1947 VW Type 11 Beetle - JLT420

The first VW in Britain

The journey of the VW from the “people’s car” envisioned by Hitler to the world’s top selling car had slow beginnings in Europe as people began to discover its charm in the post-war era. Among those people was a Scotsman named George La-Haye, who after being stationed in Germany during the last days of WWII and the post-war occupation purchased not one but three new Beetles produced at Wolfsburg as it was rebuilt from the wreckage of the war. He brought them back to the UK with him when he finished his service and really had a passion for the cars.

Back home, George encountered a gentleman named John Colborne-Barber who immediately took a keen interest in the VW. Supposedly John drove the car for 10 days and then decided to begin importing the cars for sale in Britain. John offered to buy the VW from George for a partial exchange on a Wolseley 6/80.

1947 VW Type 11 Sedan - Black
1947 VW Type 11 Sedan – Black

All cars produced by Wolfsburg around this time were painted in dark colors, mainly black as the paint was inexpensive and resilient. To make the VW stand out Colborne had a custom two-tone paintwork sprayed, as well as chroming the hubcaps and adding some brightwork trim. The car, a 1947 model known then as the Type 11, was registered as JLT 420.

1947 VW Type 11 Beetle - JLT420
1947 VW Type 11 Beetle – JLT420

Colborne saw great success bringing the VW to Britain and the Colborne dealership still sells VWs today. Colborne can also be credited with bringing the first VW camper to Britain, more on that later…


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