Arnold GmbH & Co KG was founded in 1906 by Karl Arnold in Nürnberg, Germany. They did quite well and by 1940, they had 4 company locations. Only the location in Mühlhausen (near Kraichgau in Baden-Württemberg, Germany) survived the war and from November 1945, production slowly was resumed from this location. Later the other locations were rebuild. In 1952, ARNOLD was the first in Germany to produce hard plastic bodies for their toy cars. This was the start of a very prosperous era for plastic toys and the beginning of the end for tin plate toys. As from 1960, ARNOLD concentrated themselves mainly on production of trains (N-size) and accessories for trains.
First production release and a very nice ARNOLD VW made with a hard plastic body with cut out windows. The catalog number was 4000 and came in a colorful carton with children playing with the VW in the carton design (one other carton variation is seen also). Body details of front and rear hoods, door seams, taillights, license plate light, VW emblem and round horn grilles. Tin metal chassis (copper or silver coloured or painted white or black) with a friction motor, rubber tires, with or without front wheel steering. There is a "fir tree" symbol stamped into the side of the friction motor and this stamping indicates that ARNOLD acquired the motor and wheels from the well-known German mechanical specialist company, Gebrüder Bühler.
Detailed tin plate lithograph interior of the Split Window VW era, with steering wheel and shiny metal bumpers, seldom found with drivers. Chassis stamped with the ARNOLD insignia. Several variations are known such as a Fahrschule version with VW mounted on a wooden base with special headlights, etc. Another variation had a metal strip resting on the friction motor gear to produce a siren sound.
Additional versions had driver and passenger figures attached to the seats.
It also appears the ARNOLD Split VW toys were used as a promotional item for the petroleum manufacturers of the time. Special cartons were made by ARNOLD France and decals attached to the chassis for SHELL, BP, ARAL or ESSO. It's box had the shape of a garage and on the lid the number 4000 for the Split Beetle and the number 1000 for the ARNOLD fuel pump was mentioned. The box included the Split Window Beetle as well as a box with the fuel pump.
There was also a special luggage rack made of metal that was positioned on top of the roof. The luggage rack was attached to the plastic body in the rear quarter panel with a screw and lock. A very nice but seldom found accessory to the ARNOLD Split VW.
A metallic blue plastic body with a grey painted roof ARNOLD Oval VW was produced as a trade show exhibit and came in a special carton with the number 4159 and “das neue Modell 1959” printed on the carton.
Please be aware of ARNOLD Split VWs made and converted into to special themes, colors and modifications such as adding the driver and passenger figures. The chassis and body are attached with two rivets. These rivets can be pulled out and usually the chassis is scratched or damaged from the rivet removal and is an indication that the ARNOLD VW has been tampered with. Then a screw is usually used to attach the chassis to the body. This is a typical example of an ARNOLD Split modified and then being called an original version. Some have been seen with some ARNOLD type decals on a PEPE Oval VW chassis and body being called an original ARNOLD Oval VW. Some modifications look very homemade and are certainly not factory made by any means.
Just to note: there was an ARNOLD VW prototype (1/20 scale, 187mm) made of wooden 5mm planks, glued together and the body with cut out windows was painted red. Good details with engravings for doors, hoods, engine louvers and the roofline. The rear lights and the license plate light were separately attached pieces carved from wood. There was no chassis.