If you want to see our Split window beetle toys, please choose one of the manufacturers from the drop list on the right. Below you can read more about history of split windows.
ORIGIN OF THE SPLIT WINDOW ERA VW TOYS
The very first VW beetle models were no toys. Ferdinand Porsche as well as the KdF factory had several KdF models produced during development of the KdF Wagen and also as promotional gifts.
Erwin Komenda, on behalf of Ferdinand Porsche, commissioned in or around 1935 three different KdF V1 prototype models in 1/5 scale made of steel. In 1936 a solid wooden V 30 wind tunnel model was built for testing purposes.
Later, in 1938, the firm of Berger & Mössner produced a beautiful 1/15 scale model, which was presented to Dr. Robert Ley on 15 February, 1938 as a gift for his birthday.
Except for the V30 wind tunnel model, which is owned by the VW factory, nothing is known about the whereabouts of these models. So guys, the hunt is still open!
In April 1938, another model was produced, which was given to Adolf Hitler for his birthday. It is in 1/12,5 scale, made of copper by the firm of Peter Koch. It was one of a series of 5 of these models. The one given to Hitler was unnumbered; the other four were numbered 1-4. Number 1 was sold in 2003 at an auction to a German collector for €26.000 plus additional auction fees!
Apart from this one in private hands, one currently belongs to Bosch, one to Porsche and one is on display in the Deutsches Museum in Münich. The unnumbered version which belonged to Hitler is currently unaccounted for.
In 1939, the German firm Kopperschmidt, maker of plexiglas parts for airplane and automobile windows produced a 1/7 scale (60cm length) plexiglas KdF Wagen to be displayed at the 1939 Berlin Auto Show. It is unknown whether this model still exists.
Because of the popularity of the KdF Wagen introduced in the late 1930s, there were many German toy manufacturers at the time that tooled up and started producing their version of the KdF Wagens in miniature form. This may have been a good thing because none of the Germans in the KdF Savers program ever received a real KdF Wagen and at least you could have your KdF Wagen - in a miniature form. The more commonly known German manufacturers were MÄRKLIN, TIPPCO, HUKI, KARL BUB, DISTLER, G.FISCHER, KÖRA, F.HÖRNDLEIN, CKO, JNF, GÜNTHERMANN, ECKERT & ZIEGLER and VOLK. Although there seems to be many manufacturers of the KdF Wagen toys, these toys are very rare, scarce and to have a couple in your collection represents a great achievement and they certainly represent a unique era of history.
Most of the KdF toy cars were stamped out of tinplate metal and were either lithographed or painted. It is interesting to notice that the majority of the manufacturers kept with the theme of the blue-gray color of the original car as shown on the promotional brochures and advertising of that time. Due to the fact that the early producers of a KdF Wagen toy, did not have a 1/1 example to base their toy car on, they based the toys on the promotional items available at that time. Problem however was that the early brochures showed artist impressions of the KdF Wagen with an elongated shape to make it appear bigger. Therefore those early toys often do not match the actual shape of the KdF Wagen. This changed however after the actual introduction of the car. The lithographed versions made by HUKI, TIPPCO, F.HÖRNDLEIN, CKO, GÜNTHERMANN and Eckert & Ziegler are the most accurate looking and represent the KdF Wagen quite well. A common practice of the time period was to have peoples faces painted in the windows as depicted in the KdF brochures and postage stamps showing a family cruising on the autobahn in their KdF Wagen. The lithograph also shows details of the headlights, taillights, windows, seam lines and license plate numbers. TIPPCO introduced in the late 1930s a tinplate Reichsautobahn track set and featured the KdF Wagen as one of several cars in the set. There was even a special ESSO tankstelle (gas pump station) for winding up the clockwerk motors in the cars for the track set. The large KdF Wagen from DISTLER was also lithographed that included pin stripping and had cut out windows with a driver sitting inside the car. The IIIA 42801 license plate number on the DISTLER KdF Wagen represents the KdF Wagen Sedan at the 1938 Cornerstone Ceremony having that same license plate number. DISTLER also produced a smaller, less detailed and very scarce version as well. The lithographed KdF Wagen produced by CKO was designed with a mechanical feature that when a lever on the chassis was activated, it changed the sedan model to a convertible model with a driver sitting in the seat.
The painted tinplate versions from KÖRA, TIPPCO and JNF are also very nice as well. They were produced with cut out windows or had solid windows painted silver. The JNF KdF Wagen had cut out windows and a detailed lithograph interior and was manufactured in two versions, deluxe or standard. The deluxe version had a remote control cable and was sold in a driving set with signs and accessories to set up a driving track. The KÖRA, JNF, Karl Bub and TIPPCO models were painted in a range of colors and did not adhere to the blue-gray color of the real KdF Wagen of the era. The German company VOLK produced a stamped steel body and chassis of the KdF Wagen and painted them in various colors. These VOLK KdF Wagens usually often had a hand painted license plate number with the year it was made such as 1944.
Some examples were also manufactured using the diecast metal method such as the MÄRKLIN KdF Wagen that was produced in two sizes. The large MÄRKLIN KdF is considered a display model and not necessarily a toy and the smaller version was made as an accessory item for train set layouts. Over the years, the diecast models often become brittle and metal fatigue causes the model to crack and break. Some have been known to just shatter apart just sitting in a display case. Finding these MÄRKLIN KdF Wagens in pristine condition is few and far between.
Mentioned above are the more common KdF Wagen era manufacturers. There are perhaps another dozen or so manufactures not mentioned and there are also a couple of KdF Wagen toys that have been seen over the years in which the manufacturer is still unknown. There were also glass, cast aluminum or steel and even wooden versions of the KdF Wagen produced as well. Eckert & Ziegler even produced a plastic KdF Wagen in cooperation with BASF! The form was after the war re-used by Prämeta.
The pre-war KdF toys were also exported to various countries worldwide, although there seemed to be opposition in the countries involved against "Nazi"- products. See enclosed picture made in 1939 in New York, USA.
Toy production came to a stop during the early 40’s due to shortage of supplies. Many factories were also forced to produce for warfare.
Many manufacturers continued to produce Split Window Volkswagen toy cars in 1946/ 1947 and the toy cars produced during the this post war period were stamped in the chassis or the lithograph design included "Made in the U.S. Zone - Germany" and later “Made in Western Germany. The toy cars of the KdF era were marked "Made in Germany" or had no markings. But please note: we have seen several examples of late postwar toys from the 1950's, bearing the "Made in Germany" stamp, whereas you would expect the "Made in Western Germany" stamp.
Arnold was one of the first to build hard plastic bodies for their toys on large scale. This marked the start of the decline of tinplate cars.
Other German toy manufacturers as well as other manufactures in other countries also saw the popularity of the VW Sedan in the 1950’s and included the Split Window VW in their toy car product line as well. The value of these KdF Wagen toys, US Zone and 1950’s era Western Germany varies depending on the condition, scarcity and also the demand.