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                                                JOHAN HÖFLER & WAMOO VW Cabrio

From time to time, you might see this little blue tin VW Convertible in toy collections, toy shows or on the online auction for sale. All of the time they are referred to as a Hebmüller Volkswagen Convertible, VW Type 14A. After some information and describing the details of this VW, you will come to the conclusion that it is more of a Karmann Volkswagen Convertible, VW Type 15A, instead.

The original release of this top down tin VW Convertible toy was produced by the toy company by the name of JOHANN HÖFLER, Fürth, Germany, in the middle 1950s.

The basis of the Höfler Company was laid in 1923 when the 3 Höfler brothers, Johann, Georg and Leonhard, started a company for production of metal products in Fürth. In the 1930’s, Johan decided to build his own toy Company, named "Metallspielwarenfabrik Johann Höfler". He produced cheap penny toys, like cars, planes, figurines, trains, etc. In the early forties, the Company was forced to produce for warfare. In 1954, his son in law, Ernst Bettag, took over the Company. Ernst Bettag was one of the first to recognize the importance of plastic and –as one of the first- he started in 1957 with the production of plastic toys and in 1958 the company was renamed into "Johann Höfler Metall- und Plastikspielwarenfabrik". In 1960 they changed the name again into "BIG Plastic, Johann Höfler" and in 1962 "BIG Spielwaren Fabrik Dipl.-Ing. Ernst A. Bettag". They also used the JEAN brand starting from the early 1960's for cheap plastic toys.

The VW was part of a six car set. The set included the blue VW Convertible, red Mercedes Gull Wing, blue Mercedes 190 Convertiblered/yellow Jaguar Coupe, red Austin Convertible and a blue/yellow Porsche 356. All of the vehicles have a very nice lithograph design showing a lot of colorful lithograph detailing. The HÖFLER VW Cabrio was 142mm in length or about 1/29 scale.

In further describing the details of the HÖFLER top down VW Convertible, the basic lithographed color of the stamped tin plate body was a turquoise blue. There are detail lines of the front and rear deck lids. The rear deck lid had 16 air louvers like the Karmann and not Hebmüller that had the air louvers in the body above the deck lid. There are details for the semaphores in the rear quarter panel looking more like the Karmann compared to the front quarter panel installation used on the Hebmüller. The detailed dashboard looks like the Oval Window VW style that was used on the middle 1950s era Karmann. All but two Hebmüllers used the old style twin glove box dashboard. The interior looks like a special tuck & roll upholstery on the seats and the convertible top is a pale yellow color. Because of the litho design of the interior showing two seats with the top down, it is assumed it is a Hebmüller Convertible. It appears the lithograph design is more like a distorted interior to get all the details to come together without having to add a rear seat. Other Karmann characteristics in the lithograph design include the proper rear hood license plate light and what about those oval horn grilles that were not used on the Hebmüller. The detailed design also included the body side molding, front hood trim, headlight and taillights. There was a separate metal windshield piece with wind wings attached to the body. Lithographed wheels and stone guards on the rear fenders and a VW hood emblem finished out the nice details of this tin Volkswagen toy. The rear H-2003 license plate identifies the original manufacturer as HÖFLER and there is MADE IN WESTERN GERMANY stamped above the rear license plate. Just to mention, because of the “H” in the license plate number, this VW Convertible is often mistaken to have been produced by the toy firm of Hubert Kienberger (HUKI), Fürth, Germany.

The chassis is stamped out of tin plate and had four reinforcing lines to strengthen the chassis. The chassis is usually found painted silver but other colors have been noticed. The chassis had a friction motor with rubber tires and the chassis attached to the body with a crimp all the way around the edge of the body.

It appears that the original dies and process to make the HÖFLER six car set was later acquired by another toy manufacturer, WAMOO (Walther& Moheng), in France during the late 1960s. The WAMOO six car set of vehicles are nearly the same with a few exceptions. The WAMOO vehicles have no friction motor and plastic wheels are used. The color of the VW Convertible is now more of a medium blue color. Also, the MADE IN WESTERN GERMANY lettering has been removed above the rear license plate. The original German made HÖFLER set of six vehicles are seldom found but the new WAMOO six car set shows up quite often. With the detail description of the HÖFLER VW Convertible in this article, you can clearly understand why it is a Karmann Convertible and not of a Hebmüller VW design.

Additional Info

  • Manufacturer: HÖFLER - JEAN & WAMOO
  • Scale: 1/29
  • Length: 142mm
  • Production Era: Mid 1950s and 1960s
  • Country: Germany & France
  • Materials: Tin Plate Lithograph
  • Color: Blue
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