A Visit to Wolfsburg

[Wolfgang Gips reports on a recent pilgrimage to the birthplace of the Beetle where he went on a photo safari in the old part of city]

I am pleased to say that the old gnarled oak tree at the Klieversberg, that you saw in the Spring edition 2006 of our magazine, in the pictures from 1939 and 1949, still exists today!

Every year in spring when nature again bursts into blossom, the VW-scene awakens from its winter-sleep. In Germany it starts in Hannover on 1st May with the 'Maikafer-(cockchafer-) meeting', followed at the beginning of June by the big event of Beetle & Co. in Wolfsburg and, last but not least, the spring meeting of the Brezelfenstervereinigung. There are also many small regional shows. What shall I do, as to take part in every event is nearly impossible?

One highlight of the show in Wolfsburg is, before the regular start on the Saturday, the special visit to the factory halls on the Friday afternoon, by driving to the factory site in your own Volkswagen, up to sector 2, where it starts!

Great - my last visit to the 'Wolfsburg Motor Works' was in 1988 (my very first was in 1973, as the Beetle was still made on the assembly line). Sure, in the meantime, many things would have been changed - and maybe I could take a look for the old oak tree at the Klieversberg. So I decided to visit the Wolfsburg Beetle show early - before it started!

High noon on the Friday I started out from Hannover, which is only 80 km distance from Wolfsburg, in bright sunshine - not along the Autobahn, but across the old roads to Gifhorn, where I take a break at the windmill museum, and then on to my destination - 'Kleiner Wagen in GroBer Fahrt' (not 'fart'!).

Every time I arrive in Wolfsburg by this route, it gives me the creeps, when the four big chimneys of the power station appear on the horizon. I do not go straight to the showground at the Allerpark, but right, along by the towers of the Autostadt, across the Berliner Bridge and along the Berliner Ring in the direction of the city.

At the crossing of the Friedrich-Ebert-Street the lights are red. Next to me on my left side a New Beetle also stops - obviously you can find them in greater numbers here than anywhere else, especially the lovely (?) pale beige convertibles!

Making short eye-contact with the driver, I perceive that this New Beetle is also black: "Well, at least the colour is the same!" - "Yes, I wondered, if we should swap them!" - "No, thanks - I think not really". The lights have changed, up, up and away.

At the next red lights, crossing Braunschweiger Street, the 'Golf-Coupe' arrives again by my side. "Why, your car doesn't have an H-licence-plate?" - "Look, I have H-licence-plates on my car - the H is just in front!" To understand this little joke, you must know that here in Germany you pay less taxes for historic cars, and an 'H' is added to the normal registration number. Because I bought my Split in 1974 with these plates on it, they are also 'historic' for me, and I would never change them.

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