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The “SilverBullet” Lives!

May 4, 2016
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7 minutes read
The “SilverBullet” Lives!

By now, I am sure all of our readers know of this car. It started out as an experiment, to see if an enterprising individual could build a RestoCustom entirely through mail-order. Almost three years later, and numerous installments documenting the process/progress, it’s finally done!

The project started life as a 1957 Volkswagen Sunroof Sedan that I had owned and used as a daily driver for over 15 years. It sported bright yellow paint applied by brush (not by me, I bought it that way) and a tired 40-horse engine that I had swapped for a 1600cc single port. The car was driven this way for many many years, until I hooked up with Andy Shouse and Steve Higginson of SoCal Imports, Inc., of Long Beach, Calif. They agreed to donate most of the parts used in the building of this car, to show folks that even if you live in a place where VWs aren’t on every street corner, you can still build a fine ride by ordering the parts from them.

After friend Dennis Jaynes and I took everything apart, the first thing I tackled was the braking and suspension systems. Dave “Waldo” Hohman, of Old Speed, in Paramount, Calif., installed the lowered front beam and changed the wimpy 1957 brakes to the ’58-’64 front brakes and the huge Type III drums and shoes in the back. Starting with a late-model fuel injection case, Mike Walter, of Griffin’s Machine, in Paramount, clearanced the case for the intended 78.4mm stroker crank and the 90.5 Cima/Mahle pistons and cylinders. All engine parts were balanced by Rimco in Santa Ana, Calif. The So Cal-supplied parts were then taken to VW Paradise, in San Marcos, Calif. where Jason Lauffer assembled the 2017cc engine, complete with So Cal Super Round port heads with 40×35.5 mm valves. An Engle 125 cam tickles the chromoly pushrods, which activate stock rockers on solid shafts. Topping this off is a set of SoCal Kadron dual 40mm carbs, 009 distributor with a Compu-Fire ignition and a Bugpack header with dual quiet-pack mufflers.

Making sure the horsepower gets to the wheels, Trans West (Torrance, Calif.) built the transaxle (installed by good friends Russ Hare and Doug “Tex” Varner) equipped with a 3:88 ring and pinion. To allow high speed cruising is a Kennedy 1700-lb. pressure plate and stock, rigid, clutch disc. Rounding out the package is a set of KYB-suspended EMPI replica five-spokes that have been fully polished and are wrapped with Nankang rubber, 185-65/15s in the back and 145-15s in the front.

Turning my attention to the body and paint, I replaced the front apron and went shopping for a high-quality paint job at an affordable price. I managed to connect up with Tony Santana, Allen Marquez and Rob de la Grange, of Mount Carmel High School and Santana High School, they agreed to tackle the RestoCustom as part of his R.O.P. High School auto body class. George, Chuco and Richard of Auto Painting products, in Escondido, managed to get the correct L-324 Polar Silver paint in the Spies-Hecker brand, which was applied at the Santana High School paint booth, with a base coat/clear coat. After the paint was cured, Allen, Rob, myself and Tony color sanded and buffed the car to a near-flawless finish.

Many parts of the car were powder coated at home, using the Eastwood Company’s home powder coating kit. Another friend, Frank Trout, was sweet-talked into re-assembling the doors and helping install the wiring harness. Using all the So Cal-supplied parts and pieces, he had the doors re-assembled in short order and all the wiring done so that I could take the car to Jose Rodriguez, in Oceanside, Calif., for the installation of the TMI (SoCal supplied) interior. Although I am pretty sure a Polar Silver car never came with a blue interior, I felt the blue and silver would nicely compliment each other. Coupled with the Grey carpet and headliner, the blue seats, door panels and canvas sunroof cover look good and stand out from the crowd.

I had been collecting parts for this car for many years, and now I finally had the car of my dreams to install them on. First, a Gene Berg Signature shifter was mounted for quick and easy gear changes. I also jazzed up the interior a bit with an original Empi GTV steering wheel and an Perohaus clock/speaker grille combination. I installed the accessory day/night mirror cover and passenger side visor that I’ve owned long before it was reproduced.

Of course, a project of this magnitude wasn’t accomplished by just myself. Besides those already mentioned, I would like to thank my wife Leslie, not only for her patience and understanding during the building of this car, but for all the VW craziness I subject her to in general. The crew at Wolfsburg West were always happy to answer my (probably) dumb vintage VW questions. Adam Wood was always there for me, as was neighbor Eric Craig.

Future plans, after the car is driven to shows throughout the Southern California area, is a set of restored Rader wheels, an MSD ignition system and a set of Art Thraen-prepped 48 IDA Weber carburetors.

Anyone who has ever finished a project like this knows the sense of relief and accomplishment associated with the grand finale, and they also know, that even “done”, it’s never really done. But for now, I am going to enjoy this car, by driving it. That’s what I initially set out to do: build a nice car, from mail-order parts, and drive it!

Article Source: www.vwtrendsweb.com

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