The Cal-Style Newsletter Archives

The Beginning of an Era
 
Almost 3 years ago VwKidd and myself found an opportunity to share our V-Dub experiences on the web and in the process we were also able to finally start to document Los Angeles V-Dubbin history. At times we have been off by a year or so but luckily we had guys handing us photos and relics to help us with accuracy and validity which made our task a whole lot easier. Like when we see pictures of early Los Angeles V-Dubbin history from 1978-82 and you see Richard Casillas in 1978 at Elysian Park. As the picture shows it was a progression of guys coming of age, getting away from Lowriders and jumping into V-Dubs and we’ve been saying that all along. I asked Richard Casillas what was the name of that look that I started to see out and about in L.A neighborhoods as a youngster around 1978 or so and he said "we didn’t even have a name for it, the names came later." You talk to Rene Ruelas of the Dukes Car Club and he will call his original red convertible Ghia lowered on alloys in 1980 in front of 4j body shop in Huntington Park California "Chicano Cal-Style". By 1984 in Los Angeles the look of an original V-dub lowered on Porsche Alloys that most of us just called “Cal-Style” and in vintage circles “Vintage Cal-Style” had already blown up like an epidemic in L.A. (what happens in an epidemic? It spreads). How big was the epidemic? In 1985 I bought a set of polished 2-litre alloys for my project 52 split cause I wanted to try something different by then, but yet not get too far away from Porsche Alloys. So for us to have sat here and try and take credit for anything that happened during the peak (1984-1987 imo) of the entire V-dub scene would have been a very, very tough sell because people were already going crazy over that style by then, and in some places more than others. How did the first true “Cal-Style” build come to exist in 1980. Rene Ruelas recently gave us that formula and we’ll explain that in our next article. Jimmy - 80s L.A
Article 1
 
 
The Beginning of an Era Pt.2
 
Rene Ruelas of The Dukes Car Club recently spoke to how he deliberately
put together the first true "Cal-Style" build in 1980. "Im glad that the style I lived and sported in my rides back then has been the nucleus of the style a true OG VW lover digs now ! It was a style many people came to like ! I always believed in that style that I derived from my family style of low riding Chevys ! I just took it to Another level ! Car had a Heartz top ! First VW with a Heartz top back in the early 80s ! I would like  to thank all my Lil bit of connections in the late 70's And early 80's for giving me the resources to make my style possible ! My Bro Fernando R.i.P. for always squirting my rides after an accident or a jealous key job ! Or just a change of taste ! Steve Tim's for building my first fast engine ! Gene Berg for doing my trannys and taking me away from the Hurst shifter lol ! Memo for stitching all my interiors !  Not to mention Raul at JV Astro polishing for believing that alloys Fuchs could polish like chrome ! Last but not least , Custom chrome for chroming all my shit in my engine compartments ! One more my brother Oscar Ruelas for helping me weld all my select a drops and front horn mods for disc brake installs on my early cars ! He also helped me make my stainless firewall patterns and cut em ! Loved this trend setting past ! Thanks to all who live the trend and keep bugging Homies ! Rene R."
 
Robert VwKidd recently recalled how at the height of the CalLook movement in the late-70s/early-80s he and Rene would scour thru the 4J Body Shop (in Huntington Park California) parts pile looking for OG Volkswagen parts tossed out in favor of one-piece windows, T-bars and the like.
 
VwKidd; “Rene was older than me and as such I was learning and following his lead early on in my building of VW's. 1980 was when I first saw Rene's Red 67 ghia "slammed" with all original trim and "heard" of  Early 6" Fuch Alloys. Rene and I by design were looking for NOS window trims, ignition locks, reclining seats, and complete bumpers because we wanted that Vintage original look but yet Rene and I were influenced by Hi performance cars too. Rene was the first one to combine the two. Style and Performance........Thus the "Cal-Style" was born. I would build my first true "Cal-style" VW in 1982. There is no doubt that the "Cal-style" was born of the lowrider influence but it was NOT a "Lowrider" Volkswagen. There were still lowrider VDub clubs like the Lady Bugs & Suave that were building multi colored, candy, flaked, small chain steering wheel and all the other required lowrider components. I wanted to build a VDub that was NOT a lowrider but still had the stylings of chrome/polished details, accessories and the performance of the Orange County Cal-Look VWs because of my early influence of going to street races at a young age. In the early years for me 1980-1984 our "Cal-style" VWs were not the norm at local cruise spots and party places, in fact other Cal-Look Vdubbers would call our cars Vintage style or ELA look. To sum it up for me it was building a VW that stayed true to my lowrider influence from my neighborhood growing up combined with the performance influence of street racing I watched at a young age, but yet NOT look like the popular at the time OC Cal-Look.” 
 
So that's how this particular style got its start, deliberately thought of  and influenced by lowriders but not a lowrider bug. Jimmy- 80s L.A.
Article 2
 
 
The Beginning of an Era Part 3
In our last piece we learned that Rene Ruelas and VWKidd would purposely seek out Original and NOS chrome window trim, ignition locks, reclining seats and other necessary parts for the California Style. Chrome gravel & knuckle guards, Volkswagen hood scripts, H4 headlights with chrome eyelids, mudflaps and of course complete USA spec. bumpers or the rare in the U.S at the time- German Euro spec. bumpers were also sought after because they wanted that Vintage original look to go in combination with the horsepower of a V-dub that Steve Tims, Gene Berg and Fumio Fukaya were known to deliver.
 
For the NOS and Vintage accessories that would complete the true “Cal-Style” look along with the speed, the go-to-guy was Jaime Lopez at Vintage Volkswagen Parts in Glendale California on San Fernando Road. Bob Scott & Cliff Crate, the founders of Vintage Volkswagen Parts started out selling original VW hard-to-find parts to the Split Window Vintage Volkswagen Club of America collector crowd in the late 70’s until about 1979 when they hired Jaime Lopez who had a classic Chevy Lowrider background but was also very knowledgeable with air-cooled VW’s having worked for well known VW guru Bob Costa at his service/repair shop.
 
Jaime grew up in Latino L.A. neighborhoods like Rene Ruelas and Robert “VWKidd” Velis so it was only natural that when Jaime came on board around 1979 with Bob Scott that Vintage Volkswagen Parts would have a new demographic in selling to the vintage “Cal-Style” pioneers who he knew personally, because at the time the big VW parts stores like Johnny’s Speed & Chrome or Small Car Specialties were mainly selling custom and aftermarket Cal-Look VW accessories of 1-piece window kits, T-bar bumpers and the like. Jaime & Vintage Volkswagen Parts now had a niche market selling to all the vintage “Cal-Style” V-dubbers coming from East L.A, Highland Park, Huntington Park, Echo Park and Latino South Central because there was no restoration reproduction parts yet available to the masses. It wasn’t until much later that Rich Kimball with his Tijuana Treasure find would “Bugs For You”- BFY be another source for original NOS VW parts around the same time that Jaime Lopez would leave Vintage Volkswagen Parts and start KDF Enterprises around 1985-86. Bob Scott and now Tony Moore (founder of Wolfsburg West) would continue with Vintage Parts Inc. at a separate location not far on San Fernando Road.
 
The early L.A. V-dub clubs that were the innovators and pioneers of the vintage Cal-Style V-dub were the “Vintage Volksters” and the outlaw club called the “Bugs Buddys” who were building original, but lowered all around and running smoothies or polished Fuch Porsche alloys from 1979-1982 at a time when the dechromed Orange County “Cal-Look” was the norm.
 
So when VWKidd pointed out that when a small group of guys- Rene Ruelas, Tom from Huntington Pk, Steven Diaz, Adam, Larry, Puerto Rican Bill, Bunny from Echo Park and Anthony Hernandez from Belmont/Rockwood were building their Vintage “Cal-Style” rides around 1979-1982, they knew the difference between a Cal-Look VW & the then “fresh” look of an all original bug with tasteful chrome, NOS 101 mirrors on both sides, with a stock dashboard and a radio-delete insert they sought out and a sound system in the glove box (so thieves in the hood wouldn’t be tempted), with factory colors, “slammed’ on smoothies or early Fuch Porsche alloys without tinted windows. “Our Cal-Style didn’t just evolve, it was a deliberate look we started and wanted for Style and Cruising. VwKidd“... The Cal-Style Newsletter
Article 3
 
 
The Beginning of an Era Pt. 4
 
 
The Early Years (1978-1982) : 
The "BUGS BUDDYS" & "VINTAGE VOLKSTERS". Two of the major influential Vintage “Cal-Style” VW Clubs in Los Angeles.
 
The “Bugs Buddys” VW Club started out as some guys that loved the L.A. Underground Dance scene. They frequented places like GINOS II in Hollywood, TheCopacabana in El Sereno, The Center in Puente & after the partys the Original Tommys Burgers on Rampart and Beverly. Their vehicle of choice was the Volkswagen. This VW Club would take a clean original VW & “slam” it as low as possible on white steel VW smoothies with VW hubcaps or the Wolfsburg crest nipple cap. This Club was considered an Out-Law club by the L.A. VW community & Law Enforcement.

 
Excerpt from VWKIDD: “The year was 1978, there was a group of party/dance/Disco heads from La Puente, Ca. who happened to like VW's. There was Larry, Adam, Raul, Puerto Rican Bill to name a few of the guys I knew. Recently I would find out the founder of the GFK German Folks that he, Ruben Navarro was also a member. (we never announced or made it known our affiliation back then for a time for certain reasons, our only give away was the square Playboy Bunny air fresheners hanging from our original rear view mirrors) Myself and my homie Rene Ruelas were close knit with the boys from Puente due to the disco/dance/cha-cha chick scene and our VW obsession. We organized a VW syndicate and it was called the "Bugs Buddys". We were an underground low profile VW club that many considered "Outlaws" cause of our style & process of building VW's at that time. We were building VW's that would be called the Vintage "CalStyle" look of all OG chrome/trim and "slammed" with motors and  around 1980 early 901 Fuch Porsche Alloys. Our Vintage “Cal-Style” VWs at the party cruise spots were very noticeable and popular with the girls because of our preference for Convertible bugs, ghias and ragtops. Well like everything good & happening there were some haters out there & some trouble went down in Puente with some local gangbangers and a members back window was shot out while washing his car (Bugs Buddys was now an official car club and hence a back window logo was starting to appear on some members VDubs). So our "Bugs Buddys" syndicate was starting to be a liability and all the members spread, got out of VW's (there were only a few "Car Guys" the majority were party guys) or got locked up. So myself and Rene would end up back in our southeast/southcentral LA neighborhoods and 2 other VW Clubs would emerge out of the break-up of our VW syndicate the "Bugs Buddys". One of them was the football club turned VW club the "Baby Boys" from Huntington Park and the other one would be Ruben Navarro's "The German Folks"...  The Cal-Style Newsletter

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