Sunday, May 31, 2009

1961–63 VW 1500 upholstery fabric

Due to popular demand Bob Walton and I are getting started on a reproduction of the 1961–63 "salt and pepper" upholstery fabric. Like the 1500 Karmann-Ghia fabric, this will be a high-quality woven reproduction of the original cloth used in VW 1500 sedans and Variants in the first few years of production. It will take about 4 yards to reupholster the complete interior of a notchback with a rear seat armrest, or 3.5 yards for a notch without an armrest or a Variant.

[images borrowed from the 1500 Club website]

At this point we're trying to gauge interest. I've started a forum thread about the project on the samba, so if you're interested in buying some of this fabric please post in that thread.

To see original VW literature showing salt and pepper fabric go here.

Many thanks to Jason Weigel and Bob Walton for their advice and encouragement and to everyone who has already expressed interest.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

There's a 345 in the neighborhood

Los Angeles has a relatively high number of Type 3s and Type 34s, but it's still quite a surprise for me to see an unfamiliar one, especially within walking distance from home. This rare Type 345 sunroof 1600 Ghia is in the lot of a local repair shop. I'm not exactly sure what year it is -- the taillights say '67 but the steering column says '68. I remember meeting a local guy many years ago who had a white late model 345 with a red interior, and it's possible this is that car. It shows signs of neglect but looks straight, solid, and relatively complete. It's currently registered. The shop was closed, so I did my best to get some shots through the fence.

I'll see if I can speak to someone at the shop to see if I can find out who the owner is and if it might be for sale.

Thanks to Jonny Lieberman for the tip.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Whoever named the color "Pacific" had clearly never seen the Pacific

Cathy and I took advantage of the nice weather and spent the weekend in San Diego, and since we were there we decided to make a pilgrimage to Jack Fisher's backyard, which has suddenly become Type 34 central. Jack is busy getting Gizmo Bob Walton's recently purchased Pacific blue '64 1500 Ghia back on the road, and he has also rescued a '64 of his own. Not long after I arrived with a Type 34 Blaupunkt radio faceplate for Bob's car Bob himself showed up with lots of parts straight from the chrome shop.

Bob's chrome guy does some nice work! The early "pointy" alloy bumper guards came out great, and a rearview mirror arm that was heavily oxidized now looks as good as new. He's good at holding fine detail too — check out the sharp stamping on that Hella headlight ring.

Bob's car is starting to come together and it's cleaning up nicely. Jack even found mint original squareweave carpet and rubber floor mats under a previous owner's improvised carpet installation. Along with all the brightwork and a lot of other restoration parts, Bob also brought the rebuilt longblock. When Pedro Sainz arrived with a freshly powdercoated air cleaner it was practically a meeting of the Southern California chapter of the 1500 Club.

Pedro and Bob demonstrate the proper use of a hammer:

Lots more work will go into Bob's Ghia in the next few weeks in preparation for the VW Classic on June 14th. Looking forward to seeing it finished and back on the road!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ferrari 250 GT

I think it's safe to say that the designers of the VW 1500 were familiar with the Ferrari 250 GT.

Most obviously seen in the taillight design, but in lots of other details too. John von Neumann of Competition Motors Hollywood fame had a hand in the development of the 250 GT California in the late '50s. Coincidence?

And the Abarth exhaust on Freddy's 1500S takes the similarity one step further.

[images borrowed from and Freddy's VW1500s blog]

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Blaupunkt speaker jacks

A number of people have asked where they can find Blaupunkt speaker connectors recently. While Blaupunkt's own dual plugs are hard to find, the good news is that the individual connectors themselves are a standard item that is available from any electronics supply source. Known as the "banana plug" or "banana connector" (in German, bananenstecker), this standard audio jack system was designed by Richard Hirschmann in 1924. He was the founder of the Hirschmann company that has for many years been a primary producer of audio antennas for VWs and other cars.

Blaupunkt's version of the the banana connector was a closely spaced dual plug (12mm or 15/32 in. on center), as seen here on an old Blaupunkt speaker I salvaged from a junkyard Squareback.

Modern dual banana plugs are available, but they all seem to be more widely spaced than the Blaupunkt plugs. The 12mm spacing may have been Blaupunkt's proprietary version of the connector. Single banana plugs work just as well as long as their insulators are small enough in diameter to fit within the Blaupunkt jacks' 12mm spacing.

Banana plugs: you can't enjoy Suprakustik® sound without them.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

564 silver fabric is sold out

All 35 yards of the reproduction 564 silver 1500 Ghia upholstery fabric have sold! I still have a few yards of 554 (red) and 559 (cerulean) in stock.