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May 29 2010

Defining Moment: VW Beetle ad prompts a creative revolution, February 22 1960

Posted by volkszone



Right at the start of the 1960s, a revolutionary advertisement appeared in Life magazine. “Think Small” was part of a campaign begun the previous year to sell the Volkswagen Beetle to America.

These ads sought wilfully to break virtually every prevailing rule of advertising, and inaugurated what has been called the industry’s creative revolution.

The US in 1960 was still enjoying a huge economic boom – a spendthrift nation on an endless spree, buying houses, clothes, food. And automobiles: nothing exemplified the excess of consumption better than the finned, chrome-encrusted behemoths being churned out by Detroit. To export an ugly bug from Germany into this market, only 15 years after the end of the second world war, was a hard sell indeed, but the challenge was accepted by ad agency Doyle, Dane & Bernbach.

DDB – Ned Doyle, administrator; Maxwell Dane, finance and marketing; and Bill Bernbach, Creative Genius – were real-life Mad Men. Bernbach hated both the overblown vulgarity of 1950s consumerism and its attendant advertising: heavy with useless information, crammed with the lurid and the gimmicky, preying on the hopes and fears of those terrified of being lumbered with last year’s obsolete model.

Contrary to normal practice, under which the client had a say, Bernbach insisted that his agency had total control over the advertising. He refused to take on a client if he didn’t believe in their product. Bernbach believed in the Beetle. “Think Small” aimed far beyond keeping up with the Joneses. The tiny monochromatic car in an expanse of white, the perfect pun of the strapline, and the sardonic copy beneath appealed to the smart and the hip, rather than to the merely acquisitive.

The ad presaged the rejection, later in the 1960s, of unfettered materialism – it is no coincidence that the VW Beetle became the counter-culturalist’s car – and by 1972 had helped VW to surpass the Ford Model T as the world’s best-selling car, with sales of more than 15 million.

[email protected]

May 28 2010

Some of the last Mercedes on Earth

Posted by volkszone

DAVID BOOTH of writes…

Irvine, Calif.: I feel naked. Totally starkers. Not like I’ve woken up from such a resounding sleep that I forgot myself and walked downstairs to the dinner party without a stitch on (which happens in everyone’s second year of engineering, doesn’t it?), but one of those super-scary scenarios where I wake up in a parallel universe and suddenly find myself riding around on a high-powered motorcycle at speed without a helmet on — facing backward.

The reason for this metaphoric nudity is that I’m behind the wheel of a 1935 Mercedes-Benz 150 and there’s not even a pretense of an air bag, let alone a soft crumple zone or an electronic stability control system. I actually look around, with increasing frustration, for the seat belt, until it finally dawns on me — idiot! — this ancient Benz doesn’t have seat belts. I am more than a little discomfited. I might challenge the efficacy of speeding laws and denigrate our own provincial party pooper, OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino, but this is one scofflaw who never leaves home without buckling up.

The more harnesses the better, say I.

Adding to my consternation is the fact this particular Benz is priceless.

Not priceless as in the $40-million a Bugatti Royale might command if one came on the market, but priceless as in irreplaceable.

This is the only known survivor of approximately a dozen coupes and roadsters that were built for various car shows and races during the early 1930s. Though it is probably worth far less than the aforementioned Bugatti, if I schmucked up one of those humongous Royales beyond repair, at least there would still be five remaining examples for the world to enjoy. Not with this Benz, though.

However, it is a measure of Mercedes’ confidence in this ages-old roadster that I am driving the 150 at all. Less than a month before, it had been strewn all over the garage floor of the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in Irvine, Calif., in the midst of frame-up restoration. Even more fantastic, at least in my estimation, is that although the entire wiring loom had to be replaced and mounds of gunk literally hosed from its innards, the mechanic in charge of rebuilding the mid-engined 150 — an impossibly young man from Missouri named Nate Lander — decided that, despite the car being 75 years old and with more than 45,000 kilometres on its odometer, the engine was tight enough to soldier on unmolested save for a new carburetor and an exhaust manifold.

That’s a good thing. Unlike today’s concept or show cars with existing production engines underneath their phantasmagorical bodies, pre-war German engineers actually crafted a totally new, overhead camshaft, 1,498-cubic-centimetre four-banger for the 150 that shares absolutely none of its internal bits with any other Mercedes product. In other words, should something go wrong, there are no spare parts. Indeed, according to Lander, the Center had to “liberate” the replacement Solex carburetor from an almost-as-rare Alfa Romeo 8C 2300, the only other possible source being an even more obscure French dump truck from the same era.

Although the official Mercedes guide book says the 150 will do 131 kilometres an hour tapped out, I seldom stray above 60 km/h. Besides the obvious — that I’m absolutely petrified of causing any slight to the rare Mercedes — there’s the fact that the brakes, like every other set of pre-war drums I’ve ever tested, have only slightly more retarding power than Fred Flintstone dragging his feet. Plus, there’s enough free play in the steering wheel to make piloting the 150 more of a directional abstraction than holding a precisely ordered bearing. The big wheel needs much toing and froing. Lander says that without all the free play, the 150 would suffer from disastrous bump steer.

But, despite the oddities (which, of course, all antique cars suffer from), the 150 is quite wonderful to drive. It starts at the push of a button despite 75-year-old piston rings providing compression and, incredibly — especially for anyone who has ever worked on a pre-1970s ignition system — the original ignition points still generate at least a modicum of spark. The engine revs smoothly and, once I stop trying to speed shift (the throws between gears are of the Mack truck variety), the transmission shifts without graunching the gears.

There are even a few touches to it that modern cars could learn from, such as turn signals that disappear into the body until needed, the aerodynamic improvement no doubt necessary to assist the 150 hit that 130-km/h top speed. They do, however, help make the entire car very stylish. Although the official Mercedes documentation says the 150 bears a passing resemblance to the post-war Volkswagen Beetle, in reality it looks more like a miniature version of Auto Union’s pre-war boattail race cars.

Where the resemblance to the omnipresent Bug is incredibly uncanny, however, is in the 1936 170H I drive later in the day. Looking very much like an antique Beetle some anorak has wistfully adorned with a Mercedes badge, the 170H not only shares almost identical bodywork with the ubiquitous Volkswagen, but also its basic design. It is that rarest of Benzes, being powered by an engine aft of the rear axle just like the VW.

Having never heard of the 170 (or its somewhat more ungainly predecessor, the 130), I was a mite confused by this seeming homage to the people’s car by Germany’s most famous luxury car marque. Mercedes’ official explanation of the then-ruling government’s request for simple, cheap reliable automobiles didn’t quite explain the fact that, except for the engines — the 170 has a 1,697-cc liquid-cooled in-line four while the Beetle is powered by an air-cooled opposed four — the VW and the Merc are the Wrigley Doublemint twins.

Here, I had to rely on Gavin Farmer of Australia’s Automobile Quarterly, my new best friend (anyone so gracious in educating the historically ignorant has to be deemed a new best friend), whose virtually encyclopedic knowledge of the era I can only hope to faithfully transpose onto this page. According to Farmer, just before the start of the all the conflagration, Mercedes actually built 30 early prototypes of the car that would become the Beetle (the KdF-Wagen) under the auspices of Ferdinand Porsche. Yes, that Porsche.

What makes is this all the more interesting, contends Farmer, is that many experts believe that Porsche copied Tatra’s 97, originally designed by Hans Ledwinka, an equally gifted though far less famous Czech engineer. If I understood Farmer correctly, then, the Mercedes 170H is a copy of a Volkswagen designed by a Porsche that is actually a facsimile of a little known Czech econocar, As outrageous as it sounds, Volkswagen eventually had to pay Tatra three-million Deutschmarks in compensation. And the 170 does a remarkable impression of a Volkswagen.

Want one of your own?

Mercedes-Benz’s Classic Center USA will faithfully restore any Mercedes to its original sheen, though the California-based restoration facility specializes in post-war cars.

According to Mercedes, of the more than 100,000 parts it has produced in its 100-plus-year history, more than 40,000 are still available, with 10,000 classic car replacement parts warehoused in the United States.

According to Michael Kunz, manager of the Classic Center, there are 365,000 historic Mercedes in the United States — three times as many as in Germany — making the U.S. the largest concentration of classic Benzes in the world.

The Classic Center can also provide a “birth certificate,” or complete data cards, for any Mercedes between 1952 and 1982, not to mention that the retail outlet in Irvine has a number of perfectly restored classic Benzes for sale.

May 28 2010

‘Free’ DJ! Special Festival Offer!

Posted by volkszone

Jim Harrington – Indie, Britpop, Mod, Loungecore and 60’s retro DJ is headed out on tour this Summer and as a special deal is now taking bookings for VW Festivals for EXPENSES ONLY!

Jim has been a life long V-Dubber and has owned Beetles, Fastbacks and an early 411 – all of which were rat look before the term was invented!

Jim has performed at Glastonbury, Isle of Wight, Beautiful Days, Glade as well as having highly successful Indie nights in Manchester and South Yorkshire.

After a hiatus whilst he’s been devoting his time to bringing up his baby daughter, he’s now back on the scene and raring to go!

If you’d like a ‘free’ DJ for your VW show, please get in touch.

For booking or further information, please contact:
[email protected]
or call: 07564 668323

or click HERE

May 6 2010


Posted by volkszone


In a similar deal to the recent ‘Blagged By Brian’ coolboxes, Volkszone has managed to negotiate some healthy discounts for VZi members with our very good friends at Just Kampers.

This month’s ‘blag’ enables VZi users to purchase a Klaxon Horn (J11281) for £19.95 (down from £28.60).

The link to the Klaxon is HERE.

Once you have chosen to purchase, before ‘checking out’, you will need to enter a code to receive the discount. This code can be found HERE in the thread on


Once again, we would like to say a huge thanks to Mark Reynolds and his team at Just Kampers and those behind the scenes at Volkszone that made these great ‘blags’ possible.

Please visit Just Kampers website for more bargains and watch this space each month for details of further ‘Blagged By Brian’ discounts and deals.

May 5 2010

Never forget your MOT/SORN renewal

Posted by volkszone

Volkszone have teamed up with the good people at to bring you a free to use MOT/SORN reminder service.

With over 26 million MOT tests required each year in the UK, worryingly more than a quarter of people forget to renew their MOT! Not having an MOT can lead to a fine of up to £1000 and in most cases invalidates your motor insurance, not forgetting the fines for failing to renew your SORN declaration.

With recent developments in automatic number plate recognition systems (ANPR) utilised by mobile Police units, it is possible not only for them to tell when your vehicle tax is invalid but also when your MOT has expired.

MOTReminderWhilst the DVLA dutifully reminds vehicle owners when their tax is due for renewal it seems as though the vehicle MOT has been forgotten. is a FREE service designed to ensure you never forget your vehicle MOT again. It takes only a moment to register and the website will send you an email one month, one week and one day before the MOT is due to expire. There is also provides the option of receiving an SMS text message reminder.

To register you need only enter your vehicle registration, email address and MOT expiry date. (you can put in an approximate date and amend it later if you do not have your MOT certificate at hand). The membership is ongoing and reminders will be sent each year. All you have to do is keep your details up to date.

Once registered you can activate additional reminders for any family member’s vehicles along with reminders for other occasions such as car services, insurance renewal dates, anniversaries, birthdays and anything else you like! will provide a gentle reminder for each forthcoming date.

MOT-reminder also provides access to a ‘find an MOT Garage’ search facility so you can choose from the list of available garages in your area.

Remember, is a completely FREE service so don’t delay…join today.

Just to make sure it worked as promised, I signed up my car as its MOT was due soon (and I’m terrible at remembering dates), and as promised, I received an email alerting me of the car’s upcoming MOT.

May 4 2010

Santa Pod Present THE FIA ‘Main Event’ 2010

Posted by volkszone

Santa Pod Raceway, the home of European Drag racing, is already gearing up for one of Europe’s most prestigious Drag Racing meetings; The FIA Main Event! This hugely popular, televised extravaganza is the first round of the prestigious European Drag Racing Championship and features one of the largest race entries and most diverse list of machinery anywhere in Europe! Over 200 teams and 17 race classes make this event unrivalled for both the quality and quantity of racing. Make it a date in your diary now! – Friday the 28th to Monday 31st May.

Exemplifying the very greatest, fastest, loudest and craziest spectacles in drag racing, the entire weekend gathers the most brutal machines in Europe and pits them head to head in an epic display of rubber burning, nitro-snorting insanity! Both cars and bikes are represented, with many of the 8000bhp entrants able to hit an incredible 300 mph in well under 5 seconds!! If this wasn’t impressive enough, on the track in between racing will be the awesome Fireforce Jet Funny Car, plus Ronnie Picardo’s gravity defying Wheelie Truck.


Off-track action is equally as exciting with loads of entertainment and attractions aimed squarely at families looking for a great value day out or even the weekend away. Full camping facilities are available and under 16s even go for free! There’s fun for the whole clan with Kids entertainment, side shows, traders, Fun Fair and full catering & bar facilities all weekend with evening entertainment in Fuellers Bar, including a live performance from rock band ‘Ruse’ on the Sunday night. This year there’s even a Ladies Lounge for those looking to grab a quiet five minutes away from the relentless action.


Adrenaline junkies will also love the car crushing Monster Trucks Podzilla and Swamp Thing attempting to out-jump each other in the Live Action Arena, along with the world record breaking Stunt Driver, Terry Grant and 2007 Stunt Riding Champion, Zoltan Angyal performing their own brand of automotive magic on four and two wheels respectively. Joining this eclectic line-up will be modern-day Evil Knievel, Jason Smythe on his fleet of MX and quad bikes.

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will also be making fly-pasts with a Dakota on Friday and Lancaster, Hurricane & Spitfire on Monday (followed by the Black Knights Parachute display team). Don’t miss a chance to see these iconic aircraft in action.

The event will also be raising money for the MS Trust, helping to fund research and care for sufferers of Multiple Sclerosis. Caroline Day, Marketing Manager of Santa Pod Raceway said, “We are delighted to be supporting the MS Trust at this year’s FIA Drag Racing Championships. The relationship has been building for some time and we hope to help by making our drag racers and fans more aware of the disease and of the hard work the Trust does to help. Much of this started when Drag Racing fan and MS sufferer Karen Aston contacted us over a year ago. She has become so hooked on our sport that she is now training up to become a drag racer herself and will entering her first Championship this year.”


Advance ticket prices start from just £10 for the Friday, or £32 for the action packed Saturday or Sunday, with both days totalling £55 and the entire 4 day event costing just £65. With all kids under 16 getting in for free, it could be the best family weekend that you’ve ever enjoyed! Corporate packages look similarly good value, with fully catered VIP packages starting from just £99 +VAT per head

For more details please visit or call the team on 01234 782828

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