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What kind of man was Joe Vittone?
A reader's letter sheds some light on what made Empi and Econo Motors so famous.
The following is from a letter Hot VWs magazine received in the mail, describing a chance meeting between George Pepper and Joe Vittone. This is word-for-word what George's letter says...
I drove straight from Atlanta, Georgia to Riverside, CA, to find I had no money. I just left a nagging wife and a nasty mother-in-law. No job and empty pockets, I was walking around Econo Motors sales lot looking at new Bugs. A long lanky man approached me and said, “What kind of Bug do you want?” I told him I had no money or a job, I just got into town. He insisted again, “What kind of Bugs do you want?” I said if I had the money it would be the blue Bug, Empi exhaust, burled walnut trim and mags. So he reached into his pocket and pulled a $5 bill and gave it to me and said go across the street eat dinner and come back and let’s talk. When I returned the Bug was there, all equipped as I wanted. Joe Vittone handed me the keys and said get a job and bring me the down payment. When I came back, he took me out back and introduced me to Dean Lowry, the Inch Pincher was there with all the smiling faces. Showed me the car and gave me details about performance. I’ve been a VW fan since, still own a 1968 Bug. Had to write, because Joe Vittone was a unique man and very thoughtful, so was Dean Lowry. Sorry to hear of Joe’s passing and hope Darrell still does well. After all these years I still can’t believe he trusted me to leave with his brand new VW. 1966, and left no money. George Pepper
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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!