The Bish family, even though...
The Bish family, even though they have a 1975 daily driver Beetle, wanted a show car to be proud of, and it had to be a 1963 for their two boys who wanted a "Herbie" of their own.
Built by Alan Bish himself,...
Built by Alan Bish himself, the engine sports a Judson Supercharger to pump out a whopping 55hp from the 1385cc power plant.
All the chrome was replated...
All the chrome was replated by Nu-chrome in Fall River, Mass., while the Hella fanfare horns surely clears the way.
Kept mostly stock, there are...
Kept mostly stock, there are a few subtle differences that help this VW stand out, such as the Bendix Sapphire I radio and the silver-beige steering wheel from BFY in Orange, Calif.
On a glass-bottom boat tour you're likely to see some fish, no doubt; and depending on where you are touring, the odds are good you'll see one or two types of fish dominate the waters around you. In Southern California you'll see Snapper, while in the waters off the East Coast you'll likely see Cod swimming around you. The funny thing is that all the fish look the same, but if you fix on one and really look at it, you'll notice subtle differences, small stripes or a dot pattern the other fish don't have or different color eyes and smaller fins. Suddenly, a school of fish lose their anonymity and become several hundred individual fish merely swimming together. However, in our industry, at our shows and in this magazine, the dominate school of fish is the Volkswagen Beetle, each one looking exactly like the other but individual enough to have personality, charm and a certain level of appeal all on its own.
Alan Bish began his life-long attraction to these little cars when he was at college and driving a 1960 Bus that he soon discovered a keg and a tub of ice fit nicely into the back for those weekends of relaxing by the Mendocino coast. Now, Bish is a project manager for the Boston Harbor Cleanup, living in Essex, Conn., but he has spent the majority of his life living and working near the waterfront. For two years in the early '70s, Bish was responsible for discharging all of the Volkswagens arriving in the San Francisco area, which was roughly 2500 cars every week. "I am probably one of the few people in the hobby to have seen over 2500 California Sun Bugs in one place...and that's a lot of gold paint!)." Of course, the downside, according to Bish, "is that if you see 2500 VWs of one type you tend to not pay much attention to them as they become nothing but work." Little did he know that 20 years later he would be involved in restoring and enjoying what was once considered work.
The Bish's 1963 Sunroof Volkswagen began life on May 31, 1963, and cost exactly $1269.20. Three years later it arrived in the U.S. reading only 6000 miles on the odometer. A death in the owner's family forced the Beetle to sit in storage in 1975, and it didn't see a proper registration until 1985 (and it had only 17,575 miles on the clock). Bish found it in 1994 while driving one day. A deal with the original owner was made and the project begun. But why a '63 specifically? The Bish family children, David and Randall, wanted their very own Herbie, and even though the car isn't painted with traditional Herbie colors, there's still a Herbie under the paint.
While you can tell from the pictures, this Type 117 Sunroof Sedan has been left mostly stock in appearance, but there have been enough changes to make the '63 special. Items such as the wide whitewall Firestones from Coker Tires, the three coats of PPG L-390 Gulf Blue paint, the Foxcraft fender skirts (they were removed for the photoshoot), Happich fender flag holders, L-393 Kings Blue and L-392 Misty Gray paint on the wheels and Hella fanfare horns set this Beetle apart from many others of this popular era.
What you don't see is hidden neatly under the deck lid in the back and that is a Judson Supercharger with six pounds of boost, giving the mild 1385cc engine approximately 70-ft.-lbs. of torque at 2200rpm and 55hp at 4000rpm. The 83mm Cofap pistons, the Gene Berg 1.5-quart sump and the Bosch 010 distributor were expertly added by Bish himself during the engine's complete rebuild. The exhaust and intake pipes were all powder coated.
Inside, the seats, both front and rear, are TMI gray vinyl, offset by gray and off-white TMI vinyl door panels. On the floor, Wolfsburg West supplied the medium-gray squareweave carpet and the Gulf Blue sunroof overhead. On the dash is a Bendix Sapphire I radio, while underneath is a Phillips picnic radio.
This beautifully done Beetle is driven to shows all over the Northeast, regardless of weather. The efforts were well worth it for the Bish family, as they've earned a dozen first place trophies, four seconds and even a third. Regardless of all of these awards and accolades, one of the best memories he shares with his family is driving his kids to school in their Volkswagen that is the same as all of the other fish in our sea...but in a very different way.