CC Vee-Dubble Feature: VW ’60 Metal Single Cab & ’58 Paper Microbus (Vintage Review)

(first posted 5/27/2018)       Here’s a nifty ’60 VW single-cab pickup parked last week in front of a pop-up junque shop in the high street of Nelson, BC. The guy in the shop askedif I’m a vintage VW fan—he’d seen me taking pictures—and I said no (‘cos I’m not, though I had a real thing for the Herbie movies when I was in third grade) but I appreciate unusual old vehicles in good condition.

There’s a lot to like about this one. It’s clean, straight, thoughtfully outfitted, and appears to my uneducated eye substantially original (the original front indicator lenses were probably colourless; vehicle front turn signals in North America went from white to amber for ’63). Probably sounds nifty starting and driving around, too.

What about the lack o’ lacquer, though? Why isn’t this truck a little pile of reddish-brown dust? Come to find out the owner rubs it down with gun oil every two weeks. I guess that does it, because there it is; see for yourself!

I have a set of lovely new-in-box old era-correct European replaceable-bulb headlamp units for it, but I hadn’t them with me, so our shop finds had to be paid in money.

And now for some context of how these early VW trucks and buses compared to the overwhelmingly dominant domestic makers’ offerings in the United States; here’s a vintage review from the October 1958 issue of “Science and Mechanics”, a lesser-known competitor to the likes of “Popular Mechanics” and “Popular Science”. S&M’s road tests included unusually extensive and detailed specifications, figures, and test results. The author, brimming with the casual sexism of the day, has a bit of a temper tantrum about the ascent of the automatic transmission, but all in all it’s a piece worth reading; click the magazine cover and a PDF of the article opens in a new tab.

(My father had this magazine—he’d’ve been 16 when it hit the newsstands, and bought it for its project articles—and it survived long enough for me to read it as a gradeschooler: “Mom, what does ‘mit der’ mean? Why does this say ‘make mit der engine revolutions’?”. But it was pretty well worn out by the time I lost it. Awhile back I took a notion to replace it, which wouldn’t’ve taken long on eBay but I’d forgot what issue of which lesser-known title I was seeking, so I had to be vague with my keywords and sift through a bunch of chaff before the wheat eventually revealed itself.)