Friday, March 23, 2007
Van Wyk's VW, Santa Barbara, March 1961
I remember Van Wyk's as the local VW/Porsche dealer in Santa Barbara, California when I was a car-obsessed kid. It was located on Chapala Street a few blocks from the beach, just north of Highway 101. This photo from 1961 of new and used cars on the lot really captures the flavor of Santa Barbara in the early '60s. The beautiful lowlight Ghia convertible in the foreground appears to be a '58 model (L428 graphite silver if I'm not mistaken), top down and ready for a test drive along the Pacific. In front of the Ghia is a lineup of brand new '61 Beetles with paper dealer plates ("Another Van Wyk Volks Wagen") and a mango green Microbus. Looming over the Microbus -- both literally and figuratively -- on a car carrier is a new Chevrolet Corvan, Chevy's unsuccessful response to the VW truck line. Behind the Ghia are a well-worn mid-'50s GM product ('55 Chevy?) and a couple of oval-window Beetles that must be trade-ins.
No VW 1500s here -- they were just about to start production in mid-1961 -- but there is a connection to my '62 1500 Ghia. It has been in the US since it was new as evidenced by the Bendix Sapphire radio and Hickok seatbelts it came with -- both 1962-vintage VWoA accessories. I bought it in Santa Barbara in 1994 and according to the previous owner it had been seen around town at least since the early '70s and probably earlier. That means it's more than likely that it was serviced at Van Wyk's and -- who knows? -- may even have been sold there as a gray market "used" car when it was new.
This image comes to us from the vast slide archive of Charles Phoenix. Charles is an LA-based pop culture historian, commentator, and author known for his shows of found slides from the '50s and '60s and as a correspondent for National Public Radio and a number of television stations. Thanks Charles!