Hard to believe that this ‘57 convertible has only been down the road less than 55,000 kilometers! But even though it was (and is) in mint condition, the car was freshened up by Dan Lawson of Competition Engineering to return it back to showroom condition. Jim and Mary Logudice now enjoy one of Wolfsburg's finest!

Gunter Kabriolet

Named after its first owner, this amazing 1957 Karmann Kabriolet has travelled just 55,000 kilometers since new
By Dean Kirsten | July 5, 2010

Photos by Dean Kirsten

The idea that this 1957 convertible has only had four owners since new (one of which was only for a matter of days...), and has been driven less than 55,000 kilometers, is a true testament to just how rare and solid it is. It is presently owned by Jim and Mary Logudice of Litchfield Park, Arizona, which is just outside Phoenix, and they came about ownership of this treasure by searching on the internet for early convertible VWs. Upon seeing this vehicle posted for sale, Jim immediately called the owner, only to find that someone had beaten him to it by only a matter of minutes (the ad had only been posted less than five minutes!). Needless to say, Jim was more than disappointed, but knowing the VW industry can be a small world after all, Jim soon found out who beat him to the punch, and phone call number two was made, this time to Oregon. As it turned out, a few days later the new owner found a Barndoor bus that he wanted more than this ’57 ’vert, and decided to sell it to Jim for his original purchase price. The convertible headed back to Arizona, where it has been for the past ten years.
The back story on this amazing VW goes back to January 31, 1957, when it rolled off the Karmann factory assembly line, only to be sold six days later in Berlin, to a Mr. Gunter Bruck (hence the nickname Jim and Mary gave it). “Gunter” lived most of its life in Bad Kreuznach, Germany, until the Bruck family moved to Colorado in the ’90s. But once they relocated, the need for their longtime companion changed, they ended up selling it to Bob and Carol Decker. From there, the Deckers contacted Dan Lawson of Competition Engineering in Phoenix to have it “freshened-up.”
Up to that point, this ’57 still had its original paint and interior, and with such low mileage, both the engine and transaxle had never been removed from the car. The plan was to repaint the car inside and out the original Bamboo color (L241), reuse the original Moss Green seats and door panels, replace the top, headliner and carpeting, and rebuild all of the car’s mechanical components. There was one stipulation though, the body had to remain on the pan, which in a lot of ways, made the restoration process that much harder. So for the next two years, Competition Engineering took it completely apart, then hauled it over to 10th Street Auto Body in Phoenix, where it took well over one year to paint, then back to CE where it took about six months to assemble once again.
Along the way to what you see here today, there was very little in the way of serious bodywork, other than years of small dings and scratches, no rust to speak of, and even the floorpan was in solid condition. In 1957, Bamboo (green) was a new color, but when you matched that color with the K- 180 Moss Green vinyl interior, and a chocolate top, you end up with a very unique color combination. Unfortunately, trying to match that dark brown top proved to be a major problem these days, so once the car went over to VIP Auto Interiors, a new top color had to be selected, but as you can see, it turned out super!
What is most amazing is that the seats and door panels are 100% original. Have you ever seen better original seat covers on a ’57? Probably not. VIP Interiors redid the headliner in mohair, along with fitting German square-weave carpeting throughout the flooring and behind the rear seat. VIP also made a new boot cover for when the top is folded down. With the top down, you can really see how good the chrome window frames now look, thanks to a replate and all new rubber seals. Underneath that super-straight body, Lawson rebuilt the front end installing new king and link pins, brakes and bushings. Once the engine was rebuilt, all tin work was powdercoated semi-gloss black. And speaking of attention to detail, the car’s original invoice listed an M-128 option code (whitewall tires). So, a full set of new Denman tires were fitted during the restoration process.
Taking a close look at the dash, you’ll spot a Blaupunkt AM/FM radio with firewall-mounted speaker, cowl-mounted antenna, locking shifter, cigar lighter and grill-mounted tachometer. What makes this ’57 even better is that all the original sales material, German license plate (BIR E 113) and registration documents were saved. It would be the understatement of the year to say that Jim and Mary Logudice are mighty proud to own such a supreme example of a 1957 VW convertible as this. While “Gunter” is not their first — or last — early VW in their collection, it most certainly is the center piece.

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