I recently trekked out to the ZeitHaus museum in Autostadt, a large car-themed complex located right next to the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg, Germany. I’ve visited the ZeitHaus before, but cars are rotated in and out of the museum on a regular basis so there’s almost always something new to see. All told, Volkswagen’s collection includes well over 200 cars that are regularly displayed at classic car events in Germany and abroad, and driven in vintage rallies.
The ZeitHaus museum is not to be mistaken with the official Volkswagen museum, which is located on the other side of the company’s home town. The ZeitHaus celebrates history, design, and technology by showcasing models that have left an indelible mark on the evolution of the automobile, regardless of whether or not they were manufactured by the Volkswagen Group. The official museum, on the other hand, exclusively showcases Volkswagen-badged cars.
One of the highlights was a 1968 EMPI Imp. The Imp wasn’t the first Beetle-based dune buggy; that honor goes to the Meyers Manx. However, it was the first buggy built by a supplier that was officially affiliated with Volkswagen. The Imp obtained street-legal certification in Germany, which was easier said than done, and it was produced by Karmann both as a kit and as a complete car.
Like nearly all buggies, the EMPI Imp used a lightweight composite body dropped on a Beetle pan. There were virtually no mechanical modifications to report, meaning the Imp was equipped with a Beetle-sourced air-cooled 1.5-liter flat-four engine tuned to produce 44 horsepower. Interestingly, the model displayed in the ZeitHaus is fitted with an automatic transmission, and a tachometer that’s integrated into the hood.
Stay tuned for more highlights from my visit over the coming weeks.