa Rica again , and they brightened up my day:  A T1 split window kombi, spotted in the small town of Sierpe. Seems to be in really beautiful condition, and looks very much like a standard European T1 to me, with slightly larger rearview mirrors, safari windows at the front and the double bumper bars that were more made for the US market. Except that someone has cut out about 50 cm of the van. The section missing is where the second of the two rear side doors would have been. The original model would have been built between 1964 (large T2-like rear door)and 1967 (start of the T2 bay windows) if it was from German production. Probably they were built longer in Mexico and Brazil, so this one could be from the seventies as well. Very nice: red-and-white T1 model on the center of the dash board. Hope you enjoy the photos!

Image_3

Image_5





Awesome Australian T1 Campervan

14 04 2017

Cool split-window bus spotted yesterday on the ferry from Sorrento to Queenscliff in Victoria, Australia. Minimalistic camper with pop-up roof and rock-and-roll bed/bench, but no furniture in the back. With the larger rear window and rear lid of the late T1 buses, this kombi is probably from between 1964 and 1967. Safari fold-up windows at the front and US-style double bumper bars as nice extras. Wonder if the double sliding window in the rear right is original, or if two smaller windows have been combined here? Makes this a 12-window instead of a 13-window bus. Cool sticker: “I did my bit, I saved a split”. Good on you!

Image_1

Image_4





Amazing 1955 Splittie for Sale

20 08 2016

Very cool 1955 T1 split window bus for sale in the German Facebook group “VW Busfahrer T1 bis T6“. Thought I knew the photo. Turns out it is one of mine, from this older blog post. I had seen this brilliant bus 10 years ago at the 60-Years-Of-VW-Bus Festival in Hannover. If you are willing to part from > 30.000 British Pounds, this amazing bus could be yours! Below the original photo in all its beauty.

Selling_1955_T1_2

Image1

 





Awakening!

5 04 2015

We had a couple of beautiful sunny spring days here in Berlin in the last three weeks, so the buses slowly get out of their winters sleep. My kombi mate Jan started with his beautifully restored 1991 T3/T25 Blue Star three weeks ago. A friend got his 1963 T1 Westfalia campervan out on the same day, and last weekend I opened the garage for Taiga Lily to come out and play. Very happy the engine started right away, all seems to be fine. Used the day to upholster and install a new driver’s seat, more on that soon. Welcome kombi season 2015!

Image_4

Image_2

Image_1

Image_5





New Zealand Splittie Campervan, re-visited!

31 01 2015

A friend just returned from a four-week-trip to New Zealand and sent me photos of this beautiful T1 split window campervan. He spotted it this January 2015 in Kerikeri on the North Island. Turns out I had spotted the very same bus in Feb 2012 during our parental leave in New Zealand as well – small world! Here is a link to the older post with some more information on this bus and also more photos. Just re-traced that this bus is one of the kombis you can rent from Kiwi Kombis. Some more detail on their web page: It is called Van Five aka ‘Coffee ‘n’ Cream’ and it is a 1962 Custom Westfalia with the 1.6Litre motor. Nice to see it is still up and going! Many thanks to Gernot for the photos!

Image2

Image1





Back into winter sleep

11 12 2014

I used a dry and not too cold weekend in November to get Taiga Lily ready for her winter break. We actually did not drive the bus much for the last couple of weeks. Now I found a beautiful little surprise when I took down the roof rack and bike rack: Someone had planted a little Brekina VW bus model in the roof railing, packed in the original little plastic box and wrapped in sticky tape, hidden behind a foot of the roof rack. Thank you, dear anonymous spender! This one is going straight to the pool room! Not much time on this weekend to bring her to perfect condition, but at least I gave her a thorough overall wash. Then visited two Ikea stores which re-charged the battery hopefully a bit, filled the tank to the top (this year with Ethanol-free petrol, zerotosixty), drove her into her garage and disconnected the battery. See you next year!

All clean and shiny again!

All clean and shiny again!

Image_2

Image_4

Image_5

Image_6

Image_7





The Berlin VW Bus Festival 2014!

23 08 2014

Last weekend Leon Dogwonder and I made it to the 2014 Berlin VW Bus Festival on an old airfield in Jueterbog, south of Berlin. Relaxed camping weekend in the bus, luckily less hot than last year, with lots of buses to check out and nice people to meet. In total about 450 buses, with the occasional late bay window between lots and lots of T3/T25s. The usual program, with people racing their buses and other vehicles on the old air field (1/8 mile), with a sand pit playground for the 4WD Syncro buses to test what they can handle, a show and shine competition and kiddie’s program. Great Weekend – hope you will enjoy the photos! Greetings to Jan, Kerstin, Flo, Heiko und Meike!

This samba  won "best van of the festival"

This samba won “best van of the festival”

1974 ex-Red Cross ambulance microbus turned campervan

1974 ex-Red Cross ambulance microbus turned campervan

Image_3

Image_4

Image_5

Image_6

Another ex-ambulance van, this one from 1976

Another ex-ambulance van, this one from 1976

Nice and clean T3/T25 bus...

Nice and clean T3/T25 bus…

... and its VR6 Volkswagen 6-cylinder engine.

… and its VR6 Volkswagen 6-cylinder engine.

"Can't go fast - but everywhere"

“Can’t go fast – but everywhere”

Image_12

Spectators at the start of the Syncro Trial...

Spectators at the start of the Syncro Trial…

... and a syncro coming to the rescue of another one, stuck in the sand.

… and a syncro coming to the rescue of another one, stuck in the sand.

Image_15

Image_17

About to present the results of an afternoon of hard crafting...

About to present the results of an afternoon of hard crafting…

And some of their beautiful products!

And some of their beautiful products!

Start of the 1/8 mile race, T3 vanagon against a Ford Mustang.

At the start line of the 1/8 mile race, T3 vanagon against a Ford Mustang.

My friend's 1992 T3 Bluestar, Leon Dogwonder and Taiga Lily

My friend’s 1992 T3 Bluestar, Leon Dogwonder and Taiga Lily

Leon guarding our Taiga Lily.

Leon guarding our Taiga Lily.

Leon allowed on the bed - a very special weekend.

Allowed on the bed – a very special weekend.





Geelong Brewery Single Cabin

1 04 2014

Here comes Milo – a single cabin truck from the new Geelong outstation of the Western Australian Little Creatures brewery. Many thanks to Jodi and Campbell for the beautiful photos! Milo is probably from pre-1960. The indicators at the front (introduced in 1960) look as if added later. The original semaphore openings next to the door handles have been re-used for additional side indicators. Someone also built a new rear bumper bar, and a metal rail to replace the side walls of the cargo bay. The color could be velvet green (L512). Little Creatures seems to have a theme going here: There is a red-and-white split-window single cabin on the title photo of their Melbourne Brewery web page. Same metal bars as cargo bay doors. Post-1960 model with bullet indicators. Cool idea – I like the beer already! We will be back to Geelong to visit friends and family in about a week, after two long years in Germany. We are looking forward to seeing you all again!

Image3

Image4

Image2

Image1