Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Vintage Tuesday! A Republican driving a bug?

Putting a Ronald Reagan (assuming for his run for Governor, which would make this photo from 1966) sticker on his bug. Bug is from Lucksinger Motors in San Luis Obispo, CA.

Monday, March 30, 2009

1972 VOLKSWAGEN SP2 - article from Hemmings Motor News

This article originally appeared in the JULY 1, 2007 issue of Hemmings Motor News.

South America has long been a hotbed of automotive production, with manufacturers both large and small developing product specifically for native consumption. But perhaps nothing from a major automotive manufacturer was as stunningly styled, or completely ignored, as the Volkswagen SP2.

The SP2's roots are firmly planted in Brazil, with direction from Volkswagen of Brazil's German management, engineering staff and designers. According to Karl Ludvigsen in an article entitled "Volkswagen's Beautiful Beetle" in Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car #20, Volkswagen do Brasil's chief, Rudolf Leiding, instructed his staff to build an updated version of the Karmann Ghia, one that would signal the Brazilian wing's independence from the parent company in Wolfsburg.

Leiding's problem, of course, was that engineering a car from the ground up cost a lot of money, especially for a low-production car like an updated Karmann Ghia. "The sole constraint," Ludvigsen wrote, "was that it had to fit the existing Brazilian VW chassis."

That chassis was the VW Variant--more commonly recognized here as the lackluster 412. Rolling on the 412's 94.5-inch wheelbase, the SP2 carried all of the 412's suspension parts, as well a 75hp version of the 412's flat-four 1,678cc aircooled engine. The mechanicals, in other words, are nothing to write home about.

But styling is the SP2's calling card. It is a stunningly pretty automobile, with a long front overhang with brooding quad headlamps, with a rounded rear fastback, accented by gills aft of the rear quarter window. Under the glass hatch is the engine bay, which is concealed by a carpeted panel held down with seatbelt-style straps.

Inside, there's room for just two, plus a good amount of luggage, provided it's not perishable. The cargo area's proximity to the engine bay makes it a warm place to store ice cream. The passenger compartment is business-like, but 1970s-era sporty, with textured vinyl bucket seats and a wood-like plastic dash housing the full complement of instruments. The 75hp four doesn't make the SP2 fast, by any means. Period tests put its zero to 60-mph time at somewhere around 16 seconds.

Ride quality for a low-production sport coupe from the 1970s was incredible. The full frames around the door glass and the tight overall construction make the SP2 absolutely solid, even over cobblestone roads. It certainly doesn't feel like a sports car from that dark era following the 1960s. Cornering is decent, though over undulating, twisty country lanes, the presence of the rear-mounted engine will announce itself even on mild throttle liftoff. But the SP2 was a GT, more than a sports car.

SP2s rarely come up for sale in the United States, but considering their rarity, they're not priced out of line. A recent example came up for sale outside Car-lisle, Pennsylvania, with an asking price of $18,000.

Last summer, I drove an SP2 in Germany's 2000km durch Deutschland, a 2,000km vintage car rally. In every small German town we drove through, enthusiastic vintage car fans clamored to see the car, and ask questions about its provenance. Without fail, when a Volkswagen PR representative indicated that it was built in Brazil, the interested party's mouth formed an "o," the international symbol for shock and surprise. Aside from the lack of air conditioning (coupled with a black vinyl interior), the SP2 made a civilized, stylish touring companion that never failed to draw a crowd.

This article originally appeared in the JULY 1, 2007 issue of Hemmings Motor News.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

VWs of... Sausalito (part 2)

Click here to see the first post about VWs in Sausalito.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Vintage Tuesday! Two men taking a walk while a VW looks on...

Two men taking a walk while a VW looks on...

Monday, March 23, 2009

December 1955 issue of Popular Mechanics featuring the "Sport-Coupe Model" VW

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bugorama 63! is May 24th in Sacramento, CA

Bugorama time is coming up quick! This year, the first one is May 24th in Sacramento, CA.

Here are some pictures from Bugorama 62.

The event takes place at the Sacramento Raceway located at 5305 Excelsior Road - Sacramento, CA. For a map and directions, click on this link, http://www.sacramentoraceway.com/maps.html.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

(Very) Short video of Big Blue from the Rio Vista campout on Feb 1st

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

1968 Campmobile brochure

Some of my favorite images from this 1968 classic...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Vintage Tuesday! New York State Bug.

New York State Bug.

Monday, March 16, 2009

'70S SENSATIONS - article from Hemmings Motor News.

This article originally appeared in the OCTOBER 1, 2007 issue of Hemmings Motor News.

ABBA songs are the star of a hit musical, motorists are griping about oil prices, Jimmy Hoffa is (still) missing... hey, what year is this anyway?

O.K. the 1970s haven't exactly made a complete comeback, but time has definitely softened modern pop culture's view of the disco decade.

Likewise for the cars and trucks people were driving to theaters to see Saturday Night Fever and Star Wars: Collectors and enthusiasts aren't paying Hemi 'Cuda or Duesenberg prices, but the popularity and, subsequently, the value of a handful of 1970s cars are on the upswing.

1979 Volkswagen Super Beetle convertible
Beginning in 1978, the only Beetle sold in the United States was the convertible, based on the big-windshield Super Beetle that itself dated to 1973. The final official U.S. model year was 1979, with a few more than 15,000 sold before the last 1979s trickled out of showrooms in early 1980. Jodie Foster, post-Taxi Driver, bought one for her 16th birthday. In 1979, VW and Rolls-Royce built the only four-place convertibles on the market. With simplified EFI (and a single tailpipe), the iconic Volkswagen flat-four was rated at a ripping 48hp. We actually saw one low-mileage example demanding $79,000, but this lovely example, out of Indiana, was much more representative of reality, at $8,500.
--Jim Donnelly

1977 Volkswagen Scirocco
Remember when these cars were everywhere? The Scirocco went into production before its water-cooled sibling, the Golf/Rabbit, and was intended as a Karmann Ghia for a new age--a sporty car built on a standard-issue drivetrain. But rust and careless owners sent most of them off to the scrapyard, leaving few good examples to enjoy today. This $3,800 example has the desirable fuel-injected engine, and its folded-paper styling, by Giorgetto Giugiaro, helps it stand out in a sea of rounded-off commutermobiles.
--David LaChance

This article originally appeared in the OCTOBER 1, 2007 issue of Hemmings Motor News.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Parking in the Pines - Golden, CO - May 29-30 2009

This annual VW bus camping event is sponsored by GoWesty and the drivers of Vandejo. Details can be found at http://calivw78.com/.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Driving a VW Bug...

I have now been driving an old VW bug for almost 8 months. I am by no means an expert in the car except for one thing: the reaction that I get while driving it. The VW bug, without a doubt, is this most cult car of all the cult cars I have owned. I joke with my wife, EP, that I will never pick up another girl which driving Little Blue. The bug, with it’s timeless styling, appeals to 2 demographics primarily: Old men and children under 10.

The first demographic, the old men, stop and stare when I drive by. If I happened to be stopped, I get talked to. Most ask the year and then tell the story of their first VW. These memories seem to come from the thought that, back then, times were tough but they made it through and can now afford cars that get serviced.

My insurance agent (an overly friendly guy who must have too much time on his hands since he talks to me endlessly and all I have with him is renter’s insurance) has a painted portrait of a late 60s bug above his desk. “My first car,” he told me. It seems to be there to remind him of his humble beginnings.

Recently, my landlord swung by one day and wanted to see the engine on Little Blue. He is an old VW driver (though not anymore) and his father still drives one. He was happy to see that it gets driven and I could see in his face that, when times were simpler, before kids and owning his own company, he was a "bug man". Just him and his little car against the world.

In a meeting at work a few months ago, someone stopped in to tell me that there was an old man having his son take pictures of him by Little Blue. Apparently, they had circled around the car, parked, and had gotten out, camera in hand, to stand by the car. This didn’t help the people at work understand it any more than they already don’t.

A homeless man recently stopped me as I drove by. He wanted to know how to tell the different years apart. I started trying to tell him from the driver’s seat, but ended up pulling the car into a parking space and getting out and walking him through the changes that I know (though, I don’t know them all very well). He was happy that I took the time and, although I tried to refuse it, gave me a plastic champagne bottle full of those firecracker poppers for my trouble. His name is Matt.

I’ve impressed many a toddling child with Little Blue as well. Most are confused as to why “Herbie” is not white. Especially when their parents (usually in a “stay away from the bearded hippie”-type voice) keep insisting that “it’s Herbie!” I try not to start up the car when they are around as I don’t want their childhood ideals of fighting global warming tainted by my exhaust.

Aside from the obvious demographics, it stuns me sometimes that the bug seems to impress the unobvious demographic. I was coming out of Best Buy a few weeks back at the same time a hip-hop-type was. I never figured he’d have the slightest interest in Little Blue. When he saw me getting into the bug, has said, “Oh man, you get to have all the fun while driving”. We spoke for a few minutes about the car and then we were off.

Another time, while registering Little Blue at the DMV, I parked next to another VW bug while the driver, a man in his 70s, was getting in. He got back out and we talked about our bugs – recent purchases and first bugs for both of us – for the next 15 minutes. He said it was the best car he had ever owned and was excited about doing the work himself.

And the little skate punks seem to like it as well. They invade downtown Petaluma on the weekends and I am too old now to act like I have any street cred. So I don’t. But most often, I get out, lock the car and am greeted by, “cool car, man”. Which makes me feel like I might have street cred after all. Maybe not, but at least I’m not worried that they will key it.

And how do you respond to the countless times someone says, "Cool car, man"? Do you say, "Thank you" as if you had something to do with it (which in the case of Little Blue is not at all true). Do you nod and walk away as if you are the cool guy with the cool car? Most often, unless they throw me off, I say, "yeah, we have a lot of fun with it". Which is why we bought the car in the first place.

Driving the bug is such an experience with the community that I have trouble turning it off sometimes. Peoples' cars will come up in casual conversation and I’ll ramble about the bug for 15 minutes, boring them to one word answers. Headlights, taillights, 6-volt, bla, bla, bla. Not everyone loves the bug. Or perhaps not everyone loves the bug until it is sitting in front of them.

I’ve owned many cars that have a cult following – a Jeep CJ-7, a MINI, a FJ-40, A K-20 Blazer – but none has gathered the attention of the general walkabouts like the bug. I have come to learn that anyone, at any time, regardless of their appearance or social status, might be interested in Little Blue. It’s a rolling piece of history that, like all history, seems to make the world a little smaller.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Tale of Two VW Engines in December 1972 Hod Rod Magazine

Please note: The vast majority of this article is lost on me. All I know is that Darrell Vittone is the son of Joe Vittone (founder, EMPI) and was no stranger to the VW Cal scene in the late 60s, early 70s.

And, of course, there are VW ads...

And, while this last ad has nothing to do with VW, it is in here as a historical low water mark in advertising. Most of the old adverts in Hot Rod magazine (and Truckin' Magazine) appeal to a specific market. Can you guess which one?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Vintage Tuesday! - Bug and blue hairs.

Bug and blue hairs.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Van-der-bug in August 1974 Hot Rod Magazine

Click on the images to make them bigger...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Niello Ranch Run 2009!

What's better than 3 full days of VW Fun? Well, this year, 3 full days of camping with old friends. So I won't be making this NorCal VW tradition. But I thought people might be interested.

Food, parts and nice VWs. I'm in next year for sure....

If anyone goes, send me some pictures.

Here is a schedule of events:

Cruise-in @ Sonic Burger
Pleasant grove and HWY 65
Hosted by Sac Water Car Club

SATURDAY, 4TH 11:00AM - 3:00PM
Open House BBQ @ Bugformance
1620 El Camino Ave - Sacramento

5PM - 8 PM
Open house BBQ at Kombi Haus
3537 2ND Ave- Sacramento

8AM -9PM Ranch Run from Niello VW to " THE RANCH" in Lincoln
9AM - 10AM Registration
10AM - 3PM Car show and swap at " THE RANCH"

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The artwork of Peter Aschwanden

Peter Aschwanden - October 4 1942 - December 3, 2005

You will recognize, immediately, Peter Aschwanden's name if you have a copy of John Muir's How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step-by-Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot (see post about John and his book here). Peter and John met in New Mexico in 1968, at John's wedding. A little while later, John went to Peter when he was looking for someone to illustrate his then-unpublished book about fixing Volkswagen automobiles. Peter agreed and it started what would become a working relationship with John Muir Publications that would outlast John himself.

Here are some examples work beyond the Idiot Book...

As John Muir publications grew with various books, so did the extras that you could order from them. Each of the company's VW books came with an order page in the back to order copies of his books, cassette tapes of VW engine sounds, and, - now this is where is gets cool - t-shirts and posters featuring artwork from the book - Peter's artwork.

Below is an example of an order form:

The vintage order form.

Peter had taken some of the more iconic images from the books - like The Exploded Bug, and made posters and "shirtz". I was interested in trying to find these old posters and had very little luck on eBay.

Then, I stumbled on Flathead Graphix. Peter's widow, Deborah Reade, still has t-shirts and posters available through her relatively new site, (click here for the site). I recently worked with Deb to order a few poster and a few t-shirts. If you are interested, you can email her direct at [ reade (at) nets.com ](put that together for an email address!).

The shirts and posters are of high quality and I can't wait to try to make some frames for them and throw them up in the shop. EP said that, looking at them, she feels like she needs to have markers to color them in (they are black ink on white paper). It is a shame EP doesn't understand fine art...

Below is what I ordered. (Exploded Beetle and Cutaway City were pulled by Peter himself, back in the day). And the Exploded Bug t-shirt (which I ordered in blue and cream). Good stuff!

Cutaway City from The Velvet Monkey Wrench - 25 " x 34 "

Exploded Beetle from the VW Idiot book - 19" x 29"

Transaxel Dream from the VW Idiot book- 12" x 18"

My new, blue "Exploded Bug" shirt!

  © Blogger template por Emporium Digital 2008

Voltar para o TOPO