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mrmagyar Offline
#1 Posted : 19 November 2008 19:25:45(UTC)
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Hi everybody,
Does anybody know what became of 'Rattletrap', the '52 Split once owned by Tony Levy?
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Mike Peckham Offline
#2 Posted : 19 November 2008 20:51:56(UTC)
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As far as I know it's now in the Bentley Motor Museum near Ringmer in East Sussex.

At one point VW wanted it for their Museum at Wolfsberg but I think after it was written off and then rebuilt with a new everything (Tony used to joke that all that was original was the gear knob) they decided against it.

By then of course Albert Kleins million mile plus Beetle had hit the press and taken the honour of the worlds highest mileage VW away from Rattle trap.

Mike
July 1957 UK supplied RHD Oval. 1972 World Champion Beetle. 1978 UK supplied RHD 1303LS Cabriolet. 1973 UK supplied RHD 1303s.
mrsherbie Offline
#3 Posted : 20 November 2008 09:25:12(UTC)
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I pass through Ringmer all the time, but have never been in, I will pop in to see it, Thanks! BigGrin

Edited by user 23 November 2008 19:16:57(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

"it'll wreck the patina you haven't worked so hard to create" - 50Karmann
Rich Oakley Offline
#4 Posted : 20 November 2008 10:28:38(UTC)
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I keep meaning to pop in too whenever I'm passing.

I don't believe that car was any kind of prototype, just a regular Beetle that got updated over the years.
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Mike Peckham Offline
#5 Posted : 20 November 2008 11:29:25(UTC)
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Rich, like you, I don’t think it was any sort of prototype either but Tony maintained that it was one of a batch of experimental cars that was made available to British Servicemen and featured a number of mods that would be introduced later on production cars. It’s a long time ago (probably over 20 years) since I saw the car or indeed talked to Tony about it, but I remember it having post 08/55 rear lights, later doors and other anomalies that Tony put down to it’s “experimental” nature.

Having said that, after it was written off during it’s Pan American exploits, (wasn’t it hit side on by a big American SUV?) it was rebuilt, I think with a replacement chassis and body so there really was nothing other than sundry items left from the original car. It’s true provenance therefore would be difficult now to establish especially as Tony is no longer with us to tell the story.

I also keep meaning to go and take a look at it, the last time I saw it was shortly after its reincarnation when Tony displayed it on a trade stand at VW Action probably in about 1986? It seemed to disappear from the scene shortly after that, probably due to the emergence of Mr Kleins beetle?

Mike


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mrmagyar Offline
#6 Posted : 21 November 2008 14:41:42(UTC)
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Hi, Thanks for all the replies. I recently read a March 1991 edition of VW Motoring and there's an article about the restoration of Rattletrap after it was seriously damaged after being hit by a truck in Tennessee. After being brought back to the UK, House Of Haselock (no longer around I believe) were just starting the strip-down to assess the damage. Apparently the car was so badly corroded the only thing keeping the body on the floorpan was its own weight. Everything just fell apart with rust. The idea was that it would be restored in time for VW Action in September of the same year; a bit ambitious by any stretch.
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Mike Peckham Offline
#7 Posted : 21 November 2008 15:41:53(UTC)
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That would mean that the last time I saw the car would have been at Action 91 (I was five years adrift!). In that case it’s likely that Rattletrap was displayed on Haselocks trade stand at Action and Tony was there to show people around. It was then that he was telling people (in jest though probably not far from the truth) that the only thing that remained original on the car was the gear knob!

There was a lot of press interest in Rattletrap prior to Mr Kleins Beetle taking the lime light from it, and several articles in VW Motoring too. The writers used very diplomatically to say that not everything quite added up about the car…

I would be very surprised if there was much of the body or chassis that was salvageable from the original car after the crash, partly because of the extent of the crash damage but also because of the amount of rust they found.

I have a feeling that it ended up a zwitter after the accident and I’m not sure that is was one before. Though I can’t be certain of that…

Tony was very Scathing of Albert Kleins Beetle, when it first emerged he raised doubts about its authenticity and then when it turned out that the mileage was documented at least as well as Rattletraps he then chastised Mr Klein over the way in which he achieved the high mileage, ie; driving round and round the ring road on the way home from work, apparently Rattletraps mileage was far more purposeful!

Mike
July 1957 UK supplied RHD Oval. 1972 World Champion Beetle. 1978 UK supplied RHD 1303LS Cabriolet. 1973 UK supplied RHD 1303s.
JD Offline
#8 Posted : 21 November 2008 15:48:10(UTC)
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I seem to remember that there was a great show made of NOS panels being found for the "restoration", and then it all suddenly went a bit "here´s one we made earlier". It was pretty obvious that they´d used another car entirely.
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Rich Oakley Offline
#9 Posted : 21 November 2008 16:39:41(UTC)
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I met Tony a couple of times. The last time was in 1996 at Peppercorn where he displayed the car. Whenever I spoke to him, he seemed quite rude and he certainly didn't seem interetsed in answering my questions about the authenticity of his 'experimental car' claim, so from that point on, I've always dismissed the story as utter bullsh*t.
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JD Offline
#10 Posted : 22 November 2008 01:14:59(UTC)
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Rich Oakley wrote:
I met Tony a couple of times. Whenever I spoke to him, he seemed quite rude


That was my impression too, after a brief chat at VW Action once.
"John, you need to get a grip and STOP MOANING AT EVERYTHING. ThumbDown "

mrmagyar Offline
#11 Posted : 22 November 2008 11:55:23(UTC)
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I've just been on the Bentley Motor Museum web site and they have some thumbnail images of cars in the collection. If you click on the picture of the DeLorean you can see a Beetle in the background, presumably Rattletrap.

http://www.bentley.org.u...museumgallery/4525136549

It seems such a shame a car that was so well known in VW circles has ended its days in a small motor museum almost forgotten, although as you say there is probably nothing left of the original '52 Rattletrap. It would be interesting to see what the restoration looks like...
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55Kab Offline
#12 Posted : 24 November 2008 12:44:56(UTC)
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Pulled my photo collection out of storage this weekend and came across these > thought you'd find them interesting.

Here's the car as displayed at VW Action in September 1990, Tony in the drivers seat about to hae some tea!



Not toooo bad from this angle



But pretty bad from this angle!



Ouch!



Very Ouch!



And true to word, at the next Action in September 1991, the car had been fully restored and was looking like new.










Rich Oakley Offline
#13 Posted : 24 November 2008 17:29:48(UTC)
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Great pics Martin!
47 Beetle, 56 UK Karmann Cabriolet, 56 UK Beetle, 57 UK Type 2, 59 UK Beetle, 66 UK Fastback.
mrsherbie Offline
#14 Posted : 25 November 2008 10:28:20(UTC)
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Wow! great pics! I have never known much about that car. Very interesting though, but would'nt want to own it! Blink a million mile beetle is not one most of us would exactly aspire to owning is it! I think I will take a total lack of a low mile cars history over million mile provenance! Laugh
"it'll wreck the patina you haven't worked so hard to create" - 50Karmann
Mike Peckham Offline
#15 Posted : 25 November 2008 12:37:06(UTC)
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Great Pics! Not just of the car but they some how pick up the atmosphere of the old events of the 80s and 90s when stock was the norm and custom was but a blip on the horizon. Sad

Even the people look different! Wink

Mike
July 1957 UK supplied RHD Oval. 1972 World Champion Beetle. 1978 UK supplied RHD 1303LS Cabriolet. 1973 UK supplied RHD 1303s.
six-o-one Offline
#16 Posted : 25 November 2008 13:01:10(UTC)
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mrsherbie wrote:
Wow! great pics! I have never known much about that car. Very interesting though, but would'nt want to own it! Blink a million mile beetle is not one most of us would exactly aspire to owning is it! I think I will take a total lack of a low mile cars history over million mile provenance! Laugh


I think you are missing the point a bit.

He owned and loved his VW from new, for over 40 years.
I'm sure he never wanted anyone else to own it either!

If that's not the ultimate VW enthusiast then what is?

RollEyes


Edited by user 25 November 2008 13:04:03(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

GKL 7 Offline
#17 Posted : 25 November 2008 18:32:45(UTC)
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MEBigGrin


And don't have a pop at my mate.

Edited by user 25 November 2008 18:36:33(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

mrsherbie Offline
#18 Posted : 25 November 2008 20:19:40(UTC)
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Laugh

No you are completely right Malcolm! That was me doing the 'thinking one thing' but typing another' trick that I am skilled at Laugh

It IS amazing, and just proves that it's true, beetles never die! even after you have dragged them dripping oil all around the world a few times!

I was kind of thinking more, is it sad lonely and unloved imprisoned in a quiet little museum? or having a well earned rest! Blink

But what I wrote was...'if it came up for sale I doubt we would all be having a punch up over who should get it?! Laugh

BigGrin

Edited by user 25 November 2008 20:23:58(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

"it'll wreck the patina you haven't worked so hard to create" - 50Karmann
Standard split Offline
#19 Posted : 25 November 2008 20:51:26(UTC)
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This car as we know is an oval dash split. Tony claimed mileage records back to 1950, and that his car was a prototype of the later style which was not seen until October 1952.

Of course it could have had replacement everything if Tony claimed everything to have been replaced except the gear knobBigGrin

But maybe that was his dry sense of humour Confused

Edited by user 30 January 2009 21:37:28(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

Rattletrap – the Volkswagen Beetle that has covered an incredible mileage equivalent to over 35 times around the planet OMG
Running nifty since 1950… the King of VolkswagensBeer Why not make friends with this famous little VW – he's on facebook!
BigGrin

The great Rattletrap debate: http://forums.pre67vw.co...aspx?g=posts&t=16378
55Kab Offline
#20 Posted : 25 November 2008 21:33:20(UTC)
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Mike Peckham wrote:
Even the people look different! Wink


No, they just look normal!Wink

Glad you like the pics people. I just came across some I took at Camberg in 1991. Will scan and post on a separate thread if anyone wants to see them.

Oh and for the record, I am a fan of customised (Resto/Cal/German-Look) VW's, am also a fan of stock vintage VW's, just not a fan of the 'life-style' people I was frightened looking at when I took the Cab to Action!!!Laugh Laugh
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