This may be an interesting look at one person's involvement in the VW world
OR maybe it's a narcissistic bit of tripe...... but it's MY web page and you don't have to read it! <grin>
It's the early sixties....... high school, girls, HAM radio, cars, and motorcycles.....that was my life then. My dad, although a very successful senior piping engineer, knew nothing about cars, so my interest in and knowledge of motor vehicles was self inflicted and not encouraged. I was 15, about the time the Japanese motorcycles invaded our shores. Until then, in my mind, motorcycles were only owned by police departments and outlaw motorcycle gangs.
About this time Dick's Sporting Goods in Whittier, California started selling Yamaha bikes and had several "80s" lined up in a row. I would ride my bicycle up to his store and sit on the bikes and dream of "flying" down the highway, going where ever I wanted without the aid of my parents or the city bus.
The Yamaha 80 was $380, a bit more than what I had in my savings, but Dick cut me a deal which I think was just to keep me from scaring away his other customers as I was always slobbering over the bikes. I don't know why my dad agreed to the purchase but my mom was horrified and promptly took out a life insurance policy on me. This was a good idea as the next few years I went on to own 5 motorcycles and I insanely never turned down a dare when it came to what I could do on a bike.. It amazes me that I never hurt myself more than I did.
I can only imagine the "discussion" my parents had a bit later after the bike purchase, but the result was that I inherited my sister's well worn 1955 Chevy and $500 to get the car painted, upholstered, and new tires (Note that recapped tires from a department store (Broadway) don't last long with a teenager at the wheel <grin>).
Having my own car for transportation allowed me to tinker with the motorcycle and learn how motors work. I was one of those kids that took everything apart to see what was inside and how it worked......at age 7, my mom's new toaster comes to mind as it's replacement was kept locked in a cabinet. So when I say tinker, I mean take it completely apart and .......well......uh...have the guys at Dick's Sporting Goods help me get it working again. Eventually I figured it out and started modifying the motor, increasing the stock 8 hp to around 12. Then started racing, more bikes, actually helped develop new high performance products, even worked on a bike for Bonneville speed trials.
A part time job working at a gas station in La Habra (when they actually worked on cars) aided in my education as the owner would have these ladies come in with their car for some work and while I fixed the car, he would leave with them to receive his "payment". The real mechanic refused to work on jobs with this kind of arraignment but, at least, he would answer my questions.
Now the reason I mention all this, is this is how I learned about cars and motors and it started with air cooled motors. Because most motorcycles only have 1 or 2 cylinders, if the slightest thing goes wrong, it's obvious, unlike a big V-8 where if one plug misfires, you may not even notice. Every little thing makes a difference and is important.
awake? Now, we get to the VW. It's now the late sixties and a friend
of mine shows up with a VW given to him for college. What a strange little
car. I was familiar with air cooled cars as my mom had a '63 Corvair (and
that's another story), but this car was fun to drive, was a stick shift
and was so ugly it was cute. We took turns seeing how much abuse this
thing was capable of enduring, shifting without the aid of the clutch,
taking turns on 2 wheels, etc. and the car was still fine when my friend
finally went away to college.
I had to get one of these, so off I went to the VW dealer and found a '61 bug with a lot of miles on it but was priced right.
By now I've owned 5 motorcycles and had souped everyone of them up, so getting my hands on an Empi catalog really fueled the fire and I ended up with the Zenith 2 barrel carburetor on my 40hp motor and a custom set of headers from Phil's muffler in La Habra. Eventually I stuck in a Potvin cam (anybody remember those?) and tried to get dual stock carbs to work on homemade manifolds and using cable linkage.......they didn't work well.
evening in 1966 I was cruising Whittier Blvd
with my girlfriend and a line of about 8 or 9 bugs drive by. I thought
that was so cool so hurried to catch up to them and this guy yells out
"follow us.......we are starting a VW club". I did and
they did and the club was Volkschargers of Southern California, sponsored
by Meltebeke VW in La Habra. The club was a social club and open to
anyone who owned a VW. We had about 150 members at any given time and did
an assortment of events as a club. We once went to Econo Motors in
Riverside to visit Empi and Dean Lowry rolled out the inch pincher for us
(click on picture at right). When I was president, we put on the first
Krazy Karavan (since copied by other clubs) with 242 cars parading to
Irvine park for a huge picnic. That event made the TV and newspapers
and two magazines. That's an entire story in itself.
|Back then you individualized
your bug by sticking on a whip antenna or installing a chrome record player
or having your girlfriend's name painted on the passenger door in gold
leaf. Definitely pre Cal-look days and basically the same thing mini
trucks went through when they became popular.
Anyway I went to some car show in 1967 or 68 and there was this bug with the back windows filled and I thought that was so cool so I had it done to my car. I had bought a brand new 1968 Z-28 Camaro so I had another car to drive allowing me to do anything I wanted to the bug. Now being a Chevy guy and having tinkered with my mom's '63 Corvair (she never knew and there's another story there), it was natural for me to stick in a Corvair motor.