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Author Topic: Schneider Motros and Der Kleiner Panzers, a history  (Read 2557 times)
johnl
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« on: April 26, 2011, 20:48:45 pm »

Over the weekend I was going through some photographs and came up with a few I thought I’d share.  These will be of the latter at the Orange, CA location Schneider Motors but originally located at 312 N. Los Angeles St., later renamed Anaheim Blvd.  Prior to the name being Schneider Motors it was J & F standing for Joe and Fritz and this is when I first met Joe Schneider. 

They were strictly a VW and Porsche repair shop when I first ventured there in late 1963.  Joe was directly from the “Fatherland” and spoke English well, but you knew you were talking with a German.  He was more than willing to answer my dumb questions for a 16 year old kid and never gave me the feeling I was wasting his time.

Our relationship grew and soon after Fritz was not there and the name Schneider Motors appeared.  During this time Joe’s brother whom I remember as Norbert became involved and did a good portion of the wrenching.  Norbert spoke no English, but we managed to get our messages across.

What was neat was Joe would allow his customers to be in the work area and watch, something that doesn’t occur much these days.  I watched and learned from a master.  Shortly thereafter Bob Wilson came in as a mechanic.  Bob was a couple of years older than me and drove a ’59 white convertible with “real” Porsche chrome rims.  He was friends with Rich Kugel as they both attended Servite High School on La Palma in Anaheim. 

Rich I’d met at Taco Villa just north of the 91 freeway on Harbor Blvd. cruzin’ in his really cool gold ’58 sedan with Jardine Headers and sporting that verbage on his rear fenders.  He would have been considered the “Fonz” of the day especially in the VW world.

Before long Rich, Bob and myself, about the only VW people (kids) of the day were meeting and cruzin’ all of the local hot spots.  Rich was fanatical about keeping his car clean or as he put it “sano”.  Quickly I learned this art and live by it today although with not the drive that I once possessed.

This was really the origins of Volkswagens Limited, pre DKP, and before long there were others coming into the ranks as they got their cars.  Brian Rennie had purchased a new ’65 black sedan, Mike Mahaffey had a red ’58, and Bill Green, John Krysick, Mike Joseph and the list went on.

All of us supported Joe and Erica his wife who was now pregnant with child #1, Norbert.  This was a gathering spot for many of us if we didn’t meet at someone’s house or a local eatery.

This group evolved into DKP once Mike Huggins and Pete Dayton became involved and they also traded with Joe.  Some of the original people such as Bob Wilson and Rich Kugel really never moved into the DKP era as they were attending college and developed other interest. 
I lost contact with Bob shortly there after, but Rich and I remained friends and still are to this day as we give and receive Christmas Cards with notes in them.  Funny, even though we only live probably 15 miles apart it has been over twenty years since I’ve seen him, but there are still many memories I have.  I remember our trip to Bonneville in the summer of 1969 to watch Jerry Kugel, Rich’s older brother race and go 200+ and of course on the way home we stopped at the then new International Hotel (now the Hilton) in Las Vegas and saw Elvis as we were both fans.

Joe was approached by club members of the newly formed DKP and asked to be our first sponsor, which he gladly did.  As I recall he offer labor and parts discounts to club members for work done in his shop.

By late 1965 or early 1966 Joe had made efforts through Max Hoffman to become the first BMW Dealership in Orange County.  For those of you not familiar with Max Hoffman, he was very involved in bringing the first VW’s to America and also the same for Mercedes Benz.

Before long Schneider Motors became the official BMW Dealer although Joe continued to service his long list of customers with their VW and Porsche needs.  In the photos that will follow this you will see a couple of shots of a Schneider Motors lighter which was given out at the grand opening.  Joe gave me mine himself and I consider it one of my more treasured items to this day.  It has never had fluid in it and the wick is virgin.  Note that the address shows Anaheim Blvd. as by this time the change was in place.  Also note there is no area code with the phone number, ah, simpler times.

My personal involvement with the brand came when Joe asked me to go with his sales manager, Dave Hogan, to the port in Long Beach and drive new cars back to the dealership.  That turned out to be a life changing event as over the years we’ve owned ten of them.

You will see a photo of Joe’s 2000CS (Shark Nose) Coupe.  This may have been one of the first of such to see the American shores.  Joe had ordered the then new design for his own personal car.  For those of you that have ever seen the Automobile Quarterly Poster Post War BMW’s, this is the coupe that is displayed there.

Joe would allow me to drive the car to EMPI in Riverside and pick up parts.  This was before the 91 freeway was complete and it was a country drive for part of it.  People would always look, point and ask questions.  On one occasion I had a group of business men surround the car with questions.  The photo of the Shark Nose was taken at Joe’s retirement party in March of 1997.  I recall at that time the car was for sale and I had thoughts of buying it, but didn’t and don’t know what became of it.

In short fashion Joe and Max Hoffman began to have difficulties that I never really got the entire story on, but within a couple of years Joe gave the franchise back to Hoffman and relocated to the Chapman Ave. address in Orange, CA.  Prior to this Dave Hogan had become ill and shortly there after passed away.  The Orange location is where he remained until his retirement in March of 1997.  Over the years Joe and Erica had developed many friendships and loyal customers.  Joe would never cheat anyone and everyone knew this and respected and trusted his word.

Shortly after taking delivery of our ’97 M3 Christie and I were invited to Schneider Motors for a surprise retirement party for Joe.  There were probably 200 people there to congratulate Joe for his many years of service to the VW, Porsche and of course BMW marks.  That was Saturday, March 22, 1997.

Joe was presented with a plaque from BMW North America for his devotion to the mark and a personal letter from Tom Pervus then Chairman of BMW North America.  He read the letter to all and wept he was so touched by the outpouring from the Chairman and his loyal friends and customers.

From that time on Norbert, his son, ran the business and Joe would come in from time to time as I guess he missed it.  I can remember him telling me as a youth not to go into this line of work as it would beat your body up.

Within a few years the Schneider’s had sold the business, but the name remained for several more years.  Today it is a general auto parts repair shop and I know that Gregg Bunch takes his cars there and is happy with the work.

Joe still lives in the same home close to Anaheim Hills and I’m told by some they see his M6 coupe at the local grocery store from time to time.  It has been years since I’ve seen him, but always remember his generosity and kindness to myself and many others over the years.

A couple more shots taken on March 22, 1997 are of Joe and myself discussing days of long ago and a photo of his son Norbert surrounded by friends at the event.
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 56 years of Volkswagens in my life 1963-2019

Life is a learning experience and then you die but when you do you've lived a good life if you contributed to your fellow man.
johnl
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« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2011, 20:53:02 pm »

Here is the last photo.  This is Joe's son Norbert who took over the business.
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 56 years of Volkswagens in my life 1963-2019

Life is a learning experience and then you die but when you do you've lived a good life if you contributed to your fellow man.
Rennsurfer
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« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2011, 01:51:12 am »

Great history education and really dig the lighters.
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Rick Meredith
DKK
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« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2011, 06:20:30 am »

I remember making parts deliveries to Schneider Motors... must have been around 1980.
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Fastbrit
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« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2011, 06:40:13 am »

You old guys are really cool! Cool
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Der Kleiner Panzers VW Club    
So it took some guy 17 years to run 0.31secs quicker and he boasts about it? A case of All Talk and...
Fritter
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« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2011, 07:30:35 am »

Cool story, thanks!
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Mike F.
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« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2011, 07:48:33 am »

WOW! What a great story. Thanks for sharing. Keep 'em coming. Cool
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This right here is my 'lil Nazi-killa!
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« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2011, 14:03:11 pm »

I love hearing your stories John !
Please keep them coming !
:-)
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johnl
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« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2011, 16:04:00 pm »

You old guys are really cool! Cool

Keith, I'm going to speak to your father, R. Fleming and ask him to teach you some respect for your elders..  Shocked Shocked Shocked

Seriously, to all who have replied to this post and my previous offerings I'd like to express my thanks for taking the time to read them.  If we don't know our past we'll have difficulty finding our future.
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 56 years of Volkswagens in my life 1963-2019

Life is a learning experience and then you die but when you do you've lived a good life if you contributed to your fellow man.
speedwell
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« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2011, 16:53:48 pm »

great storie john , thx for sharing
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