All Air-Cooled Gathering, Flanders New Jersey

On September 17th, I headed north to my home state of New Jersey for what was rumored to be one of the best VW shows in the Mid-Atlantic region.  I first heard about the All Air-Cooled Gathering during our first Dubs-in-the-Shrubs trip and it seemed that a lot of folks had high praise for the show.  In the ensuing years, I tried to fit  the show into our schedule with no luck, however this year, the timing finally worked out for me, but alas, not the rest of my family.

Sponsored by the Central New Jersey Volkswagen Society, the Gathering started with camping and air-cooled camaraderie on Friday night into Saturday at the Swim and Sport Club of NJ.  They had plenty of camping space split for quiet campers and those who preferred a livelier time.  On Sunday, the main show took place in a large field opposite a hedgerow from the campgrounds with over 250 air-cooled cars in attendance.  Not limited to VWs, the show included any air-cooled model, such as Corvair and Porsche.  The dismal weather report reduced overall attendance no doubt, but the worst of the rain failed to appear and the weekend turned out to be great fun.

Initially, I planned on driving up Friday night and camping until the Sunday’s show.  However, my plans did not work out and, instead,  I met Tom and his two offspring on Saturday at their NJ home.  After a few hours of visiting, we all headed north, arriving in Flanders in time for dinner and the post sundown community campfire.  In thinking about it, this Flanders bound caravan of ours, consisting of just two buses, was the first for Tom and me in over 15 years!  Adding his children to the mix made for an extra special weekend as a new generation of family now seems pretty well-bitten by the bug (pun intended).

Moby traveled the 654 mile round trip without a hitch while garnering 18.2 mpg as she went.  Tom’s new bus ran well enough after he tackled some last minute carb and fuel filler hose issues. I understand that after a bit more tinkering, his bus now purrs like a kitten.  My impression is that he had a great time and is very happy to be busing again!

Cars of note in attendance included a Hebmüller (Type 14A), a barndoor split window, several Porsche 356/914s, and a one year only Sport Bug (see pictures below).  However, there were some really nice common VW’s there as well plus parts vendors and some good food at the clubhouse.

In addition to all the great cars, I got a chance to meet with Moby’s previous owner, Kevin, and his wife.  Kevin acquired Moby from a woman who was forced to sell some of her vehicle collection due to “rules” of the community in which she lived.  Kevin is the person responsible for most of the restoration that transformed this bus into the perfect vehicle for which I was looking at the time.  He got a kick out of seeing her again and discovering what we have done in continuing the restoration during the intervening years.  It was good to see him again and I look forward to bumping into him at future events.

 

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Tom (right) and me (left) with buses lined up and ready to roll!

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Two bus caravan on its way.

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Before roaming the campgrounds to see what was what, we opted for a little nourishment up at the clubhouse. (Photo credit: Tom)

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The rowdy crowd: note the party platform on top of the bus, left side of picture. Lots of friendly people and good music in camp that night.

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Beautiful buses were easy to find.

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’67 camper

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Sunday morning, when all was quiet.

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Nothing was stirring, not even a mouse.

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Moby on the road around the hedgerow from the campgrounds to the show grounds.  (Photo credit: Tom)

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All setup on a cloudy day.

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Panoramic of bay window bus row (Photo credit: Tom).

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A part of bus row. Digging those roo bars on the ’77 next to Moby.

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I’m not one for modified VWs, but I thought this bug looked pretty cool.

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1954 Barndoor. You don’t see these often in this neck of the woods.

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The barndoor gets its informal name from the over-sized engine lid (not from the double side-doors as is sometimes thought). There is no access to the interior from the rear on these models. I believe ’55 is the last year for this type of engine lid.

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What a neat bus!

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The oversized door allows for more access room to work get at the engine, spare tire, or fuel tank.

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Restored interior

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This picture, sitting on the dash, is of the original owners of the barndoor. Taken in the ’50s, it most likely shows the bus soon after purchase in Holland. Not seen above, but visible when viewed in person, is the front license plate – a match with the current one. Not sure if it is the original plate currently on the bus now or they reproduced it so as to match the photo, but its still cool. The owner was not around, but I had a good chat with the caretaker. He was unaware of the plate match.

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1950 Hebmüller cabriolet from a collector in Connecticut. Produced from 1949-1953(4) by Hebmuller and Sohn in agreement with Volkswagen, then led by the British is post war Germany.

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The only other examples I’ve seen of this car were in museums. What a great find at the show!

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The Heb was intended as a sports car based on the beetle frame.  It also used many beetle parts.

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Not a completely original engine, but close.

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Part of beetle row.

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Nice mid-sixties single cab.

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In pretty good shape with a nice patina

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’67 bug

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Blinds installed in this ’65 bug to keep the sun out. I’ve seen this before, but have the impression it was a dealer option or aftermarket modification.

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This is a neat little Travel Lite trailer towed in by the bug. A perfect option for a couple heading out to camp.

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Setup here with two bench seats and a middle table, the interior reverts to a bed that looks comfy for two.

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Musically themed bus. How many album/artist references can you find?

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Thought the art was very well done on this bus, not over-the-top like I’ve seen on others.

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Nice touch on the doors and front kick panels

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This completely custom-built motorcycle and sidecar got everyone’s attention. The bike sports a VW engine.

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Surf bus.

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’63 Corvair camper

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’59 Porsche 356. Just gorgeous!

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Another 356, this one a 1965 or ’58 (my notes got mixed up).

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And just a little ol’ VW upright engine in the back.

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The owner told me he found this ’71 ghia 10 years after it was driven from California and parked in a barn.  He towed it home and, after a few minor adjustments, fired it right up.

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’73 Sports Bug (1303S in Europe). A one year only model, these bugs are rare, let alone in original condition like this one. The owner redid the pin stripping just below the windows, but the rest hasn’t been touched.

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Options for this bug included oversized rims, blacked-out trim, cloth interior, and unique steering wheel among other items.

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’71 Squareback. Had to take this picture because it reminded me of Dad’s ’70.

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Fresh from restoration, this ’67 21-window was a nice addition to the split window bus row.

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For extra curricular events, the show held a push-the-bug race. Never saw one of these before, I’ve only pushed bugs/buses out of necessity.

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Tom in front of a ’70 Subaru model 360. Man, they were small!  The little sign on the lower, right corner of the middle window states a limit of no more than 20 clowns. (Photo credit: Tom’s son)

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A beetle pinata for the kids. Kind of ironic that it sported a peace symbol on the door. Such a violent end it met. (Photo credit: Tom)

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The four of us. (Photo credit: Stranger happy to take our picture)

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Moby’s PO Kevin, his wife, and his ’68 double cab. It was great to catch up with him again. (Photo credit: Tom)

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The work Kevin did on Moby before I got her was all great, using top shelf parts. Like me, he likes originality and his work set a great foundation for my continuing efforts in keeping Moby on the road and looking great. (Photo Credit: Tom)

 

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