|The Frenchy Interview, page 3
|A vintage Auto Haus sticker.
|An Auto Haus ad on the back of the Bug-In 12 program.
|Gene Berg and John Fawley preparing the race track at a Bug-In.
(Click here to see a VW Trends article about Gene Berg.)
DKP has endured all these years and is still an active club. Why do you think it survived but DVB did not?
DKP has always been a strong club. They were very well disciplined as far as the look of their cars and the HP the engine would put
out. This is a significant trademark of their club. After the founding members of the club left, there were always newcomers that
wanted to be part of the club. They had to be voted in by the other members and their car was required to uphold the standards that
were established by the club founders. DVB lost the clubhouse and the club managed to hang on a few more years but a lot of the
original members left the club due to family responsibilities or they moved out of the area. For a while Jack and Bobbie Blankenship
attempted to recruit new members but because we didn't have a specific location to hold meetings, people eventually lost interest. I
still see some of the club members from time to time and am hoping that one day we can have a reunion.
Besides DVB, you have been involved in quite a few VW clubs over the years. Why do you like being part of a club?
It is nice to join a club because everyone in the club has a common interest. You also have the advantage of sharing the knowledge of
others. We exchange ideas and information. We can troubleshoot issues we may have with our car. It never fails at a meeting that
someone will mention a problem they are having with their car and another member will be able to help them solve it.
Describe what is was like to be part of the early 1970's VW scene.
It was a new scene to explore and this made it exciting. It was fun to drive past another Volkswagen and see the looks on their faces
when I passed them by. We were comparing each others cars. I went to a cruise night three times a week. I couldn't wait to get out of
work or school to cruise the boulevard. It was fun to brag about our Volkswagens and to show them off. I spent a lot of time
preparing my cars for the next Bug-In. To me, Bug-In was my Super Bowl or World Series.
What was it like walking into an Auto Haus store? What would you typically buy there? How do you think they helped
contribute to the VW hobby?
After getting into VWs I wanted to cruise to all the Volkswagen stores that were around the Orange County area. I liked to cruise to
the stores because one of the employees would have a nice Cal Looker parked out in front of the store. Everyone liked to go out and
check out the cars. I went to all the Auto Haus stores and as a club member, I got a discount there. The first Auto Haus I went to was
the one on Beach Boulevard in Buena Park, which was on the corner of Manchester and Beach. The first time I went there I met Ed
Craig who was the manager of the store. I saw an article about his car in a Hot VWs magazine and I wanted to see his car. I loved the
vintage cars, but his was a 1951 Split that he had made into a Cal Looker. He was also president of the DRA VW club and I became a
member soon after. One of my favorite places was the Auto Haus warehouse, which was a half-mile from the Beach Boulevard store.
I knew the owners son, Mark Rosevere, because we were both members of DVB and I would get a discount. Every one of those
stores hired employees that were knowledgeable about Volkswagens and they also enjoyed the hobby.
(Click here to see a VW Trends article about Auto Haus.)
Let's talk about Gene Berg.
I have been friends with him and his family for many years. When I worked for Steve Tims in the early 1970's, we would go to Gene's
shop after hours. He always had his door open for anyone involved in the VW hobby. Steve liked to ask Gene's advice about racing. I
got to know Gene quite well during this time. Gene's famous black '67 was driven by his son Gary. At the Bug-In Gene was also
involved with John Preston, the race director and he helped out at the staging area. One of the most memorable moments I have of
the Berg family is that they participated in the club rallies and after the rallies they would watch us street race. Gene came to Phoenix
Bug O Rama in 1995. He gave me some of the stickers he had just had done. We also talked about the good old days and I also told
Gene that I really appreciated everything he had done for me over the years when I needed his help and advice.
Tell us how you prepare a car for a show.
Make sure you select the correct brand of wax. My choice is Meguiar's wax. The first thing I do is go over the car with a soft damp
cloth (like a cloth diaper). After that I put a light coat of wax onto the cloth and apply it gently over the body, doing a few sections at
a time. I remove the wax right away to avoid leaving streaks. Once the car has been totally coated with the wax, I will go behind with
a used toothbrush to remove any excess wax compound that may have been left in some crevices, such as the window rubber,
chrome moldings or the fender beading area. Next I like to do tire dressing on all the tires, including the spare. The last thing I do is
all the windows, in and out. Once this is done, I go over the car one more time to make sure nothing was forgotten. The next thing I
do is to vacuum the interior, making sure that all the seats and the vinyl or cloth upholstery has been inspected. Next is to make sure
I have all my wax, tire dressing, window cleaner, towels, etc put into a bag, which goes on the floor of the passenger side. For those
of you who are now getting into the car show scene and you need to tow your vehicle, remember this: never put a car cover on your
vehicle while towing it. The reason for this is that because the cover will be moving in the wind (even slightly) it will damage the
paint while it is being towed. I mention this, because it happened to me once.
I'd like to ask you how you decide to do a project. Let's use the '67 Beetle as an example. How and why did you decide to
do it? When you acquired the car, did you envision it as it would look when it was completed? Or do you make decisions as
the project progresses?
There has to be a reason why you want to build a car. Is it the year you were born? Is it a car that was originally purchased by a
family member? Was it a car that someone gave you as a gift? The '67 was one of the best years that Volkswagen made for all its
models. It was the first year for the 12 volt and the only year for the front fenders and the front and rear aprons (meaning that they
will fit a 1967 Volkswagen only). It is one of the most popular years if you want to build a Cal Looker. The first thing I like to do is to
look over the whole vehicle to determine if there has been any past damage, such as quarter panel damage, front and rear apron
damage or rust issues. Once I determine the car is suited for restoration, the first thing I like to do is to remove the body from the
chassis. I then take the body to a media blaster, where the vehicle will have all its paint removed. At that time, I am able to see any
body damage or rust that may not have been visible before. One of the most important things to do when you are about to
disassemble a vehicle is to take pictures. I have had many people tell me that they wish they had taken pictures of their project. It is
very important you take pictures while disassembling, so you will know how a certain piece is reinstalled. It is a good idea to have
various sizes of Zip-Loc bags on hand because they are handy for labeling parts as they are being removed. You need to determine
what modifications that you want to do to the body once it has been stripped (such as welding the rear apron exhaust cut out and the
body side molding). You need to decide what size engine you want to build and what color and interior style you like. You need to
consider what type of wheels you want. Most importantly, what do you ultimately want the car to look like: original, custom or a Cal
You have restored both stock and custom Volkswagens. Do you prefer one over the other? What makes you decide to restore
a car stock or custom?
It is a preference. Everyone has a dream car they have always have wanted to build. Maybe a car at a show caught your eye when you
were a youngster at your first show. I personally don't favor one over the other. If you are looking to build a car for an investment,
the older the Volkswagen the better. It depends how much of the car is there. If the car is pretty much intact, I prefer restoring it to