1951 ROMETSCH BEESKOW WINS VOLKSWAGEN’S TOP HONOR AT AMELIA
Last Year, The People’s Car made its bow at one of the most prestigious collector-car events in the world on Sunday, March 10th, the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, and wowed the thousands of enthusiasts who attended the event. Most car enthusiasts know about the humble Beetle, the Golf, and the Microbus, but the class of 12 vehicles showed how the platform inspired coachbuilders around Europe to produce their own versions of the Volkswagen.
The Concours, now in its 24th year, traditionally features a special class that stands apart from concours orthodoxy. In the past, the Amelia Island Concours has featured the like of movie and advertising cars, but this year chose to highlight an overlooked segment of Europe’s carrozzeria (or karosserie) culture with a class of custom coachwork Volkswagen vehicles.
Among the 12 very special vehicles, the winner of the Volkswagen of America Trophy for the Most Elegant Coachwork on a Volkswagen turned out to be the 1951 Rometsch Beeskow Coupe of Traugott Grundman from Oldendorf, Germany. ”It is a car that Beeskow designed for his wife and it’s as elegant as you can be on a Beetle chassis,” said Klaus Bischoff, Head of Volkswagen Design. “It has very nice details and fluent lines that is somewhere close to European design philosophy that is clean and puristic.”
Rometsch was a Berlin-based coachbuilder founded in 1924. Their first VW-based project was a stretched wheelbase four-door taxi in 1950. The project was spearheaded by Johannes Beeskow, whose name was applied to a special-bodied aluminum sports car displayed at Geneva in 1951.
Beeskow was lured away by Karmann in the mid 1950s and Rometsch hired furniture designer Bert Lawrence to produce a modern sports car body. The company continued until 1961, when the Berlin Wall was built, effectively separating the company from half of its 90 employees.
The winner of the Best in Class award for Custom Coachwork Volkswagens was the 1954 Rometsch Beeskow Coupe belonging to F. Scott Bosés and Celesta Pappas-Bosés from La Canada, CA. Amelia Awards for the runners-up in the class were presented to the 1950 Hebmueller Convertible of Gene Langan from Glastonbury, CT; the 1957 Rometsch Lawrence Convertible of Gallaher Restorations in Landrum, SC.
As an indication of how popular the class was, the organizers invited Volkswagen of America’s Wedding Beetle to take part in the Parade of Significant Automobiles at the event, alongside multi-million dollar collector cars. The Wedding Beetle was the creation of a welder and blacksmith in Mexico City, Raphael Esparza Prieto, who created the outline of a Beetle in wrought iron to be used as a sign on top of a Volkswagen parts shop.
This caught the eye of Volkswagen and Prieto was commissioned to make two drivable versions of the sculpture as a publicity stunt at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. About 20 of these cars were built, mainly in response to orders from Volkswagen executives around the world.
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