Phil Trau’s ‘67 “hot rod red” convertible, with EFI’d 2332cc power, is quite the conversation piece at a car show, or on the way to and from it!
A retired Teamster who makes his home in the northern California community of Pleasanton, 76-year-young Phil Trau (and his wife Sandra) has been around early VWs for years. In fact, Phil told us, “My family always had a Volkswagen. My dad, Phil Trau, Sr. was a cool dude, and bought a new Bug in 1950, followed by a 23-Window in 1957, a Karmann Ghia that I learned how to drive in, and then a ‘67 Crewcab that we used to haul our dirt bikes to Nevada City. Those were the days!” More recently though, like three years ago, Phil decided to turn his $500 1967 Bug convertible into a presentable driver. It would take three years, and well over $30K, but the end result, as you can see, is a stunner!
It was way below stunner status when Phil found this ‘vert, however, as it was a raccoon’s house that hung out in a back yard for years. When the car was picked up, it was trailered to Hayward, California, home of Buggy House, where owner James Collins would handle the majority of this convertible’s makeover. He dismantled the car, did a body-off resto, and replaced front and rear clips, added new front fenders, repaired the rears, decklid and hood, and spent nearly three days making not only the body parts line-up like they’re supposed to, but all roll-up windows as well. Once James had the body in order, Oakland’s Joe Carling and Robert Robello teamed-up to tackle the ‘08 VW Toronado Red paint job, utilizing the PPG base-clear system. San Leandro’s Jeff’s Mobile Glass helped with the final installation of a brand new windshield, after fooling with eleven aftermarket ones that just would not fit right.
This car’s stock pan was re-placed with one from a ‘69 IRS Beetle. Again, James Collins had his hands full as he modified the front with a CB Performance 2-inch-narrowed beam, along with CB’s 2-1/2-inch drop spindles and ‘70 Ghia disc brakes (rotors drilled for 5-on-130mm Porsche bolt pattern, for Fuchs 5.5x15s shod with Riken Raptor 185-15R radials). Other frontal tricks include one-inch shorter tie rods, KYB gas-adjust shocks, TRW steering box and ball joints, and 3/4-inch sway bar. In the rear, Collins used LoBro CV-joints, a 3/4-inch sway bar, Bugpack truss bar, Gene Berg front trans mount, KYB shocks, and stock brake drums which were also drilled to accommodate early Porsche Fuchs wheels, in this case “deep 6” alloys wrapped with Riken 195/50s.
With the body and pan united, and the Super-Diff-equipped IRS trans (built at Ron’s Transaxle in San Pablo, California) installed, James got his tools out again, this time to build a stout 2332cc powerhouse, at Buggy House. He went with a CB Performance 84mm chromoly crank, and their 5.4-inch connecting rods, plus Mahle 94mm pistons with Grant/Total Seal rings inside custom-length cylinders. The cam chosen was an Engle FK8 (.534-inch lift, 298° duration) fitted with CB straight-cut gears, along with CB 31mm Big Foot lifters, Schadek 30mm oil pump, and Flex Cool remote oil cooler with electric fan (under the 3-inchraised rear package tray). Heads are CB Performance Wedge Ports 42x37.5 stainless steel), with 50cc chambers, 9.5:1 compression, Bugpack rocker shafts with stock rockers, while CB Performance chromoly pushrods reside in stainless pushrod tubes. No carburetion here though, as James utilized CB’s Quick Tune EFI (electronic fuel injection) with 48mm throttle bodies, and CB’s Quick Tune HEI distributor, while a 1-5/8-inch ceramic coated Sidewinder header system came from A-1 Muffler. Also, the lighter 12-lb. 200mm flywheel supports a Kennedy 2,100-lb. Stage 2 clutch, and from Germany came a custom carbon-fiber Porsche style 3-piece fan shroud housing a Porsche fan and alternator.
Hayward, California’s Dan Ferias gets credit for redoing the upholstery, keeping basically stock with custom patterns on the seat and panels. ‘67 factory lowback seats were rebuilt and padded before the new pleated black vinyl covers went in place, black pile carpet lined the floor, and a white headliner was installed to the black Mercedes canvas top, all done by Ferias. More tricks include a copper Hurst shifter, Grant steering wheel, VDO gauges (oil pressure, oil temp, voltmeter, tach, fuel level, 100mph speedo) in the dash, and Alpine deck (plus JL Audio 25-watt amp) that was engineered by James Collins.
At Bugorama 69 in Sacramento, California, May 2012 (Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend), the car show saw many nicely refurbed V-Dubs, and in the Bug Convertible class, Phil debuted his ‘67 Pleasanton Looker, and.....took 2nd place. He was overly excited when his name was called during awards presentation, and drove home with a smile on his face. The car was three years in the making, but Phil said, “It was definitely worth the wait, and I now have a modernized, performance street Bug that not only looks good, it’ll go anywhere, any time, and I love to drive it!”
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Lasting ImpressionWhen Bryan Ortiz saw an early bus sitting in a driveway when he was just a young boy, he knew he would someday own such a cool looking VW. Years later his beautiful '61 23-Window bus not only took Best Best of Show Custom at the 2014 Classic, it is also featured in the December 2015 issue of Hot VWs!