A Few Wonderful VWs From A VW Show I Helped Judge: Cold Start

Cs Vwshow1

Yesterday, at a charmingly rural dragstrip in the middle of North Carolina, a metric crapton of Volkswagens, mostly air-cooled Beetles, Type 2 Buses and trucks, Type 3s, and all manner of bajas and kit cars and other wonderful variations, gathered noisily on a lawn, where they parked or raced one another, even more noisily, on the dragstrip. This was the Southeastern VW Association’s Fast Times at Farmington meet, which I helped to judge, in my own limited way. Let’s take a look at a few of the fun things I saw, because, you know, life is for the living.

Up top there was one of my favorite Beetles from the show. It wasn’t by any means the nicest restoration, or the rarest or oldest or most unusual, but it was a really delightfully rugged-looking 1965 Beetle, with big wheels and grabby tires and an overall look and feel like a Class 11 Beetle, the sort used for desert racing. I loved it.

Cs Vwshow2 Otis

This is Otis. He’s a friendly old man, and he’s having a great time sitting in a terribly nice Type 2 single-cab pickup with the rare canvas top setup. These are fantastic old workhorses, and that’s a good boy in there.

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Here’s a lighting detail that I liked, as it’s a nice example of the sometimes useful clash of modernity and vintage. It’s a Type 2 bus light, but in place of the birthday-candle-bright parking lamp bulb that usually sits in that headlight unit next to the sealed beam, we have a modern LED bulb, which I bet dramatically changes the light output there.

Cs Vwshow5

Oh man, this thing was absolutely gloriously bonkers. It’s a tiny sandrail-type VW, built on a dramatically cut-down Beetle chassis with nothing but a tube bender and a healthy disregard for comfort or safety or, really, human rationality. It’s so good. Even better, the guy who built this wonderfully mad little thing drove it into the show. No trailers or tow bars or any candy-assed things like that. It’s street legal, and as such drives on streets. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn the owner/builder uses this thing to commute to their job at what I assume is the Ambassadorial office of the People’s Republic of Badassistan.

Cs Vwshow6 Ovallight

Here, on this Super Beetle, I want to point out this delightfully strange oval foglamp. Neat!

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Another VW Type 2 pickup, but I wanted to show you this fantastic stripe job. It just looks so good, and I even like the restraint of the grayscale palette. Plus, not sure if I’ve seen a Type 2 pickup with a stakebed before.

Cs Vwshow8 Tin

For this, I’d like to draw your attention to the lower center of the picture, specifically that bit of screw-on tin that covers the front of the crankcase pulley. I’m showing this to you because it’s missing on nearly every other Type 1 VW I’ve seen. That bit of tin is more rare than, say, a rooster that speaks Dutch and wants to make you a Cobb Salad, for free, if you wouldn’t mind reading their screenplay.

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This ’52 was absolutely immaculate. It had all the little details I love: semaphore turn indicators, split rear window, and crotch-cooler vents.

Cs Vwshow11 Empisportster

And finally, here’s a rare thing: this is an Empi Sportster, a very early dune buggy kit for shortened VW pans. It was made with mostly flat metal panels and as such had a cruder look than the more popular fiberglass buggies like a Meyers Manx. Also, kudos to the owner for understanding proper car face eye placement.


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27 Responses

  1. There’s a hero about a half mile from me who dailies a Beetle in similar condition to the one in the header image, minus the rugged mods. I think he works at the ShopRite, because I only see it there or at its home. Just a humble corn silk colored bug, probably ’60s vintage, trying to survive the NJ winters. Makes me smile.

  2. That sandrail thing is superb, very very cool.

    I’m not feeling the stripes on that pick-up though, the Z on the door doesn’t work for me, would look better running in to the top guard rail around the bed instead.

  3. The sand rail is absolutely awesome. Though I do not want to comprehend getting in and out of it. Nearing 50 now, getting up and down in/out of that thing doesn’t sound fun. But driving it…that sounds perfectly divine.

  4. That Super Beetle is the same color as mine! For inexplicable reasons VW called it “Kansan Red.” I don’t see it a lot. And this reminds me to upgrade all my lights to LEDs, as well as add a third brake light. Since the pandemic, drivers around here have gotten much worse, less attentive, and more aggressive, so I need to make my car more visible.

    1. Ah, yeah, that particular red was a popular color for the Super Beetles where I grew up. My family had a ’73 Super Beetle in that color which was called Kasan (or Kazan) Red; when ww bought some touch-up paint from the VW dealer for our Super Beetle we were told it was so named after a region in either Russia or Germany known for producing a particular red pigment from the local clay.

  5. 1: We are running out of time man, we need to find someone else to be a judge. Who do we know that will work for a grilled hotdog and soda but knows the difference between air-cooled models, maybe even owns one that will never run again? Bonus points if they get tingles in their nether regions when they see a well made taillight?
    2: I think that Torchinksy guy lives around here. I mean he did concours d’elegance once and even if he was escorted by security back to concours d’lemons for starting a fight in the caviar line he probably fits the bill.

    1: Alright, he will do. I guess we just say something really rude about Ford Cortina tails while using Tesla self drive beta to summon him?

    2: That should work.

    Idk, show organizers probably.

  6. Hey nice meeting you Sunday Jason at Farmington and that happens to be my 1964 bug on military tires! Lol. Has split bus reduction boxes and 40hp motor. 🙂
    Thanks for turning me on to your site .
    Cheers. Erick.

    1. That thing is awesome! Ditto to what Torch said about it looking like a Class 11 racer.

      How much gear reduction do those boxes give? Are they portal axles? I imagine those would have an impact on your top speed.

  7. Now I want to meet that rooster. Just for the novelty.

    That’s a gorgeous split-window, especially given that it’s probably worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $100k. Those used to be much more common back in the day when I was going to VW meets (e.g., the mid 1980s). Soon those will be cars that one only sees in museums.

  8. That screw-on bit of tin reminds me of a time in the UK when there was a spate (in tabloid terms – probably about three cases) of bits falling off airliners onto people’s homes and gardens. Airline spokespeople said something along the lines of “…nothing to be concerned about, they are not vital parts…”, which had me confused. My image of aeroplanes is that they are engineered down to the minimum, so everything is vital, even with built-in redundancy (which is vital for safety reasons).
    If that bit of usually hidden tin is missing on most Type 1 Beetles and they are fine without it, why was it there in the first place?

    1. I’ve got an air-cooled Beetle and I think that is the one piece of engine tin that is not directly related to cooling. All the rest of it directs cooling air and seals off the top half of the engine, from the bottom half. There is a “well” I guess you could say, formed by the tin as it goes around the fan belt at the bottom of the engine. Since it’s sealed up down there anything that dropped in would get stuck down there or possibly flung up by the rotating pulley. That piece covers up the well. It does have to be removed to change the fan belt, and if you don’t put it on right it could rub the pulley. So I see why people would have left them off.

      Wish we could post pics, I’d just go out to the garage and post up some visuals.

    2. I’d be guessing it’s probably there to control airflow around the motor for cooling. Hard to tell from the pic how hard it would be to remove and refit, but people might just leave it off when they have to remove it to change a belt, thinking it will make it quicker next time they have to do it. And it probably doesn’t leave a big enough gap when it’s left off to make a noticeable difference to cooling.
      The Fiat 850 I had (watercooled but rear engined) relied on close-fitting panels around the lower end of the engine for proper cooling, to make sure air pushed through the radiator (also in the back) didn’t recirculate into the engine bay. The panels were shaped to fit snugly around the sump with rubber seals. If they were left off the car had noticeable cooling issues pretty much immediately.

  9. A local bug person often shows up with his original-paint ’67 Bug with well over 300k miles on it. Same dark blue as my under-reconstruction ’67 squareback. Last time I talked to the owner of the bug, it was still being driven daily for work. Ah nice.

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