When Volkswagen exchanged
cars for sausages
Volkswagen Classic houses many treasures – including electric cars from 40 years ago and the GDR Golf, which was delivered to eastern Germany since 1978. Expert Sascha Neumann explains how history strengthens trust in the brand.
Could you please explain, Mr. Neumann, what the Volkswagen Classic is?
Volkswagen Classic is the automotive tradition running through the Volkswagen brand. We build bridges between the past and the future. That's why we participate in classic car events, show our historic cars at motor shows and reach out to the public through our website or social media channels. We see ourselves as a reliable contact for the media as well as for fans and owners of classic Volkswagen cars.
How strong is their loyalty to the Volkswagen brand?
There is an astonishing brand loyalty: Those who drive a Volkswagen classic car or a young time classic often drive a current model also. Each of them is a customer as well as brand ambassador. Particularly in the transition phase we are currently going through, it is important to give our customers potential for identification and orientation. Building trust is achieved by telling stories from history. Because many people have also experienced this history personally. The Volkswagen story touches them because it is part of their life story.
At the heart of the Classic are the classic cars - which ones do you have in your collection?
At the moment there are about 300 vehicles. Of these, a good 150 are housed at the Osnabrück location. The spectrum ranges from the Karmann Jagdwagen from 1909 to the Golf GTI Clubsport S, the Nordschleife record vehicle from 2016, including prototypes and many rarities: the Karmann Ghia prototype from 1953, a restored VW 1500 convertible, Hebmüller convertible from 1950, but also the Pikes Peak Bi-Motor Golf, with which rally driver Klaus-Joachim "Jochi" Kleint broke down 200 meters before the finish line in 1987 due to a small defect. Also rare is the GDR Golf, one of 10,000 units delivered to the GDR since 1978. A curious piece of German-German history: Because in the course of this barter-type deal, Thuringian bratwurst sausages and Dresden stolen Christmas cake were also delivered to the VW canteen in Wolfsburg.
Your models in the collection are not "stationary vehicles", but "vehicles"
that take part in rallies such as the Sachsen Classic or stand at the Techno
Classica in Essen - how do you keep the collection mobile?
We are a small team and do not have our own workshop infrastructure that would allow us to implement larger restoration projects. We can carry out smaller repairs and maintenance, for larger volumes we are dependent on external partners. In September, Classic moved to Volkswagen Group Services as an organizational unit, just as the classic car division of Commercial Vehicles did years ago. We hope that this step will generate some synergies with the Hanover-based "sister project" and give us greater planning security.
The classic/young classic scene is growing both nationally and
internationally - what opportunities are there for the Classic?
The stock of historic vehicles is growing and growing as we enter the years of high production numbers. We will see what becomes a real classic. The young classic scene in particular is growing but is not particularly well organized in clubs. Nevertheless, classic car meetings and motor shows still enjoy great popularity. Here one can clearly observe a trend towards remaining loyal to analogue: Of course, the digital channels are also used, but meetings at rallies and motor shows are not declining yet.
Volkswagen Classic guards the brand's automotive heritage - why is this
important in the future?
With the Beetle and the Golf, Volkswagen has become what we are today. We have the Passat in the eighth generation, and the Golf as well. This continuity is important to many customers. As the Classic Division, we can strengthen this trust in the brand by demonstrating continuity. One example: electric mobility has a long history at Volkswagen. Electric cars have been developed for over 40 years and are now coming onto the road. Classic shows the reliability, quality or innovative strength that is inherent in the Volkswagen brand.
About Sascha Neumann
Sascha Neumann began training as an industrial mechanic at Volkswagen in 1991, studied political science and returned to Volkswagen in 2011. Initially he worked in the Group Communications event team and has been with Volkswagen Classic since 2015. He describes himself as having grown up in the back seat of a 411: "The boxer sound has become firmly established in my ears as a result." Since his childhood, a Golf GTI has been a dream car and he got his driving license in a second-generation Golf Diesel with 54 PS: "So I am thoroughly Volkswagen-socialized and of course very grateful that I am allowed to work with these treasures today."