Tuesday, December 11, 2007

January 1962 VW 1500 for sale

I don't usually post ads for cars but then this isn't just any car. It's 1500 Club member and fellow Type 3 blogger Charlie Harlock's '62 notchback. Not only is it a trophy winner at the top UK and Continental VW shows and a recently featured car in Volksworld magazine, but it also happens to be one of the earliest 1500s on the planet.

A cleaner interior you won't find, especially on such an early car:

This NOS VDO tach is just one of many super rare accessories Charlie has installed:

And it's not a trailer queen either — this car gets driven regularly. Not sure how much Charlie wants for it, but if you want to own one of the best 1500s around...

Samba ad
Charlie's VW 1500 blog

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Motor Tourist road test, December 1962

Motor Tourist, the magazine of the Deutscher Touring Club, published a glowing review of the new 1500 Ghia in its December 1962 issue. The 2000km extended road test, which included a trip to Paris, left the writer, Carl Otto Windecker, very impressed with the Ghia.

Windecker notes the significant improvements made to the carburetor and brakes, which were definitely weak spots on the earliest VW 1500s. He describes the seating position as perfect and says its performance on the road is comparable to earlier Porsches, though he strongly agrees with Auto Motor und Sport's recommendation of radial tires for spirited driving.

The review also states that production of the 1500 Ghia Cabriolet had finally just begun, and it praises VW and Karmann for delaying the introduction to make sure everything was up to the highest standard of quality before the Cabriolet was made available to the public. He may have spoken a little too soon.

In conclusion Windecker predicts great success for the 1500 Ghia. It's such a positive review that if it wasn't for a few telling details (such as his recommendation of radial tires) I would suspect it was just a recycled press release. He really liked it.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Ebersp├Ącher heaters can break even the polar cold

It's cold this morning. I could use one of these.

The driver of the VW 1500 is kinda cute.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The ultimate VW garage, c. 1963

[From The Samba, via a post on Aircult Blog, found while idly browsing flickr.]

Saturday, November 24, 2007

NOS 1500 Ghia fog light relay

Paul Colbert brought the auction for this NOS 6-volt fog light relay to my attention. He wasn't sure about it, though, because while the box has the part number 211 953 225 — the correct part number according to his copy of the parts book — he noticed that the relay itself has number 211 953 191.

This reminded me of a relay discussion on the type34.org mailing list a few years back, so I searched and I found Larry Edson's post on the same subject:

"I discovered a curious fact today while digging out Ken's fog light
relay. The number of the part I pulled out didn't match the book part.
Here I had a 211 953 191 and the book was calling for a 211 953 225.
And, no this wasn't a 6v/12v difference. I couldn't imagine having a bag
with 3 of these 211... relays for anything but a T34 because I haven't
been a collector of Splitty parts. So I went out to the '62 and pulled
that one off discovering that it is the same as my others ...191. So now
I believe my eyes and not the compilers of the parts numbering lore at
VW/Karmann. I've known them to be flat out wrong before and utterly
confused on more than one occasion. So now its time to bring out the
early T34 French copy of the parts book. Sure enough, the early cars, up
to who knows when, use the 191 part."

So not only did 211 953 225 supersede 211 953 191 at some point, but VW boxed them indiscriminately too.

Thanks to Paul and Larry for helping to sort this out.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Shape of Quality, Volkswagen Australasia documentary, c. 1965

Rounding out the VW 1500 Film Festival is this 26 minute promotional documentary about Australian VW production in the mid-'60s. VW 1500s appear throughout -- at the beginning where various VWs are subjected to all manner of off-road hoonery, later on the assembly line, and loaded onto a car carrier at the end. All this and a jazzy soundtrack straight out of a Russ Meyer movie. What more could you ask for?

It's nice to see how the cars were assembled, though it's not clear how much of what's shown is representative of production methods worldwide and how much is specific to Australia. The film states that the VW Australasia's goal was to build cars with 95% Australian content within a few years, including the engines. Impressive -- I had always thought Australian VW production was mainly assembly with a limited amount of locally produced parts, but that's obviously not the case. I wonder if the 95% goal was ever met?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

VW 1500 on the test track, c. 1962

The VW 1500 film festival continues with this promotional short of an early gulf blue notchback being put through all kinds of abuse on the test track.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

VW Variant commercial, c. 1963

A great VW 1500 Variant commercial demonstrating cargo capacity.

Will it all fit?

Oh yeah, there's that trunk up front too. I almost forgot about that.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

VW 1500 in the film Skaterdater, 1965

More VW 1500s in 1960s Los Angeles: I was surfing the Internet this morning and stumbled across the short film Skaterdater, which is kind of a mid-60s Southern California pre-adolescent skateboard melodrama if you can imagine that. I spotted an early notchback in one scene:

The filmmakers must have liked the car, because the framing of the shot was too carefully composed to be a coincidence. The film is well worth a watch, especially if (like me) you saw it as a kid and haven't seen it in years.

Full film (17:39, Google, poor quality video) (notchback appears at around 6:20)
First five minutes (YouTube, better quality)

[Via boingboing]

Wilhelm Karmann 1500 Ghia flyer, 1961

This flyer advertising the capabilities of Wilhelm Karmann GMBH was probably distributed at the September 1961 Frankfurt International Auto Show, the 1500 Ghia's official public debut.

The photo appears to be of the same car and from the same photo shoot as the photos in the first 1500 Ghia brochure:

Judging by the lack of a left-side mirror and the position of the badges behind the door I'd say the Karmann flyer's photo has probably been flopped left-to-right. This car is apparently a pre-production prototype, as there are a number of design details visible in the brochure that were never seen on production cars. Notice how low this Ghia is -- if this car was to appear at a VW show today the judges would assume it had been lowered, but maybe this stance is what Ghia and Karmann originally had in mind.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

NOS Messmer oil pressure sender

I just picked up this Messmer oil pressure sender. This is the one that a 1962 VW 1500 engine would have originally come with. That bakelite sure looks the part.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

M249, Part 2: The story of the VW 1500's most misunderstood option gets more interesting

Aaron Britcher and I have been corresponding since my post on US-spec VW 1500s and option M249. He owns a 1965 model 1500S notchback that was specially ordered by an Australian dealer with a number of factory options including M249 -- a velvet green model 312 (RHD) that was delivered to Adelaide in November 1964 and used as a demonstration car by the dealer. Aaron was puzzled, though, because while his engine has the "M-249 90-OKTAN" plate on the crankcase breather stand the case isn't stamped with an N. VW in Germany confirmed that the engine is the one that came with the car, and when he tore it down for an overhaul he found the expected flat-top cylinders. Was the lack of a letter stamp a production error? Or was VW's documentation of M249 even more inconsistent than we had thought?

Neither, as it turns out. Aaron did some research and was able to find the answer in his copy of the VW Workshop Manual, which has an addendum with a surprising amount of information about M249. The engine cases were stamped with a letter only beginning on February 18, 1965 (chassis no. 315 124 961 / engine no. 0 878 040) and through the end of the model year in July -- R indicating 1500S domed pistons and N for M249 flat-top pistons. Another surprise was to learn that 1500N engine cases were also stamped beginning on the same date (at 315 125 092 / 0 867 737) -- with the letter K, confusingly -- to indicate dished low-compression pistons (M240). I guess this means an engine with no letter stamp from late in the 1965 model year was a standard 1500N.

Also surprising and very welcome is this full page of technical and performance data for the 1500S M249 engine, which among other things confirms that even 1500S Ghias could be ordered with M249:

So, the final word: only VW 1500 engine cases built between late February and August of 1965 are stamped with the identifying letters N, R, or K. Any photos of these VW 1500 case stampings would be much appreciated, so send them in if you have them.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Europa Motor Car Co., North Hollywood, c. 1964

This postcard from Europa Motor Car Company, a VW/Porsche dealer in North Hollywood, California, is another example of VW 1500 gray marketry in 1960s Los Angeles. If you look beyond the new Porsche 356s in the main window you'll see a lineup of used cars (see below) that includes a pearl white 1500 Karmann-Ghia (under the VW sign) and at least two other VW 1500s, none of which were offered to the US market by Volkswagen of America. These were more than likely "used" cars with only a few miles on the odometer.

The gray market: another reason so many early VW 1500s ended up in Southern California, where they were never available from authorized dealers. [wink]

Sunday, September 30, 2007

DDR plate, 1989

I found this DDR country of origin plate recently. It's dated December 1989, the month after the Berlin Wall fell. The Deutsche Demokratische Republik wouldn't even exist a year later.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Another early VW 1500 engine found

Jason Weigel (aka Notchboy) sent these photos of an early '62 engine he's currently tearing down. The engine number is in the 0 038 XXX range, which would mean it was built a few weeks after mine, in late April. It still has many original parts in place, so it's worth a closer look.

More of the hard-to-find early parts are there than on most. Things are pretty much as they should be except the generator, which appears to be from a
Type 1, and the obviously missing parts like the coil, distributor cap, and plastic fuel pump cover. According to Jason, the carburetor is a later 32 PHN-1 -- not unusual as the early carbs were prone to trouble. Some things you almost never see are a correctly routed fuel line with the fuel line retainer still attached to the oil cooler mount, the early-style oil pressure sender, and the plastic plug in the crankcase breather port on the Mann air cleaner.

With the left side tin removed the early Type 1-style oil cooler is revealed. The heat exchanger appears to have sprayed on insulation, a 1962 "feature."

Here's the early oil cooler on the bench, getting a thorough cleaning. Next to it on the left you can see the spacer for the intake manifold, used temporarily as a placeholder for the thermostatic valve that was finally fitted on the 1963 models.

Jason points out that the intake manifold is a transitional part that was only used in the last half of the 1962 model year. It's the same one that my car has. Earlier manifolds had a steel bracket for the carb linkage that was tack welded to the intake tube (as seen here on the manifold from Jason's February '62 notchback, compared to a 1963 manifold below). This transitional manifold, with the carb linkage support cast into the aluminum jacket, was used beginning somewhere around March '62 and through July, when the manifold was again altered to suit the angled intake ports of the new cylinder heads that were introduced at the launch of the 1963 model year, at engine number
0 066 740.

One of the most surprising finds was an early plastic carb linkage, which was only used until chassis number 0 040 116, at the beginning of May. Most of these were replaced with the later metal link during routine service, so not many survive.

A little crusty perhaps, and exposed to a lot of moisture over the years, but this early engine is quite a find.