The Hertella Coffee Machine Mounted on a Volkswagen Dashboard (1959): The Most European Car Accessory Ever Made

Cur­rent auto-indus­try wis­dom holds that no car with­out cup hold­ers will sell in Amer­i­ca. Though this also seems to have become increas­ing­ly true across the rest of the world, I like to imag­ine there still exists a coun­try or two whose dri­ving pub­lic holds fast against that par­tic­u­lar design vul­gar­ism. Such places would, of course, lie deep in unre­con­struct­ed Europe, where nobody can go long with­out cof­fee. The solu­tion? The Hertel­la Auto Kaf­feema­chine, the first and only known dash­board-mount­ed cof­fee mak­er.

Man­u­fac­tured specif­i­cal­ly for the Volk­swa­gen Bee­tle, this high­ly civ­i­lized auto­mo­bile acces­so­ry has, 60 years after its intro­duc­tion, near­ly van­ished from exis­tence. Judg­ing by the few known exam­ples, it nev­er had the time to evolve past its tech­ni­cal short­com­ings. For one, it lacks a pow­er switch: “As soon as you plug it into the cig­a­rette lighter, it just gets hot,” writes The Dri­ve’s Peter Holderith. “And as far as the type of cof­fee machine that it is, well, you would have to be pret­ty des­per­ate for caf­feine to make cof­fee in this thing.”

“I always thought they were a per­co­la­tor, or espres­so machine like a Moka… but nope,” says Dave Hord of Clas­sic Car Adven­tures, who pur­chased his own Hertel­la Auto Kaf­feema­chine from an own­er in Ser­bia. It seems “you fill the ves­sel with water, put your cof­fee in the (dou­ble lay­er) screen, and heat up the unit. I pre­sume you heat the unit up with the cof­fee in it, which means this basi­cal­ly brews cof­fee as though it’s tea.” Per­haps only a transcon­ti­nen­tal road-trip­per in 1959 would grow des­per­ate enough to drink it.

Still, as Holderith notes, “the machine does have a few clever fea­tures. The porce­lain cups that came with it appar­ent­ly had a met­al disc on the bot­tom of them that allowed them to stick to the machine mag­net­i­cal­ly” and the unit itself “mounts to the dash with a sim­ple brack­et, allow­ing for the pot to quick­ly be removed and cleaned when nec­es­sary.” Per­haps today’s car design­ers, a group once again look­ing to the past for inspi­ra­tion, will resume the pur­suit of dash­board brew­ing begun by the Hertel­la Auto Kaf­feema­chine. If not, Wes Ander­son can sure­ly find a use for the thing.

via Messy Nessy

Relat­ed Con­tent:

An Espres­so Mak­er Made in Le Corbusier’s Bru­tal­ist Archi­tec­tur­al Style: Raw Con­crete on the Out­side, High-End Parts on the Inside

The Cof­fee Pot That Fueled Hon­oré de Balzac’s Cof­fee Addic­tion

Wake Up & Smell the Cof­fee: The New All-in-One Cof­fee-Mak­er/Alarm Clock is Final­ly Here!

The Time­less Beau­ty of the Cit­roën DS, the Car Mythol­o­gized by Roland Barthes (1957)

178,000 Images Doc­u­ment­ing the His­to­ry of the Car Now Avail­able on a New Stan­ford Web Site

10 Essen­tial Tips for Mak­ing Great Cof­fee at Home

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

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