Black Banshee And The Story Of A Convertible
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Black Banshee And The Story Of A Convertible

June 3, 2016
6 minutes read

Everyone wants a Convertible; there’s no question. For most of us, it’s only the “wanting” part that we experience. We would all agree that owning our own Vert is a dream we would like to see realized. For Craig Churcher from Aylesbury, England, this dream is a reality. This 1965 Karmann Cabriolet was driven in California until it was shipped to England in 1991 and purchased by Craig in 1996 for roughly $8,800. Incidentally, the plates on this Bug were the ones used in California (they read “LETZREV”). Craig left the VW alone for the first year he owned it, neglecting to change the two-liter engine, EMPI five-spoke wheels and Sewfine seat covers.

Craig decided to get a few of the little things done, including repairing wiring and replacing trim. But as we all know, a little bit of repairing usually turns into a complete overhaul, and this VW was no exception.

Craig found little damage to the pan or chassis when he stripped the car. After fixing the only problem that was evident–damage to the battery tray and rear floor area, the pan was seam-sealed, painted in red oxide and finished with chassis black. Craig wanted a fantastic stereo in his ride, so while he had the car apart, he rewired it and added the proper cabling.

To aid in keeping the tunes sounding crisp sans vibration, Craig added Dynamat sound-insulating panels to the floor area doors. His system includes a pioneer head unit and a six-disc changer, a 600-watt six-channel amp., Kicker six-inch midrange speakers, a one-inch tweeter and a Kicker 15-inch sub. Craig has an interesting story about the speaker pods under the dash. The “prototypes were made out of Cornflake boxes and were re-shaped…until they fit accurately.” Craig wanted to be able to remove the stereo equipment without leaving evidence that it was once in the car; therefore he customized the system so that no holes were left in car.

He reminds us that he was never on the type of budget that allowed him to redo the entire interior at once, so instead he replaced the seats with Bernard Newbury seats that were black with beige tweed and a pink fleck. Caig put in a Grant limited edition steering wheel and an Autometer tach mounted under the dash. Now this guy knows how to save money without sacrificing quality custom work: Craig created an aluminum panel from scrap metal at work and then nestled in his auxiliary VDO and Autohaus gauges.

Besides all the detail to the interior, this car’s paint job is amazing! This little Cabrio has pearled ghost flames across the fenders and hood, giving the illusion of green and purple hues. As far as bodywork goes, all Craig did was fix some areas of minor damage in the paint and replace a few bits of old, cracked trim. Craig decided to go for a different look with U.S. spec headlights fitted with 911 H4 lenses and a stainless steel side trim set.

Craig started with a freshly machined AS41 case and built his engine around it with the collection of parts he had acquired. A lot of thought and work went into this motor, including the melding of a Eurorace 69mm counterweight crank, stock conrods, an Engle 120 cam with straight-cut gears, a Mahle 90.5mm barrel and pistons, a pair of 044 “Sport” heads, 40×35.5mm valves, relocated spark plugs and, finally, a three-angle valve job. Cromoly pushrods work the 1.25 ratio rockers and twin Weber 40s top it off.

Giving this cat its growl is an S&S system running into a hideaway exhaust that tucks neatly under the rear fender. Gene Berg provided the 30mm oil pump, Fram oil system and cooler and carburetor linkage. The last thing that a man can do to make his ride look incredibly street savvy is throw on replica BRMs wrapped with 155 and 185/15 Firestone tires. Craig has taken trophies from shows all over England. A few of his more notable awards came from Beetle Bash and Best of Show at the Summer Nationals and the Night of Fire. Craig tells us that there is still a lot of work to be done to this car, but he can only do the work that his wallet will allow. He claims that what you see here is only the beginning. When he has the means, Craig plans to raise the rear suspension, change out the engine to a 2007cc, add a Porsche five-speed gearbox, narrow the front suspension and add disc brakes.

Craig has a personal commitment to his little roaring Convertible. He summed up the VW enthusiasts’ pride when he related his show going experiences: “At a number of shows over the last three years I’ve had many offers from people wanting to buy the car. I’ve turned them all down…not because I think the car is worth more, but because you can’t put a price on blood, sweat and tears.”

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One Comment

  1. Brian Tagg

    I’ve owned this car for over two years. It now runs a stock 1600cc engine and the solid gearbox mounts have been retro fitted back to rubber. I rebuilt the collapsed front beam and fit rear seat belts so my wife and two kids can all enjoy it.

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