Sunday, December 5, 2010

VW 1500 factory maintenance training slides

Last year Eric Colla was lucky enough to find a set of original factory training slides that cover basic maintenance of the VW 1500, and we put together a digital version of the slide show to share with the Type 3 community. The slides and caption text have been scanned and Everett Barnes created a page on The Samba where they can be viewed as individual images or downloaded as low-res or high-res pdfs. Here are a few of the slides:

From the photos and the information provided it appears that it was produced in late 1962 at the beginning of the 1963 model year. It's a great reference for how the early engines were originally set up, though since many parts have been painted gray for clarity it's not definitive. Even though I've read through all the early VW service literature many times I still learned a couple of new things from going through these slides and captions.

View or download the slide show here.

Many thanks to Eric and Everett for making this happen.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

VW 1500 letterpress cut

I got a package in the mail from my friend Steve and opened it to find this old letterpress photo cut of an early VW 1500. Steve knows me pretty well.

Letterpress printing was on its way out in the 1960s, replaced by offset printing for most commercial jobs by the end of the decade, so it's a little unusual to find a cut of a '60s car. This one was probably used in a newspaper advertisement. It's an early '62 or '63 model and "VW 1500 1964" is handwritten on the back of the block.

I know of someone who has a letterpress so I might have to print up some cards. For the time being it can keep company with a old cut of a Bernd Reuters split window that I found years ago.

Thanks Steve!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

"What bugeyedom has lost in the Sprite it has made back on the Karmann"

The 1500 Karmann-Ghia has the honor of being the punchline of one of Henry Manney III's jokes in his coverage of the Frankfurt auto show for Road & Track magazine's January 1962 issue. He isn't too keen on the Ghia's front-end styling and reports that it reminded another reporter of the Schwimmwagen. He likes the rest of the styling, though, and calls the 1500 Ghia "an improvement on the old one."

There's prominent coverage of the VW 1500 introduction in the article, including a feature photo of the dramatic 1500 display ("driverless Volkswagens, neatly executing 4-wheel drifts..."). But Manney is more interested in the NSU Prinz, BMW's 700 convertible and 1500 Neue Klasse sedan, the Porsche 2-liter, and the Fiat 2300 Coupe by 1500 Ghia designer Sergio Sartorelli. He seems a little underwhelmed by the VW 1500s in comparison. He predicts, correctly, that the Variant will be the biggest seller.

I have always enjoyed reading Manney's pieces for Road & Track. His humor and satire made other contemporary automotive reporting seem pretty dull in comparison. He was doing his automotive version of the New Journalism years before his fellow automotive writers got on board.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

No tourist delivery notchback for you

I found this VW dealer postcard while browsing an online Porsche forum. Postmarked December 10, 1964, it's a Spokane, Washington dealer's response to someone who inquired about arranging European tourist delivery of a VW 1500 notchback. The dealer regretfully advises the customer that the only 1500 that dealers could arrange tourist delivery for was the "Station wagen" and that delivery of a notchback would likely be very expensive if they were to try to arrange it on their own.

This is interesting. On one hand it's an example of the lengths someone in the U.S. would have to go to in order to buy a new notchback. Why would VW promote tourist delivery of the Squareback but not the notch? Was it some kind of "viral" strategy to stimulate public interest in the Squareback in the year before its official U.S. introduction? At the same time, American dealers who were unwilling to risk damaging their relationship with Volkswagen of America had to turn away business, while they were undoubtedly aware of other less scrupulous dealers who were dabbling in the gray market and making a nice profit. All they could hope for was the possibility of a service relationship on the tourist's return. It was a lose/lose proposition for dealers and customers until the following year, when suddenly they could have as many Type 3s as they wanted. Yet still no notchbacks.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Gelb Aktion in action

Last year I wrote a short post about a rare 1961 brochure published for VW dealers that explained the many components of the Volkswagen + VW 1500 advertising campaign, titled Wir werben für den VW 1500 (We advertise the VW 1500). It's a fascinating look from a dealer's point of view at the many tools that were available for publicizing the new 1500: posters in many sizes and formats, banners, freestanding signs, projection slides, print advertising, postal advertising, sales brochures, and window stickers. Here are some photos showing how these campaign components were actually put into use by individual dealers, as seen in VW Informationen, VW's internal publication for dealers and distributors.

On the right side of the photo above you can see a poster for the 1961 Frankfurt international auto show, where the VW 1500 made its public debut. This dates the photo to September 1961.

This dealer raised the bar by combining campaign components with additional graphics in a futuristic space frame advertising structure.

And here the dealer's name has been spelled out on the side of the building using campaign posters. Too bad the photo isn't in color!

All in all, an effective demonstration of what today we would call "branding." The bright yellow color, sans-serif typography, and high-contrast imagery made a very bold visual statement. The complex simplicity and flexibility of the system conveyed a unified and consistent message no matter what location or medium. Modern publicity for a modern automobile.

[thanks to Johannes for sending some of the dealership photos above]

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Do you know where you are traveling on vacation?

This 1963 ad for VW service features a 1500 Ghia in an exotic Mediterranean locale to underscore the idea that service for every VW is available anywhere. A very nice oversized reprint of the ad was produced by P.A.R.C. with the permission of Volkswagenwerk AG, so you can get your very own copy.

[h/t to JL]

Saturday, August 14, 2010

VW 1500 introduction, Sports Illustrated magazine, September 1961

An article in the September 4, 1961 issue of Sports Illustrated about the new VW 1500. It's hard to imagine a time when a subject like this would have made sense for Sports Illustrated's readership.

The writer, Kenneth Rudeen, likes the new bigger VW quite a lot, going so far as to describe it as "an extremely desirable car." He sees the 1500's appearance as being very Italian in spirit and compares it to the contemporary designs of Pininfarina. Rudeen speculates that the 1500 may not make its way to America until perhaps 1963, by which time demand in its newly prosperous home market might be satisfied.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Type 3s, Ghias, and Type 3 Ghias of
Treffen 12

I caught a ride up to Treffen 12 in Oxnard, CA, today with Scott McWilliams in his '64 1500 Ghia. The last Treffen I went to was over ten years ago, back when it was for Karmann-Ghias only. It's now open to all aircooled VWs, but the focus is still on the Ghias. Here are some highlights of the show:

Mark Merrill brought his unrestored 55,000 mile lowlight Ghia. A real time capsule. The original owner lived on Catalina Island and only used the car on visits to the mainland.

Another unrestored time capsule, this one a '61 originally purchased at Van Wyk in Santa Barbara. The pacific blue/blue white color combination and the blue interior are the same as my own 1500 Ghia originally came with, right down to the turquoise wool carpet.

Lisa Meier's '58 and '64 convertibles looked great.

A very nice '64 notchback.

The Type 34 lineup, from left: Chemo Ordaz, Scott McWilliams, Lee Hedges, and Tom Reay.

Scott's '64 sunroof.

Antonio Pellegrino and Luigi Segre, grandson of the Luigi Segre of Ghia, were in attendance to present the Sartorelli Segre Elegance Cup to the finest Ghia of the show. Lee, Antonio, and David Ruby of the Karmann Ghia Club of North America were the international panel of concours judges, and the three finalists were Lisa Meier's '58 convertible, Mark Merrill's unrestored '59, and Tom Reay's '65 Type 34. Lisa's convertible took top honors.

As the Treffen was ending a very red Corvair convertible pulled up, and Lee couldn't resist parking his Ghia next to it for a photo op. Separated at birth? You be the judge.

Best of all, Scott generously allowed me to drive his Ghia on the way back to LA. A very nice car on the road, and the sunroof is a definite plus. Thanks Scott! And thanks to Scott Dempster of KGPR/Airhead Parts for hosting the show.