Sunday, August 12, 2007


A unique feature of 1962 VW 1500s is the so-called "cat-eye" mirror, sought after by Type 3 cultists for its Forward Look style and relative rarity. All 1500s had them in '62, Ghias as well as sedans and Variants, and though the mounting threads were slightly shallower on the Ghia version the mirrors themselves were identical. At the beginning of the 1963 model year the cat-eye design was replaced with a simpler oval-shaped mirror. I recently found another cat-eye and was surprised when I compared it to the one I already had.

The design of the mount where it meets the mirror itself is very different on the two mirrors. Judging from their appearance and condition both mirrors appear to be original and unmodified, with the glass intact, so the difference doesn't seem to be the result of someone's later improvisation.

Did VW use more than one supplier? Or was the design changed mid-year during the production run? The mount on the mirror on the right in the photo above seems to be a weaker design, possibly prone to rotating if the interior mounting nut loosened, so it might be an earlier iteration. The mount style on the left above was also used in the subsequent 1963 mirror design, which supports this theory, but without more information it's all speculation.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Factory tool VW 667

I recently found this clutch adjustment tool on eBay.

The plans for making VW 667 are included in the Workshop Equipment for Local Manufacture book, but many tool manufacturers offered them too, including Hazet.

This photo from the Workshop Equipment book shows VW 667 in use -- much easier than fumbling around with a 14mm box-end wrench. Later VWs had a large wingnut in place of the early 14mm adjustment nut, effectively making this tool obsolete. The late wingnut can also be retrofitted to earlier cars, but that just wouldn't be right, would it?

VW 1500 Ghia door panels

I picked up this pair of 1500 Ghia door panels when we visited Georg Stoffer in Oregon. They're not perfect but they're nicer than most 44-year-old door panels out there -- they're complete and the vinyl is in good shape, with only some slight staining in the white area. The fiberboard backing panels will need to be replaced, as is the case with most original VW door panels at this point.

The silver beige/brick red combination means they came from a '63 or '64 model. The only difference between these and the '62 version is a slightly different red color and the grain of the vinyl. Red/white interiors were only used in pearl white or black Ghias in 1962, so it's looking like the Ghia is going to be black.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Summer '07 road trip, part 2: Tram's cabriolet project

From Reno we headed north through Nevada and Oregon to the mountains north of Boise, Idaho, where we met up with old friends. I tried to meet with Neil "Notchback" Mast on our way through Boise to see his backyard filled with Type 3s and his legendary tach collection, but the timing didn't work out and we weren't able to get together.

From Idaho it was off to Oregon for a few days in Portland and Salem. Missed the Portland Bug-In by just a few hours, unfortunately, but we had a lot of fun hanging around Portland's eastside. On our way back down we stopped in Springfield, Oregon, and paid a visit to Georg Stoffer, better known as "Tram" on The Samba. We got a quick tour of his shop, where he does restoration work on VWs and Mercedes-Benzes. Georg is building a Type 34 cabriolet based on a '66 body and a '67 floorpan, which is coming along nicely.

Considering his background as a VW-trained fuel injection tech, it's no surprise that he's fitted his Ghia with a late Type 3 engine with EFI, which explains the 1600LE badge. Though VW offered EFI on Fastbacks and Squarebacks beginning in 1968, it was never available on the Type 34. Georg's might be the only fuel injected Type 34 in existence, though Russ Wolfe has hinted at similar plans for his '64 Ghia. Yes, that's one of Pedro Sainz's ubiquitous Type 34 luggage racks.

Constructing the top presents the biggest challenge to anyone considering a Type 34 cabriolet conversion. Georg's original plan was to use a Miata top as his starting point, but he has recently acquired the top frame from a Mercedes 450SL, which he thinks will be better fit with a few alterations. He has reinforced the pan and added some well-hidden cross bracing on the body for structural rigidity.

He chose a custom burgundy color for the interior. I think that's one of those accessory 45rpm record players under the dash. Makes sense considering his other line of work: buying and selling old jazz records.

Georg also has a few other interesting Type 3 projects in the works -- more on that later. Nice to have a chance to meet The Samba's resident left-wing curmudgeon and EFI expert and talk Type 3. You can see more (and better) photos of his Ghia here.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Summer '07 road trip, part 1: Paul's NOS Ghia

We just got home from a week-long road trip that took us through four states. I made a point to try to visit a few Type 3 people along our route. The first day's destination was Reno, Nevada, so we took a slight detour up to Lake Tahoe to visit Paul Colbert. Paul has been slowly restoring his '63 1500 Ghia over the last 20+ years. It might be more accurate to say he's overrestoring it, but I mean that in the best possible way -- it's going to be better than new. Check out Paul's website for the whole story. He was lucky to get started back when NOS Type 34 parts were still relatively available, so most of what you'll see in the following photos are NOS parts.

Attention to detail is apparent everywhere you look. Vintage Marchal headlights and yellow fog light bulbs look great with the Ghia's anthracite paint.

These Karmann-Ghia badges replaced the side marker lights in some export markets including Canada. They're rare in any condition, but these are NOS.

Vintage Koni shocks all around. The front end was rebuilt with NOS parts.

A rear three-quarter view shows an Australian accessory sun shade and a Pedro Sainz luggage rack. Almost all the bumper sections are NOS, and those hubcaps and beauty rings are too, of course.

Paul has also gathered more NOS 1500 Ghia sheet metal than anyone else I know of.

Seeing Paul's Ghia up close was a real treat. Photos don't do it justice. It's going to set the standard when it's done. Thanks again, Paul, for taking the time to show it to us!