Larry Edson from Northern California USA has been a leader in the USA T34 community for decades, rescuing T34s & helping owners find parts. Learn more about this T34 Pioneer.
How Did You Discover the T34 for the First Time?
I never knew VWs existed until we moved to California after my high school graduation. Until then my favorite activity was cruising in a friend's '56 Chevy Bel Aire. One of the kids in the new church youth group had a Beetle as did the group leader. One day someone needed a ride and the youth group leader handed me the keys. Suffice it to say that the trip took much longer than the leader expected. After marriage we liked the idea of the new Chrysler K cars but the first year edition of our Plymouth Reliant station wagon turned out to be unreliable. So we went shopping and ended up with a 1971 Westy Camper from a used car lot. After several years of pleasure and learning to work on VWs in 1991 we decided to search for either a Karmann Ghia or a Porsche 914. Since this was pre-internet I went to the library and searched the ads all over Northern California. One Saturday we drove to inspect several Ghias & 914s (rust buckets) and there was time for one more stop in Santa Cruz. When we first saw the 1966 Bermuda & Cobalt T34 both of us were instant fans! Mary's favorite story about this 1966 called Trip is when she took it to Costco and came out with a mountain of food. Folks in the lot stared in disbelief as the mound disappeared into that little car.
In 1998 I found the 1965 Model 345 T34 with an Electric Sunroof, which there are less than 200 worldwide. What really draws me to T34s is driver comfort and handling. The reclining seat and wider cockpit than T14s make it a match for my long body and it's a dream to take on long trips. The T34 is equally at home going 100mph on the German Autobahn or shredding mountain roads.
You Have A Reputation for Rescuing T34s, Tell Us About That
I never started out to be the T34 salvage guy, the job found me. A few months after we got Trip, our 1966, we drove it down to the Solvang Veteranentreffen and worked the gate with a great couple, Don & Dawn Bulitta, who invited us down to their show in Phoenix. Before we left my friend Richard says, "I have a couple of T34s not far away in Colorado Springs. Maybe you could go there and tow one back." Tow it back with a T34? "No problem, I'll make you a tow bar for it." I've always loved traveling so I didn't put up much of a fight. So I arrived in Colorado Springs under a light dusting of snow. But, as some of you may know, if someone knows these cars they will find you. I stopped for gas somewhere in the boonies of Southern Colorado and this guy comes up to me and says he has one of these. Remember, T34s are still new to me and I don't think I'd seen a handful yet. And, the VW magazines back then weren't covering them at all. I couldn't pass-up an opportunity to make a side trip to see this T34. Yet, that wasn't what I was there for and I had work to do. Remember, Richard had two cars. The plan was to cut up one car and stuff everything I could into the other car. You know, front and rear clips, doors, glass, & the usual parts ... in the snow.
Since it was November I had to make sure the return trip would not end in disaster. I figured the railroads had to take an easy route over the Rockies so I made a southern detour to follow the Arkansas River Valley. The 1966 T34 handled the load easily in 3rd gear up the mountain and the trip was mostly uneventful except for a few tense moments when it rained buckets in Las Vegas. But the best part of the trip was when I stopped for gas a few miles later. My conversation starter drew in another curious chap. I told him how rare these cars were and as he looked at the two T34s and says, "I think if I were you I would carry spare parts too."
On another adventure Lee heard about a guy up north that was getting rid of five T34s. Road trip! The story was that he loved driving his restored T34 until somebody decided to make a u-turn in front of him. From that time on he wanted nothing to do with VWs in spite of the fact that his T34 had sacrificed itself and allowed him to walk away with only a deviated septum. To this day I've never heard of anyone dying in a T34. By the end of the second trip I had one complete car and all the useable parts from three more. Everyone's best friend in this and other adventures has been Greyhound. Large body parts from cars have gone all over the country to save other cars.
But now I'm getting too old for that stuff so I'm slowly clearing out the leftovers while I get ready to start on the last rescue project of the greatest rescuer of all, Tim Dapper. He managed to find a one-off 1964 T34 that came from the factory with a vinyl top & unique rain gutter design.
You Own A Unique 1964 with no roof gutters & vinyl roof. What's the story with this one?
You Once Owned a Cabriolet. That's got to be a good story!