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Author Topic: Restoring the "Stuttgart Express"  (Read 64782 times)
bill stipe
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« on: January 23, 2011, 04:13:30 am »

In March of 2010, I came upon a topic on the Lounge called Unknown/Unfamous gassers.  Speedwell had posted a picture of the Stuttgart Express.  Later Eric Ellis responded with a photo of a white car named Sudden Impact.  He related that the two cars were one in the same and the car had been last seen, maybe as late as 2006 in the north Texas area.  Living east of Houston, Texas, I had been looking for an old VW race car to restore for some time, so the search began.  Within a week, the car was located and a purchasing agreement had taken place.

This is the car as we found it:
« Last Edit: January 23, 2011, 04:23:44 am by bill stipe » Logged
bill stipe
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« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2011, 04:22:36 am »

Along with the car, we received a June 1980 copy of HVW's magazine.  The Stuttgart Express was a feature car, but the photos were in black and white.  The following week, we started trying to find out as much as we could about the original car.  An e-mail went out to HVW's, a shot in the dark, hoping they may have some color photos from 30 years previous.  From my notes, I believe it was R.K. Smith.  We weren't given much hope but those guys went searching.  We were elated to find out they had actually found some in their storage area.  These are a few of the photos they sent which were taken around 1978 at an AHRA drag race in San Antonio, Texas.  Wow, pictures from 30 years ago, those guys really came thru for us.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2011, 06:54:46 am by bill stipe » Logged
Fritter
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« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2011, 04:26:53 am »

Cool story
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bill stipe
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« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2011, 04:47:17 am »

The photos show signage on the car, alluding to it being the AHRA K/Gas national record holder in 1977 and 1978.  Knowing David Crow in Hutto, Texas for some time, I had commented that the car had been purchased.  Come to find out, he was involved with the car after it had been sold to Charlie Dickerson.  After the purchase, Charlie repainted the car white and eventually renamed it Sudden Impact.  With Charlie wanting to go faster, David eventually built a turbo system that propelled the car to a 9.88 quarter mile in 1985, at a Texas Bug-In.

After a vote by my many VW friends, the decision was made to return the car to its roots and restore it back to the Stuttgart Express.  As we began searching for any information we could find out about the car, disassembly began.  We were happy to find a lot of the original car still existed.  The one piece front end (hand laid fiberglass), drop axle front end, front shocks, Mitchell front spindle mount wheels, fuel tank, battery mount, steering, Hurst shifter, roller pedal, fiberglass seat with tubing frame all seem to be original items. 
« Last Edit: February 18, 2011, 17:47:34 pm by bill stipe » Logged
bill stipe
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« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2011, 05:00:31 am »

The original roll bar had been replaced during the Sudden Impact days and had become a roll cage.  Wanting to get the car back to its roots, the roll cage was removed during demolition. 

We had found out that most of the players in building the car weren't with us any longer, but our search continued.  A friend, Randy Larsen, assisted with the search.  He lived near Austin, Texas, which was a lot nearer the San Antonio area, where the car was built.

We had found out the owner/driver, Glen Williams, had passed about 1981.  As we continue demo, a break thru came about when I received a phone call.  The caller had seen a posting I had put on a central Texas racing website about the car and that we were trying to find information.  Frank Wurz was the caller and he said his dad had done most of the welding on the car, including assisting in chopping the top.  Frank also told us that Glens brother was still in the San Antonio area, as well as Glens two daughters.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2011, 23:45:04 pm by bill stipe » Logged
bill stipe
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« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2011, 05:21:41 am »

After the body came off, the pan was stripped of the aluminum panels.
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We had hoped to keep the original aluminum floors and rear firewall, but the ali was so old, the ends were crumbling as we removed it.
Another cool thing was to find some old purple paint behind the door hinges and on the rear fender wells.
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We've since repaired some body panels and heater channels.  The body has been media blasted inside and out, and is currently at the body shop.
Notice, also, the rear shock mount.  They had removed the cast shock mount and had plates on each side of the inner fender well.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2011, 05:25:49 am by bill stipe » Logged
bill stipe
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« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2011, 07:02:29 am »

I have tons more information about the original car, plus several more photos to get the story up to date.  I'll try to give you guys the short version.
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« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2011, 10:27:44 am »

Great story ! More...  Cool
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« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2011, 10:43:52 am »

I have tons more information about the original car, plus several more photos to get the story up to date.  I'll try to give you guys the short version.
Bill, give us the LONG version! Cheesy
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« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2011, 13:24:06 pm »

cool bill it's cool to see the work you've already done on the car

fabs
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bill stipe
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« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2011, 22:01:47 pm »

Thanks guys for the kind words and encouragement.

The long version will include Olly Otten.  Ollys name appeared in the HVW article so we set out to make contact.  Around the end of April, we had made contact with Olly and made the three hour trip to visit him in San Antonio, Texas. 
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Olly came to the states in early 1964 and started a repair business called International Motors.  In early 1965, Glen Williams had been discharged from the military and found his way to Ollys business, inquiring about work.  Glen began working on, and learning about foreign cars, mainly Volkswagens.  Within a couple of years, Glen began formalizing a plan to open his own business.  One of Ollys customers had a pharmacy with a fleet of about eight VW's, used for customer deliveries, and he had a building available for rent, behind his pharmacy.  Soon Glen was opening Glens Service Center, at the corner of Oblate and McCullah (sp?). 

Olly didn't have any information about the Stuttgart Express, but after our conversation, he took me to the old location of Glens Service Center.
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The reddish building in the foreground was a pizza and beer establishment, back then.  Glens shop was the blue metal building, just behind the pizza business.  We had noticed "Toywagen Auto Parts" on the side of the race car and found out that it was a parts business, started by Glen, selling To#¤ta and Volkswagen parts.  This business was housed in the smaller building to the left rear of the photo, a lawn mower shop, today.
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« Last Edit: January 23, 2011, 22:05:58 pm by bill stipe » Logged
Nico86
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« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2011, 22:09:54 pm »

Cool keep the stories and pics coming !
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bill stipe
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« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2011, 22:44:29 pm »

Sorry guys, I've corrected the word "To#¤ta" twice and it still wont show up correctly.

After our trip to visit Olly, a week later was when Frank Wurz had made contact with us about his dad doing the welding on the Stuttgart Express.  Franks dad, Jim, was a welder by trade and was involved in fabricating the fire suppression systems for the early Mercury space capsules.  Frank also told us Glens brother was still in San Antonio and he would make contact with him.  He also alluded that Glens two daughters were still in the San Antonio area and had just given them some old photos, he had, about a year previous.

Within a week, we were back on the road to meet Lee Williams, Glens brother.  Lee said he had seen the old Stuttgart after it had been painted white, at a Bug-In in Ennis, Texas, a few years previous.  He and the group had spoken about the old days a few times, but they didn't know of the cars recent where-a-bouts.

He was happy to hear that the car had surfaced and supported our effort to return it to the old Stuttgart days.  We spent about four hours with Lee and his wife.  Even though thirty years ago, we were able to get some details of the original interior of the car.  I'm sure some things were forgotten, but another breakthru in restoring the car.
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That's Lee on the right and myself on the left.  Lee also had three of the trophies from the day.
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The one in the middle was from the AHRA Nationals, held at Alamo Dragway in 1977.  The other two were from a Bug-In in 1979 and 1980.  Two more things were to come out of his memorabilia stash, two of the certificates from AHRA depicting record setting runs.  He told me, they were the AHRA K/Gas record holders in 1977 through 1981.  He said that Glens wife had possession of the other trophies and certificates, but since her passing, figured they were long gone.
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« Last Edit: January 27, 2011, 23:42:37 pm by bill stipe » Logged
TexasTom
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« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2011, 16:47:51 pm »

Awesome that you've found all this great information and contacts on your car, Bill!
I was at the '77 Nationals at Alamo Dragway with my dad and brother, Saturday night only though & spectator side ... BUT, we were there!
Really look forward to more details and the build.
Great job!
Tom
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« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2011, 11:03:12 am »

Great read, love the detective work! I'll be watching this with interest,,,, keep it flowing, and I agree, we want it L O N G.

Smiley
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bill stipe
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« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2011, 03:45:44 am »

Remember the pharmacy that had a fleet of Volkswagen Beetles?    One of those was a 1956 Beetle, and when it outlived its usefulness as a delivery car, the Stuttgart team had found their donor.  They also felt it would be easier to chop the top on a VW with a smaller back window.  The rear window was the only one to remain as the original glass, along with its chrome trim.
The top was chopped about 3 1/2" at the front, less than that at the back, giving a sloped roof line.    There were originally two fiberglass bucket seats, supported by tubular bracing.  Only one of the seats remain today.  According to the photos and Lee Williams, the car had a single roll bar with two short down bars to the rear, which supported the roll bar to the rear torsion housing.

The fiberglass front end was hand laid, built by the Stuttgart team.  The actual events of building the glass front end are somewhat sketchy.  Lee Williams remembers that the team used the front end of a VW gasser that Pat Rutledge had built as a basis for the Stuttgart glass front end.  It is unique as to the headlight buckets, which are more aerodynamic than the norm.  Cessna (airplane) landing lights were used as headlights.  White vinyl was used to cover much of the light, as they were too bright. 

Glen Williams on the left, Pat Rutledge on the right.
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A fiberglass deck lid, with scoop, was purchased from VolksToy, a local San Antonio VW parts house, and is believed to have been a Treuhaft item.  The original deck lid was not with the car, but we have secured a suitable replacement.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2011, 23:44:29 pm by bill stipe » Logged
bill stipe
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« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2011, 04:22:08 am »

The gasser was built with a drop axle front end.  Glens brother, Lee, said he knew the front torsion assembly to be ordered from someone in California.  Eric Ballard (Erco) told me that any drop axle front end with VW spindles, around the early 70’s time period, was probably a Deano design.  We don't know ourselves, maybe someone can chime in after viewing the pictures.  John Pierce, a long time area VW enthusiast, believes Pat Rutledge had some influence in the final design, that assisted the Stuttgart to run consistently straight.  There is evidence of brackets being cut off the front torsion housing, an indication that modifications were made.
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All the radius rods and tie rods are 5/8” O.D. tubing, with 7/16” rod ends.  The steering box is an early model VW steering box, possibly from the same 1956 Beetle.  The movement of the front axle was common of some of the VW gassers of the day.  When launching the car, the axle assembly moves down and toward the rear of the car, delaying the tires breaking the starting line beam.
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Hopefully, photos like the one with the location tag, will help us in getting bolting and spacers back where they were.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2011, 04:44:16 am by bill stipe » Logged
bill stipe
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« Reply #17 on: January 27, 2011, 04:28:54 am »

Naming the Stuttgart Express

Glens wife was born in Stuttgart, Germany and wanted that to be incorporated in the name.  Glen thought a train would depict power and they also liked to watch an old 1940’s movie, that was based on a train in Germany.  It is believed Glen asked one of his daughters what color the car should be and she replied purple.  So the Stuttgart Express was painted a 1970's Chrysler Plum Crazy Purple.

The lettering on the car was white in color, peel and stick, individual letters.  We noticed some of the lettering on the car didn't always follow a straight line, but as Frank Wurz remembers, a lot of beer drinking was going on that night.  I guess that was one of the hazzards of having a pizza parlor so close to the shop.

The team also assembled a go cart with a miniature VW body on it, painted just like the race car.  The go cart served as a fun thing for the kids, as well as transportation at the race tracks.  The go-cart still exists and is said to be in the Boerne, Texas area.

Glens two daughters in the go-cart, Michelle and Minka
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Gerry Dupre gets credit for installing the lexan windows in modified VW window moldings.  Gerry’s dad, Roger Dupre, was a doctor and delivered Glens two daughters.  To come up with a design for the Stuttgart train, Gerry’s mother had an art class at a local school and asked the students to make some drawings of a train with a VW front end.  Out of the six drawings, Gerry’s mother (Bertha) chose the one she liked and Glen agreed with the final design.  Bertha painted the mural on the doors of the car and on the go cart. 

Chris' mother (on the left), Bertha Dupre (middle) and Roger Dupre (at right)
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There was a sunflower mural on the deck lid, with the names of those who had worked on the car inserted in a circular design.  Glen’s oldest daughter, Michelle, came through with a photo and was able to determine the names and their placement.
The names were Lee (Williams), Chris (Glens wife), Gerry (Dupre), Pat (Rutledge), Bertha (Dupre) and Jim (Wurz).  The last two names we only know as Raul and Wayne.  They evidently assisted in the building of the car and are remembered as two guys that helped out around the shop.

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« Last Edit: January 27, 2011, 04:56:42 am by bill stipe » Logged
kev d
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« Reply #18 on: January 27, 2011, 09:15:37 am »

Cool story Bill & great detective work!
Cheers,
Kev
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« Reply #19 on: January 27, 2011, 18:18:27 pm »

Quote from: kev d link=topic=14870.msg219551#msg219551 date=1296116137
 great detective work!

[/quote
x2 excellent work
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« Reply #20 on: January 27, 2011, 21:35:20 pm »

Cool!!!!
Keep the stories coming  Grin

Good luck with the rebuild!

gr
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bill stipe
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« Reply #21 on: January 27, 2011, 22:26:52 pm »

Thanks guys, the encouragement is well received.

There are just a couple of things left in the history, tranny, engine, etc.  We'll then proceed to the restoration. 
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bill stipe
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« Reply #22 on: January 28, 2011, 03:23:05 am »

Initially, the car did not have wheelie bars, but after the first time Glen put the Stuttgart on the stinger, the crew fabricated some.  The first bars were attached to the outer axle housings, typical for the day.  They were short, by today’s standards, and didn’t extend out much past the rear fenders.  Eventually, a set of the early Berg bars were installed.  These early Berg bars were still with the car when purchased, although the mount for the bars was missing.

Glen with some AHRA hardware.  Not sure where this was taken, but based on the background, it doesn't look like Texas, unless it's far west.
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Glen sporting longer wheelie bars, at Alamo Dragway
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We do not have a lot of information about the gearbox, but we all know of the perils of using a type 1 tranny, even in those days.  I asked the brother, Lee Williams, about the dependability of the gearbox and how often they had to repair breakage, and he said that the thing was almost bulletproof.  The only time the trans came apart was usually to change ratios and/or perform maintenance.

Per the magazine article, the transaxle was initially a 1966 gearbox with a stock VW ring and pinion, along with close ratio third and fourth gears.  The gear carrier received a “Beef-a-Diff”, adding two extra spider gears.  This is one we've procured for the project.
[ Attachment: You are not allowed to view attachments ]

The shift rings were also modified, removing every other tooth.  Racers were constantly changing ratios in the gearbox, searching for ET.  Jerry Pelton, who went to some races with Glen, said the later trannies had received quite a few Gene Berg parts and had a Berg main shaft with a close ratio third and fourth.  These main shafts were made by Berg, using first gear from a super beetle main shaft and second gear from an auto-stick shaft.

By zooming in on the engine photo (from the HVW article) in the next installment, we can see evidence of a front “over the trans” mid mount, yet there were not any extra holes or bolts in the pan.  This leads us to believe the strap was one of the bolt-on types.  There doesn’t appear to have been a strap over the bellhousing area.

Pat Rutledge (Pat’s Vw Machine Shop, also in San Antonio) helped with building the car, built the original heads and handled the engine machine work.  Pat had a drag VW during the same period, painted a light blue, that ran I/Gas.  Pat’s car was built first, with the Stuttgart Express being later.  According to John Pierce, Pat’s car was used as a test bed for ideas, between the two racers.  Pat is remembered by David Crow as an innovator, whose abilities and skills were on par with the best in the country.

Dante Garza is the last know owner of Pats’ car.  It was rumored that the car had returned, in later years, to Pat, but we’re not sure at this time of its whereabouts. 
« Last Edit: January 28, 2011, 05:04:34 am by bill stipe » Logged
bill stipe
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« Reply #23 on: January 28, 2011, 04:12:34 am »

Almost every thing we know about the engine came from the June 1980 HVW article.  While most of it is probably true for the time period that the details were acquired, Glen began experimenting with several things in the final years of the Stuttgart’s existence. 
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Stock VW head castings were used with 40mm intake and 35mm exhaust valve.  Lee believes the intake valves were later increased in size to 42mm. Glens brother remembers that the valve springs were from a diesel engine, but doesn’t remember anything else about them.  HVW’s reported the engine as being a 2130cc with an 80mm Pauter crank (Rev-Tru), modified VW rods and Venolia 92mm pistons.  Lee Williams believes at some point the engine was increased to 2180 with an 82mm stroke. The cylinders were believed to be NPR 92mm, with Pauter power sleeves.  According to the article, the camshaft was an Engle, with 320 deg. advertised duration and around .590 total lift.  Later photos of the car show a Cam Dynamics decal of the rear fender of the car, indicating a cam change at sometime.  Unknown is the origins of the rocker arms or their ratio.  48 ida Webers were used with Skat Trak intake manifolds.  Ignition was provided by a magneto.  The valve covers were original steel VW valve covers with vent tubes welded in place.  The origin of the exhaust header is unknown, but Lee remembers the team eventually used a “Four-Tune”.  The clutch and pressure plate were Kennedy products.  The origin of the deep sump is unknown.

Another unknown is the origin of the blower, used to route air over the cylinder heads, but our search is continuing.  We’re probably going to need some help, solving this riddle.

Lee Williams told of the first time they went to an AHRA national event.  Whatever type rings they had initially used, the rings would not seat.  During time trials, the thing would pour out tons of smoke.  So, during the down time before the first round of eliminations, they removed the engine and changed out the rings, sitting on the tailgate of their truck.  As people would come by, they would be laughing about the “smoking bug”.  The ring change worked and after Glen took the “Eliminator Bracket” title, the laughing stopped.
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Glen would launch the car at 7500 rpm and shift at 9500 thru each gear.  These were Glen’s instruction to Lee, who drove the car, only once, to an 11.42 et.  The engine was taken apart, after each race, to inspect bearings and rings.  After three events, all bearings and rings were replaced.

From the photo, we can see evidence of a cool can mounted to the rear inner fender well behind #1 cylinder.  Lee reported that it was home made, with 3/8” copper tubing inside.  Another thing we noticed was what appears to be a Carter fuel pump mounted on the opposite fender well, behind #3 cylinder.

David Crow said, after Charlie Dickerson bought the car and had decided to run a turbo, David disassembled the engine and said that the heads were flycut “a lot”, which is usually the case, when power sleeves are installed.  He said Glen may have eventually gotten the exhaust porting too large because there was a metal flange sandwiched between the exhaust ports and the header, with steel tubing protruding into the exhaust port.  And again, that may have been one of Pat’s innovations.

As I have said previously, the main names appearing on the car were Glen’s Service Center and Toywagen Auto Parts.  After the team won their first event, Avery Oil Company, in San Antonio, was instrumental in getting Quaker State on board as a corporate sponsor.  A Fram decal was displayed, but seems to disappear, probably because of the Quaker State connection.  Other decals on the car were changed from time to time, but a few of the main stays were Quaker State, Champion, Bell Helmets, AHRA, NHRA, Total Seal and Okrasa.  The reason for the Okrasa decal is still a mystery.  One decal we have not been able to confirm is what appears to be a “NN” (with the flag), located on the lower portion of each rear quarter panel.

We are still trying to determine the origin of the remaining decals.
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bill stipe
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« Reply #24 on: January 28, 2011, 04:36:11 am »

Some of our favorite photos:

July 1st, 1977.  The first of many record runs for the Stuttgart Express
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Another photo of Glen with some hardware
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The Stuttgart trailer.  David Crow still has the trailer today and says it's the best towing trailer he's ever owned.
He won't sell it, but has offered it up on loan, should a photo op presents itself.
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In closing this first installment of the history of the car, the Stuttgart Express may still be “unfamous”, but hopefully no longer “unknown”.  Thanks to all who have read and enjoyed this part of the journey.

Glen
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Next up:  Restoring the Stuttgart Express
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Sam K
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« Reply #25 on: January 28, 2011, 05:23:59 am »

Great story! I'm looking forward to reading the rest of it.
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« Reply #26 on: January 28, 2011, 16:53:00 pm »

awesome bill Shocked
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« Reply #27 on: January 28, 2011, 21:55:06 pm »

Thanks for the story Bill,It makes excellent reading!
The car looks awesome in the picture of it launching with the spindle mounts on.Look forward to more installments.
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« Reply #28 on: January 29, 2011, 01:52:36 am »

Cool pics and stories  Wink
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« Reply #29 on: January 29, 2011, 01:56:33 am »

Wow Bill,how did you keep some of these photos from me? They are awesome,and everyone let me tell you I have known Bill for years,he is a fantastic builder,racer,and friend. I can tell you he will do this build the justice it deserves,and I will be at it's unveiling wherever it is,I personally saw this car race when I was a teenager and it truly is a peice of nostalgic vw racing history from Texas........" Long live the Stuttgart Express"................Randy Larsen
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