California. Pacific. The very words conjure up a vision of cruising down PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), wind in your hair, the smell of salt air from the ocean and, of course, a Volkswagen to enjoy the ride in. And what better VW to do that in, than an early Beetle Convertible?
Gary Vogl, of Mission Viejo, Calif., has it made. Not only is he the owner of California Pacific/JBUGS, in Oceanside, he has the perfect car to take the "coast route" to work every day. What started out as a 1964 Convertible, found in rough shape from an advertisement in a local auto trader publication, has become this ultra-fine beach cruiser. What cost Gary $2200 to bring home, was a rough, rusty Vert that, pretty much, only Gary saw as the car of his dreams.
Once Gary got the car home, he proceeded to assess what would need to be done to bring it back to life. Starting with the pan, Gary and the crew at California Pacific/JBUGS installed new floor pans, and a 2.5-inch lowered beam for that "just right" stance. KYB shocks absorb the bumps, and the stopping power remained stock, with all new master cylinder, wheel cylinders, drums, rubber lines and brake shoes. The fully polished EMPI-style five spokes are shod with 145-15 rubber in front and 165-15s in back.
Knowing that he wanted to use the car as a daily cruiser, rather than a trailer queen that required constant maintenance, Gary kept the engine to pretty much a stock configuration, which meant 1600ccs of displacement. A doghouse oil cooler and alternator provided some upgrades, along with a Weber progressive carburetor. All the work, once again, was done by Gary and the guys at California Pacific. The basic engine package was treated to liberal amounts of chrome plating to add some pizzazz to the otherwise stock powertrain. A Bosch 009 distributor was stuffed full of Compu-Fire electrics, to get the spark where it needs to go. For the exhaust, Gary once again raided the shelves of his store [must be nice, Gary!--ed.] and came up with a ceramic-coated Super turbo header and muffler.
To get the power to the ground, Gary called on Hank Harries, of Stuff Transmissions in Oceanside, to build a swingaxle four-speed for the Vert. Keeping in mind that Gary wanted a cruiser, not a quarter-mile monster, Hank started with a 3:88 ring and pinion and stuffed the rest of the trans case with a 3.80 first gear, 2.06 second, 1.58 third and a 0.89 fourth. This allows Gary to loaf along at the speed limit during the daily cruise to and from work. Now that the car was finished, Gary began driving it, to the tune of some 12,000 miles per year. Gary will take the car to a show and display it in his California Pacific/JBUGS booth, but he doesn't feel that it would be fair to try to win trophies with the car, as he admittedly had a bit of an edge of the regular VW guy when it came to re-do the car. It's a good thing, too, for all the other less fortunate Vert owners out there. Gary simply states, "it wouldn't be right, and it would tick off people if I did win an award." I don't think Gary minds too much, as he is having way too much fun cruising the car to worry about show politics.
He would like, however, to give special thanks to his dedicated crew at Cal Pacific/JBUGS for all the help and moral support he received during the pan-off re-do of this fine ride. Gary credits Steve Agnew, Sam Mebane, Jaime Marrison and Ulises and Cesar Mata for all their help and hard work making this Vert a reality. If you are ever in the area, stop by California Pacific/JBUGS and check Gary's daily driver out. Gary believes in using and driving what he sells in the store, if he won't use it, then he won't sell it. Congrats, Gary and the crew at Cal Pacific/JBUGS on a job well done !
Gary kept the engine to a...
Gary kept the engine to a somewhat stock configuration, which meant 1600cc.
Gary raided his store to come...
Gary raided his store to come up with a new wiring harness and TMI door panels and seat covers in bright white with sand tweed inserts.