Rod and Justin Ewing's customized 1963 Volkswagen Beetle is painted "Sweet Orange," a Custom Planet Color mix, and powered by an air-cooled 1,835 cc four cylinder engine equipped with dual Kadron carburetors. (Photo by Terry Parkhurst)
Once upon a time, the 1932 Ford was the basis for most American hot rods, a term derivative of "hot roadster," so the story goes. But these days, a different group of enthusiasts have embraced the venerable air-cooled Volkswagen Beetle, and some of its derivatives, as the basis for their hot rides.
It's understandable, since now the air-cooled Beetle shares traits that the '32 Ford possessed, in the aftermath of the Second World War; (1) easy to work on; (2) ready availability of automobiles and parts (both stock and performance); (3) low cost of entry. Just as the flathead V8 engines in the old "Deuce" were "ported, relieved and bored over," so too are the flat fours of the car designed by Dr. Porsche to be "the people's car."
There are a number of clubs, around the United States, that have been organized to exchange notes about air-cooled Beetle restoration or modification. On July 16, at Shoreline Community College in Shoreline, Washington, several of them had a combined swap meet and show. 130 cars were formally entered and another 20 or so showed up and registered the day of the show. The entrees evidenced a cross section of the entire Volkswagen scene.
Doug Sprague, who owns a collision repair and body shop in Tonasket, Washington, brought a 1959 Karmann Ghia with body modifications that made it look more like a Porsche Carrera GT. Setting within its engine bay was a 455 cubic inch V8 from an Oldsmobile Toronado.
Parked right next to the radically modified Ghia, was a much more restrained, and mostly stock - save for a two tone paint job - 1952 Volkswagen cabriolet brought up from West Linn, Oregon by owner Dustin Howell.
Two rare, Volkswagen W527, type 3 Karmann Ghia coupes were just across the way and drew a number of interested spectators who talked to one of the owners, Mark Morales.
Two VW series W527 coupes, built to offer an alternative to a conventional Karmann Ghia, at the Northwest Volkswagen show and swap meet. Mark Morales, owner of the red '65 on the left, explains to people what they are. (Photo by Terry Parkhurst)
An example of how far an owner can go in making a vintage air-cooled Volkswagen into a full custom was Alan Meier's 1957 Volkswagen cabriolet. Painted an irridescent shade of what was called "Iris Blue," and with many chromed pieces underneath, it set above a mirror. At the end of the show, Meier's reward for bringing his car over from Issaquah, Washington was a First Place in Class.
It's hard to believe that, somewhere beneath all the chrome and numerous body modifications, is a 1957 Volkswagen cabriolet. Alan Meier, the owner, got a First in Class for his vision of what an air-cooled Beetle should be. (Photos by Terry Parkhurst)
Air-cooled Volkswagens are popular in Hawaii and a contingent from a group of former residents, now mainlanders, club Kahiko Kula, showed up. Reportedly the vintage Beetle makes a good island-car.
Paul Bubak brought a 1968 Volkswagen Beetle, type 1, which combined a stock body with a complete re-engineering. Sandy Auto Body of Sandy, Oregon was where the Seattle resident had taken his car to get it refinished in a glossy black; then it was fitted with alloy wheels from Airkeweld Surprise, sourced from Surprise, Arizona. It had been fitted with a well-named "Freeway Flyer" transmission and a heavy-duty flywheel by Strictly Foreign of Grants Pass, Oregon. Bubak built the rest of the car, along with help from his friends, Shane Medberg and Tim Walbridge.
Paul Bubak's 1968 Volkswagen Beetle type 1 had been re-engineered to be a freeway cruiser. The engine (below) was bored over and ported, then equipped with two 44 mm. Weber carburetors. Strictly Foreign, of Grants Pass, Oregon put the engine together. (Photos by Terry Parkhurst)
Not every Beetle at this show was modified. A few owners made it a point to keep their cars as stock as the day they came from the factory. Julie Danforth's 1962 Volkswagen Beetle, equipped with the rear square window, looked as if it just stepped out of one of those old "Small is Beautiful" ads.
So what, you might ask, took Best of Show amidst this varied collection of Volkswagen heritage? Dan Crist, a math teacher from Everett, Washington, brought that vehicle: a 1967 21-window Volkswagen microbus.
A member of Cascade Kombis, He said he'd owned it two years and still has a 1991 Volkswagen Synchro van that he bought new.
Considering that, in June, a 1965 Volkswagen 21-window "Samba" bus sold for $82,500 at an auction in Costa Mesa, California, math teacher Crist is ahead of the curve. - Terry Parkhurst
Recommended site: To learn more about that '65 21-window Samba microbus and a '63 23-window microbus that sold for $217,800, look at www.barrett-jackson.com