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.