Hebmüller – up in smoke

After reading throught the translations of the VW documents on Hebmuller.com, checking out some of the Hebmüller Aufbau plate information listed on Kabriolett.com and also refering to the official VW month by month production figures published in “Volkswagen Beetle Coachbuilts and Cabriolets” by Keith Sume and Bob Shail, I’ve come up with the folowing theory:

The published facts:
• Volkswagens order was for 675 Type 14a convertibles
• The Fire at the factory – 23rd July 1949
• 53 Type 14a Cabrios already delivered to Volkswagen before the fire
• 33 Type 14a Body shells destroyed in the fire
• 32 bodies saved from the fire, finished and ready for paint
• 11 cabrios on wheels awaiting missing parts also saved

• Heb#5 Aufbau 18945 (Total Hebmüller production) 2106 (Completed 21st June ’49 one month before the fire)
• Heb#6 Aufbau 18939 (6 cars before Heb#5) 2607 (Completed 26th July ’49 3 days after the fire)
• Heb#100 Aufbau 19024 (85 cars higher than Heb#6) 0109 (Completed 1st September ’49) 1949

Production Figures:
April 1 (Production Test Car)
June 27
July 28
August 24
September 17

What I’ve concluded from the above information:
1. You can see from the above that the body number was probably stamped and total production figure calculated and allocated to each shell when it entered the factory, but the aufbau plate was rivited on when the car left – hence the very early Heb#6 having a completion date after the fire.

2. You can see from the above that at the date of the fire, 129 Hebmüller Type 14a cars are accounted for; 53 finished and delivered (this figure ties in with the official VW figure for June and July), 43 still to be finished and 33 lost forever! If they all had body numbers already stamped, this would put the last body at this date around #129.

3. If you look at the production figures for August and September they total 41 cars which accounts for the completion of the cars which were saved from the fire. Heb#100 was completed on 1st September which again ties in: 53 delivered + 33 destroyed + 24 built in August = 110 cars. If the cars destroyed in the fire didn’t have body numbers, or the numbers were realocated you would expect the body number at the end of August to be around 79-83 ish.

4. This also explains why there are body numbers over 700. For Hebmüller to meet the order for 675 cars they would have to complete at least 712 cars (the 4 prototypes, 675 ordered cars and the 33 which were lost).

5. If you use the VW figure of 696 which includes the prototypes and karmann built cars and add the 33 lost cars it gives you a final body number of around 729.

So the question is which 33 body numbers (from somewhere around 54 to 129ish) were lost in the fire?

One comment

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