This extraordinary piece of vintage German engineering is owned by the local Chinese take away at the picturesque village of Oost-Souburg in the Netherlands. I found this split screen van through an advertisement on the Internet, being for sale in the city of Leeuwarden in the northern province of Friesland.
As a respected member of the “Save the Splitty” foundation, I was assigned to lead this provincial boundaries crossing rescue operation. We carefully planed the operation and completed the preparations on 20 October 2001. On this memorable day we were going to cross the Netherlands from south to north, which would face us with unknown dangers and challenges over an unbelievable distance of 500 km :-o
When we arrived in Leeuwarden, our harts were filled with agony when we first saw the van. We gathered to set up a meeting to discuss the chances of survival of this extreme case. Leaving it here to fall into oblivion was not an option. After there was an agreement on the ransom money, we could embrace her and take her to her new accommodation.
We faced our first challenge figuring out how we were going to fix the van on the trailer with the absence of functioning handbrakes. Because we could not find the right Friesland dialect word for strap, we must have visited over seven DIY stores trying to find some decent straps. Eventually we ended up with four towing-lines: lost in translation… It worked just as fine though; we finally managed to strap her firmly to the trailer after which we could start the journey back home.
Further investigation turned out that Hazel Armstrong is an original Dutch Volkswagen split screen van. Sold in 1964 by the Texelse Autocentrale, which is the dealer’s name, at the island of Texel (north-west coast of the Netherlands). Mr. De Wit used the van at his farm for a few years and sold it as a wreck after a serious accident, which damaged the left side of the van. The van was shipped back to the mainland where it was sold again and again and again, without anyone ever really starting the project. Funny thing is, that I am registered as the second owner on the vehicle registration document, since it was never registered again in between the accident and our restoration.