As a young salesman at the local Volkswagen dealership, Norman Gonzalez started socking away used Beetles as early as 1958, cherrypicking among the trade-ins that came through the dealership’s doors. While he eventually left the dealership for a career in naturopathy, his Volkswagen habit mushroomed into a 160-plus-vehicle collection that he’s now decided to sell off one at a time.
“For a while, he was trying to find somebody to buy the whole collection and keep it going,” said Randy Carlson, who’s representing Gonzalez for the sale. “But he eventually decided that, if Volkswagens are the people’s car, then he should send them back out to the people.”
The collection, which Gonzalez turned into a museum called Volkyland in Yauco, Puerto Rico, includes a little bit of everything air-cooled. While many of the World War II-era vehicles in the collection – including a pair of Kubelwagens that appeared in the film Valkyrie and a Schwimmwagen – are replicas, the collection does include cars dating back to the early 1950s, a number of unrestored cars, and even a handful of Mexican-built Ultima Edicion and Especial Edicion versions.
It also includes a wide selection of the different variants of the air-cooled chassis, ranging from Things and Karmann Ghias to a Fridolin postal vehicle and a whole spate of Type IIs.
“Some of the most interesting vehicles are the working-class Buses: the ambulance, the fire truck, the car hauler,” Carlson said.
And then there’s the customs that Carlson described as “weirdo one-off circus sideshow stuff.” There’s a shorty and dune buggies, of course, alongside a Hummbug and a Veep, a woodie with a 1937 Ford front end, and a 1974 Beetle modified to traverse swamps and hunt alligators. Gonzalez also seemed to have a thing for air-cooled Volkswagen engines installed into other cars, judging from the Renault 4CV, the Citroen Traction Avant, and the Volkswagen New Beetle fitted with air-cooled engines.
Even the Volkyland sign – a former drag Bug mounted on a pole outside the museum – will go up for sale.
According to Carlson, much of the interest in the museum’s pieces so far has come from island residents, with a couple dozen selling to local residents within days of the collection hitting the market. “There’s a very strong following for Volkswagens in Puerto Rico, and they want to keep as many on the island as possible,” he said.
Gonzalez – who can’t enjoy the collection as he has in the past due to his age and due to the fact that his assistants left Puerto Rico for the mainland after Hurricane Maria – has already closed the museum to visitors and intends to sell every vehicle in the collection, according to Carlson.
For more information about the Volkyland collection sale, visit OldBug.com.