Archives May 2024

Iconic Cars In Cinema, Part 5: Herbie The Love Bug

This month’s pick in my Iconic Cars of Cinema series is a car that’s near and dear to my heart as it’s responsible for my lifelong obsession with air-cooled rides.

I’m talking about The Love Bug, as featured in the 1968 American adventure comedy directed by Robert Stevenson and produced by Disney.

The film is based upon the 1961 Book “Car, Boy, Girl” by Gordon Buford. The star of the film is a 1963 “rag top” Volkswagen Beetle who that has a human-like ability to express emotions and an astounding ability to out distance big exotic race cars.

Bitten By The Love Bug

I was first bitten by The Love Bug as a kid, when my my mom took me to see the film at a drive-in movie theater, and I was instantly smitten by The Love Bug, the little car with the big personality.

The plot opens with a down-and-out race car driver, played by Dean Jones, who’s headed for the skids.

In a chance encounter, he and his love interest, Michelle Lee, stumble upon this lively little VW Bug that will change their lives forever.

With the help of Herbie, Dean revives his car racing career although at times thwarted by the evil Villain played by English actor David Tomlinson.

Buddy Hackett rounds out the cast as Dean’s lovable sidekick who communes with the VW Beetle.

I vividly remember bursting out in uncontrollable laughter as Herbie skipped over the water.

The opening footage of the demolition derby is breathtaking. At that time, it truly was a one of a kind film, considering there were no computer-generated images back then.

The Birth of The Volkswagen Beetle

The original design for the Volkswagen Beetle was conceived by the Hungarian inventor Bela Berenvi in 1925.

In 1934, Adolf Hitler gave the order to Ferdinand Porsche to develop a vehicle that could transport two adults and three children while not using more than 7 liters of fuel per 32 mpg.

The engine had to be powerful enough for sustained cruising on Germany’s Autobahn. Everything had to be designed to ensure parts could be quickly and inexpensively exchanged.

The engine had to be air-cooled because, as Hitler explained not every country doctor had his own garage.

Antifreeze was only just beginning to be used in high-performance liquid cooled air-craft engines.

In general, water in radiators would freeze unless the vehicle was kept in a heated building overnight or drained and refilled each morning before commuting.

The Beetle featured a rear-located rear wheel drive, air cooled four-cylinder engine in a two door body work featuring a flat front windshield providing luggage storage under the front hood and behind the rear seat.

The shape of the beetle streamlined due to the tapered rear end, attached with 18 bolts to its nearly flat chassis which featured a central structural tunnel.

Front and rear suspension featured torsion bars along with a front stabilizer bar providing independent suspension at all wheels.

Its engine, transmission and cylinder heads were contracted of a light alloy engine ensured optimal engine operating temperature and a long engine life…

While the overall appearance of the Beetle has changed little over the years, it received over 78k incremental changes during its lifetime production.

It’s worth mentioning a small list of other very cool cars that were featured in the film.

  • 1963 Apollo 3500 GT
  • 1966 Chevrolet Corvette
  • 1957 Chevrolet 210
  • 1956 Ford Custom line
  • 1929 Ford Model A
  • 1960 Ferrari GT Berlinetta
  • 1963 Ford Galaxie
  • 1923 Ford Model T
  • 1961 Jaguar XK-E
  • 1955 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith
  • 1963 Triumph Spitfire

The Beetle: My Favorite Volkswagen

At any rate, it would be a few years after seeing The Love Bug before I had my first actual encounter with a Volkswagen.

The year was 1984. When I was given a choice to purchase my first car, a 1962 Beetle or a 1971 Super Beetle from my high school auto body teacher.

I ultimately choose the 71 Beetle. It had a rebuilt 1600 Dual port motor and at $250.00 it was a great first project that took my two and a half years to complete.

I had many good times in that Bug. Since then, I’ve owned over 25 VW’s of various models, but the Beetle will always be my favorite.


How To Overhaul Your Classic Car Brakes • DH Automotive, Inc.

Going into the New Year, I thought it would be a good idea to go over brakes. This subject is one of the most important aspects of dealing with classic car restoration.

This is not necessarily a how-to piece, but more like an overall view of what to keep in mind when venturing into the DIY world of brake upgrades.

A Tale of Braking Gone Bad

A few hundred years ago I was cruising down a winding road in Mission Hills, I had the AM radio blasting in my 1966 Ford Galaxie.

I took several turns that I haphazardly did not calculate speed, sharpness, or grade – and in turn, did not see the 1985 Pontiac Ferrero rapidly approaching on the left.

By the time I hit the brakes and correct my position, I had already taken out a 2-foot-long gash on the side. Needless to say, this all could have been avoided with a few upgrades on my part.

In 1967, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 105 set specific performance tests, which led to the widespread introduction of disc brakes on American cars in the early seventies.

Before then the single port “honey jar” or death pot as I like the call it (due to the fact that if any part i.e. hard lines, soft lines, wheel cylinders or master cylinder were compromised the whole system would fail), several car lengths need to be taken into consideration when driving an all-wheel drum car.

Before You Convert Your Brakes

Before we dive into the brake conversions there are some major key elements you want to keep in mind when converting your brakes.

The first and most important is determine if you are going to use your stock wheels. Most 50s, 60s, 70s, vehicles have 14 inch or 15-inch rims that will limit the size of rotors and calipers you use to convert your front drum brakes to disc.

The second thing to take into consideration is the Prop valve or proportioning valve. This will allow full flow of brake fluid to your front disc brakes, and constricting the flow to the rear drums.

Without the prop valve, your rear drums will have a tendency to lock up on you when you brake hard, thus causing the rear end to fishtail. The third thing to keep in mind is if you are going to use a brake booster.

You will need at least 18 psi of vacuum coming off the engine intake manifold in order for the booster to work properly.

If you are running a performance cam you will need to go with an electrical vacuum assist and canister, in order to get the vacuum you need to make the brakes work effectively.

The fourth is choosing a conversion kit that is right for your budget. There are literally dozens of kits out there ranging from moderately expensive to extremely expensive.

You want to keep in mind that you want to go with a company that will have your parts readily available to you down the line; especially when you are replacing pads, rotors, etc.

I found one company that makes the kits that will allow you to use modern vehicle parts to complete your conversion – the company is called Scarebird.

Here is an excerpt of the set up for 49-53 Ford’s.

Convert your classic 1949-53 Ford to front disc brake with these brackets (made in the USA). They are AutoCAD designed and CNC laser cut for excellent tolerance.

These brackets use common and inexpensive rotors (1970-73 Mustang front, 11-1/4″) and calipers/pads (1988-91 Chevrolet or GMC 1500 work truck) available from your nearest NAPA, O’Reilly’s, Autozone, etc. or even your local boneyard.

Unlike other designs, this setup will allow you to retain your stock drum 15″ rims as shown by the picture below.

Also note that the brackets are machined to allow the use of the original attachment hardware and by doing so retains your Ford’s alignment setting.

The Mustang rotor also has the same pilot diameter (2.43″) as your OEM rims – making your rims properly centered by the hub, not the lugs. Offset is within 1/8″, preserving your original stance.

This is what I love about these guys is the use of modern components which are readily available at your local parts store, plus the price is very reasonable compared to other disc brake conversions.

There are 3 most common upgrades that will work well on your classic vehicle. I will give examples for each conversion.

1. Convert the single port master cylinder to a dual port master cylinder, then adding a brake booster to your all drum set up.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to work on a 1964 Oldsmobile Dynamic 88. This was an all-wheel drum set up with a “death Jar” single port master cylinder with no power brake set up.

Now this car looks very similar to the Impala of that year, and I thought this is going to be a piece of cake. I will find an Impala brake conversion which will allow me to keep the stock wheels.

Well to my horror after purchasing the kit, I was attempting to mock up the rotors and calipers to the spindle. I found that they were very different, and I was devastated.

After several go-arounds, I contacted the owner who was disappointed to hear that there was no kit out there that would work with the stock wheel set up.

That day I went home determined to find some way I could improve the Olds’ braking power. After several days of research, I had finally came up with a plan.

If I could not alter the brakes themselves, I could change out the master cylinder (with which I did purchased a 1966 Cadillac dual master cylinder with brake booster, which was literally a bolt in application).

This would separate the front wheel lines from the rear wheels, thus giving added safety in case one or the other failed.

I did have to run two new lines to the front wheels, but wow! What a difference with the brake assist, it came out better than I had expected.

2. Convert the single port master cylinder to a dual port set up swapping out the front brake drums to disc brake set up.

Several months ago, I did this disc brake conversion on a 1965 Mustang. This kit is different in the aspects that the car has a manual transmission.

The owner wanted to keep the stock steel wheels, but did not want to cut up the support beam in order to fit a dual master cylinder with a brake booster.

Luckily I found the perfect kit, and using a modern plastic brake reservoir for the master cylinder; routing it to a later model of a Mustang proportioning valve.

3. Convert the single port master cylinder to a dual port set up swapping out front and rear wheel drum set up with disc brakes.

This last conversion I did on a 66 Chevy C10 a few months back. Spare no expense, the owner wanted to go with drop spindles the whole nine yards.

I knew immediately Wilwood was the brand to use. This is a high-performance Truck we needed the very best to slow down the Ls1.

I have had nothing but great experiences with this company over the years, the only drawback is they can be quite expensive.

In conclusion, it’s up to how much you want to spend. These are some of many examples you can use as a reference. In the end you will be relaxed and confident that your classic will stop on a dime!


6 Tips On How To Rent Your Classic Car • DH Automotive, Inc.

Let’s face it: with COVID-19 having taken center stage the past year and a half, times have been tough. Most of us have been cooped up in the house. Fear is running rampant, and with good cause.

However, we are slowly turning a corner; things are starting to open back up again. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel: summer is fast approaching.

People who have experienced financial hardships are turning to other creative ways to make money to supplement their income.

If you own a classic vehicle or any vehicle that is 25 years or older this blog is for you. Now I must admit I was rather hesitant to write anything on this matter.

I’ve seen first-hand cars that have been damaged after the director allowed the principal actor to take the car for a leisurely stroll.

I’ve heard horror stories about how the production company lied about having the proper insurance to cover the 2-inch-wide scratch that ran the length of a 1958 Lincoln.

Fortunately, times have changed. I recently had a conversation with a past client who had his 1954 Plymouth Savoy used in a Movie and what a positive experience he had.

Classic Car Rental Services

These days there are several websites where you can register your vehicle to be rented out for movies, TV shows, commercials, photoshoots, and special events:

Drive Vinty

Book A Classic

Cinema Vehicles

Movie Time Cars

Drive Share

Also, a lot of people are turning to other avenues to list their classic for rent i.e. weddings, proms, promotional events, etc.

In order to ensure that you have a pleasant experience with renting out your classic, I’ve written some simple guidelines to keep in mind before, during, and after your vehicle has been rented.

Check In With Your Insurance Provider

Check in with your insurance provider and let them know that you plan on allowing your classic car to be used for movies, tv shows, or special events.

Take Pictures

Take extensive photos of your vehicle before you rent it out. I had a client go so far as printing the photos and have the production company sign them to understand that the vehicle was in good condition before the event.

Review The Renter’s Policies

When your vehicle does “get hired”, make sure you check over the production companies’ insurance policy.

Keep An Eye Out

When your vehicle arrives on set, keep a close eye at all times on your vehicle. If the production team wants a shot of the vehicle moving, you would want to be the sole driver at all times.

You Call The Shots

Remember: it’s your vehicle, and you set the terms of the agreement. If the production company decides they want to remove the trunk lid to capture a better overall shot of the principals, they will have to pay extra, etc.

Wrapping Things Up

In conclusion – it’s all about having fun while making some extra cash. You’ll get a chance to talk shop with other classic car enthusiasts; find out the best spots for maintenance, parts location, and restoration needs.

You’ll also get to meet amazing talented individuals, and come away with a sense of pride knowing that at the end of the day it was a win/win situation for yourself and others.