Southsider Voice correspondent
In the history of the automobile, no make and model has been produced for so long or is more recognized the world-over by both young and old as the Volkswagen Beetle. The car was first imported and sold in the United States in 1949, and then produced domestically from 1955 to 1977. The car was first produced in Germany in 1938 but wasn’t made available to the civilian public until after World War II. It achieved a popularity peak in the 1960’s being produced in factories worldwide.
After 65-years in production and more than 21-million built, the final Beetle rolled off an assembly-line in Mexico in July 2003. James Kizer’s acquisition of his 1965 Volkswagen Beetle was born from the love and memories spent years prior in a very similar red 1965 VW Beetle owned by lifetime-friend, Kris Keeney. Kizer had been wanting a Beetle to fix-up and cruise around in and had told his wife Carmen many stories about his times in Keeney’s VW.
So, in the Spring of 2017 when she found a red 1965 VW for sale locally, she bought it for James birthday. The car was all-original with 43,000 miles and still running...barely. In fact, just after purchasing and driving it away, it was spitting out pieces of the pistons and essentially blew up as he got it home. He purchased a rebuilt 1200cc air-cooled VW engine from a friend in Orange County, California who custom builds VW engines for Bajabuggies.
This engine had originally been in a VW-bus and came with forged pistons and an oversize 100 EMPI cam, which basically doubled the 40-horsepower the factory engine had. He installed custom-made rear swing-axle wheel plates and turned the front torsion-bars all the way down which lowered the car’s ride and stance by 3-inches.
He then installed all new brakes, EURO-2 exhaust, Rader 15-inch wheels and first had it back on the road again right as it got cold in October 2017. James chose to keep the original faded-red paint scheme but installed a roof-mounted luggage-rack that carries his coolers and surfboard. The interior of the car is still all-1965 original including the immaculate vinyl seats, although an after-market rope-knit carry-all now sits below the factory dashboard.
Brett Hickman is a longtime Southsider and graduate of Southport High School. He and his wife, Dawn, live on the Southside and help with the hosting of The Southsider Voice’s “Car Nutz” cruise-ins