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]