Now I can just picture the salesman’s utter bewilderment back then when he moved in to clinch the deal with the chap getting behind the wheel of the shiny VW Kombi on his showroom floor.
“So, beplan meneer om dalk iets in te ruil op die Kombi?”
“Ja graag; my 1942 Kübelwagen Tipe 82? Dit staan juis buite!”
“Net ‘n oomblik, meneer,” replies the salesman as he pretends to look up the model’s trade value in his little black book…
That’s right. A German military vehicle delivered new to a Luftwaffe base south of Berlin at the height of WWII (13 May 1942 to be precise) was now parked outside a Volksie dealer in Krugersdorp. It’s just one chapter in the colourful past of this rather extraordinary vehicle, although quite how the Kübel survived the war and later turned up 6 000 miles away on the other side of the world isn’t entirely known.
What is known is that this Volkswagen Type 82 Kübelwagen is the 8 463rd example of the 50 788 produced at Wolfsburg in a dedicated factory during WWII. A factor y that would famously later be resurrected from the ashes after the onset of peace to sire the Beetle and indeed the entire Volkswagen empire… but that’s getting ahead of the story: first we need to step back to 1930s Germany to understand the background to the Kübel. And, of course, the name.