Saturday, June 28, 2008

Another Amazing Volkswagen

Jason Weigel had a nice surprise for 1500 Club members who attended the VW Classic this year: everyone got a reproduction of the rear window sticker that was used on the Canadian VW 1500 promotional tour of 1962. Very cool. Jason has had this sticker in the rear window of his low-mileage '63 notchback for a long time. I've always liked it. [photo by Jason via The Samba]

The Canadian VW 1500 tour has become somewhat legendary because it featured all the VW 1500 models, including both the 1500 cabriolet (Type 351) and the 1500 Ghia cabriolet (Type 341), models that never got beyond the prototype production stage. The cabriolet prototypes reportedly remained in North America when the tour was finished, so they may still be hiding somewhere up there in the Great White North. Now that would be amazing. [image "borrowed" from]

I'll put the sticker on my car when I get it back on the road, but right now it's more of a storage shed on wheels, as you can see.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Osram 7315G fog light bulbs

I've been looking for a pair of these for a long time. Clear 6 volt 35 watt Ba20s fog light bulbs are hard enough to find, but yellow ones are really scarce. Bob Walton won an eBay auction for two pair recently and offered me a pair of them. Thanks Bob!

Osram 7315 is the number for the clear bulbs, so I'm going to assume the "G" is for "gelb."

Update: Aaron Britcher called my attention to a good source for vintage car bulbs in Adelaide, Australia: Classic and Vintage Bulbs. They manufacture and distribute halogen replacements for 6 volt and 12 volt bulbs. The site has a great information page on old bulb bases too.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Early Solex 32PHN carb linkage

I owe 1500 Club head honcho Jason Weigel big time. When we met up at the West Coast Classics open house he surprised me with this super early plastic 32PHN carb linkage. This part was only used up to chassis number 0 040 116 (May 1962), and my car would have come from the factory with one. Since VW recommended they be replaced with the newer metal version during service, very few of them still exist. You'd have to be an early VW 1500 geek to really appreciate how cool this thing is. It will be the crowning detail in my effort to build an ultra-correct early VW 1500 engine.

The subcontractor's logo is cast into the part. If anybody can identify the manufacturer please let me know.

Here's the early link next to its metal replacement.

Thanks Jason! I get the hint. Time to get the Ghia back on the road.

Friday, June 20, 2008

2008 VW Classic Weekend: 1956 Karmann Cabriolet

Amidst all the over-the-top show cars on display at the DKP event was this tastefully unrestored Karmann Cabriolet. The polar silver paint and red interior mark it as a late '56 or early '57, I think. It's great to see such a well-preserved original car showing the patina of 50 years of use (but not abuse). It has an Okrasa engine with an equally nice patina, which suggests either a vintage performance engine that has been with the car for many years or an owner who has gone to a lot of effort to make it look that way.

No guys, not over there. It's right in front of you.

No flash, just the right balance of originality and rare performance-oriented parts. Subtle and very cool. Kudos to the owner for knowing what the car didn't need. My favorite car of the event.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

2008 VW Classic Weekend: 1950 Tatraplan

Just like last year, one of the most interesting cars at the VW Classic wasn't a VW at all. It wasn't even German. It was this 1950 Tatraplan, the postwar version the Tatra T97 of the late '30s. There is a connection to VW, though: It's said that Dr. Ferdinand Porsche "borrowed" some ideas from his friend Hans Ledwinka's design when he was given the task of designing a German people's car. The rear-mounted aircooled flat four and streamlined shape of the original VW were more or less inspired by the pre-war Tatra T97, the production of which was halted by the German invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1938. VW even settled a lawsuit filed by Tatra after the war, essentially acknowledging the debt the beetle owed to Ledwinka's design.

Only about 6,000 Tatraplan T600s were built between 1947 and 1952, and thanks to the politics of the Cold War they're a particularly rare sight in the United States. I think this one might belong to the owner of the Tempo Matador that was a highlight of last year's Classic. If it does belong to him I want to see what else he's got in his garage.

A strange and beautiful car. I really wish I could have heard what that engine sounds like!

2008 VW Classic Weekend: Rob Kingsbury's 1964 VW 1500 sunroof

To me, one of the most impressive cars at the 2008 Classic was Rob Kingsbury's '64 birch green sunroof. Usually when someone buys a nice, original notchback, they'll clean it up, fix a few things here and there, add a few accessories, and just enjoy it as is. Rob, on the other hand, decided to have his notch rebuilt from the ground up. It was completely disassembled and painstakingly rebuilt piece by piece to be better than new. It's not so unusual for a beetle or bus to get this kind of treatment these days, but for a Type 3 it's pretty rare. There were lots of ups and downs in the restoration process, but the end result is really beautiful.

Here are a few detail shots:

The seat upholstery was done by West Coast Classics using NOS Type 3 brown cord vinyl from ISP West. Nice selection of accessories including an original VDO tach. NOS Wegu rubber mats over NOS coco mats — when it comes to floor protection, Rob has got things covered.

The car was two tone when Rob got it, and the paint appeared to be original, but the break between the white top and birch green body was done differently than either the Wolfsburg or the Australian style. He had it faithfully reproduced when the car was repainted, maintaining part of the car's history.

Swedish gravel guards.

After following the story of the car's restoration is was great to finally see it up close.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Roofrack madness!

Type 3 owners seem to have a highly-developed appreciation for roof and luggage racks. These days it's almost become more unusual to see a Type 3 without a rack at a show than with one. There's a roofrack thread in The Samba's Type 3 forum that catalogs the different racks that have been produced for Type 3s over the years, and many of them are very rare period accessories, but some of the best racks ever offered are being produced right now by 1500 Club member Pedro Sainz.

This year, in addition to the roof and decklid racks he offers for all Type 3 models, Pedro has introduced an unusual and very interesting new notchback rack to the lineup:

The idea is based on the EMPI Titelock rack (also known as the Jim Dandy) that was available for beetles in the early 1960s. Here's a Titelock on the cover of the July 1963 issue of The VW Autoist, the newsletter of the Volkswagen Club of America:

And here's Pedro recreating the same demonstration on his own car last week:

As you can see, the rack is designed for use, and Pedro is clearly confident in his engineering. I'm not sure this rack is the most practical luggage carrying solution, at least compared to more conventional roof and decklid racks, but that's not really the point. It's a beautifully conceived and fabricated work of art that's perfectly in harmony with the lines of the car. Though it's a new design it looks like something that could have been available when the cars were new.

Here's Pedro with Rick Christensen fitting one behind Rick's Spanish Airstreme rack on his '65 sunroof notchback:

If you're interested in buying one of Pedro's racks, or his other products like foglight bars and rear parcel tray "jailbars," you can contact him at

2008 VW Classic Weekend: The Classic

We got an early start and caravaned from the hotel over to the show, where we joined the long line of cars waiting to get in. I think this was the biggest turnout I've ever seen for a Classic, and probably more Type 3s than I've ever seen together in one place. The 1500 Club set up a couple of tents that became the place for Type 3 aficionados to hang out. The Classic has already been covered in detail on the 1500 Club website and a thread on The Samba, so I'll let the pictures do the talking.

The only disappointment of the day was that Rob's amazing '64 notch didn't win 1st place in the notchback class. 1st place went to a clean but far inferior safari beige notch, 2nd went to Oscar Guevara's anthracite '62 (which was fully loaded with accessories from the collection of Robert, aka "Snotchback"), and Rob's notch got 3rd. Rob has taken his car's restoration to an entirely different level and it really deserved to be recognized for the achievement that it is. On a happier note, Deena's unrestored safari beige Variant got a well-deserved 1st in the Squareback class. Maybe people are just really liking the safari beige this year. Paul Kramer and Roger Marcks got 1st and 2nd in the Type 34 category, respectively.

The combined efforts of 1500 Club members made this one of the best VW Classic weekends ever for Type 3s. Thanks to everyone, but especially to Jack and Bob for providing the great food and to Joel for offering me a place to crash in Irvine. And special thanks to Bob for giving me the honor of driving the pink notch down to West Coast Classics and again from Irvine back up to L.A. I'm already looking forward to driving the Ghia to next year's.