On the 15th of April 1957, Werner Alker started his apprenticeship at the Volkswagen agent in Cologne. Under the guidance of a Mr. Damme, 250 apprentices started, but only 200 would remain after the first three months. Soon enough, they all found out that the first year would only consist of doing basic filing, the handling of a hammer and a chisel, welding, blacksmith work, and all the other basic skills required. Amazing!! All this, without even working on a real car in the first year!
Once their basic training was over, they were finally issued mechanic’s overalls, and were allowed to touch real cars. Every job had to be done in the factory-prescribed time or faster, but Werner’s never been one to “follow the herd”. He always wanted the most practical solution with the optimum result, and this didn’t always mean that factory- prescribed rules were followed. To start off with, Werner had to stand on 2 self-made platforms just to reach the vice. He was only 13 at the time and 1.57 m tall. It would take 3½ years to finish the apprenticeship, which meant Werner was qualified at the age of 17 to repair a car, but still too young to legally drive one. He has always been ahead of his time.
Being young and adventurous, he really wanted to go and experience what it would feel like to work in Africa, but the factory had other plans for him. First, they wanted him to learn English, and what better way to do this than to work in England. Finally, on the 4th of January 1964, Werner landed at Jan Smuts airport, Johannesburg, with a three year contract at Capital Motors in Pretoria. Modifications have always been his interest and soon he got the nickname, Modification Alker. Not all his modifications were appreciated though, and his manager Mr Meier, wanted to fire him twice on brake pulling and backfiring. He fixed the problem, but always his way.
During this period of time he was also involved in formula V, the development of the Amante GT and the production of 254 capital Sandcats, their own new Beach Buggies.
On 21st April, 1971, however, Werner did it his way again- all the way this time. He started his own mobile garage and called himself Mobile Beetle and Buggy Doctor. He went to the cars with his Mobile workshop – as easy as that .This caused some upset with the motor union inspector, seeing that they could never find him at a fixed address. To solve this problem, he eventually purchased 17 Skinner Street as a base, with the help of a dear friend, Mrs. Laredo. In 1986 Jacaranda Beetle Club was born and a Clubhouse was built.
Over the years, Werner has collected odd VW memorabilia and other treasures. Everything from factory collectibles to “Van der Merwe” modifications, Mickey-Mouse repairs to meaningful improvements. Part of his treasures include one of the oldest beetles in South Africa (Jan. 1950 Split), a 1952 Ambulance Kombi, a Kubelwagen (July 1942), and many, many more…
Werner lives his dream 24/7 with his wife, Louise …. and their children are the Beetles.