The Grundmann Collection

Early bird

Having got to the show a little earlier this time, it was nice to enjoy a little saunter down into the town centre of Hessisch Oldendorf before the main show event really takes off. Seeing the streets devoid of vehicles and the throngs of people milling around was somewhat strange. It was nice to just have a relaxed wander around after the rocker gasket issues of yesterday.

Highs and lows of classic camper ownership
Highs and lows of classic camper ownership

My friend Caroline rocked up with Adam in his cool RHD 1955 Palm Green/Sand Green camper in the afternoon. A very early post-barndoor bus with an ace combination of an early Devon and Canterbury Pitt interior. The best of all things interior-wise combined! Always nice to catch up with them. As it was still early in the day, it seemed like an ideal opportunity whilst the queues were still short, to get our show registration stickers and HO22 goodie bags sorted before the masses turned up.

Numbers up

Whilst we were getting our show registration details sorted, Adam suggested we could maybe visit the Grundmann private museum collection. Traugott (father) and Christian (son) Grundmann are the inspiration/organisers of the whole Hessisch Oldendorf event. I had heard about their museum collection, and it was somewhere I had really wanted to visit. Arriving a little early at the registration point really paid dividends. Not only was there no queue, but there was also still spaces left to visit the museum, with just a small entrance fee getting donated to charity to get on one of the tours. Happy days.

My new HO22 registration sticker
My new HO22 registration sticker

Grundmann museum

The next tour slot at the museum was not long to wait. We had enough time to grab something to eat before a short walk across town in the glorious sunshine to the museum buildings. On my last trip out to Germany, I visited both the VW AutoMuseum and the contemporary Autostadt museum in Wolfsburg. Both had some pretty rare and exotic automotive history on display and were really well worth visiting.

in front of the iconic VW Wolfsburg factory chimneys
in front of the iconic VW Wolfsburg factory chimneys

I was wondering what sort of personal collection this might be or include. When you approach the fairly inauspicious buildings and see a classic Porsche and a Schwimmwagen parked outside, you do have to wonder to yourself, if these are outside, what is housed inside!

One for the road, one for the water…
One for the road, one for the water…

Rometsch rare

You expect to find things of historic interest or rarity in a museum. However, Grundmann’s private collection really takes things to a whole new level when it comes to all things associated with historic and vintage Volkswagens! It quite literally has some of the most unique vehicles in the world in the collection.

the only surviving 1951 Rometsch Coupé
the only surviving 1951 Rometsch Coupé

This even extends to the actual office of Rometsch designer Beeskow! I guess when you have the oldest surviving 1951 Rometsch and the only surviving early 1951 Rometsch Coupé, it’s nice to have the office space where they were designed too!

old skool automotive design process
old skool automotive design process

Design skills

Before the war, Johannes Beeskow was a creative star in Berlin and designed some of the most expensive cars (like Erdmann & Rossi) in the world. But after the war, like many, Beeskow had to start all over again from scratch. He initially used his skills to develop a metal press, that could produce saucepans out of old military steel helmets.

Rometsch coach built convertible by the designer Johannes Beeskow
Rometsch coach built convertible by the designer Johannes Beeskow

Then a chance meeting with a Berlin coachbuilder by the name of Friedrich Rometsch changed things dramatically for him. His talent was tasked with transforming early VW Beetles into high-end luxurious convertibles and coupés. The results of Johannes Beeskow’s work gained awards at the Geneva Automotive Show several times. It was a high-end, low-volume business with only about 17 examples built per year.

Amazing craftsmanship of the coach-built wooden bodywork formwork
Amazing craftsmanship of the coach-built wooden bodywork formwork

However, the results speak for themselves. Stunningly beautiful cars! The quality of the designs of the cars obviously attracted interest from other coach-build companies like Karmann. They were so impressed they ended up employing him and made him their chief designer in the 1950s.

Rometsch cars were driven by movie stars like Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn
Rometsch cars were driven by movie stars like Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn

Be prepared

The cold war and the threat of the use of nuclear weapons were real after WW2 and the subsequent years that followed. I’m sure this must have made you feel much safer at the time if you saw it driving along. A 1958 split screen bus that had been converted for use as a radiation measurement vehicle in Lower Saxony, Germany. I guess it was the thought that counts!

Unique radiation measurement 1958 split screen disaster bus
Unique radiation measurement 1958 split screen disaster bus

Two sides

Before Germany became unified, there were some pretty unusual automotive things happening on the Eastern side of the country. There was an unrestored East German (GDR) built quirky wooden (yes you read that right!) version of a Splitscreen camper (I have previously seen one at the Ben Pon show) as well another GDR-designed and built 2-door sunroof car.

GDR-designed and built 2-door sunroof car
GDR-designed and built 2-door sunroof car

Never seen one before, unfortunately, I didn’t catch the name. An amalgamation of styles and parts, but I really liked it! Does anyone know its name or any more details on it?

GDR version of an early Porsche on a 1944 Kübelwagen chassis
GDR version of an early Porsche on a 1944 Kübelwagen chassis

It didn’t stop there, there was even an East German version of an early Porsche built on a 1944 Kübelwagen chassis. Hats off to the skills and ingenuity required to do this kind of stuff. Especially bearing in mind the economic and social situation people were living through at the time.

Super nice Porsche Speedster
Super nice Porsche Speedster

Porsche classics

From tractors to these classics, there are some very cool Porsches in the collection too, including this serious rally spec Porsche. Very nice indeed!

How to rally in Porsche style
How to rally in Porsche style

Not everything in the collection was pristine, it was good to see some things in progress too, like a prototype of a Type 34 Razorback Karmann Ghia Convertible. There was also another road-worthy Type 34 Razorback Karmann Ghia Convertible that once belonged to the Karmann family themselves. It is one of eight prototypes that actually exist as the car never actually went into production. Guess where that is? Yep, this was also in the collection. Handy when you get around to restoring the other one I guess! There were plenty of other amazing things to see that were just left as in found condition, like this air-cooled VW helicopter. Not something you see every day either!

air cooled take off in this helicopter
air cooled take off in this helicopter

Military heritage

How did this survive, I’m really not sure. Schwimmwagens are really rare at the best of times, so to have an early prototype version is beyond incredible. Then there is also a Kübelwagen prototype as well! Maybe in a collection that includes the oldest Hebmüller convertible, an original Herbie Beetle and of course the (now) world-famous VW 38 prototype, maybe this shouldn’t be a surprise… but it really still was!

a ridiculously rare Schwimmwagen prototype
a ridiculously rare Schwimmwagen prototype

There are so many things to try and take in as you get shown around the Grundmann collection. It’s eclectic, historic and quirky. So glad I got to see it this time around. Still have to remember that the actual Hessisch HO22 main event hasn’t even started yet!

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