In order to truly appreciate the legend that is the Mach 1 we must understand some of the history and mood of the time.
At the the world-famous “Liege-Sofia-Liège” rally in 1964 the Swedish team Scania-Vabis with a specially equipped VW Coccinelle triumphed in their category this despite the high number of competitors and the famous arduousness of the event. Their race equipped car featured Okrasa/Oettinger German engine kits. This incredible victory was very popular because Volkswagen had previously absolutely no reputation in the field. D’Ieteren realised that the public might appreciate the idea of a more powerful Coccinelle. At the same time VW were offering new Type 3 models with more powerful 1500cc engines and also, Formula V and D’Ieteren were about to form a VW-Audi sport division with the Belgian VW Classics Club in that same year.
D’Ieteren, sensing the buoyant market, decided to propose a model similar to the VW “Scania-Vabis” and proceeded to assemble it in its Vorst/Forest factory just outside of Brussels. The 1965 Coccinelle featured amongst other things an all new increased window size. Meanwhile in its workshops of the Chaussée de Mons, mechanics, received specific training from Oettinger and assembled a 1200 cm3 engine into a clever 1300/34 TSV. Oettinger managed to increase these engines to 50 HP by mounting a counterbalanced crankshaft, two Solex 32 PBIC carburettors, separate cylinder inlet channels, reinforced exhaust valves and a Type 2 clutch.
Mechanically chassis’ were randomly selected from the assembly line and the rear camber, front stabilizer bar and stroke dampers were all uprated. The cars then equipped with Porsche 356 rims in 4.5×15 and 165×15 radial tires (155×15 of origin).
On the exterior the cars were available with a choice of two colours: Ruby Red (L456) and Java Green (L518) with an optional white central band and unique ‘mach 1’ badges on both front side quarters. The interior received a racing touches by installing for the first time Black seats in faux leather, a textured black anti-reflective painted dashboard featuring a special 160 km/h speedometer, a VDO tachometer and a Koch oil temperature gauge. In addition, the specification was increased by changing the original white steering wheel to a black one sourced from the Type 3 1500.
However, when Volkswagen Germany, heard of this Belgian special series, they threatened D’Ieteren that they would cancel its national VW deal, originally granted in 1948, if it did not stop production immediately. So at the beginning of February 1965 D’Ieteren was forced to cease production of its new Mach 1. In the end, it is estimated that less than thirty Mach 1s were supplied from the original 200-300 planned.
A short boxed statement appeared in the February issue of Gute Fahrte magazine –
‘The Mach-1 project came about through cooperative working between D’Ieteren, the Swedish VW importer Scania Vabis from Malmö and the German Oettinger company.
Their intention was the production of a small series of 1,000 cars, designated Mach-1, necessary to comply with regulations governing international motorsport. This would have enabled the Mach-1 to compete in the “series touring cars” class in events such as the Spa-Sofia-Liège and Monte Carlo Rallies.
To achieve this D’leteren modified the standard production Beetle by upgrading the engine to 1300cc /50 PS (enabling a top speed of 140km/h) modifying the camber of the rear wheels and fitting Porsche rims with special tires for an all inclusive price of the Belgian equivalent to DM 6,850.
Although production of the Mach-1 had commenced at D’leteren’s Volkswagen assembly plant in Brussels, Belgium, it was terminated as a result of intervention from Wolfsburg.’
This was VW’s first Dealer special series with a factory warranty and probably today among the rarest VW in the world. There are only three known chassis numbers in circulation, and these two were presented together for the first time ever at European Bug-In, Chimay, June 2019 and SEBeetles attended.
Information courtesy Mike Walravens, ‘Gute Fahrte’ magazine issue 2, 1986. Interior and engine pictures from ‘Voor Waarts’ magazine issue 10/1964 courtesy Pim van Loon. Other pictures from Geoffroy lHoeste and Mike Walravens.