Oahu 1960 Double Cab VW

Martin and Wil Nielsen relocated from Hawaii to Florida and found this trick '60 Double Cab
March 11, 2013

Photos by Bruce Simurda


If you've been to any VW events in Florida, chances are you’ve seen Martin and Wil Nielsen’s beauty of a 1960 Double Cab from West Melbourne, Florida. This outstanding custom Type 2 has received over 80 trophies since being completed, including 10 Best of Show honors, and is a true testament to Martin’s passion for Double Cab VWs, which started back in 1970 when he purchased a 1958 to carry his family and surfboards to Oahu’s North Shore to surf. Yes, his history goes back to Hawaii, although he did sell that first D-Cab and moved to Laguna Beach, California — for all of nine months! Then it was back to the islands, where he picked right back up on the VW scene with a 1960 Barndoor, followed by a ’65 Barndoor and ’70 Meyers Manx. Eventually, in 1998, Martin sold all his VW toys when he and Wil moved to the Sunshine State — Florida. Of course, we all know what happened next!
Getting the bug to work on a bus, Martin once again began looking for a VW to rebuild, and after three years found a 1961 Double Cab in what had to be rather rough shape. That’s because, after two years of working on it, his son Marty, called from Hawaii to say that he’d found another D-Cab back there, one that he jokingly said was in good enough condition that, “dad would be able to complete in his lifetime!” So Martin abandoned the former project and shipped the 1960 from Hawaii to Florida, and work quickly began.
The first stop was at Kip Zimmerman’s shop, Rare and Unique in Bradenton, where the original reduction boxes were removed, and a beefed transaxle with straight axles from Sundance Bug & Buggy in Plant City installed. Up front, Kip installed 944 drop spindles and disc brakes to lower the stance.
The next stop was at Martin’s garage, where the truck was completely stripped for bodywork and paint. This part of the project was handled by Mike’s Body Shop in Melbourne, where Todd removed all the dents, dings, grafted-in new front rocker panels, and straightened all side panels to perfection. When everything was to Martin’s liking, Scott then sprayed everything with 2003 BMW Alpine White, and it was time for assembly.
On the exterior, Martin used all new German rubber from Wolfsburg West and a stainless front badge from Creative Engineering in the U.K.. The front bumper is a stainless unit from an unknown builder that he sources over the intent, and in the rear is a chrome bumper with brackets from Wolfsburg West. Looking the ’60 over you can see that there is a variety of different items Martin had chromed or rechromed at Space Coast Plating, including the front turn signal housings, window frames, gate latches, steering column, e-brake handle (with chrome extension from the U.K.), turn signal housing, and more. Martin also utilized pop-out front Safari from Creative Engineering and a rear pop-out from Wolfgang International, to keep the tropical air flowing. In the bed of the truck, he used Hawaiian Koa wood slats, held in place with stainless screws covered with wood. Finishing the exterior are 14-inch Porsche alloys wrapped with 185/60 Pirelli P6s all around.
The interior of Martin’s Double Cab is simply tan vinyl upholstery with white metal and chrome trim. Before Treadwell Auto Trim in Melbourne recovered the stock front and rear seats, door panels and front panel, and installed the slightly darker carpeting, Martin added insulation throughout the cab. And while retaining a mostly stock appearance, he did add a Gene Berg Type 2 shifter, VDO gauges in custom housing on either side of the vent fan, and a JVC stereo system with six speakers that was installed by Martin and his grandsons. In the passenger area, he also added a shelf panel from a passenger bus, and trimmed it with Koa wood.
Moving this beautiful Double Cab down the highway is the engine it came with – a 1835cc engine, built by Tim Knight at Knightwerks in Honolulu, Hawaii. While not a race engine by any means, it does provide a big boost in performance thanks to a 69mm Scat counterweighted crank, Cima 92mm pistons and cylinders, an Engle W-110 camshaft, dual 40mm Kadron carbs, and dual-port heads with 40x35.5mm valves that were ported and polished by Aaron at Pele Bug in Hawaii.
As mentioned earlier, Martin’s Double Cab has garnished its fair share of awards, and he would like to thank Kip at Rare & Unique, Space Coast Plating, Space Coast Imports, Wolfsburg West, Joe Greaves, and … his wife’s allowance … for making this cool tropical cruiser come out the way it did. But his eventual goal is to some day ship it to Tahiti, where it would be used on surfing safaris by his grandsons Nainoa and Makoa. Now, how hu'ihu'i is that!

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