Tuesday, December 30, 2008

1961 VW Type 3 parts book

I bought myself a Christmas present this year: a 1961 VW 1500 parts book.

I've had later copies of both the Type 3 and Type 34 parts books for years now, but they're not as useful to the owner of an early car, since when early parts were discontinued or superseded they were often deleted from the later books entirely. This is a 1961 book with supplements through 1963, so there's a lot of information in it that's missing from the later books. The supplements are useful in determining roughly when certain design changes were made during early production, although they were only dated up through Supplement 6 (May 1962). (Bob Walton has posted downloadable pdfs of the early supplements in the technical section of the 1500 Club website, and has provided estimates of the dates of Supplements 7 though 15 based on the idea that they were likely released one to two months after the changes in production occurred.) These supplements are a great resource to anyone researching the early VW 1500s.

For example, beginning with Supplement 10 (early '63) the parts book lists all the parts specific to the Type 341 1500 Ghia Cabriolet, of which it's said only 10–20 examples were built before the model was dropped. This underscores what a last minute decision dropping the 341 must have been. In addition, some pages in Supplements 9–11 refer to models 351 and 352, the left- and right-hand-drive VW 1500 Cabriolet. While it's clear that the 341 Ghia came much closer to a real production run than the 351/352, this does suggest that a "convertible notchback" was still not completely ruled out until early in 1963.

The '61 parts book and supplements have already answered some longstanding questions I've had about when a few changes to the 1500 Ghia took place:

• The original Lemmerz wheel trim rings that were used on 1500 Ghias beginning in late 1961 (241 601 155 A, also seen on deluxe microbuses and Type 1 Cabriolets and Karmann-Ghias) were discontinued at chassis number 0 050 173, around July 1962, and replaced by the familiar thin-slotted Type 3 beauty rings on 1500 Ghias (and, according to the book, on the 341, 351, and 352!) beginning with chassis number 0 050 174. These same beauty rings (part number 341 601 155) are more popularly associated with the 1500S models of 1964 and 1965. [Go here for more information on slotted beauty rings.]

• Two-piece front and rear window trim was discontinued with Supplement 8 (around August 1962), replaced first by three and then four pieces front and back. Small strainers were also added to the water drains at the rear air engine air intake at roughly the same time.

• A revised dipstick "with sealing cap" was introduced in Supplement 11 (early 1963).

• Accessory wheel beauty rings in four styles were introduced with Supplement 3 (January 1962) and the accessory spare tire tool kit with Supplement 12 (mid-1963).

Nice illustrations too.

There are also some clues about when the early shift and heater knobs might have changed. I'm sure the more I look the more I'll find.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Early electromagnetic cutoff valves

That's right, I said early electromagnetic cutoff valves. Jason Weigel recently identified a stash of these valves (the large round device at the right in the photo above) that were used on the VW 1500's Solex 32 PHN carburetor in the first few months of production. They are among the rarest of early engine parts for a 1500.

The 1500 seems to have been the first VW model to come standard with an electromagnetic cutoff valve (a.k.a. pilot jet) fitted to the carb. The 32 PHN carb had one from the beginning of production in 1961. VW buses first got a cutoff valve on the 28 PICT in 1963, and the Type 1 followed suit in 1966 with the introduction of the 30 PICT-1 carb. Since they were first seen on the VW 1500, what's unusual is that this particular valve has a Type 1 part number: 111 129 413. It's possible that it was first made available for VW models other than the 1500 as a dealer retrofit to address problems with post ignition, or it may have had a use on industrial engines.

The design of the valve went through a number of revisions in the first few years of production, and this large diameter version of the valve is very rare. It's unclear from VW's documentation exactly when this design was discontinued. The November 1961 edition of the VW 1500 owner's manual shows this valve, but the August 1961 VW 1500 Workshop Manual shows both this one and a more commonly seen cylindrical version with a small black plastic cap. While similar in function, the large round valve had the added advantage (or disadvantage) of having a convenient on-off switch. For whatever reason, by the end of the 1962 model year the cylindrical version had become the standard (as seen here in VW's Look Listen Do it Better training guide for the 32 PHN carb from August 1962).

Both of these early versions of the valve could be partially disassembled. Later iterations could not be.

There seems to be no clear record of exactly when the large round valve was originally used, but it would be a nice addition to any 1962 VW 1500 engine restoration, especially for cars built in the last few months of 1961. As you can see here, Jason's early 32 PHN carb has all the 1961 bells and whistles.

[Update: Looking in VW Progressive Refinements I found that the electromagnetic cutoff valve was first made available as a service part in July 1957. It was first featured as a standard part on the VW 1500 on its introduction in 1961, and Type 2 models got the valve with the optional 1500 engine (M 216) beginning in January 1963.]

[Photos from Jason, The Samba, and my literature collection]

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Carrozzeria Ghia in Style Auto 1, winter/spring 1963

The first issue of Style Auto, an Italian journal of automotive styling (subtitled "Automotive Architecture"), featured the recent work of 13 prominent coachbuilders working in Italy at the time. The profile on Carrozzeria Ghia featured Luigi Segre's forecast for the future of automotive styling and included a glamour shot of the VW 1500 Karmann-Ghia. Segre, the head of Ghia beginning in 1953, was the key figure in developing Ghia's relationship with Virgil Exner and Chrysler in the 1950s and is credited with the design of the original Karmann-Ghia. He was head of Ghia during the development of the 1500 Ghia. Tragically, he died in surgery soon after the publication of the Style Auto feature. Ghia then went through a series of owners, ultimately becoming a subsidiary of Ford in 1970. A sad end for one of the great Italian styling houses of the 20th century.

Ciao bella!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

1962 VW 1500 Karmann-Ghia badge

A nice first-year-only 1500 Ghia badge scored on eBay Germany, seen here installed on my currently unworthy '62 with a PoP reproduction seal. These badges were only used through chassis number 0 058 489 (July 1962).

Many thanks to Gizmobob for his help.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Early 1500 Ghia in an Aral gasoline ad

A nice red and black '62 1500 Ghia is featured in an Aral gasoline commercial that's currently running on German television.

I've always wondered how well early Sprint Stars would work on a 1500 Ghia, and those do look very nice...

[Thanks to Thomas on the Type 34 Registry site for the tip.]

Friday, November 28, 2008

Solex 32 PHN-1 parts diagram

A nice clear exploded view and parts list.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

VW 1500s I have known, part 1

My first VW Type 3 was a 1963 1500 Ghia I found in the Recycler free classifieds, Southern California's print equivalent of Craigslist back in the pre-Internet days of 1987. The previous owner had it set up in road-racer style with Western wheels, a Hurst trigger shifter, a cheesy small-diameter foam-rim steering wheel, and, wonder of wonders, an early Abarth exhaust. It was barely roadworthy, but I happily drove it the 70 freeway miles home with my hand on the shifter to keep it from popping out of 4th. Love is blind that way. I took it to all the shows of the day, and it even managed to turn up in Hot VWs magazine's coverage of Type 3 Day in 1988 (in the photo at the top left, being swallowed by a notchback):

I drove it as it was for a few years while slowly reworking it mechanically. As I learned more about what I had bought I gradually started undoing the previous owner's modifications and returning it to stock condition. Unfortunately that eventually included trading away the Abarth exhaust too, but at the time it was the right thing to do. The car was my daily driver and the Abarth would scrape the ground every time I entered a driveway or parking lot. Ouch. I knew it was rare and that I was ruining it, so off it went to a good home in exchange for a few hundred dollars worth of much-needed stock parts. Here it is at a couple of Type 34 Registry events in the early '90s (you can see the road rash on the exhaust tips):

As the Ghia returned to stock form, though, it became more and more apparent that it was never going to be a good candidate for a real restoration. It turns out that underneath some creative bondo artistry there was hidden accident damage and an alarming amount of rust. At about that time my current '62 1500 Ghia came up for sale at a price I couldn't refuse. I drove the '63 daily for another four years and finally sold it, coincidentally ten years to the day after I bought it.

About five years later I heard my old Ghia was on eBay, and sure enough there it was, but it was no longer the car I remembered. A subsequent owner had completed about 90% of a retro-style makeover. Certainly not what I would have done, but I have to admit it did look great in the photos. The auction ended at an astronomical $12,000 if I remember correctly, selling to someone in New Orleans. I haven't heard anything about it since, so I may never know if it survived Katrina or not. Good night 0 122 700, wherever you are.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

VW 1500 introduction in Foreign Car Guide, June 1961

Foreign Car Guide was kind of the American equivalent of the UK's Safer Motoring—it pretended to be interested in all small cars but it was really all about Volkswagen. Like most other auto magazines of the time, Foreign Car Guide reported on the early official news leak from VW about the new 1500. The article goes into a thoughtful analysis of the market forces and strategic thinking that led VW to provide information about the 1500 to the press so far in advance of its official debut in September 1961, and speculates accurately about VW's reasons for not bringing the 1500 to the U.S.

Most of the article's speculation about the 1500 is right on the money, except for the guesstimate of a wheelbase 6 inches longer than the beetle. It compares the 1500 to the Corvair in a way that was typical of the U.S. auto press at the time, suggesting that the Variant's styling was reminiscent of the Corvair Lakewood station wagon. Maybe in its configuration, but I'm just not seeing the visual resemblance.

The cover of the June issue featured the Devin D, one of the nicest looking VW-based specials of the early '60s. Something less than a coachbuilt and something more than a kit car, its lines have aged more gracefully than most. A Devin with an Okrasa engine and a few other old speed bits would be just the thing.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

VW 1500S introduction in Safer Motoring magazine, October 1963

Photos of the new VW 1500S models from Safer Motoring's coverage of the 1963 Frankfurt auto show, including some shots of what appears to be the Karmann display.

This rear window sticker is pretty cool.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

VW 1500 Station Car brochure, 1961

An English-language copy of the first VW 1500 Variant brochure.

The name "Squareback Sedan" hadn't been coined yet, but with copy describing it as a "smart-looking sedan and handy commercial in one" you can tell they were already heading in that direction in 1961.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cars Illustrated road test, January 1963

One of the most positive reviews ever written about the 1500 Karmann-Ghia appeared in the January 1963 issue of the British auto magazine Cars Illustrated. The license plate suggests it might be the same car that was tested by Auto Motor und Sport eight months earlier.

The writer was impressed with the performance and wondered if the often heard rumor that VW saved the best engines for the Ghias might be true. He also liked the high level of finish and the styling (with the exception of the fog lights).

There's also a photo of the same Ghia in another article in the magazine on Italian coachbuilding.

"Road-tested elsewhere in this issue the handsome Karmann-Ghia coupé on the VW 1500 base-plate is difficult to distinguish as a rear-engined car. The bodywork was designed in Italy by Ghia, but is produced in Germany by Karmann."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A VW 1500 Ghia on the road in Japan, c. 1966

A left hand drive VW 1500 Ghia with Japanese license plates and fender-mounted mirror, from '67 Auto Salon, the program from the 1967 Tokyo Auto Salon.

The accompanying text refers to the 1600, but the car pictured is a 1500 from 1965 or earlier.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

OJR (Maico) disc brakes in Safer Motoring magazine, October 1963

A followup to my previous post about Maico disc brakes: Safer Motoring's coverage of the 1963 Frankfurt international auto show included some photos and an informal test of the OJR disc brake system for VWs and Porsches.

The cutaway demonstration display of a VW 1200 disc brake is very cool.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

VW press kit, 1961

An eBay auction last week presented a rare opportunity to own an interesting piece of VW 1500 history: a complete VW press kit from the 1961 Frankfurt international auto show, the event where the VW 1500 made its public debut.

Congratulations to the auction winner, waehler.

[images swiped from eBay]