Pedro Sainz from San Diego California USA is one of our most recent Pioneers. His attention to detail in stock restorations with his three T34s & offering stock reproduction interiors has made his influence special. Learn more about this T34 Pioneer.
Which vintage VWs did you own prior to your first T34?
In 1988 I bought a 1964 VW Notchback for $500 and restored it over the years to be a Sea Blue two-tone loaded with accessories. I owned it for 30 years until I decided I needed a more challenging model.
Tell us about buying your first T34
In 2012 I had the opportunity to test-drive Jack Fisher's 1964 Manila Yellow T34 Coupe and later Lee Hedges' 1968 Lotus White T34 Automatic. It only took me one block driving a T34 to desire one. The heavy body, stable freeway handling, and roomy interior space were the first things I noticed. A couple years later in Nov 2014 I got a call from Jack Fisher to meet him. He handed me the title of a 1965 T34 that was going to be cut-up into pieces and he said "Happy Birthday!" Only days before I started the 1965 restoration sadly my mother passed-away. The T34 project was a great help mentally & in the healing process. I completed the restoration in 18 months and the finished 1965 Smoke Gray Coupe was featured in the January 2017 Hot VWs magazine.
Your 2nd T34 was an early-1962 Pacific Coupe. What's the story?
After restoring the 1965 I needed a bigger challenge and learned from Lee Hedges that only 17 RHD Electric Sunroof T34s exist. I quickly sold my 1965 and contacted every RHD Sunroof owner if they were willing to sell but no luck. In July 2017 I got a call from Lee about a 1962 for sale and it was love at first sight! I loved the look of the 1962 models with their unique front badge & special features and it was the first year of T34 production. I already had a perfect vision for building this 1962 but it only took 12 months for the restoration this time. Although it had already been painted Pacific, the interior, brakes, engine, wheels, and everything else had to be restored back to stock. And I chose the two-tone roof color of Blue-White which matches the color of the rims too. It was featured in the March 2020 Hot VWs magazine.
And your third T34 was a Lotus White 1968 Automatic. Interesting! Late model, Automatic transmission, 12V, and last of production years. Totally opposite of your 1962 T34!
Actually I had the Automatic 1968 before the 1962 Coupe. But since I wanted to drive a T34 to the Central Coast Rally (only 3 months away), the 1968 had to wait awhile. In Oct 2016 Jack Fisher handed me the title and told me "Here, I know this will be in good hands". The first thing that crossed my mind was "this T34 would be perfect for my wife!" It's an Automatic, has front disc brakes, 12V bright lights, easy starting, and has more safety features that the early models. I learned so much after finishing this restoration in 2 years. Yes, it took a little longer but there was far more damage involved than my last project. My vision was to see us both attending for the first time both T34s at the same show. My dream happened at the Familienfest in Escondido in 2019 and my wife got the First Place T34 award too.
You are renown for creating authentic T34 interiors. Tell us about how that came to happen.
When I restored the 1965 T34 I went to so much effort to get everything stock that when it came to the interior I was sad to learn that 1965 interior was not available and heat-seamed vinyl was not available. I had worked with SMS Fabrics in Oregon in the past and knew they could help me. They applied heat-seams to the Brick Red seat vinyl which was authentic. In the end it turned out beautifully and I was proud. With the 1962 restoration I learned that the early years (1962-64) had unique cloth pattern material in combination with vinyl outer panels. Lee allowed me to separate a set of 1962 seats with original upholstery so I could discover how the panels were made. Again I worked with SMS Fabrics to do the heat-seams and soon my 1962 interior was finished. After lots of discussion between Jack & Lee it took them a year for me to commit to making the early T34 upholstery kits so other owners could have it.
What Have You Learned After Doing Three T34 Restorations?
It was was a great experience learning from the Pacific 1962 vs Smoke Gray 1965 vs 1968 Automatic. I covered the most noticeable changes between the production years and I always had a vision in my mind not to do the same year model twice because for me that would be boring. I have learned so much about the details across the full T34 model line.
I have my next project already in the works and it will be the biggest challenge ever! Wait and see ...