There was a time when Volkswagens were driven daily even for the most mundane of purposes. Ours ferried children to and from school, carried me to work, took the wife to the grocery store, even did duty as “trucks” carrying lawn mowing equipment, a water heater and, once, …a tree!
Today, far fewer see such service. Those that do usually are not in particularly good condition. Very nice examples see fewer road miles each year as their owners pamper them from VW event to VW event.
That’s why Doug Smith’s 1967 Red and White Beetle stands out in the crowd. It’s a Road Warrior!
6 or 7 years ago, Doug purchased the car from his brother, who had acquired an import-auto repair shop. The previous shop owner, a mechanic, had rebuilt the engine from its original 1500ccs into a single-port 1600cc engine—otherwise, still stock in function and in appearance. (Note: 1500cc jugs and pistons are extremely scarce—thus accounting for the rash of 1600 single-ports built on the HO engine cases)
That’s when Doug found me. I had some parts for sale which Doug needed for his car–to make it right. And, so began a very nice friendship!
As I interviewed Doug for this article, here’s what emerged about his car:
- Engine: 1600cc Single-port
- Carburetion: Brazilian 30/31 with a smaller 112.5 main jet
- Distributor: Bosch -034 SVDA with Compu-tronix electronic ignition
- Fan Shroud: stock “skinny” shroud
- Fuel Pump: stock mechanical pump calibrated to deliver 1.5 psi
- External Oil Filtration System: running synthetic 5w-20 in Winter and 5w-30 in Summer (no external oil sump)
- Transmission: stock 4:12 ’67 tranny
- Fuel: regular unleaded
- Suspension: stock front and rear
- Brakes: stock front and rear
- Decklid: for cooling during our extreme Texas Summers—a steel faux ’67 convertible lid
- Maintenance: very regular maintenance
- Rust: no rust anywhere
Doug told me that his family had always had a Beetle around. His dad even provided a ’67 Beetle for him during his high school years. Ever the innovator, Doug’s father used various tricks of the trade to beef up rear brakes and other aspects of the car to improve its reliability and safety. There have been some up-dates to the car.
Doug Smith is a big guy—6 foot 4! Regular Bug seats really were cramping his ability to drive comfortably. So…he installed 2007 Jetta front seats, leaving the stock pan rails intact. Since the front seats were nicely upholstered, Doug had the rear seat and the door and quarter panels professionally recovered to match. A new headliner and new carpeting also were installed.
What would Doug like to have to add to his car? A pair of genuine ’67 rear bumper over riders! He has not been able to find a decent set.
Doug follows his father’s footsteps and partners with his father in a fabrication shop. Together, they have developed many innovations which they market around the World, including American automotive, gyrocopter and glider, developmental space rockets, resin, fiberglass and carbon-fiber research and development and, yes, Volkswagen. It was only natural that recently they would purchase an entire VW engine-building shop and enter that business as well. All of this is to say that Doug relishes the opportunity to research.
With his ’67 as a guinea pig, Doug experimented with different types of fuel, including aviation gas, all 3 grades of automotive gasolines and mixtures thereof. During his extensive testing, he found that he could obtain the best results using regular unleaded gas. . He discovered that by using regular unleaded gas, he could average 5 mpg more than by using aviation fuel, for example.
Because Doug daily drives his Bug a round trip of 60 miles, he was able to thoroughly test these fuels under many driving conditions, including all seasons. His driving is mostly highway driving at speeds of 45-55 mph. He consistently averages 30 mpg.
Now for the fun part of Doug’s driving experience.
Since he drives early of a morning to get to work, he bought and installed a pair of driving lights, using P-clamps so as not to drill holes in his front bumper. He bought a vintage driving lamp switch and installed it in the cabin.
He purchased a set of vintage venetian louvers for the rear windshield for a cool look and for cooling the car’s interior.
In order to further his testing of fuels, he purchased a year-correct vintage, and extremely rare, VDO trip-metered speedometer (eat your hearts out, people!). This was restored by The Orange Empire shop.
North Hollywood Speedometer built a replica tachometer to mimic the original option that would have been available for a ’67 Bug. This, Doug installed into the speaker grill. Using the original grill and trim, Doug installed the gauge so that it appears to have been there from the factory!
The Sapphire V radio was shipped to Precision Stereo in New York where Robert Pacini cleaned the radio and modernized the guts for supreme tone and volume.
In the glove box, Doug installed two aviation-grade gauges: a cylinder head temperature gauge drawing simultaneous information from the spark plugs of both right and left cylinder heads, and an oil gauge with input from the drain plate plug hole. (Note: Since this writing, Doug has removed his radio and installed 3 gauges into the radio hole, without cutting the dash, of course.)
Testing for aerodynamics, Doug installed fender shirts for a short period. Apparently they do not add much to promote gas mileage.
I must not forget to mention the USA rear Bumper Plate which Doug found while browsing an antique store. This plate appears to be a genuine antique…of the same purpose as the D and other plate designations used in Europe.
One recent, very early wintry morning, Doug sent phone photos of his car being covered with snow. He told me that his Beetle was delivering him safely and smoothly right to work, despite the road conditions. “I love my Bug!” Doug told me.
Doug maintains that he must repaint the car. Daily use leaves its share of rock chips and other dings. But, these are not embarrassing scars—they are marks of honor for a Road Warrior which stands proudly everywhere it parks!
Thanks, Doug, for sharing your ’67 with 1967beetle.com.