Eric, tell me a little about yourself, your background and how you became interested in restoring vintage Volkswagen parts? I grew up on outside of East LA in La Puente, CA. Both of my parents where high school teachers. My father from Ohio; mother from New Mexico both decided to settle in Southern CA. My Very First introduction to VWs was quite literally when I was 2 days old! My father purchased a 1958 blue ragtop sedan several years earlier. In the summer of ’61, pops picked both mom and I up from the hospital; my very first ride in a VW! He loves to tell the story about how he took out the passenger back seat and put 15-20 pillows in. He wanted Mom and I to be more comfortable as we all drove across country. The sound from the 36hp motor in my folks ’58 Ragtop, even way back then was like music to my ears.
I wanted to write about the difference in quality with the 3 major types of bumper available on the market for your VW Beetle. Luckily, John Henry has already done this! His wealth of knowledge on the subject deserves a shining light. I could not agree more with his very last comment:
“If you ever find an old warehouse with a stack or two of German bumpers, guarded by an old 80-year old former VW mechanic who is willing to talk for cash… drop me an e-mail…”
Tell us a about the history of Airhead Parts. How did it begin? I started Karmann Ghia Parts and Restoration in January of 1989. I began making parts for Ghias in 1992. I found that “cross over” parts, those fitting other VWs in addition to Ghias (like wiper grommets or horn buttons), had much higher sales volume than those fitting Ghias only. At that point I knew sales totals for Karmann Ghias were always going to be low, so we made our first part for the Beetle, a 1960-61 turn signal switch. At that time we also started a little wholesale company Ventura Warehouse Group (most people just call it VWG) to wholesale out these non-Ghia parts. That was in 1998.
In 2004 Walt Disney Pictures called up VWG to place an order for a mountain of parts for 20 early 60s Bug rag tops. I knew they were making a new Herbie Love Bug movie. At the time we were in the planning stages for the 50th Karmann Ghia Anniversary Cruise. L.A to Osnabrück Germany. I was already talking to VW of America about being a sponsor. So now Disney was in the mix. When they both said “OK”, it became the “Herbie and Friends Cruise Across America”. I decided then that Airhead Parts would go full retail with a new website and a new print catalog. That was in 2005.