VW Motoring  (April 2004)

Last Edition Beetle bought for £1

Reader Graham Bradley explains how Last Edition number 300 was initially obtained for £1 (honestly!) and how it came into his possession

“It all started in 1986 when I used to run around in an old Ford Anglia 100E. Although the car was very reliable and had done very well it came to the point where it needed a lot of money spending on it and needed various parts to get it through the next MoT. So I started to look around for another car, looking in various showrooms and lots of different marques - including Ford again.

“I was a bit fed up with buying secondhand cars at the time and I knew that the production of the Beetle had stopped in 1978. I had actually bought a brand-new Beetle in the past - in 1969, back in the days when I had hair! - for the sum of £766. This was the on the road price, with Hollis Motors in Dover being the supplying dealer. The ’69 Beetle proved to be a magnificent machine and never let me down - I will never forget it. At this period in time, I wanted a really good car which would be reliable as I worked on Townsend Car Ferries, based in Dover and travelled to either Calais or Zebrugge each day.

“On one fateful day I bought a copy of Thoroughbred & Classic Car magazine (the May ’86 issue) and spotted an advert in the back detailing the last VW Beetle to be produced for the UK market - number 300 out of 300. As if that wasn’t enough, it was unused!

“I phoned up and a gentleman called Bill Rogers answered the phone and gave me the full specification of the car. I was particularly keen to make sure that it hadn’t been restored or revamped and was completely original. It turned out that it was and the owner knew the entire history of the car. How he'd obtained it makes a great story...

“It turned out that Bill, who was from Yeovil in Somerset, had entered a raffle being run on behalf of the Motor & Cycle Traders Benevolent Fund. A book of five tickets to the raffle were sent to Bill - for the sum of £1 - by the Agricultural Machinery Trades and Dealers Association. Bill later commented that it was ‘the best £1 investment I ever made!’

“After speaking to Bill, I decided to take a week off work to come down and see the car. If it was as described, I told him, then I’d be really interested. So I took a coach down to Somerset and ended up staying at the Three Chuffs Hotel, which was a wonderful place, very quaint and very nice.

“Phoning Bill after I arrived, it turned out that he was only a half- hours walk from the hotel and I soon found myself outside the garage where the car was kept. The door opened and there was the car, tantalisingly hidden under a dust cloth.

“Bill pulled back the cover and the car was finally unveiled. I could not believe it. He twisted the key and drove it carefully out of the garage and I started looking all over it. It was brand spanking new and I decided to buy it immediately.

“The only things that needed to be sorted out for the car was to get it freshly MoT’d and give it a precautionary service. Even though it had been registered in 1978 it had only got 25 miles on the clock, so it really was a brand new car!

“As I'd booked a week off work there was no rush, and several days later the Beetle had been serviced and MoT’d. A new battery also had to be fitted as the original 1978 one had given up the ghost.

“After sorting out the insurance I then headed back to Dover - taking the Beetle on the longest journey of its life! As soon as I got home I rang Bill and thanked him for the marvellous time he’d given me in Yeovil and also told him how pleased I was with the car. Everyone who knew Beetles and appreciated air-cooled VW engines had admired it.

“About 200 or so miles later, I booked the car into Hollis Motors in Dover for a full service. Two of their mechanics immediately popped out of the workshop to come and admire it. They thought it was fantastic and asked if it was mine. They also said that all it needed was an oil change

“Since then I have had the car serviced every year and changed the oil every 500 miles. I doesn’t really need changing this often, but I always have it done. I have kept all the service records and MoT certificates.

“I only run the car for about 1000 miles each year and have been frightened to use it in winter. All my friends who work on the ferries really admired the car too, but for everyday use I decided to buy a Mini.

“Although the Beetle is my pride and joy, I never took it to any rallies or shows - it’s my own special VW Beetle number 300 out of 300.

“During the hot summer of 2003 I left the Beetle parked up in a carpark in Dover under a tree. I didn't notice at the time that the sap had dripped down onto the car. About two days later I went to get the car out of the garage and noticed that there were blemishes on the paintwork.

“After attempting to remove it myself, unsuccessfully, I decided that it would have to be repaired professionally and contacted my insurance company. The accident repair centre of Jenkins & Pain in Whitfield were assigned the mammoth task of stripping the car down and carrying out a full respray.

“They did a marvellous job and the only new parts they had to fit during the rebuild was a set of wing beading - the wings obviously had to be removed to carry out the respray. By November 2003 the car was returned to be in gleaming condition, having just 25,100 miles on the clock.

“The only accessory I’ve had fitted to the car in the time I’ve owned has been a Beetle Bouncer perspex guard, to protect the front end from stonechips. I also occasionally use a bib for the front of the car, but never leave it in for too long as I know these can fade the paintwork over time. Apart from this the car is entirely standard.

“However, I’ve had my enjoyment out of the Beetle and would like to sell it on to another enthusiast. The VW has a full service history from the main dealer Hollis Motors of Dover and comes complete with a comprehensive set of press and magazine cuttings. These will all go with the car as I don’t want anything to remind me - and cause me to have regrets - about the Beetle.”
Graham Bradley, Dover

Last Edition Beetle

Based on a Diamond Silver 1200 model, this particular Last Edition Beetle was presented to the UK as a gift from Germany and left the Emden plant on January 19, 1978.

Last Edition number 300 came complete with a numbered dashboard plaque, as well as a set of display number plates with the words ‘The Last Edition Beetle’ emblazoned across them.

Although this special edition model is undoubtedly rare, its actual specification isn’t all that special being based on the humble 1200L model. This is the base-model Beetle but with the addition of a full headlining, padded dashboard, fresh air ventilation, rear parcel shelf, heated rear window, reversing lights, as well as chrome hubcaps and chrome bumpers with rubber inserts. Sadly it didn't get the sports steel wheels used on many other previous special editions.

Article reproduced by kind permission of the Editor, VW Motoring

                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

VW Motoring April 2004

Last Edition Beetle bought for £1

Reader Graham Bradley explains how Last Edition number 300 was initially obtained for £1 (honestly!) and how it came into his possession