Up until last year, many SoCal Vee-Dub gearheads made room in their summer schedule for the VW Jamboree, traditionally held in August. This happening ceased to exist for a long list of reasons, and a few of our readers may lament its demise--the Jamborees from the early '90s were especially awesome! But events like the VW Panic organized in July fortunately fill the gap with great success. Thanks to the hard work of promoter Gary Justus and his crew, the Panic has in fact evolved into what many consider as the best gathering of Volkswagens in Southern California.

Gary's fascination for the German marque can be traced back to the '70s, and he still owns a very cool Sahara Beige '64 Sunroof Bug, a rare Cal Look survivor from the infamous Orange County Bug-Ins. His son Eric has followed dad's footsteps, choosing to wrench on a Type 34 Ghia. While still lacking paint, the latter debuted at this year's show with a monster 2332cc motor fitted with Weber IDAs. Killer ride, Eric!

The Justus family and its friends has put together the VW Panic since 1998. This non-profit event started as a small 100-car affair held in Orange County, before moving to old-town Upland located 40 miles east of Los Angeles. Participants and spectators love the current location, where you can find plenty of shade under the trees or in front of the long-standing buildings. They came in handy this year, as the temperature reached close to 100F degrees! Some of the stores and restaurants remained open, thus allowing families especially to enjoy the day without a moment of boredom. Kids could also take part in the Panic's drawing contest, while adults had the opportunity to browse through the swap meet.

Most Volkswagens invaded the streets leading to a small circle on which stands a gazebo. For a few hours, the latter became the command center for Dyno Don Chamberlin, the show's official emcee. He certainly knows how to entertain a VW crowd, thanks to three decades of experience! About 240 vehicles joined the excitement, a slightly higher figure than in 2002. But keep in mind that only about 20 New Beetles showed up this year (half the number of the 2002 edition), hence, the aircooled participation was definitely on the rise! As usual, the Southern California clubs cruised en force, and to spice up the event, one specific area welcomed several vintage race cars.

An impressive lineup of trophies was awarded to some lucky Vee-Dub owners. To give a fair chance to everybody, Gary set up two separate types of judging: People's Choice (participants vote for their peers) and Judged Awards (the verdict comes from a panel of Volkswagen enthusiasts). The big winner of the day was Steven Ephraim, who went home with the Best of Show award--you may remember his highly-customized '61 Bug from our June 2003 issue. This piece of machinery definitely impressed the crowd!

We should finally mention that the VW Panic raised close to $1000, which was donated to the Hillview Acres Children's Home in Chino. From the crew of VWTrends, we would like to thank Gary, his family and his helpers for putting together this awesome show. We love it and we will definitely be back next year to support it!

Car Show Results
"People's Choice Awards": Bob Sowersby, '53 Oval. Sue Cowling, '03 New Beetle. Blase McFadden, '59 Ghia ("Mean Machine" drag car). Collin Fullam, '73 Thing. Ron & Karen McCleery, '61 Ragtop. Alex Guerdat, '65 Bus. Greg Rios, '58 Convertible. Jackie Garcia, '03 NB Convertible. Chris Horan, Single Cab TII. Rob Garretson, '72 Bug. John Varela, '56 Ragtop. Mike Macias, Single Cab TII

"Judged Awards": Best of Show - Steven Ephraim, '61 Bug. Promoter's Choice - Richard Schriver, '55 Convertible. Vintage - Ray Robinson, '51 Split. Type II - Randy Gates, '57 DeLuxe Bus. Type III - Martin Serrano, '65 Type 34. Karmann Ghia - Lisa Meier, '58 Ghia Convertible. New Beetle - John Mostachetti, '00 NB. Resto-Custom - Will Pellegrino, '56 Bug. Classic Cal-Look - Joe Maestas, '57 Bug. Special Interest - Neil Bledsoe, '69 Fastback Convertible. Kit Car/Buggy - Mike Cruz, Buggy. Hubcap awards - Brian Rivas ('73 Convertible), Bruno Freyre ('92 GTI), Basil R. Dale ('65 Sedan). We should also mention that Carl Rubly won the Engine Build Kit.

Special thanks to...
Of course, this event couldn't have been a success without the help of the VW Panics sponsors: Empi, Speedwell USA, Oldbug.com, Meguiar's Car Care Products, Quality German Auto Parts, Tenneco Automotive, Hawaiian Shave Ice, Rhoads Enterprises, DLH Motorworks, Bug Shakk, Pacific Customs Unlimited, Ventura Warehouse Group, MPH Speed & Custom, BFY, Rancho Import Specialist, A-1 Muffler, CNC Custom, VW Trends. Thanks to all of you guys!

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