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1- Bug Ins...  |    2- Period writings  |    3- Memorabilia  |    4- Pictures  |   

The Bug-Ins : Tracking the Evolution of the Californian Look through the Grand-daddy of all Events by John PLOW.

When looking at the events sections in the various VW-related magazines today, it's hard to imagine that there was a time when there were not VW events virtually every weekend. The truth is, back in the late 1960's, despite the growing popularity of the VW Beetle and the beginnings of a strong performance aftermarket , there were no major events on a large scale in Southern California.

Enter the first Bug-In in 1968, an event where VW fans could find, among other things, drag racing, a car show, and even a slalom (autocross). It wasn't long before the Bug Ins grew with tremendous popularity, with people traveling from areas well outside of Southern California to attend these events at Orange County International Raceway (OCIR). Many successful, large-scale VW events today owe their format and growth to those Bug-Ins of so many years ago.

In terms of the impact on the development and growth of the California Look, it was the drag racing that had the most significant impact. Prior to the Bug-Ins, if one wanted to see such legendary racers like the Inch Pincher, Deano Dyno Soar, or the Lightening Bug, you would have had to attend an NHRA-sanction event to see these cars take on the best that Detroit had to offer. For "regular" VW folk, however, such an encounter may not have occurred were it not for the Bug-Ins. Can you imagine the impact upon driving your new, stock Bug to a Bug-In, and watching now-legendary cars run seemingly impossible 11 and 12-second mile times? And all with a Beetle-based engine?

The success of these events, however, could not last, as the land on which OCIR was situated was sold to land developers in late 1983. From the first event in 1968, to the last one occurring in 1983, there were 31 Bug-Ins in all. The man most often associated with the Bug-Ins, Rich Kimball, is still active in the VW scene today, and is renown in modern times for his association with the VW Classic, yet another legendary event occurring each June in Southern California.

More than anything, the California Look has always been about simplicity and speed, and the impact that these events had on the development of the Cal Look style cannot be understated. You will note that some of the cars photographed from the Bug-Ins contain what would now be considered some non-Cal Look elements. That being said, the development of key components in the overall California Look style is clearly illustrated in these photos, and we invite you to follow along the following photo essay and track the evolution of a style of car that has survived, and indeed thrived, during the past 30 years.

Picture on upper right is another never seen before one by Glenn MILLER.

Picture below by Mark SCHMIDT is one of the greatest of my collection. See the famous Champion Tower... Image is a thumbnail, you can click on it for bigger one...




























Upper and left pictures shows what can be called Classic Bug-in pictures. Pre-racing line up were common at OCIR...

I love the left B&W picture coz it shows what the Bug-ins were all about : a mix of VWs of all sizes and shapes... Note the full flip body race bug standing just next some buses, all ready to race... Crazy! Picture is not dated but it seems it was shot before the 70s...

I guess upper picture is from the late 70s as all bugs are nose down... Note the Sepia brown bug next to the Metric Mouse Top chopped Gasser. I love that car too...








Another great lineup shot from the late 60's or very early 70's...

This picture is interesting too as you can detail the cars...

Note Der Volkswaffe bug in the background... This club was very active at early Bug-ins and used to add some paint on their cars doors... Hey, what about this on your freshly and shiny paintjob today ;).

Notice also the fiberglass decklids at left of the picture. Great or what! I want one of these! Ahhh, the 70's...


WANTED : Bug-Ins Memorabilia, stories, pictures... Email me.





Copyright 2003 El Dub - All rights reserved.

E-mail : eldub@cal-look.com