Sunday, August 5, 2007

Summer '07 road trip, part 2: Tram's cabriolet project

From Reno we headed north through Nevada and Oregon to the mountains north of Boise, Idaho, where we met up with old friends. I tried to meet with Neil "Notchback" Mast on our way through Boise to see his backyard filled with Type 3s and his legendary tach collection, but the timing didn't work out and we weren't able to get together.

From Idaho it was off to Oregon for a few days in Portland and Salem. Missed the Portland Bug-In by just a few hours, unfortunately, but we had a lot of fun hanging around Portland's eastside. On our way back down we stopped in Springfield, Oregon, and paid a visit to Georg Stoffer, better known as "Tram" on The Samba. We got a quick tour of his shop, where he does restoration work on VWs and Mercedes-Benzes. Georg is building a Type 34 cabriolet based on a '66 body and a '67 floorpan, which is coming along nicely.

Considering his background as a VW-trained fuel injection tech, it's no surprise that he's fitted his Ghia with a late Type 3 engine with EFI, which explains the 1600LE badge. Though VW offered EFI on Fastbacks and Squarebacks beginning in 1968, it was never available on the Type 34. Georg's might be the only fuel injected Type 34 in existence, though Russ Wolfe has hinted at similar plans for his '64 Ghia. Yes, that's one of Pedro Sainz's ubiquitous Type 34 luggage racks.

Constructing the top presents the biggest challenge to anyone considering a Type 34 cabriolet conversion. Georg's original plan was to use a Miata top as his starting point, but he has recently acquired the top frame from a Mercedes 450SL, which he thinks will be better fit with a few alterations. He has reinforced the pan and added some well-hidden cross bracing on the body for structural rigidity.

He chose a custom burgundy color for the interior. I think that's one of those accessory 45rpm record players under the dash. Makes sense considering his other line of work: buying and selling old jazz records.

Georg also has a few other interesting Type 3 projects in the works -- more on that later. Nice to have a chance to meet The Samba's resident left-wing curmudgeon and EFI expert and talk Type 3. You can see more (and better) photos of his Ghia here.

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