VW History: The First Volkswagens to Arrive in the United Kingdom
After being demobilized, some British Service personnel were given the opportunity to take back their VW Beetle to the United Kingdom. Peter Colborne-Baber who is the son of the original proprietor of Colborne Garages of Ripley, Surrey, the first official Volkswagen importer, brought back one of the very first Beetles by this means. The UK registration number of the Beetle was JLT 420.
In 1948 the late AJ Colborne-Baber of Colborne Garages Ltd. purchased the 1947 Volkswagen Mark 11 “Beetle” with the registration JLT 420, from a member of the Allied Control Commission, who was returning to Germany. “John” Colborne-Baber drove the car for a period of ten days, and then decided to specialize in Volkswagens. Today the “Colbornes” remain retailers of the Volkswagen brand.
Peter Colborne-Baber the son of John, in 1967 located and repurchased the JLT which had become the first “demonstrator”.
JLT was instrumental in obtaining the first import license for parts, which would later include cars into the UK, after being driven to Wolfsburg in 1950. The Volkswagen Owners Club of Great Britain was founded in 1953 by John, and the magazine of the club was called “Beetling”. This name originated because the boys at Peter’s school nicknamed the JLT a “Beetle”, and this may perhaps have been the first published use of the name which is now world famous. To make it more appealing, it was painted in Oxford and Cambridge blue. The headmaster was extremely pleased with this, as these just happened to be the school colors. The accessories fitted to this car were quite deluxe.
The Volkswagen story in the United Kingdom began with JLT.