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Old School Cool - David Dodson and his 1964 VW Beetle
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    SoCalEuro Member daygoVR6's Avatar
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    Old School Cool - David Dodson and his 1964 VW Beetle

    Old School Cool
    David Dodson and his 1964 Volkswagen Beetle

    *click on the images to view larger

    Words: Brad Harvey – daygoVR6, socaleuro.com
    Images: Tom Maranda – Godzilla, socaleuro.com

    Before the days of the GTI or the dominance of the new R32, there was a little German car that took the automotive industry by storm, and with it came a revolution that is still going strong today. Back in a time of long hair, hot rods that were truly hot rods, and when you could still spend ten bucks on a Saturday night with money left to fill your gas tank, the Volkswagen Beetle gave consumers an inexpensive car that everyone young and old would come to love. David Dodson of San Bernardino, California shows us that enthusiasm is still strong in the VW world with his 1964 Volkswagen Beetle that has stayed in his family for over 30 years and has given him something to be proud of.
    His father Danny originally bought the car in 1975 when he went to college to be used as a daily driver. When David turned 16, his father gave it to him as a birthday present and a way for him to learn about cars as it needed restoration, and David had a few ideas for how he wanted it to look. After he finished high school the restoration process began into the creation you see here. The restoration process was a family affair as David’s dad and grandfather both helped bring the old bug back to life. The performance world is nothing new to them as they own and run Dodson Engineering, a performance kart shop in southern California. After two years of work, this full “pan off” restoration has given David a great car that has become popular at many of the southern California euro car shows.
    The air-cooled 1776 cc engine was rebuilt with the help of David’s dad in the back of their kart shop. Danny built the engine up giving it an 8:1 compression ratio, with the help of a 69mm counter-weighted crank. Duel Kadron 40mm carburetors have been reworked to fulfill the engine requirement for fuel and air. The cylinder heads have received the port and polish treatment helping the engine breathe better under high revs. Exhaust duties are a combination of 1 5/8ths inch headers mated to a Scat muffler giving the bug an aggressive sound that reminds enthusiasts of the days when these cars would dominate the drag strips in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. To handle the added performance, the guys at KCR in Riverside, CA reworked the transmission. Third and fourth gears have been welded to give them extra strength along with steel shift forks to subside any possible breakage when rowing through the gears. Heavy-duty side covers have been installed as well, and a Stage 1 1700lb Burg clutch and disk combination have been mated to a billet 13lb Bugpack flywheel.
    The lowered stance on this bug is achieved through the use of front beam adjusters that were welded in on the front, giving the car a 4-inch slam in the front. The rear spring plates were adjusted to 2 spines giving the rear a 3-inch drop. Custom air bags have been installed on the back as well, bringing the car to its “in the weeds” stance when David is participating in car shows. Handling duties are done with the use of KYB gas shocks on all four corners along with the addition of a heavy-duty sway bar and polyurethane bushings in the front.
    David kept the exterior simple, as you will find no wide body fiberglass or carbon fiber pieces anywhere on this bug; it is an all-metal piece of work. Thank’s to the long preparation hours that were put in by his grandfather Jim who remembers the way cars used to be prepped and painted, the car was brought down to metal, primered and block sanded the old school way and all by hand, meaning all the prep and paint work was done outside without a paint booth. The original exhaust outlets were filled in on the rear pan while the rest of the body was left alone to retain the original lines. The original stock “smoothie” style rims still remain as David chose to go with 135x15 tires in the front and 165x15 in the rear. The deck lid has been modified as a quick release piece to handle the hot inland valley so-cal summer days.
    As the interior was being put together, David wanted to retain the old school theme as much a possible. A full German Blaupunkt radio system has been installed throughout, as Blaupunkt was the original stereo system used when the Beetle was first produced back in 1949, all the way through production in the late ‘70s. Although the stereo system is far from what could be found in those days, as a Blaupunkt Miami Beach head unit has been installed and relocated to the glove compartment. Two 6½ inch mid’s reside up front in the kick panels to go with the 2 inch tweeters resting in the door panels. Twin 10 inch Blaupunkt sub-woofers have been installed in a custom designed box built by David that sits behind the rear seats. Powering the system is a pair of Blaupunkt 400 watt amps that have been installed in the trunk. A carpet kit from Sure-Fit was put in place of the original and the seats have been re-covered by Carlos’s Hot Rods. David installed a triple gauge cluster hosting VDO oil pressure, voltmeter, and air bag pressure gauges.
    David and his family have built a great example of what can be done with the correct efforts, and definitely gives us that old school cool feel. Seeing a bug like this makes me wish there were still drive-ins in so-cal. There are some future plans for the bug as David is looking to build a 2180cc engine with some added power coming from a turbo charger, in addition to installing a wide-5 disk brake set up in the front and rear. I’m looking forward to seeing this car with the bigger engine installed, especially the looks on certain Mustang owners faces when all they can see is the back end.


    Year: 1964 Make: Volkswagen Model: Beetle

    Owner: David Dodson

    Location: San Bernardino

    Occupation: Student (Cal-State, San Bernardino. Graphic design/ marketing - senior), Kart motor builder (Dodson Engineering), Kart driver instructor (Dodson Engineering)
    Engine: VW, air-cooled 4 cyl. Size: 1776cc

    Engine Modifications: Motor was built by Danny and David Dodson, 8.0:1 compression ratio, crank is 69mm, counterweighted, ported and polished heads, dual Kadron 40mm carburetors, 1 5/8 – inch ceramic coated headers and muffler by Scat, Billet 13lb. Bugpack flywheel

    Transmission: Rebuilt by KCR in Riverside, Ca. heavy-duty side covers, welded 3rd and 4th gears, steel shift forks. Stage 1 - 1,700 lb clutch with a burg disk

    Suspension: welded in “select a drop” adjusters in front beam (lowered 4 inches). Adjusted rear spring plates 2 spines for a 3-inch drop in the rear. Custom air bags installed in rear. KYB gas shocks on all corners. Heavy-duty sway bar with polyurethane bushings up front.

    Exterior / Body: 135x 15 tires up front, 165x 15 tires in rear. Kept the stock “smoothie” wheels, Filled in exhaust outlets in rear pan, quick release deck lid (for hot days). Body work all done by Jim Dodson the old school way – all by hand and without a paint booth

    Interior: Stereo moved from dash into glove box, carpet kit by sure-fit, seats rebuilt, and re-covered by Carlos’s hot rods. Three panel gauge cluster installed under dash with VDO oil pressure, volt-meter, and air bag pressure. German Blaupunkt stereo system with two ten inch woofers behind the rear seat (custom made box by David). Two 6 ½ mids, 2 one inch tweeters, Blaupunkt Miami beach head unit two 400 watt Blaupunkt amplifiers (Blaupunkt was the radio used for all VW’s starting in 1949, and it means “blue dot”)

    Quick shout outs, thanks to, quick plug: I would like to thank my Dad and Grandparents, Jim and Louise Dodson, for all there time and effort in making this project a reality. The guys at SoCalEuro, and the girls at VWvixens.
    Last edited by bugzy; 12-09-2005 at 11:48 AM.

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