Rebuilding the past
- May 30, 2017
Before the VW Beetle came the Standard Superior type I. Its designer was airbrushed from history by the Nazi regime but Paul Schilperoord and Lorenz Schmid are determined that Joseph Ganz’s story will be told – and a unique vehicle will be remanufactured.
All over the world, everyone knows what the Volkswagen Beetle looks like. But before the Beetle came a vehicle only enthusiasts and historians have ever heard of: the Standard Superior type I, designed by Joseph Ganz. This little car was presented to Adolf Hitler at the 1933 Berlin motor show. Five years later, the Fuhrer presented the Standard Superior’s famous cousin to the world. But Ganz got little recognition for his work on the forerunner – until now. Paul Schilperoord, author of The Extraordinary Life of Josef Ganz – The Jewish Engineer Behind Hitler’s Volkswagen, is determined to bring his story out of the shadows, and put Ganz’s ground-breaking car back into the showroom. Along with Lorenz Schmid, a Swiss-born relative of Ganz, Schilperoord has launched a crowdfunding campaign which aims to bring the Standard Superior type I to life.
Back to life
“Together, we secured the only surviving rolling chassis of Josef Ganz’s ‘Volkswagen’,” he says. “An estimated number of around 250 cars were built in April to September 1933.” The car which the pair have bought was kept on the road in East Germany for decades, but the bodywork has been largely modified using Trabant parts. “Working with professional restorers, we want to recreate the original wooden bodywork of this car – and use the car to promote the work of the forgotten genius,” Schilperoord insists. Ganz saw the possibilities of a low-slung, streamlined, backbone chassis, rear-mounted engine, and fully independent suspension with swing axles - and all for a price under 1,000 Reichsmark. The engineer inspired the industry to develop radical new ideas – including the Zündapp Type 12 and NSU Type 32 ‘Volksauto’ prototypes by Ferdinand Porsche. In 1933, the Standard Superior was still the only four-wheeled, rear-engined production car in Germany.
And the good news is that visitors to ReMaTec 2017 will be able to see this extraordinary old car – and have the opportunity to help in the quest to rebuild it. The only surviving version of the vehicle could do with some remanufacturing expertise to get it back on the road. Schilperoord hopes to unveil the finished product next year in a ceremony at the prestigious Louwman Museum in The Hague, Netherlands – but there is a lot to do: the wooden body was made by Karosseriewerke Weinsberg, with the radiator and possibly more cooling components by Längerer & Reich. The transmission and perhaps other spare parts were manufactured by Hürth – while all the electricals are Bosch. Schilperoord would very much like to get hold of a Bosch spare parts catelogue dating back to 1933. Whatever happens, ReMaTec 2017 offers an intriguing window into history. Vehicles can sometimes feel like living, breathing things: you can bet that Schilperoord’s Standard Superior Type I would have a few fascinating tales to tell.