For those of you not into the VW scene, Econo is the dealership that created probably the most influential manufacturer of aftermarket parts for the VW and dune buggy scenes. Econo sold these parts under the EMPI name. I also own the fiberglass dune buggy sold by EMPI, the EMPI Imp.
So I grew up riding in this car. For the most part, my Dad drove this car as his daily driver until 1986 when it was showing it's age. Instead of selling it, they parked it, knowing that I'd be driving in a few years and a VW Bug is a great first car for a teenager. When I got close to getting my driver's license, my parents helped me to get the car up and running again. I drove the car all through high school and even a few years of college. It's been my on-again, off-again driver ever since.
|A BugSelecta rendition of what my 1969 Bug will look like.|
It definitely needs some work now, and that's what I'm working on. I was influenced by the look of the custom VWs called the Cal-Look. The front of the car is lowered, with narrow tires, and the engines is a strong hot-rodded unit, giving the car a purposeful yet understated look. This is the look I'm going for my car. Currently I'm working on a few things. I'm working on getting the custom wheels I want, and I'm working on getting the parts I need to build the engine. Currently it was a basically stock 1600cc Type 1, but I'm working on a 2056cc Type 4 engine, originally from a '76 Bus. I'm hoping to get 120-130hp out of an engine that will travel over 100,000 miles.
This fiberglass dune-buggy came way through my brother. I had taken a new job and on my way to work I spotted this buggy. I couldn't believe my eyes, it was just parked in the driveway. So needless to say, I made it a point to drive that way on the way home, making sure to slowly drive by it and see more of it. A few drive-bys helped me to identify the buggy as an EMPI Imp, one of the two models made by the famous EMPI of Riverside in the '60 and early '70s. A few days of doing this, I deduced it was probably a '70 or '71 model, the last two years these buggies were made. I admired it for a while, knowing that even if the owner would sell it, there was no way I could afford to buy it. That's where my brother steps in.
We were up in that neighbourhood about a year later, conducting some business, and I told him to drive by this house. He was intrigued. We stopped and knocked at the door, hoping someone would be home on the Saturday afternoon. Well, the owner was home, and he came outside with use to show us the car. He told us that he wasn't interested in selling it, but that he was looking for someone to figure out the brakes.
We exchanged numbers and agreed that we could be hired to fix the brakes. If we couldn't own it, at least we could get it running, take it for a drive (got to check our work, right?), and make a few extra dollars. That night, my brother gets a call from the owner, saying he and his wife bought a new car and if we were interested in the buggy, he'd be willing to sell it to my brother. That next morning we loaded the truck with a tow-bar, chains and our usual assortment of tools, and we drove over there. That afternoon, we had the Imp in our driveway.
My brother was now a proud owner of an EMPI Imp. We both shared a deep admiration for the EMPI Imp. We spent all of that day getting it running, figuring out what needed to be replaced or repaired, and discussing how he want to make it better.
Fast forward a couple of years, and my brother makes the decision to move to Colorado. He knows that he can't take the Imp with him and that he will need a car with doors, roof, and heaters. I traded him my '87 Scirocco 16V for his Imp and his '74 Westy, which suited me great.
Since taking ownership of the Imp, I've worked on a few improvements. One obvious improvement was the wheels. The Imp had these ugly mismatched steel Baja wheels on it, initially white, but my brother repainted silver later on. I was able to located the wheels on it now, stripped/refinished them, and topped them off with stock Bug dome hubcaps. They helped to give the Imp the retro look I was looking for.
1965 Type 3 Karmann GhiaAs for my T34, I was actually given it. A great lady I work with actually owned two of these beauties. Linda has a '64 that she's owned for decades now, and acquired this parts car about ten years ago. Her '64 hadn't run in eight or so years, so after learning I was into VWs, she enlisted my help in getting her '64 running again. I was happy to help, as I'd like to see another VW on the road, especially one as rare as the T34.
The first time I went over to her house, I looked over her '64 in amazement. It was in excellent condition. She was so tickled to have someone so into her T34 that she told me I could have the '65. She wants to see it go to a good home and be back on the road one day.
It's in a pretty sad shape. I'm working on it when I can, as time and money is available. These cars are really rare, so finding parts for them can be difficult at times. It's going to be one of those long term projects, and that's fine with me. I've got my own T34!
Right now I'm just assessing what I'm going to need and gathering the parts as I can. The car was originally painted red with a black roof, so since that's a pretty nice looking combo, I'm going to have it repainted in that scheme. But, before that can be done, the body damage has be fixed. That's going to be the worst, as it's been hit hard and a lot of stuff is missing.
|A Type-3-Selecta representation of my goal.|
I'm going to customize it with my usual style. It'll be lowered in the front end, custom wheels (I'm thinking 16" Porsche Alloys this time), and a really nice 2.2-2.4L Type 4 engine. That should make the car a really nice driver, something to take wherever I want. Nothing is set in stone at this moment, so my plan may change down the road.
At this moment, this project is on the backburner. I'm working on some other projects at this moment, but I hope to someday get a garage large enough so that I can give this car the restoration it deserves.
-- The VDubGeek