Sunday, January 28, 2007

Pre-production alterations

While rebuilding my carburetor I ran across this page from a 1963 supplement to the VW 1500 Workshop Manual. It lists changes that were made to the carburetor and related parts after the 1961 edition of the manual was printed but before production actually began.

This clears up a few questions I've had, and confirms that the rubber retainer for the air cleaner elbow never made it into production.

Solex 32 PHN-1 carburetor rebuild

I bought this carb NOS from Bill and Steve's about 15 years ago and ran it on my daily driver 1500 Ghia for five or six years. My current Ghia came with a faulty carb rigged with a manual choke (an unfortunate clue to the kind of life the car has had), so when I sold my first Ghia I transferred this newer carb to it. It has never been opened up in the time I've had it, until now. Years of daily use will take their toll on new parts:

My '62 Ghia would have originally been equipped with a Solex 32 PHN, but the early Type 3 sidedraft carbs were really problematic. They were prone to flat spots on acceleration and fuel starvation on turns, leading to many of the original carbs on these early cars being replaced over the years. The carb design went through multiple iterations until it reached the version I have here -- 32 PHN-1 [VW 1-3] -- sometime in December 1963. Though it's not technically "correct" for an April 1962 VW 1500 I'll gladly run it for its improved driveability.

I tore it down and cleaned everything thoroughly. There was some evidence that this probably wasn't really an NOS carb after all, but rather a factory rebuilt or "remanufactured" one.

Taking things apart is easy -- the trick is remembering how it all goes back together.

Rebuild kits for these carburetors are getting harder to find, but they're still out there. They come with all the needed gaskets and a new float needle valve and volume control screw. I tend to reuse the old needle valve and volume screw when rebuilding a carb if they're in good condition because the ones that come in the rebuild kits are no match for the quality of the factory originals.

Here it is reassembled. I replaced the later style electromagnetic cutoff jet that came with the carb with the earlier type, which was used through July 1963. It was time to install the carb, so I dug out VW178, the factory 13mm wrench for the job.

Without one of these or another offset wrench the lower mounting nut is almost impossible to reach.

Here's the carb installed, with the fuel lines routed and the air cleaner in place:

An overall shot. I broke one of the plug wire clips (far right below the coil) when installing the wires. If anyone has an early plug wire clip to spare please let me know! It's now complete and ready to put back in the car.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Safer Motoring, June 1962

No lack of irony in the choice of cover image for this issue of Safer Motoring, Britain's magazine for VW owners.

It's not a rollover in progress, it's a stunt by a trained driver at the Dungarvan Hill Climb in Ireland. Coverage of the Irish racing scene in this issue also included the Circuit of Ireland International Rally, in which two VW 1500s were entered:

"Two brand-new VW 1500s took part in the Circuit of Ireland Interntional Rally at Easter -- the first time Irish enthusiasts had seen the new Wolfsburg models in action. Frank Robinson, of Belfast, [above], is seen cornering on the Tim Healy Pass timed ascent in County Kerry. He finished second in his class. [Below], Reggie McSpadden, also of Belfast, is watched by a crowd of critical spectators as he rounds a bend on the Tim Healy Pass. He finished third in his class."

Fresh off the assembly line and into competition in early '62.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

NOS taillights

I finally found a second NOS taillight base (thanks Pete!), completing a full set of NOS exterior lights and lenses I've been collecting for the Ghia. It took a lot of patience and perseverance to track them all down, but I finally did.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The VW Autoist, January 1963

The cover of the January 1963 issue of The VW Autoist, the newsletter of the Volkswagen Club of America, featured a VW 1500 being unloaded from a ship at the port of Toronto in late 1962. A number of VW 1500 notchbacks and even a few Variants can be seen in the sea of unloaded VW Beetles below. Early Variants were produced in relatively low numbers and are very scarce today.

This particular copy of The Autoist once belonged to automotive writer Dan Post, author of the book Volkswagen: Nine Lives Later.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Automotive News, August 1960

George L. Glaser's Auto Letter from Europe column in the August 1, 1960 issue of Automotive News has some interesting information about the then yet-to-be-announced VW 1500.

In the first item in the left column he reports that "the larger VW model, with a still larger engine and modern styling, definitely will not be introduced before the Frankfort [sic] Auto Show in September, 1961, informal sources say." Glaser's shadowy "informal sources" seem to have had their facts in order. This is the earliest mention I've found of the "big" VW in the automotive press.

The other interesting thing about his column is the Frua-bodied VW 1200 pictured at the top right. Known both as the Italsuisse Volkswagen and the Volkswagen Sun Valley, this coachbuilt special got a lot of attention when it was unveiled. There was even a plan to put it into limited production, and a Porsche dealer in Florida was ready to act as the distributor in the USA, but VW refused to supply the necessary chassis to Frua. It's understandable that VW wouldn't have been very enthusiastic about aiding the development of a car that would be in competition with the upcoming VW 1500, not to mention the fact that, although they were affiliated for a time in the late '50s, by 1960 Frua and Ghia were at odds. Frua's relationship with Ghia soured while they were working in collaboration on the designs of the Renault Floride/Caravelle and the Volvo P1800. Cutthroat politics behind the scenes in Turin. More information on the Italsuisse VW can be found on this site devoted to the work of Pietro Frua.

In the caption Glaser reports that "with VW coming out with a larger model, probably in 1961, there is speculation that the newcomer may be influenced by the styling of this body." What he didn't know is that the designs of both the VW 1500 sedan and VW 1500 Karmann-Ghia had already been finalized by late 1959 and were already in the prototype stage by 1960. Considering the close yet contentious relationship between Ghia and Frua in those years it's even possible that the VW 1500 Karmann-Ghia was an influence on Frua's design rather than the other way around.

Monday, January 15, 2007

VW 1500 promotional posters, 1961

Created for the introduction of the VW 1500 line in 1961, these illustrated posters bridge the gap between VW's printed publicity of the 1950s, much of which featured artwork by the illustrator Reuters, and the more modern, photographic direction of the 1960s. The illustrations seem strangely old fashioned compared to the modern graphics of the VW + VW 1500 campaign of the same time -- in fact it's hard to imagine how they could have been used together. The only thing they have in common is their emphasis on the 1500s as new additions to the VW family and not replacements for the existing models. It's almost as if VW was hedging its bet on the modern "yellow campaign."

Doyle Dane Bernbach's groundbreaking US advertising campaign for VW was launched in 1959 and within a few years VW's worldwide publicity began incorporating the clever copywriting and graphic minimalism of DDB's ads. For better or worse the days of illustrated VW advertising were over by the mid-sixties.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

No, it's not the new Pirelli calendar...'s a Veith-Pirelli ad from 1965 featuring a 1500S Karmann-Ghia. Now that's hot.

Monday, January 8, 2007

VW 1500 sports specials

From the November 1961 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine. This article and some of the others I've posted are from a lot of newspaper and magazine clippings about VWs that I bought years ago from the estate of an automotive journalist. I'm not the one that tore them out!

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Almost there

I made more progress on assembly last week. The oil filler, intake manifold, and muffler are in place.

The muffler is an NOS one that I've had on the shelf for years. It was in good shape physically but had the usual shelf wear, scratches, and light surface rust, so it was looking pretty scrappy. I thought about having it ceramic coated, but instead decided to give it a coat of 1200°F exhaust paint. I went with Zynolyte Hi-Temp 0642 Machinery Gray, which has a matte gray finish that's close in appearance to the OEM coating. I've had good luck with Zynolyte products in the past -- they seem to be of better quality than most rattlecan heat-resistant paints. I can't find it locally anymore, but it can be ordered directly from the Zynolyte site. We'll see how well it holds up.

Here's the right side of the intake manifold installed. You can get a good view of the spacer between the heat riser and heat exchanger here. VW replaced it with a thermostatic valve for the 1963 model year.

This is an overhead shot of the right heat riser flange. Notice how the tin is assembled: the lip on front piece of tin is designed to fit between the upper and lower cylinder tin at the left screw. The tin wasn't assembled properly on this engine when it was last rebuilt.

It took a fair amount of persuasion with a wood block and a hammer to get the muffler on. Here's the right side exhaust flange, where you can see the carb pre-heater air supply pipe (311 129 511) secured by the lower mounting nut. A paper hose connects this pipe to the air control box at the air cleaner intake. This arrangement was introduced at chassis number 0032545, a week or two before this car was built. The air supply apparently came from one of the heat exchangers on earlier cars. (The VW 1500 Workshop Manual says it came from the "left side," but since it's unlikely that it actually came from the left heat exchanger I think they may have meant the left side of the right heat exchanger. Having never seen a really early heat exchanger before, I have to admit that I don't know exactly how it was set up.)

The most challenging part of the muffler installation was getting the left side heat riser flanges to line up. The lower flange had to be moved toward the back about 3/8 in. and rotated about 15° clockwise to get things to align. All manner of improvised tools and a few choice words were employed to get it done. I'm surprised an original VW part would have been such a bad fit, but then the Workshop Manual does say "the pipes welded to the muffler can be straightened if necessary." That's classic VW understatement right there.

Now I have to find my misplaced tailpipe hardware so I can wrap it up.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Volkswagen + VW 1500 ad campaign, 1961

The name of this blog comes from the advertising campaign that launched the VW 1500 in 1961. Here are some pieces that were part of the campaign.

Issue 63 of VW Informationen, Volkswagen's internal magazine for dealers and distributors, introduces the VW 1500 and explains the campaign, which was known as the "Gelb Aktion," or Yellow Campaign. One of VW's primary goals was to make it clear to the public that the 1500 was a new addition to the VW line and not a replacement for the 1200. Designed in what has become known as the Swiss Modern style by R.A. Storfer, the campaign was a modular system of parts that were meant to be assembled in many different ways for various purposes while maintaining a consistent brand identity. The key visual elements were stark, high-contrast images of the VW 1200 and 1500, "Volkswagen + VW 1500" in bold sans-serif type, and the color yellow for applications where color was an option. The campaign's visuals are described in VW Informationen as having the impact of a bass drum being hit -- clearly the idea was to cut through the visual clutter of the other advertising of the day. To rely so heavily on modern graphic abstraction was a very contemporary and somewhat risky marketing strategy for a company like VW at that time. It underscores how important the introduction of the 1500 was to VW as it entered the 1960s.

These photos are from the presentation meeting in Wolfsburg where the campaign was explained to prominent European dealers and distributors.

And here's the campaign in action on the street, as seen in the January 1962 issue of Gute Fahrt. You can see how the posters were designed to be hung in series for increased impact through repetition. I'd love to find one of these original posters. Gute Fahrt's caption commented favorably on their placement here.