Sunday, March 29, 2009

A VW on the Sunset Strip, March 1962

A panorama of the Sunset Strip from the corner of Sunset Plaza in early 1962 (click the image for a version you can actually see) with a mix of Detroit iron and European imports that was typical for Southern California at the time. The VW near the center, a black 1958-61 model, sports the yellow and black California license plates that would be discontinued that year, as do all the other cars that surround it. The Playboy Building is about to join the lineup of legendary jazz clubs on the south side of the street at the right, and billboards advertise Andy Williams at the Desert Inn in Las Vegas and a high-desert real estate swindle closer to home. Below the Andy Williams billboard is Ben Frank's, a Googie-style coffee shop that Frank Zappa used to frequent in the mid-'60s because they didn't turn away long-haired countercultural types. It's still there, but it has now become "Mel's Drive-In" in the peculiar way that authentic landmarks sometimes get replaced by the film industry's idealized version of themselves in Los Angeles. The Union 76 and Standard stations look like something straight out of Ed Ruscha's Twentysix Gasoline Stations.

The goal in the restoration of my Ghia is to make it look like it could be dropped right into this image.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Flying saucer!

I just spent too much on this NOS 1961-62 Ghia heater knob from Alex in Malta. This flying saucer-shaped heater knob was used for a short period of time in the early '60s on 1200 and 1500 Karmann-Ghias and VW 1500s.

The rotary knob heater controls were discontinued in August 1963 at the beginning of the 1964 model year. Later parts books list the replacement knob as 113 711 623 A, probably because that knob was used for many years on other VW models and it would have simplified the parts inventory. The flying saucer knobs are pretty rare in any condition, so when Alex's stash of NOS ones turned up I didn't hesitate.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"Karmann Clothes the VW 1500," Car and Driver magazine, January 1962

Along with a road test of the 1200 Karmann-Ghia and a photoessay on the Karmann factory, Car and Driver's January 1962 issue featured a preview of the three new VW 1500 models from Karmann. That's right, three -- in January of '62 the cabriolets were still very real.

The photos are VW publicity shots, and you'll recognize the happy family in the top photo from the early 1500 Ghia sales brochure.

This particular copy of the magazine has an interesting provenance:

Yes, it once belonged to that Floyd Clymer. It was apparently his office copy and is marked up with notes about advertising.

Monday, March 9, 2009

1500 Ghia fabric is here

75 yards of reproduction 1500 Ghia upholstery fabric arrived today. I'll start shipping orders this week.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Safer Motoring, June 1963

Even by the standards of Safer Motoring magazine this cover is a little bizarre.

It was Safer Motoring's practice to have a glamour model pose with the latest offering from VW, in this case a 1962 1500 Ghia. More photos from the session appeared inside.

Rowr! Reminds me of one of those "fast driving girls" videos on YouTube.