A Must For VW Fans - The Wolfsburger Bähnle
Stephen Paul Hardy takes a close look at a fascinating new 1:43 VW with a difference release from resin model manufacturer AutoCult
As Joni Mitchell once memorably said in the lyrics to her big hit Big Yellow Taxi: “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone?” And so it was for the citizens of Wolfsburg when their much loved ‘Wolfsburger Bähnle’ was decommissioned in 1976; ‘Bähnle’, incidentally, being the German colloquialism for ‘little train’, which we are perhaps more used to describing in seaside towns as a ‘land train’.
In the late 1950s a community transportation company had the idea of providing a unique sightseeing tour through the city of Wolfsburg. The renowned bodybuilder Friedrich Rometsch from Berlin was commissioned to convert a Volkswagen Beetle for this purpose. But, given that the Rometsch-adapted Beetle, with its six seats, couldn’t meet passenger demand for the service, the company Hermann Harmening then made an additional trailer for the car to tow.
From 1958, the 14-meter long train carried 48 passengers on sightseeing tours through the city’s streets. Within a short time, the ‘Bähnle’ had become an integral part of the Wolfsburg cityscape. The vehicle’s unusual configuration meant that it was restricted to a speed of 50 km/h – no doubt much to the relief of the Rometsch Beetle’s tractor unit with its standard 30 hp engine!
Following the Beetletrain’s withdrawal and subsequent 15 years in storage, the Volkswagenwerk AutoMuseum decided to revive it. Then, in 2003, the city of Wolfsburg ceded the ‘Bähnle’ to Volkswagen, under whose care it was restored and brought back into service in the Autostadt, the visitor attraction at the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg. From this visitor base, it is once again happily fulfilling its purpose, and delighting a whole new generation of tourists.
The Wolfsburger Bähnle: star of countless tourist memories, Beetlemania memorabilia and, now, the display cabinets of a few lucky collectors.
Read the full article in Model Collector September 2017
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