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Author Topic: THE KUGEL CONNECTION  (Read 8695 times)
johnl
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« on: November 02, 2011, 18:02:30 pm »

This is a story that some may not think is appropriate for this site, but I do.  My stories since signing on here you've heard me mention Rich Kugel.  I wrote a rather long history of Rich and myself recently, but after reading the four pages I'd put together I felt it would be to long and drawn out for most of you, so I've never posted it. 

Rich was the first VW guy I met and started doing things with shortly after purchasing my '63.  I met him at Taco Villa when he was cruzin' in his beautiful '58 gold sedan.  This was the first VW I ever saw with chrome wheels and a header.  To make it better Rich was the first I think to ever paint the rear fenders with the header brand.  His stated "Jardine Headers" in white and soon many of us were doing the same.

I'd refer to Rich as the Fonz of his time in the VW world.  He was always squared away in his appearance and talked a language of his own.  Sarge credits me with teaching him the art of "detailing" but the truth of the matter is I was taught by Master Kugel.  I could go on and on with stories about that, but this is not the place or time.

In 1969 shortly after completing our military duty, we joined the Navy together, we decided to take a trip to Bonneville in August of that year.  Rich's brother Jerry had been racing there for a number of years and was already in the 200 mph club.  I borrowed my folks '66 Black 1300 VW and off we went, following Jerry, Judy and Red Holmes, partner in the car, (Red Torque) as Rich called him with Jerry's '55 Chevy truck and Cammer Ford in tow.

We arrived at Jerry's home in Whittier just south of the Blvd. and soon were off.  We drove all night and arrived at the Flats the following day about noon.  At that point we went through tech, got lots of SPT stuff such as Safari hats, shirts, stickers, etc.  Unfortunately I have none of that today, but do retain my 1969 Bonneville participant button.

We were there for about three days racing as I recall and then Rich and I headed home stopping in Las Vegas to see Elvis at the just opened International Hotel, today the Hilton.  I think the tickets were about $25 each, but we did see him and it was GREAT.

So that is the abbreviated story and here are some photos for your review.  I'm not in any of these as I was the camera man.  First shot is Jerry on left, Rich on the right at Jerry's home getting ready to load the car.
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 57 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: November 02, 2011, 18:07:15 pm »

Another shot of the car still in the garage, but you can see better details of the motor.
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 57 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 #2 on: November 02, 2011, 18:12:43 pm »

Here we are somewhere in Utah before arriving at the Flats.  This was about 5am and that is Judy Kugel, Jerry's wife standing by their then new Buick Riviera.  You can see the VW in the background and Rich is in the passenger seat half awake.
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 57 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 #3 on: November 02, 2011, 18:17:33 pm »

The car coming off the trailer getting ready to go to tech.  The large guy in the shot is Red Holmes, the Holmes of Holmes & Kugel.  He was the $$ guy involved and like the sport, but didn't have much talent for anything mechanical as I recall.
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 57 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 #4 on: November 02, 2011, 18:21:57 pm »

A shot of Rich "cleaning" stuff as he could only do once we were through tech and parked and set up under our tent.  Note, the shoes are clean, shirt and pants impeachable and of course the hair was neatly in place.  Judy is sitting in the chair watching the Master at work.
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 57 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 #5 on: November 02, 2011, 18:26:38 pm »

Three shots of the car with some engine detail while parked at our "headquarters'.
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 57 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.
danny gabbard
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gabfab


« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2011, 18:27:57 pm »

Hi John, Same jerry kugel thats big in the hot rod world? By the way, Thanks for posting all the history of your past!
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johnl
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« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2011, 18:36:11 pm »

Hi John, Same jerry kugel thats big in the hot rod world? By the way, Thanks for posting all the history of your past!

Danny, yes it is the same Jerry Kugel.  Glad you are enjoying this stuff.
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 57 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 #8 on: November 02, 2011, 18:38:40 pm »

b]Three more shots, first one is Judy with the car and then Jerry and Judy.  Last shot is Jerry and someone pushing car to the staging area.[/b]
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 57 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 #9 on: November 02, 2011, 18:43:09 pm »

A couple of shots when Jerry is leaving the starting line and a single shot of the group at the Flats.
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 57 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 #10 on: November 02, 2011, 18:46:52 pm »

At the other end a few miles down track.  In one of the passes Jerry lost it and was doing rooster tails at 200 mph + but managed to get it under control and bring it to a safe stop.
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 57 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 #11 on: November 02, 2011, 18:48:53 pm »

At the other end a few miles down track.  In one of the passes Jerry lost it and was doing rooster tails at 200 mph + but managed to get it under control and bring it to a safe stop.

I neglected to mention that is Rich in the striped shirt with his back to the camera between the truck and car.
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 57 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 #12 on: November 02, 2011, 18:56:23 pm »

Here is a shot of the car, Rich and Jerry along with our '66VW.  It was really cool and you could just point what ever you were driving and FLOOR it as you were the "chase car".  We did this a few times in the Riviera and were well over 100 mph with all of the windows down.  Don't know if you are allowed to do this today.
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 57 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 #13 on: November 02, 2011, 19:00:12 pm »

A couple of shots of the then current car and the previous Holmes & Kugel ride that had been sold.
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 57 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 #14 on: November 02, 2011, 19:03:44 pm »

Well, that one got screwed up, so I'll try it again.  The photo of the Stude is one of my favorites.  I've always loved the design of these cars and if you all didn't know it was actually designed by Virgil Exner who never got credit for it.  He was the same guy that designed all of my Chryslers.
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 57 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 #15 on: November 02, 2011, 19:10:49 pm »

I think that will do it for this segment unless I discover more photos.  Rich was a great friend and I think of him often.  He lives in Irvine, but we haven't see each other in years although exchange Christmas cards.  He got into the landscaping business and from what I gather did well and I suspect is now retired with his son running the operation.

Jerry is still out there and owns and operates Kugel Kompents.  His kids became active in the business I wouldn't be surprised if Jerry and Judy still are at Bonneville each year.

Had I not purchased my VW I would have probably never met Rich and had the great times we did.  So as far as I'm concerned this post belongs here as it is part of my history with the mark.  Oh, and because Rich and I were HUGE Elvis fans we got to put the icing on the cake with this adventure.

More photos and topics in the works.    Wink Wink Wink Wink
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 57 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.
Fritter
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« Reply #16 on: November 02, 2011, 19:22:36 pm »

Cool pics and stories John!  I think this trip is on every car guy's "bucket list" for sure.
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danny gabbard
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gabfab


« Reply #17 on: November 02, 2011, 19:58:51 pm »

X2, Trying to get to the salt my self next year! Its kinda where it all started
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johnl
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« Reply #18 on: November 02, 2011, 21:03:52 pm »

X2, Trying to get to the salt my self next year! Its kinda where it all started


I'd suspect that like everything else things are much different there than when I was there some 42 years ago.  Probably a more rigid set of rules, but maybe not as much fun as we had back in the day.       Grin Grin Grin Grin
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 57 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 #19 on: November 02, 2011, 21:32:30 pm »

I've posted this photo before, but thought I'd throw it in for this story.  This was taken in June 1966 in my parent's driveway.  Left to right is myself, Rich, Rich's dad and my dad at the far right almost out of frame.  My mother took the photo and never could frame anything.  This was the morning that Rich's dad was taking us to the bus depot (back side of Pickwick Hotel, DKP Club House location) for us to report to boot camp in San Diego.  Needless to say by days end we were both scalped.....   Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked

The white '60 Pontiac in the background is Mr. Kugel's.
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 57 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.
jamiep_jamiep
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« Reply #20 on: November 04, 2011, 15:45:55 pm »

Love the simplicity of the car visually, nice!
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Worm
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Whose stupid idea was that?


« Reply #21 on: November 05, 2011, 00:11:48 am »

This shot is AWESOME.....

Also, I could easily be mistaken but I believe that Studebaker was eventually owned by the Haslem family and the Misses was the driver.  (late 70s)
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johnl
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« Reply #22 on: November 05, 2011, 02:04:21 am »

This shot is AWESOME.....

Also, I could easily be mistaken but I believe that Studebaker was eventually owned by the Haslem family and the Misses was the driver.  (late 70s)

I remember standing there taking the photo as if it were yesterday.  You could be correct on the Stude.  Really cool cars..   Cool Cool Cool Cool Cool
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 57 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.
Fastbrit
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Keep smiling...


« Reply #23 on: November 05, 2011, 04:06:06 am »

Hey John, I never knew THE Jerry Kugel was his brother! Too cool. Great photos as always. I'll never forget my trip to the salt in 1988 - everyone must go at least once in their lives, right?

Off topic, but was great to see you on Saturday. It's nice to be reminded I'm not the oldest guy here!  Grin Grin Grin
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Sarge
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« Reply #24 on: November 05, 2011, 16:31:40 pm »

Great stories and pics, John!  I feel fortunate to know Rich just a little bit from back in the day... one of the coolest VW's back then for sure.  As for Bonneville, it's on my to-do list!  Here's a little news from this years gathering....

It is being reported by multiple sources that the Poteet and Main "Speed Demon", powered by a Kenny Duttweiler built, twin-turbo, 347ci Chevy on alcohol ran the fastest speed ever recorded by a wheel driven, automotive engine powered car yesterday (9-20-11) on the Bonneville Salt Flats. The car recorded a mile speed of 457mph and an exit speed of 462mph. Totally insane! The transmission failed on the return trip so it is not an official record, but the numbers speak for themselves.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/B7tf6nGA1U4" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/v/B7tf6nGA1U4</a>
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johnl
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« Reply #25 on: November 05, 2011, 21:22:05 pm »

Hey John, I never knew THE Jerry Kugel was his brother! Too cool. Great photos as always. I'll never forget my trip to the salt in 1988 - everyone must go at least once in their lives, right?

Off topic, but was great to see you on Saturday. It's nice to be reminded I'm not the oldest guy here!  Grin Grin Grin

Keith,

Jerry was really a good guy and it was a special trip for me that I'll always remember.  Rich use to come over with Jerry's '32 Ford Roadster and we would go cruzin' in it.  You sat high, but flew around corners due to the Jag suspension under the car.  He also had a '40 Ford that we spent some time in and the last time I saw Jerry he still had the '32.

Over the years I've been lucky to meet and be with several famous "car people" such as Bob Lutz, Martin Swig, Jay Leno, Randy Ema and the list goes on and on.  Most of these guys are "genuine" and a pleasure to spend time with and share experiences.  I do agree that EVERY car guy should go to the Flats at least once in their life. 

It was good to see you on Saturday and Sunday and I wish we could have spent more time talking.  About that "old guy" thing, didn't you hang with Fleming most of the week??  He make me look like a kid as he has one year and six days on me.   Wink Wink Wink

I've located my 1969 Bonneville Nationals Pit Pass from my trip.  The tag under the plastic states 1965 and then it is stamped with 1969.  Other than the memories and the photos this is all I have left of that event.

Have a safe trip across the pond if I don't see you tomorrow at Nick's.
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 57 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 #26 on: November 05, 2011, 21:29:44 pm »

Great stories and pics, John!  I feel fortunate to know Rich just a little bit from back in the day... one of the coolest VW's back then for sure.  As for Bonneville, it's on my to-do list!  Here's a little news from this years gathering....

It is being reported by multiple sources that the Poteet and Main "Speed Demon", powered by a Kenny Duttweiler built, twin-turbo, 347ci Chevy on alcohol ran the fastest speed ever recorded by a wheel driven, automotive engine powered car yesterday (9-20-11) on the Bonneville Salt Flats. The car recorded a mile speed of 457mph and an exit speed of 462mph. Totally insane! The transmission failed on the return trip so it is not an official record, but the numbers speak for themselves.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/B7tf6nGA1U4" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/v/B7tf6nGA1U4</a>

Jim, glad you enjoyed the story.  This was within a month after you and Sharon were married and the last thing that Rich and I ever did together.  He was a really good guy and those were great times.

The info you provided on "Speed Demon" is really cool.  When I hear 347ci I think of Pontiac.  I'd be curious as to what bore and stroke achieved this displacement.

Now that you are a man of leisure, no don't get out your leisure suits   Shocked Shocked Shocked, you should consider making the trip to the Flats.  You should bring about a gallon of sun block......   Wink Wink Wink Wink
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 57 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.
hotrodsurplus
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It's not how fast you go; it's how you go fast.


« Reply #27 on: November 06, 2011, 22:49:13 pm »

Neat post, John--thanks for posting it. All of this stuff is interconnected at one point or another--all the hot rodders jumped to VWs when hot rods died in the '60s (belly tank racer Tom Beatty; Kent Fuller built the Volks Rods, of which Tom Medley owned; and so on).

Another case in point, Jeff and Jay Kugel were (and are) VW nuts. I sold one of them my '65 Super. I should've kept that one but that's another story...


A 347 Chevy is a 4.125" bore (400 originally but aftermarket block in Poteet/Main's car) and a 3.25" crank (307 and 327 but definitely aftermarket in this case). That combo is commonly referred to as 'the 350 that Chevy should've built' due to a '90s HOT ROD article about it.

The '47-'52 Stude is the one that bore Exner's mark. Exner left before '50. That '53/'54 (AKA the Loewy Coupe) was a Bob Bourke design.

Oh, and here's one of the wheels from the Kugel/Holmes car. Mickey Thompson had Ted Halibrand cast up a few sets with the gussets. Kugel bought a few pairs too. They're on John Swanson's Model A.


And the Kugels are still at it. In '08 or '09 I did a profile piece for Street Rodder about people getting their licensing. Jerry's daughter Jerilyn getting her Class A license. I have a photo of her holding the license somewhere on this mess of a computer.

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johnl
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« Reply #28 on: November 07, 2011, 00:02:29 am »

Neat post, John--thanks for posting it. All of this stuff is interconnected at one point or another--all the hot rodders jumped to VWs when hot rods died in the '60s (belly tank racer Tom Beatty; Kent Fuller built the Volks Rods, of which Tom Medley owned; and so on).

Another case in point, Jeff and Jay Kugel were (and are) VW nuts. I sold one of them my '65 Super. I should've kept that one but that's another story...


A 347 Chevy is a 4.125" bore (400 originally but aftermarket block in Poteet/Main's car) and a 3.25" crank (307 and 327 but definitely aftermarket in this case). That combo is commonly referred to as 'the 350 that Chevy should've built' due to a '90s HOT ROD article about it.

The '47-'52 Stude is the one that bore Exner's mark. Exner left before '50. That '53/'54 (AKA the Loewy Coupe) was a Bob Bourke design.

Oh, and here's one of the wheels from the Kugel/Holmes car. Mickey Thompson had Ted Halibrand cast up a few sets with the gussets. Kugel bought a few pairs too. They're on John Swanson's Model A.


And the Kugels are still at it. In '08 or '09 I did a profile piece for Street Rodder about people getting their licensing. Jerry's daughter Jerilyn getting her Class A license. I have a photo of her holding the license somewhere on this mess of a computer.



Good info here  I had no idea that Jerry's sons were into the VW world.

One comment I'd like to challenge a bit on is that the design was Bob Bourke's regrading the '53 Stude.  I'll try to attach a photo I have from the the book by Peter Grist titled "Virgil Exner Visioneer" and on page 47 this photo is taken and it clearly states that Ex worked on the design.  I say attempt as I'm not total sure of the system I'm working with at home.  Bourke did get credit for the design, but if you know the history of Studebaker and Raymond Loewy you should be aware that Loewy always surrounded himself with talent and took name credit on the finished product.  Looking at Exner's later work with Chrysler I think it is clearly visible that the Stude design was strongly his.  This particular copy of the book was a gift to me personally signed by the arthor, Virgil Exner Jr. and Burt Bowkamp who headed the program for Chrysler 300 Letter Cars at Daytona Beach when they broke all existing records.   

Many VW people don't know or don't want to know that the Karmen Ghia actually was designed in Detroit by Exner at his home Studio.  The original design was used on Chrysler concept cars and later by VW.

Should the photo not come through I'll take the book to work and post it from there tomorrow.
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Volkswagens Limited, DKP I
Celebrating 57 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.
hotrodsurplus
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It's not how fast you go; it's how you go fast.


« Reply #29 on: November 07, 2011, 05:14:39 am »

Quote
...clearly states that Ex worked on the design.


I know from my own work that I've unearthed info that put history on its ear so I'm open to the idea. It does strike me a bit odd that Stude would've credited Ex's mortal enemy for the design but Stude was known to do odd things like blow out designers who took their ideas to Ford for the shoebox.

Quote
Bourke did get credit for the design, but if you know the history of Studebaker and Raymond Loewy you should be aware that Loewy always surrounded himself with talent and took name credit on the finished product.


Yeah, that's how I knew the car as a Bourke design.

Quote
Looking at Exner's later work with Chrysler I think it is clearly visible that the Stude design was strongly his.


I'll grant you that. The first of the letter cars look like blown-up Studes--particularly through the grilles. Then again, those designers were stealing from each other all the time. Chop, shorten, and hardtop a Kaiser coupe and it looks uncannily like a Karmann Ghia along the flanks. I've seen such a thing.


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