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bullet March 81 - September 82: 1965 Volkswagen Beetle (beater)

I was looking for some cheap everyday transportation because I didn’t want to drive my Mustang (tailight seen in picture below) back and forth to work.

 So I bought this ’65 Bug with a very tired 1300 single port and a severely crashed right front but driveable and only $300.

It had been a pretty decent car until getting hit by a “red light runner”. My mother thought I was nuts. Not only was the front end crunched, the windshield was cracked and the front axle was bent. I thought it pulled a bit. The tires were also bald.
First I got the windshield replaced ($30 installed) and then I hit up my friend Randy (the Goodyear guy) for some retreads($75 installed). I found a “new” front suspension in the paper for about $75 and set about attempting to pound out the front body work.  Mostly I cleaned it up a lot, which made a world of difference.
I picked up an “Idiot” book repair manual (“How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive, A Step By Step Manual For The Compleat Idiot” by John Muir) so I could figure out this unique piece of German craftsmanship. I kept the manual to this day because it’s just fun to read and a unique tome.  While sitting back and looking at it one day I thought (uh oh) this bug would make a great starting point for a baja, “Project Baja” was born! I mean the front was crunched and needed replacement anyway right. Just cut it off and slap the fiberglass Baja kit on it. Some of my friends were getting into off-road stuff so this would be cool. I had grand ideas of a trick 1835cc dual port w/twin Solex carbs, trick lifted suspension, minimal interior with a full cage and trick rims & tires.

As usual they were grand ideas that never saw fruition. It’s just as well though, I really didn’t need another project with the Mustang. I kept those ideas on the back burner and just drove the bug coming to the realization that it was perfect just the way it was. I changed the oil and adjusted the valves about once a month (the “Idiot” book says keeping the valves adjusted is critical to the health of your Volkswagen) and it just kept running. It was great, I could drive it just about anywhere and not worry about where I park. Besides it got great gas mileage and made a great transportation/parts running vehicle. I did build an off road vehicle though. It was a real monster too!

I did put in the little 10” inch foam rimmed steering wheel I took out of the Mustang and the “Wink” mirror I had lying around (that mirror sure got around). I also put those flared fiberglass rear fenders on it ($5!). Mine were fine but my friend Kevin needed some for his bug and I didn’t care so I gave them to him. Besides I was gonna turn mine into a Baja, right (the dream never dies). Other than that I was enjoying having a very simplistic vehicle. Once when I went down to pick up yet another Holley rebuild kit for the Mustang it died on me as I was headed home and just as it started to rain.  I got out and popped the engine lid to check things out. Everything appeared normal but when I began checked all the connections for tightness one of the primary coil wires fell off at the coil. I thought, great, now this. I figured I could just strip the wire insulation and wrap it around the post then look for the other problem.  I found a rusty but sharp enough razor blade in the glove box, stripped the wire and discovered that this was the problem. Apparently with only a few strands of wire it was enough to impede the electrical flow. I ended up driving it with the wire wrapped around the terminal for about a week and it never missed a beat. See what I mean about simple. I probably should never have sold it.

 

Herbytoys bullet May 82  - July 86: 1980 Volkswagen Scirocco S
In about April of ’82 while “researching” what car to buy I discovered the Volkswagen Rabbit and Scirocco. My original choice was a Ford Fiesta 'S' as it uses the 1600 Kent engine from the Cortina. While Rabbits were priced about the same as Fiestas the Sciroccos were a bit more but they were sweet looking. I really began to fall in love with them.
Well, the more I looked at the Scirocco the more I liked it. So I called all over the Bay Area looking for a new ’81 Scirocco ‘S’ with the 1.7 Liter. The ’82 model is a different body style and I didn’t like it as well. I found an ‘81 in San Jose for about $10K with a sunroof and all the options that had some mileage on it but was still being sold as new (never registered). Because it was over a year old it was considered a used car and therefore subject to used car loan rates.

As I couldn't come up with the difference I went back to looking for a good used car. Anyway, I went to to look at a Fiesta ‘S’ on a local lot and they had an ’80 Scirocco ‘S’ with fairly low mileage in good condition. They wanted about $3000 more than the Fiesta even after negotiations.  Just in case I test drove both cars and told him I’d think about it. On the way home I realized I really liked the way the Scirocco drove. The Fiesta seemed tinny and cheap. The Scirocco felt more solid and much "zippier" even though they're both 1.6 L (although the Scirocco is an OHC).

On May 5th, 1982 I went down and bought the Scirocco for the grand sum of $6700.25 out the door.  Even though it was white with red interior (not my favorite combination) it was a great car. The ‘S’ had a sportier interior with real Recaro seats, it’s best feature after the styling, and a different steering wheel but other than some red exterior striping and all black trim (no chrome) that was it.

This one even had a cool Kamei airdam on it. Apparently, as I found out upon later inspection, to replace the factory one damaged in an accident. It was still a lot better than the Fiesta and it’s what I was really looking for, a sporty econobox. So now I have “Project Scirocco S” (as well as the Mustang and the Bug).  Sigh…

 

Pictures at left show it mostly as purchased. Only the Cibies and the window louvers have been added

Around summer of ’82 I found “Club Scirocco” and started buying serious suspension pieces. I bought a stress bar from Apex Systems and front & rear sway bars (19mm Front, 22mm Rear) from Kontrolle. The stress bar ties the shock towers together keeping them from flexing inward under hard cornering. The club is what got me involved in autocross and racing from the inside. I always used to go to the Pleasanton fairgrounds and watch the serious autocrossers. It looked like a blast to me and it is. Near the end of the year the my 175/70-13 Phoenix Stahlflexes that I had on the front were wearing thin so it was time for more tires. I think I got about 8k – 9k out of them. Not bad considering they were designed for autocross and showroom stock racing. While talking to club members and reading all the hot magazines I discovered “plus 1” and “plus 2” which means going to the next rim size but using a lower profile tire to keep overall tire diameter roughly the same. I decided that “plus 2”  (15") was for me. I looked around and priced various rims and tires like the Stahlflexes I had, Fuldas (they were hot once) and rims like Panasport, Ronal, etc. The prices were more than I was expecting.

So I called my friend Randy who worked at a tire place to see what he could do for me. He told me about Enkei’s and said he could get them cheap (relative to everything else) but tire wise the best he could do was Goodyear NCT’s (it was a Goodyear dealer after all). Well we decided on some 15x6 Enkei 92’s (kinda BBS style) and 195/50-15 NCT’s for a total of $909.92 installed with lugs & locks. We swapped cars one day in November and he took mine to work to get them installed. I have to say it looked cool. It totally changed the look of the car. It didn’t look like every other econobox (at the time). It looked and felt like a sports car to me. Of course I hadn’t driven any sports cars yet so I had no point of reference. I also bought a Crimestopper alarm for it. With the new rims & tires it stood out a bit more.

 

1984 was an eventful year in the life of “Project Scirocco S”. Lot’s of new toys, personalized plates and an accident. I’m sure there was some autocrossing, racing school and much back road running. In the beginning of the year “Scirocco” got a Foho spoiler to replace the Kamei which was getting torn up on curbs and driveways. It was a real neat piece formed out of black high-density foam so it would flex and give a little. Being black helped give the car lower and a more aggressive look. At the same time I also added some plastic splashguards on the front as the bigger meats were throwing more mud and stuff on the side of the car. I purchased these items from Griffin Motorwerke in Berkeley owned and run by Terry Griffin, an interesting character to say the least. I bought a quite few parts and had a bit servicing done there.

Next on the list was 2 Kontrolle struts for the front, used, but still good and a bigger Neuspeed Throttle body both purchased from “New Dimensions” which was the new name for “Club Scirocco” and a business venture for the new president of the club, Tim Hildabrand. The name change was to include the now available in the U.S. Rabbit GTI and other tricked out front wheel drive water-cooled VW’s.
As I was still without a garage the next item was a custom fitted 100% cotton car cover from Beverly Hills Motoring Accessories. Now that the car is warm and snugly I got something snugly for me, a set of custom fitted Ramshead sheepskin seat-covers in black. In addition to being comfortable and decreasing the amount of red in the interior they helped save the firm side bolster that was beginning to wear. Recaros are nice to sit in but they can be a pain to get in out of everyday. I just kept adding to the list with an Allison XR700 electronic ignition and hotter coil to get rid of those nasty points. The next piece was a Leistritz Sport exhaust system, which attached to the header and got rid of my funky adapted turbo muffler and the test pipe/catalytic. The stock exhaust pipe was rusting out anyway and just about fell off at the catalytic connection. The Leistritz sure sounded nice and that oval black chromed tip looked quite cool jutting out under the bumper.
The fun was interrupted a bit by a little accident I had. I just wasn’t paying attention and merged into a mid size GM car. It was fairly minor damage to the right front and the plastic bumper cover, which I had repaired instead of replaced. It didn’t look half-bad. Next I added some small items like two inflatable lumbar supports, some 8mm plug wires and some new Pioneer Speakers (4x6 replacements in the doors and 6-1/2's in the rear pillars). I replaced the chintzy Crimestopper alarm with a Clifford BBIII alarm w/remote that worked really nice, fewer “falses” and nicer install.

Next I added two new Kontrolle shocks for the rear to match the struts. I guess I wanted a “Kontrolle Scirocco”. By the end of the year it was off to Sears for a Diehard then back to Griffin Motorwerke for a Drake header. This header was a pretty nice piece too. Made by the same Drake who used to build Super Vee race engines. I always wanted to put the trick Drake head & cam in my car but never made that step.
I later added a hi-power 4 channel JVC AM-FM cassette deck, a 40-watt Jensen amp for the front speakers and a 100-watt Alphasonik amp for the rear speakers. The stereo really thumped after that. I actually had a start on a real sound system. I also added a MOMO steering wheel purchased from New Dimensions which I liked a lot, it made driving the car much more enjoyable than with the original. I repainted the Enkei wheel centers black from the original gold. That really gave my Scirocco an aggressive look as did a Colgan full cover (covers bumper too) bra. I guess I added these items in ‘85 or ’86 along with my first personalized plates, “FOX RVNG”, which is supposed to mean Fox Revenge. It’s a long reach but a lot of what I wanted was taken. “Scirocco” loosely means “hot desert wind” and Rommel was the Desert Fox so I wanted “RML RVNG” or something like that, but everything associated with “Rommel” was taken so I tried “FOX RVNG” and found it was available. Everybody thought it meant “Fox Roving” as in cruising for chicks or something.

I know there were many things I wanted to do to it but never had the time or the money together to accomplish them. Long about the Spring/Summer of ’86 I was starting to get bored or frustrated, maybe both, with the Scirocco and decided I needed a change. Driving a lowered small car was starting to wear thin. It handled great but driving everyday was getting to be a chore. I had a Kawasaki GPZ550 for a fun machine I thought maybe a mini truck. (see Ranger GT)

Great Scirocco site   Scirocco.org

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