Volkswagen AutoPavilion in Uitenhage has recently had an upgrade and at the core is Jan the Beetle. Jan was built on Wednesday, 14 September 1949 in the original Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg. In 1971 Volkswagen South Africa and Wheels magazine held a competition to find the oldest Beetle in South Africa. The winner was owner David Rubin of Middelburg, who received a brand-new 1300 Beetle in exchange for Jan the Beetle. Jan went on display around South Africa before coming back home to rest at the Volkswagen factory in Uitenhage. For a number of years, no one paid attention to Jan and he was left in storage as his condition had deteriorated and he could not be displayed. That changed when Jan the Beetle was brought to the attention of another very special Jan at Volkswagen, namely Jan Schiedek-Jacht, the Head of Product Engineering at VWSA.

Schiedek-Jacht, a classic car enthusiast and expert, offered to give Jan a new lease on life. Soon, highly qualified engineers from Product Engineering at VWSA heard about Jan and offered to help.

The team under the leadership of Jan Schiedek-Jacht donated their spare time to fully restore Jan back to pristine condition over a seven-month period. “I am humbled by the dedication, passion and love of our automotive heritage that this team has shown during the restoration of the Jan the Beetle,” said Thomas Schaefer, Chairman and Managing Director of VWSA.

Jan was restored to original condition and colour with as many original components as possible repaired and restored. Only where required were new components sourced from specialist local dealers, Germany and the US.

Jan is now the jewel of the AutoPavilion vehicle collection and still gets driven, the most recent trip being a 600km run to the George Motor Show in February.

The AutoPavilion is VWSA’s Automotive Experience Centre and Museum. Each year over 30 000 car enthusiasts, school children, tourists, families and friends visit the operation.

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