As 1967beetle.com takes a deeper look into the archives, it is time to shine a bright light once again at the best parts provider in our great hobby. A huge thanks to Ron Bengry over at Wolfsburg West for taking part in this fantastic featured article we first published in 2011.
Tell me a little about Wolfsburg West. How did it begin?
Wolfsburg West was founded in 1987 by Tony Moore. In that era, the VW restoration scene was in its infant stages, and only a handful of businesses were catering to this new hobby. Tony realized the dire need for early VW parts while restoring a 1955 VW Kabriolett in the early 1980’s. At that time, finding something as simple as a vent window seal was nearly impossible.
Clearly motivated after completing the 1955 Kabriolett restoration, Tony set out to make life easier for future hobbyist by creating Wolfsburg West. The goal was to offer quality restoration parts for stock VW Beetle and Bus models. With a keen eye for detail, and a thirst for quality craftsmanship, Tony made the very first of many future products in for the form of an accessory hub cap puller. To this day, Wolfsburg West produces over 500 restoration-quality parts and accessories for 1979 and earlier VW’s.
How many people work at Wolfsburg West? Who are they?
Our team consists of 17 players, all of which work closely with one another to create a very efficient operation.
Tony Moore is the Head Coach and President of Operations.
Carla Moore is the Vice President and Controller.
Ron Bengry is General Manager and Purchaser.
Richard Morris, Mark DePew, Oscar Morales and Sean Tunstill are Sales Consultants.
Jamie Fryar is our Secretary, and Assistant to Carla.
Louie Urbano, Misael Garcia, Ruben Mendez, Alex Royero, and Steve Hill are Part Expediters.
Elena Arana and Maria Garcia head-up the Part Assembly and Sewing Dept.
Selena Garcia handles Part Labeling and general duties.
Roberto Hernandez is our Head Part Assembler, and general duties extraordinaire.
What’s a typical day like?
We ship 150-200 orders daily, worldwide. We abide by a rule that if an order is received by 3:30 PM, it ships the same day. So, for the majority of the employees at Wolfsburg West, they are ensuring that this promise is kept, by pulling, packing, and shipping orders.
In your opinion, what makes Wolfsburg West different from other Volkswagen part suppliers?
Wolfsburg West is a hands-on company, whereas we practice what we preach. Each member of our sales staff is expert in the field of VW restoration. We also drive and restore these vehicles ourselves, so we know what it takes to do the job right the first time. In addition, we have quality control standards that are second to none. Our simple philosophy is that if don’t feel comfortable installing a part onto our own cars, we don’t offer it. For this reason, a lot of products that other companies offer fail to make it to our product offering. Sure, we could offer certain items like ill-fitting Italian fenders, but we think our customers deserve better than this. Products that do not meet our standards simply do not make it to our product line, period!
You guys reproduce a lot of Volkswagen parts. What is the process like for such a task? How do you choose what products to reproduce?
We develop all of the products we produce in house. We use SolidWorks to draw 3D conceptual item, which our hired contractor uses to produce a first article sample. We extensively test the sample product to guarantee proper function and durability is met. We’re our own worst critic, so often times a product requires many revisions prior to completion.
For the most part, we choose items for production based on current trend, and by current product improvement. For example, if our current source is not able to achieve proper quality standards that our customers require, we investigate production. There are some limits however, as the expense involved for producing some items is prohibitive. As much as we would like to produce all items for Beetle and Bus models, there are financial limitations.
Tell me a little about the Wolfsburg West bumpers. How close are they to the original German units?
This is one of our hallmark items, and one that we are very proud of. Firstly, our bumpers are pressed to the same shape and contour as the original. If you notice other aftermarket bumpers, you will find black plastic wedges placed between the bumper blade and tube. Our bumpers are made as the original German version, in that the tube mates the blade flush. Secondly, our bumpers are plated in the U.S.A. using a 5x plating regimen: 3x layers of nickel, one layer of copper and one layer of chrome. This enhances durability, and makes the chrome shine better than original.
Does Wolfsburg West carry NOS parts?
We certainly try too! Nothing beats the original; VW set the quality bar with the products that they used for their automobiles. Unfortunately, there is not a great resource for such items. But, we continue to search the globe for NOS parts, and our endeavors are ongoing.
How do you think the vintage Volkswagen scene has changed over the last 10 years?
Certainly the Internet has allowed the restoration hobby to become more efficient. Folks are able to source parts better than before, and they have a lot more choices as a result. This has helped to perpetuate the hobby into high gear, which is very exciting. Online social sites are another benefit, all hail Facebook and Twitter!
What advice would you give someone wanting to restore a vintage Volkswagen Beetle or Bus?
Never throw anything away until you have located a replacement. The worst assumption you can make is to think you will be able to find the exact part simply by making a phone call of visiting a few web sites. As worthless as a particular item may seem, it may come into handy in the event you are forced to fabricate. Not a day goes by that we don’t receive a phone call from an unsuspecting restorer asking a question about a part that is not available. Having the original part in hand, no matter how tattered, can be used as a means of a pattern for some improvisational work.
Document your project by taking copious amounts of notes and photographs. This is especially important during the dismantling stage, prior to painting. Paint and body shops are notorious for taking huge amounts of time to paint a car. During this time, all that you removed is now out of sight, and out of mind. Taking photos and writing notes will enable you to assemble your car properly and with much less mistakes.
Pick up the phone, or e-mail us for assistance. We’ve all been there before, and we’re always willing to give advice and assistance…..we’re at YOUR service!