Oval Down Under: 1956 Volkswagen Beetle

Talk about a car you really don’t see every day, this one has to be in the top 10! It’s a right-hand drive, oval-window model and it hails from Sydney, Australia! It’s up for sale here on eBay Australia right now! Come with us on a journey to the land down under, won’t you?

As many Australians can trace their roots back to people who didn’t go there by choice, so can the Type 1 / Beetle. The story goes that the first one was brought there by the Australian military just after WWII, was later sold as war surplus, and allegedly now resides in poor condition with a VW parts dealer somewhere in the country. The first official imports started around 1953 through Regent Motors in Melbourne, and a total of 31 came ashore that year. The following year, New South Wales gained its own importing firm and local assembly of the cars (in knockdown-kit form) began, totaling about 1,300 units – with another 360 complete cars and 300 complete Transporters imported. By 1957, Volkswagen Australasia (VWA) was formed by a nationwide joint venture, and full local manufacture came online between 1959 and 1962, lasting until either 1976 or 1977, on the site of the old Holden plant in Clayton, Victoria. In truth, though, we really only care about the story prior to the car in this article, so we’ll leave it at that.

Now, on to this green machine. It’s one of about 18,000 1200s sold that year, and one could have a “Standard” or “Deluxe” with 1200cc engine and four-speed gearbox. We’re given very little written information by the seller, however, we can get a pretty decent overall idea from the pictures. We see a right-hand-drive unit that looks to be nearly complete and nearly-completely-original. The seller says something about a “semaphore delete kit” which suggests that the flags you’d see in the B-pillar of other-market Type 1 / Beetles are not present. (If you have knowledge of this, please let us know in the comment section) Otherwise, it looks as though there’s some kind of extra trim behind the doors, the metal in the rear fenders either cracked or got torn somehow, and the interior is way, way overdue for some attention. The engine compartment appears to be in good condition, so that’s a big plus. We’re not given underbody pictures or description, so there might be cause for concern there.

All told, I’m absolutely fascinated by this car. I don’t know enough to tell you whether it’s a Standard or Deluxe. Even with its obvious flaws, I can tell you with honesty that I’ve never seen one like this, and that I want one. What about YOU? Can you shed some light on this car, or correct my facts and figures? Would you have this in your garage? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!


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  1. Glenn

    What really interests me in these pictures is the white Country Buggy, that can be seen in front of the Beetle in several pictures. Similar in concept the the VW Thing (Type 181), but not at all the same. The Country Buggy is even more basic than a Thing

    Like 2
    • JimmyinTEXAS

      That Country Buggy is for sale. It doesn’t mention a year model but looks really cool.

  2. Carl C

    I wouldn’t call it a survivor car but I would call it a good base for restoration.

  3. Matt

    I have a better one, 1954 black, 1 family owner, maybe for sale!

    Like 2
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      @Matt – Send it in when you are ready to let it go!

      Like 1
  4. MGSteve

    Some interesting, minor differences in what we would see in a ’56 US export version. The tail lights are from something like a ’65. The front turn signal lights are from about ’58 up to around ’63ish. Correctly, at least in US export guise, the front turn signal lights would have been “bullet lights”. Similarly, the tail lights would have been “snowflake” lights. My guess is that someone “modernized” the lights, as frankly, those early lights, while very correct and original, were horrid. I kinda doubt those tail lights were even available in ’56. If it was supposed to have bullet lights, then either they switched fenders, or welded over the holes. All is fixable, but would first want to check for authenticity with folks in OZ.

    • Mandy

      Those ‘half’ tail lights were actually only available in Australia and were out of the factory. They are now incredibly desirable here :)

      Like 1
  5. AndrewG

    I have a New Zealand assembled ’58 (non oval) which I would imagine is pretty much the same as an Aussie one. It has snowflake tail lights and semaphores. No front turn signal lights at all. This is still legal here as they were original equipment but many will have been “upgraded” and I’d say this is the case here

    Like 2
  6. TimM

    Pretty clean looking not a rust bucket!! I would love to own an example like this!! I would do nothing but get it running and driving good and clean up the interior a bit and drive the tires off it!!

    Like 1
  7. MGSteve

    I love learning about old VWs, and I love Australia and its people. Been there twice for a couple of months each time. So, this is a “learning question”: you are calling those tail lights “half lights”?? That’s a new term for me “over here” in the states. To me, those tail lights just look like what was used on VWs here from roughly 64ish through about 67ish (without looking it up). Thanks, Steve

    Like 1

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