Funnybug 1: "This could be the start of something Bug"
Ah OPEC. Gas lines, conservation, 55 mph
I drove through the Gas Crisis in a Green 1968 four door Plymouth Fury III. Queen Mary. Tanker. Boat. A friend showed up one day in a 1961 Bug. A Bug? Volkswagen? Beetle? Why didn't I think of that? Oh sure, just try and buy one with all the lines to the gas pumps.
Well, I had just replaced the master cylinder in that boat of mine, and decided it was time for it to go. It was in great shape, ran good and it got about 12 miles to the gallon. I pulled in to my favorite dealer and asked him if he had any bugs. He said he had one in the back that wouldn't start. So, I walked out back and there it was. It was love at first sight. The left rear fender was dented, and the overider on the rear bumper was loose. I opened the blue door, sat down on the off white low back seat and put the key in the ignition. Turned it over, and over, and over. Then it started. Popped through the carb, backfired, popped through the carb, backfired, coughed, wheezed and stopped. Again. Turn, turn, turn, pop, turn, backfire, run, wheeze, pop, stop. I got out, walked to the back, looked at the engine and saw the firing order was 1-2-3-4. (backwards). I asked:
$500........................................... or $350 with your Plymouth.
Here's the keys, and your money.
Good luck getting it home kid.
I walked back to the car, fixed the wiring back to 1-4-3-2, started it up and waved as I drove out. That was 1975. Today, If you could find a totally stock 1967 Beetle with less than 50,000 miles on it, how much would you pay? What would you do with it?
Well, in 1975, it was just 8 years old, and a prime candidate to personalize. First, came the walnut steering wheel. Then the homemade wood inserts for the dash and glove compartment. Quick shift kit, plastic center console.
The Bargain Hunters Guide, a local weekly sell / swap / buy magazine, had a pair of flared rear fiberglass fenders advertised for $30. When I bought those fiberglass rear fenders for the (now called) Funnybug, they had HUGE '71 taillights on them. I liked them, and left them there. I put the original '67 taillights in a box, in case I ever had an accident and needed to replace them. I went to the junkyard and bought a pair of '64 Mustang turn signals for the front fenders. I filled the holes for the old turn signals in those 1-year only front fenders, de-chromed it, installed Vega bucket seats, and made my own door panel covers from a roll of scrap leather from the tannery down the street.
Then I Painted the aluminum slotted mags from Funnyfish 2, (?) and mounted them with yard sale wheel adapters. In fact, the only thing that wasn't second hand on the car was the paint. 1970 Mustang Metallic Blue. 4 coats. Traffic stopped when I went by.
("Funnybug": birth of word)
My best friend and later Best Man and I were Mopar freaks. When I got my 1964 ½ Plymouth Barracuda from my brother in law, (who bought it from the same dealer), we went to the local "drag strip", (behind a Creamery in Lynn, MA.), and took pictures of it doing "Funny car" type burnout's.
Your's truly - "c'mon baby, light my tires...."
It got the nickname "Funny Fish". The car was totaled later, but the name Funnyfish and the pictures lived on. When the motor in my 1968 Formula S notch-back Funnyfish 2 went, and with a family growing, I bought the Boat . Another long time friend, when she first saw the bug, said: "So if the Funnyfish is gone, does that make this the Funnybug?" The word has existed since. That friend that came up with the name "Funnybug", is in fact, son Jason's Godmother. In later years, it was my cb "handle", and today is my eBay user name..
Two weeks after the paint dried on Funnybug, A Boston Globe truck backed into the front of it. Before I could replace the hood, a little old lady slid into the drivers side in a snow storm. Just as the fiberglass was curing on the newly replaced rear quarter panel, an unlicensed girl took out the right side. I wept. But the structure itself was hurting, and I knew, looking at the crease in the roof, it was time to say good-bye.
Funnybug 1 with my sons Jason (4) and Jeremy (2) in the background
I salvaged what I could, and called my long time friends at A & H Auto salvage in Salem, MA. Before the end of the day, it was crushed, loaded on a truck, and on its way to a recycler. They knew I didn't want to see it every time I drove in.
a little bit more Funnybug 1 -->
Funnybug 2: "Healing the wound"
Phone rings. Hello? The frantic voice replies: I found it! You gotta see this thing! How about an un-built Autodynamics Deserter GT. complete with side tanks, gull wing hard top and a 1969 V cut pan. $300. Luck? NO. Fate. Arguably, the most well designed hybrid kit car / dune buggy ever built. Autodynamics was big into Formula Vee racing and had a mid engined version of this kit also. Speaking of being a kit, I built model cars before I could drive (what boy didn't back then), and all that assembling of kits gave me the skills to put this together.
Just back from the beach and covered in sand and mud
This one was orange-red gel coat. I threw in a set of MG buckets, teeny tiny steering wheel, the wheels and tires and engine from Funnybug 1. It hit the road on 7/7/77. An absolute unfinished jewel. (I never finished the interior). Took it to the beach, drove it 100 miles a day back and forth to work in New Hampshire from east of Boston. As a matter of fact, a Mass State Trooper pulled me over JUST to look at the car. I sold it in 1979 to buy a 1968 Charger. I knew it was a mistake as it drove away.
a little more Funnybug 2 --->
Funnybug 3: "The black sheep of the Funnybug family"
In 1982, I saw a Silver Bradley GT. advertised in the Bargain Hunters guide and decided to go see it. It was in fairly OK shape. The silver paint was rough and the left side had been 'fixed.' $1200. "Let me talk to my wife." Talk and talk and talk and talk. Finally: "I don't care Paul, do what you want." I called the seller back and YES he still had it! But, he decided to keep it. I decided to keep his phone number. 2 years later I called him and he said he was done with it, and I could buy it. He'd had it painted red in that time. It looked good. In 1984 I drove it home. But, for the next year, I was never really happy with it. I had a 1973 beetle, and although the Bradley was fun to drive, it was like an easy bake oven in there with the 1-piece plexiglass doors down. I didn't regret selling it in 1985. So the question is, if I did not build it, how can it be part of the Funnybug family album? Well, be it the black sheep of the family or not, it will always be Funnybug 3.
a little bit more Funnybug 3 -->
Funnybug 4: "The Baja craze"
Driving back from Grandma's in the family Astro, my now 16-year-old son Jason yelled, Dad! Look at that! I stopped. I looked at the "for sale" sign in the 73' bugs' window and got out. The car was fairly straight. It had a bug eye Baja kit on it. I talked to the owner. Then I talked and talked and talked and talked to my wife. Finally, she said: "I don't care Paul, do what you want." Well, I bought it. It ran like a champ. The inspection station said it was illegal though, because the fronts of the tires were exposed and the headlights were too close together.
You know son; the headlights have to be at the edge of the car.
"Excuse me sir, but, is that your Jeep CJ5 over there? Aren't the fronts of the tires exposed and aren't those headlights just as close as these?"
Well, THAT'S the way it came from the factory.
Fathers Day 1990 - Jason and I after a leisurely 5 mile walk to a gas station.
Hmmmm. Yes, I DID drive into Boston to talk to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles. He liked the car. Thought it was cute. I did have to come up with mud flaps though for the rear. Jason learned to drive in that car. In fact, it became his car. He cut the nose and tail off a junk bug and grafted it onto Funnybug 4. We installed a set of those cool looking, but, uncomfortable, fiberglass, hardly soft bucket seats, and a 1-piece solid dash.
a little more Funnybug 4 -->
Funnybug 5: "The Prom Buggy"
Jason decided to buy a dune buggy that was in a horrid state of neglect. (I understood completely when he said "But, Dad, I need this car".) The floors were shot, The brushed on blue paint was bubbling and the only remnant of the roof was a C Shaped piece of aluminum tubing. $500. The engine was strong. All the glass was gone from the glass packs, the patches on the floor had patches, but it was his.
Father / son projects are indescribable. He totally disassembled the car. Sanded 5 or 7 coats of paint off of it. He bought new floors from MoFoCo. Then he decided he and his high school sweetheart, Darlene, wanted to take it to their senior prom. Bruce Kirk (CVA 0738) nicknamed it the "Prom Buggy" during our Prodigy bug bench racing sessions. Jason and I painted it in a home made tarp paint booth, and we installed the white canvas top. I got the honor of wiring it. Prom Night was THE NEXT DAY when the maiden voyage took place. And yes, they went to their senior prom in Funnybug 5 and upstaged all the limos. They drove away from their high school graduation in it.
Jason - Prom Night
A little bit more Funnybug 5 --->
Funnybug 6: "In the pink"
Darlene, Jason and I were sitting on the front steps one day, next to Funnybug 5, when this guy pulled up and said his friend was selling one of those things for $150. He gave us a phone number. We called. Jason and Darlene went to see it, and said I should. OK Darlene, If you're not going to buy it, I am. She did. It seemed at one time, it was nice car. The interior had been upholstered once, and it was a strange combination of a ball joint front end, '59 middle, CV joint semi automatic rear end. They took it completely apart, put new floors in, and sanded 5 or 7 coats of paint off of it. Once again, I got the honor of wiring. Then Jason and I painted it. Pink. You know, that "It sure is Pink" Pink. I think the PPG name was Pink Panther Pink. Pretty car. When they registered it, they ticked off a lot of people with that license plate "HOTVW". But, was it ever. Just before a 350 mile trip to Lime Rock, (CT) the trans gave out. I don't know where this car is today. Last I heard it was in North Carolina.
A little bit more Funnybug 6 --->
Funnybug 7: "The bastard red headed step child"
This poor thing I had bought it a few years earlier just to save it. I saw it in the back of some guys yard, under tarps, and leaves and snow and deflated beach balls, I saw a gold metalflake fender with a broken headlight poking its self out from under the torn tarp. Almost crying out to me. I offered the guy $50 for the dune buggy in distress out back. He said, "Just take it". I gave him the money anyway. During its frame-off build up, I moved, lost my storage space and parted Funnybug 7 out except the body, which I tucked away in a barn for a couple of years.
a little more Funnybug 7 -->
Funnybug 8: "I am so sorry, 5..."
The 1967 Beetle was a unique car. The crossover year to 12 volts, traditional over rider bumpers, stuck-on backup lamps, 1-year only engine lid, and 1-year only front fenders. I didn't know how unique a car the original Funnybug was.
I was driving back to my home in NH from Maine. A back road. Those stories you here about how a guy found the car of his dreams sitting neglected under a maple tree can come true. I spotted this bug, under a tree, while my wife and I were cruising in Funnybug 5. (now mine, as Jason and Darlene were tooling in Funnybug 6). By the way, Funnybug 5 was at a peak. I had just put together a killer motor with all the chrome parts I had bought from all the CVA sponsored shows of '94. The dual chrome pipes sounded just so sweet! Anyway, to a screeching halt we came when we both saw this bug. The car looked like it was "built right" some years ago. 3 of the fiberglass-flared fenders were in good shape. The door panels were tufted Naugahyde, baby turbos, and 14" custom VW wheels. And the running boards were painted the same blood red as the car. The walnut wheel was split, it was hit in the nose, the clutch was sloppy, and the engine was stock, except someone changed it over to an alternator, (which didn't charge).
Well, I talked to the resident of the house and found out the car was sitting for ten years, (the paint was peeling savagely) and that it had an engine fire. But it ran, had minimal rust. But most of all, it was a '67. A sunroof no less. I found out the seller was going to fix it up, but, he really wanted a dune buggy. After a half dozen phone calls, and a check with Jason, the deal was made. You give me your car, and I'll give you mine. Done.
And yes, 19 years after the fact, the original taillights, from the original Funnybug, were mounted on Funnybug 8. It was only right.
During the build up of Funnybug 8, fate swung low and cut deep. Darlene and Jason split up. She took the pink mobile with her. Jason got Funnybug 8, and ended up selling it to his cousin. Long story.. end result.. gone.
a little more Funnybug 8 -->
Funnybug 9: "Franken-Funnybug "
I took the frame from a now body damaged Funnybug 4. (the Baja kitted one). The front 60 % of the fiberglass body from Funnybug 7, (the bastard red headed step child), and the rear 60% of the body of a basket case dune buggy "we all got together and bought and parted out in one day".
The plan was to glass the two body parts together, on the full-length frame, build a full hardtop from a mini pickups fiberglass cap, and to use all those extra pieces from Funnybug's past, once and for all. I had new floors from MoFoCo, and the square headlights Darlene opted out of for 6.
But, alas It just was not to be. We were moving again. There was no storage for it at the new house. And, rather than sell it to someone, or give it to someone
So I .
like Baron Frankenstein .
decided to destroy the monster.
to cut it
into 2 foot pieces
and threw it
in the back of a pickup
and took it .
to the dump.
There was no joy in Funnybugville that day.
a little more Funnybug 9 -->
Funnybug X: 11/20/2010
I really never thought I'd be adding to this story. But sometimes.. shit happens, stars align, fate sticks it's fickle finger right at you. Like a calling, kinda like Funnybug 2 only this time a frenzied email. A late afternoon ride to Tallmadge, Ohio (in fact a couple of streets over from Summit Speed Shop)
Struck a deal with this girl who after having the pancake motor rebuilt, line bored, new sluggs, rebuilt heads, got into an accident in her S10 and decided she doesnt want to be in something as lightweight as a dune buggy.. "I just want it out of here.. it's going to waste"
Well, I just so happen to have my tow bar with me. Let me help you clean out your yard and ease your mind.
And so.. the adventure continues
So for now, there's a new chapter and the once completed Funnybug Story reopens and continues
Someone asked me once, which of the Funnybug's was my favorite. I've thought a long time about that, and I think I'd have to say 2. No, 5. No, 1. Maybe 6. No, 5 more than 6. Definitely 5. Yeh. The Prom buggy. So, to whoever has it now, you're welcome.
Paul B. Canney
ps. We still have the rag top to it. (just in case).
Funnybug NoRulz: The "UN-Funnybug "
Remembering VOLKSWAGEN GREATS Magazine
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