Friday, September 18, 2009

It's a Von Dutch Thing

I had seen the Kenford truck and read tales of the Toronado, but it was really cool to hear that one of my biggest Heroes owned the same kind of car as mine. Since I had already known how Dutch felt about "all things German", and of his personality, it figures that he owned a VW Thing.

I first got wind of Dutch's Thing (in 1995), while reading Hot Rods by Ed "Big Daddy"Roth. I was intrigued when Roth wrote, "Dutch started goin' to the Santa Paula Airport every mornin' cause he wanted to build a VW Thing airplane. He was gonna make the wings outta electrical conduit." I didn't know what to think and wondered what it would look like?

The mystery was finally revealed in 2002 when it was featured in a magazine.

This was Dutch's daily driver up until his death in '92. While not converted into a flying machine, it has various airplane features. It has a Pitot tube for airspeed up front, or knowing Dutch, is that a gun barrel?

I agree with the message on the back, "Have Fun, Don't Grow Up".

Dutch's humor/obsession with the obvious. Every where you looked, he painted labels or initials on the fenders and panels indicating "things" like, L.F. for Left-Front, and Right or Left, and so on. This guide key was painted on both rear side doors to keep it all straight.

The pilot's cockpit features only one seat, no passengers. Levers are for dropping Bombs? If it was anything like his Toronado, that would mean empty beer cans. The Horn Button is inscribed Von Dutch '85, so he seems to have owned it for a little while.

The Thing sports two fuel gauges. On the hood, a ball inside a plexiglass box connects to a float in the fuel tank, the other, a simple indexed sight tube, is inside the cockpit.

Dutch figured the engine lid may as well be useful if it was up while on the side of the road.

On the subject of planes and beauty, Dutch once told Roth , "They are not designed to be beautiful, they are designed to work and that's what makes them beautiful". I'll bet he felt the same way about his Thing.


drsprocket said...

Chris, Unless I miss my guess isn't that a Cobra body laying on the ground in the door way in the first photo? alater one with flared fenders,etc.

Chris K said...

I'm sure it is. I don't know where these photos were shot, maybe at Brucker's place?

Anonymous said...

Any chance you know the magazine name and issue ;) I own a 73!

Chris K said...

The magazine is called Barracuda. I'll have to go look up the month and year.