VW Fastback, Down Low with a Terrific Type 3
Written by John Drummond. Photos by Steven Bunker.
The VW Fastback only had a scant twelve-year production run (1961 to 1973) but the air cooled VW and its brethren Notchback and Squareback sure did gain legendary status. This is especially true with early VW enthusiasts and collectors alike. Type 3’s are Jewels of the Nile and when restored or customized they take on a life of lengthy second looks by gearheads of all walks.
It was at the recent Kelley Park VW Spring Meet that we were stopped in our tracks by Jeff Garmeson’s 1966 Fastback. We peeped it from afar at first. It drew us in similar to the way hamburger fumes mesmerized Wimpy. As we floated closer, it was clear this was one of the top cars at the show. Turns out, it was a fresh build too. One of the first things we noticed was that the steering wheel was stage right and the utterly bitchin’ “safari” style front windshield was propped open wide. Upon further inquiry, we discovered this VW was a euro model imported through Los Angeles long before Garmeson got his hands on it.
Jeff did the majority of the work on this project. The meticulous details prove he did his homework. It’s one thing to visualize a dream car, and quite another to actually pull it off with your own hands. He stripped it down, blasted it, massaged it, tracked down the right parts and reassembled it mere weeks before the Kelley Park show.
Take the chrome for instance. Hot rodders will be happy to know that Sherm’s Plating in Sacramento (a stone’s throw from Garmeson’s home in Fair Oaks) handled all the brightwork. Other exquisite details include the hand painted license plate, emblems, brakes and other bits by the Ray “The Vulture” Peoro.
Moving inside, German square weave carpet coats the floor while the stock look and feel of the factory interior remain. A retro Flaty GTV wood grain steering wheel adds to the vintage appeal. The vinyl seat covers and door panels tidy things up. For instrumentation, Garmeson left it stock except for the ISP tachometer which replaces the clock.
In back, the “business end” houses the heart of the car – a 1766cc Donny Ward-built flat 4 equipped with CB Performance heads and the dual factory Solex carbs with a tweak for two. It makes more than enough beans to get it wherever it’s pointed at rapid rates. That power is harnessed through a stock drivetrain and 3:88 gears.
And that oh-my-GOD ride height! Talk about getting ‘er down. Garmeson built the suspension himself using a three-inch narrowed front end equipped with Punch Drunk airbags and an Air-Lift Performance management system. The rear bags are custom units. Got camber?
Rounding out this Axalta “Nardo Gray” beauty are the 17-inch Empi Fuchs. They are the ultimate VW performance wheel for looks and curb appeal. The blow this squareback into the stratosphere of cool cruisers.
“I’ve had many air-cooled Volkswagens in my life,” Garmeson said. “Back in high school, later years etc.. I have always been into them. I’ve kind of reached a stage in my adult life where I have the resources to build the car I had always dreamed of.”
Dreamy is the perfect description of this car. What mom and dad said was true. Hard work pays off!