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John Moxon Premium Member
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 25, 2008 2:59 am    Post subject: History of VW Vintage Speed Reply with quote

Sounds like a weighty title for a Sticky but what we’re after is to trace the course of VW Vintage Speed.

It can be through early magazine adverts, brochures, books, catalogues, period photographs and especially first hand experiences from any of our older readers who were actually doing it “back in the day.”

Just a friendly note…this will be moderated quite strictly so try not to get too far off topic…posts that add little to the topic could well be removed. Smile

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Just to start the ball rolling this is a picture of probably the best-known Judson VW ever, taken in 1960. It was owned by W Frank Edmondson of South Carolina and having bought the Ghia in 1959, took just a few days to realise this was no street performer. He settled on a Judson Supercharger upgrade and over the next couple of years racked up 38 ¼ mile class wins.

So pleased was Frank with his Judson he wrote a letter of thanks to the Judson Company and they used his testimony and pictures of the car in a promotional leaflet included in every Judson Kit for a number of years.

Today the Ghia belongs to Mike Gregory of “House of Ghia” and is just a short step away from being reunited with a Judson Supercharger to complete the restoration.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 25, 2008 3:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here’s a couple of hop-up kits from 1950-51. There’s no date on the Kompressor article but the twin Amal carb set-up is dated 1951. The pictures are supplied by Andy Sparks.

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The blower article mentions "Italmeccanica-Kompressor" which, in a previous Samba Topic about these articles brought this information from Coad:

coad wrote:
By far the most popular, and apparently the most plentiful, of early blowers is the italmeccanica/S.CO.T. This small, good-looking, dual-lobe, Roots-type supercharger was first produced in italy as the italmeccanica and was imported as late as 1951 in complete kits for american cars such as Ford and Merc flathead v-8s-chevy 6s,Crosleys, And Studebakers. These blowers were made in different sizes for different engines. The "I.T." blower, as it was often called, produced six to eight pounds boost and increased horsepower on a stock 59A Ford V-8 from 82 to 150 at 4,000 RPM in one reported dyno test. Later, American versions of this blower were assembled in New Jersey (using American thread and bearing sizes) and were called the S.CO.T. (probably for the Supercharger Co. of Turin.) Larger versions of the S.CO.T. were subsequently made for Cadillac and Oldsmobile OHV V-8s in the early 50s.


The general consensus from the previous Topic was that it was, in fact what later went on to be the Swiss MAG Supercharger.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 4:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've plucked these quotes from a "Vintage Speed" topic on this forum:

John Moxon wrote:
Dave wrote:
Things were so bad with EMPI and VWoA that Joe told me once a rep from VW came to Economotors, saw a GTV with all the bells and whistles on the showroom floor, and told Joe to get it out of there immediately, or his franchise for selling VWs would be kaput...


I can well believe that Dave. Judson used to sell their blower kits through many VW Dealers in the early years...until VWoA got wind of it.

They issued a warning to all dealerships that if they sold anything but officially approved accessories they would be in breach of the terms of their franchise. A bunch of after market manufacturers launched an anti-trust lawsuit against VWoA in the early '60s...and won.


VW's attitude to aftermarket tinkering is well known...strictly no go. I was wondering if anyone knows if EMPI was part of this anti-trust lawsuit or what kind of terms they were on with VWoA.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2010 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John Moxon wrote:
I was wondering if anyone knows if EMPI was part of this anti-trust lawsuit or what kind of terms they were on with VWoA.


That I do not know, John. I know that, first and foremost, Joe was trying to *HELP* VWoA. That's why the replaceable valve guides, the camber compensators, and the other stuff that the Mother Ship just couldn't see marketing to those crazy Yankees...
Joe had told me time and time again, he was not trying to hurt VWoA, or usurp their authority, he was only trying to help them improve what he thought, was already a damn fine little car. He knew that racing, and performance accessories, sold well in the US, from some of his other ventures, so, what the heck? save the 36 horse cylinder heads, make bigger pistons and barrels, get SPG to make roller bearing stroker cranks, stick an extra carb on that little watchwinder engine, and go racing !!

Lots of folks don't know that when Dan Gurney DROVE the car he raced at the 1962 (I think..???) Nassau Gran Prix across the United States, then won the race against some factory prepped cars (Jag, MG, Austin-Healey, etc) and then got "Outruled" by the factory teams for having "non-stock valve springs" (yeah, like those factory teams weren't "fudging" just a tad...) the car came back to Riverside, and sat...and sat... and sat some more. Then, a guy named Dean Lowry went to work for EMPI, and decided to take that old Oval Window Sedan, and go drag racing with it...with the orange paint, (in the beginning) Rader wheels, and "Inch Pincher" written on it... I think most people know the rest of the story...
Another interesting tidbit... ever wonder why there are so many EMPI forged cranks out there? This may be part of the reason-
according to Joe, a lot of people had trouble with the idea that the VW engine could NOT be lugged down, and driven under full load at 900 rpm.... consequently, Economotors saw a lot of snapped crankshafts. Under warranty, the first broken crank was replaced with a cast Volkswagen unit. If the person came in again, with another broken crank, they figured that the person was either not going to figure out that the engine needed to stay above a certain rpm, or that the person was running the car hard, and launching it, ,etc, so the 2nd time, they got a forged EMPI crank.... end of problem. Joe would charge VW for the warranty work, and even on the 2nd go-around, he would charge like he had put a cast VW crank back in....
Well whaddaya know? VW went from CAST cranks, to FORGED ones, soon after.... hmmm, wonder where they got THAT idea? Idea
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PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wish badly there was more to read here! very interesting topic.
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PostPosted: Wed May 05, 2010 12:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

millerje78 wrote:
I wish badly there was more to read here! very interesting topic.


x2 but a lot of the people who hold the knowledge don't do Internet Forums. Confused
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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 11:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I posted these elsewhere, but can contribute historic photos, especially PA Hill Climbs...I'm the Historian and Archivist for the organization.


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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

These photos...along with the cover above show PA's Jack Rabold (#56), road racer and hill climber.

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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many PA hill climbers took to ice racing in the winter. Pictured here, Lake Naomi in the Poconos.


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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 11:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's great...pictures are always gratefully received. Is there any information on the spec for these cars?
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PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2010 6:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is a interesting moment in the history of Vintage VW speed. This "moment" happened at the 1957 Mobilgas Rally in Australia.


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Here an ad from the same issue of Modern Motor from Lukey Mufflers:

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 10, 2010 7:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe you won't want these posted here, being modified and all….but it was a beast! Here are the details from the guy that built it!
1957 vw, full length wheelbase, final form - body
chopped 8-10 inches - not shortened, body welded to pan. front sway
bar -16mm 356 -B stock bar. Front axle 57 vw, shimmed for more
caster with torsion leafs modified for softer rate. Steering box 356-
B. Front hood - vw with panels cut out and replaced with Al. Gas
tank - Sears moped - 1 gal. Instruments - oil pressure and 356-B
tachometer, no time to use, launch 3-5 grand on up-swing. Shocks -
Konis. Rear Z-bar off 1500 series vw. Transmission - 356-B original,
first-fourth BBE3C, 644 1&2, 741 3&4, Ring and pinion - 7: 34 last
one vasek had, with limited slip, 1500 drop 2-3 & 3-4, not much better
combo - only hewland. Engine - 356-C case, 356-B heads, small valves
with 8mm stems, pistons - worn out 150" over MC's, approx 1730 cc's,
10.5 to 1. Cam - Elgin 316-In, 320-Ex. Vertex magneto from Porsche
industrial motor re-curved. Flywheel-180 mm, 5lb. Carbs - 46 IDM-2
Webers from a 356-B GT and later Carrera Arbarth GTL using 587/2
Carrera 2 liter motor, in l963, ( info from Gmund #14 1984 - 904's
used 587/3 series Carrera with 48 mm Webers). Motor mounts - solid.
Brakes - 356-C discs all around. Wheels -Front - 8" wide, 13" dia.,
Rear - 12" wide, 13" dia., steel by greenville wheel and rim and very
heavy and cheap. Tires were qualifing compound takeoff's from open
wheel formula car, one of Penske's, very light and very thin
sidewalls, from Phila . Also had set of deluge rains, very soft,
from their european formula car effort, tires $ 20 each.
Driving style - point - shoot - shift and hang on. Red line - when it
stopped pulling, probably 7 plus. Safe? not very. Car built
originally by Gary Davis, Don Dietrich, and Tom Davenhall, last ran in
Pa. by Denny Frick and Harvey Davenhall. Paint design by Milton
Bailey in Atlanta, {kids called it the puzzle car). 0-60 was probably
in 3,s, 60 was roughly top of 2nd gear. Will have some more pics when
figure out how. Also, no generator, cooling by 57 chevy defroster
blower- small battery. oil cooler was old condenser mounted on roof.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.



I do have the details on the Rabold car…just can't put my fingers on them right now.
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1965 Notchback SCCA/PHA prepared, 1966 Bus, 1968 Beetle, 1969 Bus, 1970 Squareback, 1971 Fastback, 1973 Thing, 1983 Rabbit LS, 1986 Cabriolet, 1987 Viper VW powered "A" Sports Racer, 1996 Harlequin Golf, 2001 Eurovan Weekender, 2003 Jetta Wagon, 2007 Passat 4Motion wagon.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 09, 2010 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not sure if this is what you are looking for, but I did some research on the vintage components of my own engine that I built for my '58 standard bus.
About two years ago or so, I answered an ad in the local Craiglist about an estate sale featuring a horde of Corvair parts and "some" VW stuff. Since it as near the house I went to check it out and discovered a treasure of old speed stuff.
The owner was dead, and had been into VWs back in the early '50s switching to Corvair I guess in the early '60s so all the stuff he had was bastard 40 down. He was big into buses as he had a clothing business and used them to haul stuff. I found a bunch of barndoor stuff for example, but the best find was a pile of 36hp engines under the house.
Right away I found a dual carb kit mounted on a set of heads along with the linkage. Turned out to be a Rethwish kit.
Rethwish was an English outfit that predated Okrasa. In fact EMPI sold the Rethwish kits here in the US before switching over to Okrasa in the early '50s. The Rethwish kit used dual stock 28 PCIS on aluminum manifiolds with a balancing tube mounted on stock heads. The kit included linkage which was an aluminum bar with clamps on them to actuate the carbs. It used the standard return spring and appears to have a provision for using the manual choke but I haven't figured that out. I found no air cleaners (unfortunately) and still do not know what they came with. For now, I am using the WolfsburgWest early Knecht knock-offs.
Anyway, digging further I pulled out like 10 cases. Looking closely at one case that had a Porsche Pre-A large crank "OT" pulley I noticed the crank was eight dowled. I thought right away it must be a Okrasa crank! Cool! But found out it was something even cooler.
After cracking the case I found a stroked 69.5 cranks stamped with "EMPI" on it. Upon doing some research I discovered that back in the day the owner of EMPI wanted to produce a stroker crank to meet demand here in the US. This was pre-Okrasa era. Anyway, he went to Porsche and asked who was making their cranks and went to the same foundry and had some made to specs to fit in a VW case. Once Okrasa came out with their cranks EMPI stopped selling these.
I assembled my engine using all these components found a couple miles from my house running in a bus that sold locally and has never been out of the county.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 09, 2010 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stonefish wrote:
Maybe you won't want these posted here, being modified and all….but it was a beast! Here are the details from the guy that built it!
1957 vw, full length wheelbase, final form - body
chopped 8-10 inches - not shortened, body welded to pan. front sway
bar -16mm 356 -B stock bar. Front axle 57 vw, shimmed for more
caster with torsion leafs modified for softer rate. Steering box 356-
B. Front hood - vw with panels cut out and replaced with Al. Gas
tank - Sears moped - 1 gal. Instruments - oil pressure and 356-B
tachometer, no time to use, launch 3-5 grand on up-swing. Shocks -
Konis. Rear Z-bar off 1500 series vw. Transmission - 356-B original,
first-fourth BBE3C, 644 1&2, 741 3&4, Ring and pinion - 7: 34 last
one vasek had, with limited slip, 1500 drop 2-3 & 3-4, not much better
combo - only hewland. Engine - 356-C case, 356-B heads, small valves
with 8mm stems, pistons - worn out 150" over MC's, approx 1730 cc's,
10.5 to 1. Cam - Elgin 316-In, 320-Ex. Vertex magneto from Porsche
industrial motor re-curved. Flywheel-180 mm, 5lb. Carbs - 46 IDM-2
Webers from a 356-B GT and later Carrera Arbarth GTL using 587/2
Carrera 2 liter motor, in l963, ( info from Gmund #14 1984 - 904's
used 587/3 series Carrera with 48 mm Webers). Motor mounts - solid.
Brakes - 356-C discs all around. Wheels -Front - 8" wide, 13" dia.,
Rear - 12" wide, 13" dia., steel by greenville wheel and rim and very
heavy and cheap. Tires were qualifing compound takeoff's from open
wheel formula car, one of Penske's, very light and very thin
sidewalls, from Phila . Also had set of deluge rains, very soft,
from their european formula car effort, tires $ 20 each.
Driving style - point - shoot - shift and hang on. Red line - when it
stopped pulling, probably 7 plus. Safe? not very. Car built
originally by Gary Davis, Don Dietrich, and Tom Davenhall, last ran in
Pa. by Denny Frick and Harvey Davenhall. Paint design by Milton
Bailey in Atlanta, {kids called it the puzzle car). 0-60 was probably
in 3,s, 60 was roughly top of 2nd gear. Will have some more pics when
figure out how. Also, no generator, cooling by 57 chevy defroster
blower- small battery. oil cooler was old condenser mounted on roof.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.



I do have the details on the Rabold car…just can't put my fingers on them right now.


Stonefish, please keep these coming. Great stuff, vintage but also different than the common posts. Who knows, we may just learn something !
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 2:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Historian and Archivist for the Pennsylvania Hill Climb Association

1965 Notchback SCCA/PHA prepared, 1966 Bus, 1968 Beetle, 1969 Bus, 1970 Squareback, 1971 Fastback, 1973 Thing, 1983 Rabbit LS, 1986 Cabriolet, 1987 Viper VW powered "A" Sports Racer, 1996 Harlequin Golf, 2001 Eurovan Weekender, 2003 Jetta Wagon, 2007 Passat 4Motion wagon.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ralph Chase 1967 Spring Hershey Hill Climb

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Historian and Archivist for the Pennsylvania Hill Climb Association

1965 Notchback SCCA/PHA prepared, 1966 Bus, 1968 Beetle, 1969 Bus, 1970 Squareback, 1971 Fastback, 1973 Thing, 1983 Rabbit LS, 1986 Cabriolet, 1987 Viper VW powered "A" Sports Racer, 1996 Harlequin Golf, 2001 Eurovan Weekender, 2003 Jetta Wagon, 2007 Passat 4Motion wagon.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 5:01 pm    Post subject: Dick Beith-the 1st Volkswagen World Record Holder Reply with quote

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In 1960 Dick Beith drove his 1958 Vokswagen bug to the Bonneville Salt Flats to participate in the annual Bonneville Nationals Speedweek event. His 36hp engine was equipped with home made intake manifolds and dual carburetor system fitted to VW single port cylinder heads. The 1192cc engine placed him in the F/Touring Sports category of the era.

Dick went on to set a new two way average land speed record of 77.107 miles per hour across the salt flats with a fastest one way pass of 80.874 mph after which he then drove the bug back to California. This was the first ever world recognized speed record set by a Volkswagen powered vehicle and was the inspiration for the creation of the 36hp Challenge in 2005.

Using modern technology and the knowledge gained over the intervening five decades, this record was only recently surpassed by Bruce Cook of North Carolina. Today, the current record holder for this category of 36hp based Volkswagens is held by Justin McAllister of Blackline Racing with a speed of 103.056 miles per hour set at Bonneville during the USFRA's 2009 World of Speed event.

The 36hp Challenge continues..................

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Correction to my earlier post. Johannes (John) Gosvig and Mel Ellis visited the salt flats with their 1955 bug in 1962 and upped Dick Beiths 36hp dual carb record to 94.40 miles per hour. It was another 47 years before the Gosvig/Ellis record was surpassed by Bruce Cook in his 1951 Canadian Standard bug.

Sorry for the mis-information.........

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 12:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Here is a photo of the Gosvig/Ellis 55 bug at Bonneville...........

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2010 12:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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VW's have been part of Bonneville and Vintage Speed since the early sixties. You can see both and early bug and bus in this photo from 1962 taken with my 1913 expandable pocket Kodak camera. Also visible are a 59 El Camino and 59 Ranchero.

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