Doug Smith’s L456 Ruby Red ’67 Beetle

Featured ’67 Beetle — Doug Smith

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!

Featured ’67 Beetle — Doug Smith

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.

Featured ’67 Beetle — Doug Smith

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.)

Featured ’67 Beetle — Doug Smith

Testing for aerodynamics, Doug installed fender shirts for a short period. Apparently they do not add much to promote gas mileage.

Featured ’67 Beetle — Doug Smith

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

Posted by Jay Salser

My wife, Neva, and I have been driving and working on VWs since 1976. In fact, we raised our family in these cars. Now, we are retired and enjoy VWs as a hobby. The ’67 Beetle always has been our favorite year. We own a '67 Beetle and a '68 Karmann Ghia.

  1. I drive buddy, my 67 bug everyday 60 miles a day six days a week. He never let’s me down. 28 mpg too!!

  2. Right on! This is what I like to hear.

  3. Nice article Jay! In response to Louie, I’d like to add that I too drive my 67 to and from work every single day! Rain or shine, but mostly rain for now since we are in Seattle! I’m like the guy in the Honda commercial who purposely forgets the milk and has to drive back to the store again and again only I’m not alone because my two and a half year old daughter “Sophia” jumps in the back and will not let me leave anywhere unless she goes with me because she absolutely loves that car! “She loves the noise it makes and the way VW’s smell on the inside!” I think thats pretty cool! Since after all, I did buy that car for her after I’m done reconditioning her ; ) Jaime

  4. I think that it is wonderful that people still depend upon these vintage vehicles for daily transportation! That’s how they were meant to be driven–although I don’t know if Ferdinand ever envisioned that ’67 Beetles would still be being driven daily–over 46 years later! jay

    1. And when Buddy needs repairs, I borrow my Dads 58 Ford Ranchero!!

    2. Jay,
      Great article and great site. The ’67 Beetle was a good year for us.

      1. Your comment is much appreciated! We, who so value the 1967 Beetle, are indebted to Volkswagen AG for the thought and energy that went into this Model. Our desire is to see preserved as many of these cars as possible– with integrity. has become the nucleus of this movement–sort of the “glue” that is bonding us. Eric Shoemaker, architect of the Site, never dreamed that it would develop into what it has become in only a short time. We expect even greater interest as the word gets out. Thank you for your support! jay salser

  5. Great article! I too drive my bone stock 67 VW every day in Austin Texas. Chigger gets 28 -30 mpg in town and 30 -32 on the highway and will easily average 70mph all day long. My wife also has 2 daily driver 67 VW’s — Ruby is a convertible and Fillmore is an 11 window kombi. Come visit us at the Leander VW Harvest Fest this weekend 10/6!

    1. Thanks for reading!

  6. matthewjohnkeen October 4, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Nice Beetle Doug, I like your style, my beetle has a decklid created the same as yours, im running a 1200 eco motor at the moment but have all the parts for my H code 1600 single port engine, going to take my time on it and build it up to look like a 1500 from the front.
    If 1500 Barrels and Piston were not so expensive I would have gone this way.

  7. Hi guys, nice story :)

    What do you think about rebuilt a single-port 1500cc engine to single-port 1600cc, ¿Whats the difference? Because just now, I have my VW in repair, and the mechanic say me about change a few parts to make my 1500 a 1600. He say that my old 1500 could be better.

    1. Hello, Juan…

      Thank you for commenting!

      Regarding your engine–if it is 1500cc and is in good running condition–leave it as is.

      But, if your engine needs to be rebuilt, let your mechanic rebuild it using 1600 cylinders and pistons. New 1500cc cylinders and pistons are very rare and difficult to locate. Most people use the 1600cc cylinders and pistons.

      You will not be able to see any difference when the engine is rebuilt using 1600cc cylinders and pistons. It will look exactly the same. But, it will have a little more power.

      The 1500cc engine is not any better–it’s just what the original engine was when the car came out of the factory.

      Thank you for sending your questions to


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