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A journey through 25 years of Volkswagen Classic Parts

How we became, what we are today – an exciting search for evidence shows how much Volkswagen Classic Parts has changed over a quarter of a century. What began as an enterprising small business has developed into an independent product line, which is now distributed all over the world. But one thing has remained unchanged since 1997: our proximity to our customers and our shared enthusiasm for the Volkswagen brand.

Volkswagen Classic Parts Zeitreise - Titel

As early as 1985 Volkswagen had a proud tradition – and made it tangible for everyone with the AutoMuseum Volkswagen. But then, as now, most of the classics were not in the museum, but were still on the streets in considerable numbers. This was especially true for the Beetle, which still ran and ran and ran thanks to a huge worldwide enthusiast scene. And not only in everyday operation, but from the 1980s more and more of them were lovingly restored classic cars. The demand for original quality parts was, therefore, unbroken. This led to the idea of setting up a spare parts supply within the Volkswagen Group specifically for the historical models. The driving force behind this was the Stiftung AutoMuseum Volkswagen (Volkswagen AutoMuseum Foundation), which created the basis for the later Classic Parts Centre by collecting and storing spare parts from a wide variety of sources. On 1 October 1997 the official start was made: the Weser-Ems Vertriebsgesellschaft took over the sale of Original Volkswagen Classic Parts and further expanded the business as a group subsidiary.

Volkswagen Classic Parts Insight:

The nucleus of Volkswagen Classic Parts is, in essence, in Lebanon. At the beginning of the 1990s, thousands of New Old Stock parts were rediscovered there, which had been forgotten during the protracted civil war in that country. The Stiftung AutoMuseum Volkswagen recovered this treasure, brought the parts back to Wolfsburg by container and laid the foundation for the later Volkswagen-Audi Classic Parts Centre.

A glance at the rear-view mirror shows how long ago it was in 1997: flared trousers were suddenly in demand again, the masses danced at the Love Parade in Berlin, the German Chancellor's name was Helmut Kohl and Tic Tac Toe or Barbie Girl by Aqua played in a continuous loop on the radio. Volkswagen classic cars were air-cooled and had the engine in the rear. Fans with vision spoke of the Golf Mk1 and T3 as modern classics, although these models were still standing at every corner. The Golf Mk2 was the most driven car in Germany and the production of the Corrado had only stopped two years earlier. Volkswagen lovers all over the world were eagerly waiting for the "new" Beetle based on the just released Golf Mk4. At the end of 1997, the first new Beetles actually rolled off the assembly line in Puebla, Mexico – until 2003, by the way, in parallel with the classic Beetle…

 

This is how we got started:

In the Classic Parts Centre – at that time still located in the AutoMuseum on Wolfsburger Dieselstraße – the distribution of spare parts to private customers and Volkswagen dealers slowly picked up speed. Only a handful of orders were received per day by telephone, fax and letter. At the same time, they were working on expanding the range of spare parts for Volkswagen classics further: soon it was no longer just about parts for the air-cooled oldies. With the takeover of residual stocks from the group's central spare parts warehouse in Kassel, a large number of "water-cooled" classic parts came into the range, which exploded within a few years to around 40,000 items. New old parts arrived almost every day by truck or freight train and our warehouses threatened to burst at the seams. By the turn of the millennium, the workforce had also tripled to 15 employees. What had started out as a small, enterprising business had quickly become quite large. At the beginning of the new millennium, therefore, our logistics were restructured; two new external warehouses with larger capacity made the situation easier for the time being.

Volkswagen Classic Parts Insight:

Due to a shortage of space, even the halls of a former nursery and a former bowling centre once served as temporary warehouses for our spare parts. Unthinkable today, after we moved into our own and completely new logistics centre in 2017. After the expansion in 2021 Original Volkswagen Classic Parts are now available on just under 25,000 m² of storage space, from the split window Beetle to the New Beetle.

In 2001 the next major change was imminent: the premises in the AutoMuseum had become too small for our sales team and for handling the dispatch of spare parts. That is why we moved into the traditional buildings of a former Volkswagen dealership, the former workshop of which was to accommodate our central warehouse for the next ten years. From there, we brought the parts that had been ordered daily (in proper style in a Volkswagen L80) to the Wolfsburg factory, where they were packed and shipped all over the world.

Volkswagen Classic Parts Insight:

Almost 60 years ago, spare parts for Beetles & Co. were stored and sold at the location of today's administration building for Volkswagen Classic Parts in the Detmerode district of Wolfsburg. The Detmerode car dealership was located there from the mid-1960s to the early 2000s, before the buildings became our new headquarters in 2001. The entire site was completely redesigned in 2012/2013 and now offers the more than 60 employees of Volkswagen Classic Parts a stylish working environment.

Since the 2000s, we have also been present at many VW meetings and classic car events: we have been supporting the Mai Käfer meeting in Hanover, the VW Veteran Meeting in Hessisch Oldendorf or the Original Golf Mk1 meeting in Wolfsburg for a long time, as well as the Techno Classica in Essen or the Bremen Classic Motorshow. Our website has been available around the clock since 2003.

In 2010 a realignment of our business began with the opening of regional Classic Competence Centres and the launch of the online shop. In Germany alone, some 60 partner companies have now been designated as Classic Competence Centres. With their expert knowledge of the maintenance, repair and restoration of classic Volkswagens, we can refer to an active network when it comes to the installation of our spare parts. If you prefer to use a screwdriver yourself, you will not only find tens of thousands of parts on our website, but also spare parts catalogues and repair guides for classic Volkswagen models – free of charge, of course.

Volkswagen Classic Parts Insight:

In the pilot phase from autumn 2010 onwards, our online shop initially contained 300 spare parts – everyone starts small… In the meantime, a hundred times that number of items can be ordered online. We have also added pictures and descriptions of the products almost everywhere over the years. Real diligence from our experts, because the correct assignment and a (hopefully) clear description of our products is still "handmade"!

At the same time, since 2009 we have further built up our activities in the new production of spare parts and the use of international procurement and distribution channels. You can read more about this in our article about our assortment development. This necessitated a further expansion of our storage capacities: our central warehouse moved from Wolfsburg to Unna in 2011 in the halls of the former Volkswagen dealership. The conversion and expansion of the Wolfsburg-Detmerode site that became possible as a result from summer 2012 took account of the positive business development; in 2013, the newly constructed, modern administration building "above" the former premises was occupied.

Another new construction project was scheduled for our 20th anniversary in 2017: our first logistics centre of our own, completely geared to our needs! The hitherto spatially separate central and external warehouses have now been merged at the Breuna site in northern Hessen. It is conveniently located in the middle of Germany, in the immediate vicinity of the A 44 autobahn and, above all, the central group spare parts depots in Kassel and Baunatal. Built and furnished according to the most modern standards, 20,000 m² of storage space was initially available there and, after the renewed expansion at the beginning of 2021, even 25,000 m² of storage space became available. This means that we are not only well positioned in the here and now, but also for the future.

Volkswagen Classic Parts Insight:

If you are travelling on the A 44 between Kassel and the Ruhr Valley, you can hardly miss our logistics centre just by the Breuna exit: the façade features a Volkswagen Classic Parts logo that is about seven metres high! Lettering almost forty metres long has also been fitted, which you can see from a great distance.

This concludes our journey through time to 2022, our anniversary year. The Beetle is still the most popular classic car in Germany and many countries around the world. Water-cooled Volkswagens have long been recognised as classics. Many a Golf Mk2 is still driven every day, but hardly any more Corrados are being lowered and fitted with spoilers. The Golf Mk4 and the New Beetle are no longer new cars at the dealership, but are gradually becoming fans' vehicles. We now have spare parts in our range for all of these Volkswagens – Beetles and New Beetles, classic cars, modern classics and daily drivers. Who would have thought it in 1997?

Our team now includes around 60 people, who are already looking forward to the next few years and decades at Volkswagen Classic Parts. Because one thing has not changed in the past 25 years: for us, a classic Volkswagen has always been more than just a vehicle. It not only transports people, but also feelings and stories. This passion is what drives us – and has driven us in the past and will continue to do so in the future.