Gizmo Gadgets Cars

Gizmo Gadgets Cars

Gizmo Gadgets Cars

(or how i became a vw / porsche fanatic)

Gizmo Gadgets Cars

AIR Cooled Reloaded
(or how i became a vw / porsche fanatic)

My earliest and also as I think of it, some of my fondest memories of air cooled engine adventures began in my dad’s 1963 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia coupe. Which as I remember was a bit rough. It had some bondo here and there I’m sure and I vaguely remember him painting the car in Royal Blue Krylon or Rustoleum or the 1973 equivalent. As I write this I can see the car and the road and my dad as vividly as if they were presented before me at this very moment. You know, I just caught a whiff of leaded gas, hot oil and mildewed seats as I write this. Dad would actually let me, a 10 year old boy, sit in the driver’s seat and run the ghia through the gears up and down old county rd 87 thru Boonsboro Missouri. I don’t expect you’d know much about Boonsboro Missouri.


But let’s suffice to say a ten year old driving the Karmann Ghia up and down the road with his dad at his side was no threat to animal, mineral, pedestrian, farm implement nor passenger conveyance. It was fantastic! What an adventure. the sounds, the sensations, the gear grinding! It hits me hard as I write this because I just now connect the memory dots in my mind with the fact that my dear dad is buried now on that road in a little church cemetery at the 4 Square Church of God in Boonsboro.


He was a fine man, a good man. A Navy War Veteran. He’s been there three years now. Breaks my heart, My grandma too. They’re both on a rise overlooking county rd 87. That very stretch I drove actually. Somewhere in time a Royal Blue Karmann Ghia carrying a 10 year old boy with an ear spanning grin is pushing by that cemetery with that familiar staccato whistle exhaust ringing through his boyhood trying to find 3rd gear. What memories! Mom and Dad had a 1968 bug, Baby Blue, a pretty solid example actually. All of 53 horsepower. Somehow we ended up as a family with an extra vehicle. Not common in the 1970’s, at least not in our socioeconomic circle. My dad, the resourceful guy he was had an opportunity to rent the extra car on a monthly basis to one of his teacher buds for a little extra income., A Mr. Kuhn as I recollect.


One day we got an urgent call from Mr Kuhn. It was bad news. “Bob” that’s my dad, “there’s a problem with the vw”. It caught on fire. A fuel line had failed and sprayed fuel all over the hot air cooled motor. I’m sure a lot of fuel pretty much instantly became explosive vapor and it lit off. From what I remember of Mr Kuhn I’m wagering this was a very difficult day for him. . He was A “Bill The Cat” kind of guy (google it as required) Miraculously the engine compartment fire burned out quickly and the rest of the car was saved. Well I guess my definition of saved and State Farm Insurance Co.’s definition of saved differ slightly.


The MAN decided that the baby blue precious progeny of Doktor Porsche himself was a loss. Total loss they said. They’d send mom and dad a check and a tow truck would come to pick up the scorched bug-destination salvage yard. As I mentioned above, my dad was a resourceful guy. Long story a little shorter he cut a deal to buy the bug back from the “like a good neighbors” for fifty bucks. As I returned home from school one afternoon shortly thereafter, after the typical one hour bus ride.  My stop was the first in the morning and last in the evening so I had the dubious distinction of being a Royal silver platinum diamond frequent bus flyer and no doubt held the school bus and bus bladder endurance record for the rural Fort Zumwalt school district’s longest bus route, on the bright side I did have my choice of seats.


Did I mention I needed WHEELS? Dad was tinkering on the vw up on the carport. “Bear” he said. “Here’s your car.”Fix it”. Have you seen the scene in Swan Lake where the ballerina alights to point and flitters around the stage in Tchaikovsky induced euphoria.? Ya? That was me-sorta. As much as a six foot two clumsy wooly headed defensive tackle can flitter around. I was though most certainly euphoric. “Hell (I mean heck) ya!” No more hitchhiking home from 2adays. (You could do that then) and maybe just maybe with the correct preparation Patty Ann would acknowledge my existence.


And I felt confident the knowledge I had gleaned from Hot Rod Magazine (still a subscriber) could be put to good use in improving Ferry Porsches people’s car. As I remember I set to work in building what was to become a suburban or more accurately a rural legend the “TwitchMobile” . My friends, it was a cool car. I repaired the engine, added Webber carbs, a cam, header pipes. Steel slotted chrome mags, 60’s on the back, 70s on the front. Rear fender flares. (An early S?). Chrome barefoot shaped gas pedal, tiny steering wheel. 8 track tape player ( oh ya! Remember those? Kachunk kachunk! ) fm converter to play fm freqs through the am radio. JC Whitney (they’re still around) supplied NOS bumpers and running boards and whatever else you needed for your bug.


to top it off orange deep pile Shag carpet was installed on the ceiling and Porsche Royal Blue metallic paint was laid on the old girl’s curves. The car rocked. Honestly it really was a good looking bug. Shamefully I never kept a picture of her. I sure wish I had. But you must understand pictures then required a camera, a trip to photomat etc. I learned a lot in that car, almost killed myself and my friends more than once in that car. And gained a freedom that I still cherish today. I remember putting $5.00 worth of gas in her and that lasted a good part of the week. I believe I remember gas at 59.9 then and I remember for sure it was 79.9 cents per gallon for a long time back in those days hell (I mean heck) gas was cheaper than milk.


I know this because milk purchases went hand in hand with gas purchases at the Zephyr station. I remember Friday nights at the i70 drive in and of course Saturday night was date night (yes a few with Patty Ann) I remember the excitement of hitting the road every morning to drive to school and home again after as a senior. TwitchMobile. Vroom! What memories! After high school came confusion and indecision but also the recognition that I better do something with my life. I discovered this organization called the Us Air Force you’ve probably seen or heard their commercials. A good outfit and You know what? They have a few air-cooled engines too! They’re actually a whole lot like our dear Porsche power plants except these little mills are mounted in Cessna and Piper airplanes. The Air Force had aero clubs back then where a relatively indigent airman could take flying lessons and get their pilot license. I did that.


It ended up being a pretty good move for me. About 32 years after I swore the oath and learned to swear four letter oaths with the best of them. I throttle up big Pratts or GEs on Boeing 767s and head south to Brazil, Argentina or Chile once a week or so. What memories! And still making a few. (Thanks Steven R. Counts, Lycoming and Continental. ) My first real Porsche came into my life at the tender age of 38. A 1986 black over black 930 coupe with chrome turbo twists. Her name was Black Beauty. I bought her without driving her, without a ppi and basically over the phone. The Lord works in mysterious ways, helps those that help themselves and looks after idiots. “Thank you for looking after me lord”.


It turned out to be a great car. Let me repeat that for my own enjoyment. A great car! Dagnab it! What a great car. What a fun car. ( I’m flittering again- to Tchaikovsky can ya picture it?) my buddy John would describe it as a bad mamba jamba. And it was, if you’ve never driven one, you must. I heard rumors the car did 165mph+ on the George bush tollway in Dallas once. It would stop on a dime and never ceased to bring a smile. As time went by black beauty was driven less and less and she was becoming a garage queen. Blasphemy. Soon a beautiful wife was wed and a beautiful daughter came into the world. real estate debacles here there and everywhere necessitated a need for the legal tender. The 930 hit eBay.


I had purchased the car for $24000. My goal was to get that money back! After fielding many an inquiry a young man decided he’d invest the time to come and see her. He did, he was swayed and he left $25,500.00 in hundred dollar bills on my kitchen counter. Took the title and said he’d send a truck in a few days to pick her up. I had mentioned to him earlier the tires were getting a little long in the tooth but he wasn’t concerned. His intent was to track her and burn those tires down anyway. I was a bit dismayed Black Beauty to the track? No! Oh well she’s his now I imagine she did just fine. A few days later I helped load her on a truck. I was actually pleased(How twisted is that). I had actually sold a car for more than I paid for it. With eyes cast down I ask you. Have you seen turbo prices lately? I can’t touch that car for less than $50k 3 Short years later. What memories! (update year 2021 $100,000.00 now)


This brings me to the current chapter of air-cooled reloaded. I’ve had enough! I’ve had enough of life without a 911! Life’s too short, aim high, there’s no substitute, seize the carp! All of it! I’m on the hunt. I’m back in the game. I AM ALIVE! I AM PORSCHE SHOPPING!. I’ve done my homework, I’ve asked the questions. I’m ready. This very morning as I rode the crew bus to our layover hotel in São Paulo after flying the red eye from Atlanta. a black on black 1995 993 c4 coupe is going through a thorough ppi in Naples FL. If she passes I’m picking her up later next week for the road trip back to Chattanooga. Seems like a fantastic car! I have my fingers crossed. And my wallet is out to the tune of nearly 50,000 dollars. I hear Tchaikovskyz’s orchestra warming up as I don my slippers. What Memories! Can you picture it?
PS. Thanks Dr. P.


2021 update:
The Air Cooled love affair has continued we now have 6 Porsches and 2 VWs.

1968 VW Beetle
1971 914
1974 914
1974 Super Beetle Cabriolet
1995 911 C4
1999 Boxster
2003 Boxster S
2003 911 C4S