El Dub's Nostalgia corner.

Meetings, cars...

Treasures from the past.

Memories, people, meets.

H/Gas, I/Gas...

Links EMPI, Auto-Haus, R/S...

History Page
Back to Main Page...     
1- EMPI GTV - '66 & '67 page 1  |   1- EMPI GTV - '66 & '67 page 2  |   3- EMPI GTV - '68 & later (soon)  |  

EMPI GTV... The first years... 1966 & & 1967...

There are always those who don't want to perform engine or body modifications to the car themselves, but they do want a vehicle that is modified in one manner or the other. This problem, of course, was solved a long time ago with the the advent of speed and custom shops. But EMPI had added a new twist. It is now possible to purchase a modified volkswagen in one or four distinct stages at any authorized EMPI dealer. The car is dubbed the GTV - a pretty obvious name. It comes in stages termed Mark I thru Mark IV. The MK I is a 1300 with the following equipment installed : a set of four bumper guards, a pair of bumper stiffeners, a racing stripe, special EMPI steering wheel and walnut faced dash with chrome glove box pull. Garnish strips are added to the tail, along with a set of chromed taillights.

This 1966 GTV used to appear on cover of the first (and only...) EMPI Volkswagen Annual magazine. It's a very interesting picture mainly because color pictures of the '66 GTV are very rare. White stripes are evident on this one. Note the mega cool head rest and the Delswift antenna mirrors. Don't miss also the pre-production BRM rims... How rare...

The Mark I features an EMPI camber compensator and a Track-Tru front anti sway bar. A Slick Shift and extractor system are also added. A set of five chrome wheels with chrome hubcaps are also part of the option. Rounding out the list are rear fender shields, cocoa mats, front fender shields, door handle shields, a hood handle shield and GTV emblems. The GTV Mark I can be purchased as a complete automobile Thru EMPI-VW dealers or as a kit to be installed on your personal VW 1300 for $437.20. Your financial status will dictate you how you should buy the GTV. The second stage of the GTV features all the aformentioned equipment plus these additions : a pair of bumper bars, cigarette lighter, brake light, fuel guard, a pair of twin vents, a shift knob, inside door handle, rear speaker shelf, a pair of backup lights, an engine compartment lock, a fan belt guard, map light, underdash parcel shelf and a mirror/aerial set. It, too, is offered on the same basis as the Mk I GTV and sells for $566.85.

A very cool cutout of the '66 GTV Mark IV fulled with all the EMPI accessories...The GTV Mark III adds to the Mark I and Mark II packages the following : oil temperature and pressure and ammeter gauges with a replacement panel, a flip mirror and a set of headrests, both left and right safety harnesses, a gas pedal cover, and the chrome wheels and exchanged for a set of five mag wheels. There are 41 separate items in this package, and it sells for $755.05 as a do-it-yourself kit. The most equipped VW in the series is the Mark IV with 48 items. It includes the Mk III kit plus the following extras to make it the king of the road : a tachometer, AM radio, power brake kit, headlight shields, left and right front seat recliners, special shocks both front and rear and a RAM induction kit to increase the VW's power. The Mark IV kit sells for $1238.75 to do it yourselfers. That's the rundown on EMPI's latest addition to the Volkswagen automobile line. You can choose the degree to which you wish to modify the Volkswagen (or have it modified for you) by counting the big ons in your wallet. Whichever model you take, the GTV is bound to repay you many times over. It's EMPI equipped!

Here is the complete listing of the parts that were included in the four stages of equipement :

- GTV Mark I : The MK I features the following additions : bumper guards, a pair of bumper stiffeners, racing stripes, steering wheel, walnut dash, glove box pull, garnish strips, chrome tail lights, extractor exhaust system, camber compensator, five chrome wheels with hub caps, fender shields, cocoa mats, track-thru front anty sway bar, slickshift, door handle shields and a hood handle shield and two GTV emblems.

- GTV Mark II : The MK II add to the items found on the MK 1 the following : a pair of bumper bars, a cigarette lighter, a brake warning light, fuel guard, twin vents, shift knob, special inside door handle, rear speaker shelp, two backup lights, an engine lid lock, a fan belt guard, map light, parcel shelf and a mirror aerial set.

Cool picture of the back of a '66 GTV... Note the racing stripes and the EMPI bumpers guards... Those stripes looked just like those on the belgian Mach 1 bug...

- GTV Mark III goes even further by the addition of the following over the MK II : Oil temperature gauge, oil pressure gauge, ammeter, replacement panel, a flip mirror, head rests, a gas pedal cover and a set of five mags wheels.

- GTV Mark IV adds headlights shields, a power brake kit, a ram induction kit, seat recliners, heavy duty shocks for front and rear, an AM radio and a tachometer to the already plushy MK III.


In 1932 Ford Motor Company sold 258,927 passenger cars. Just a drop in the bucket taken in today's context of 9-million-vehicle-years. Even an individual with the most superficial interest in automobiles would ask himself, "If so very few units (comparatively speaking) were built so long ago, why are there so many still around?" Like who knows where there's a cherry '32 Ford? Who even cares?


 '67 GTV and those lovely EMPI Girls... The '67 king of the roads bug usually appeared in EMPI literature with lovely fashioned girls... Here are a few shots for your viewing pleasure... Ahhh, those were the days... Enjoy...

Of course, we're being obviously obtuse for a point. Everybody acknowledges the '32 is cherished because it had the first low-priced V-8 and that, more important, as improvements to that engine came along, the car accepted them on a bolt-on basis. Along with style, which is at best a personal matter, the Ford mystique -''A,'' ''T,'' '32 or what have you -has always been low cost and interchangeability. Although the Deuce Ford thing started in California after thirty years, its popularized form is all over on the coast. Today you select some form of the classical hot rod '32 and restore a machine to it. There's been a subtle shift away from the try-your-own-hand-of-inventiveness of former years for the simple fact that virgin bodies no longer exist -the whole concept has taken on a kind of outlived-its-utility quaintness. Like those keen, old Duesenbergs you see in Road & Track every now and again, the '32 is a rolling curiosity.


I love that beautiful italian EMPI girl posing for Heinz JUNG in of front of an all red GTV (red GTV are my all time favourite, bet why?)... Doesn't she looks cute with the bikini...

So now what? The VW. The what? The VW. It's Germany's version of the Henry Ford syndrome, isn't it? Everything Volkswagen has ever said in their frantic shoot-Detroit's -planned-obsolescence-in-the-head, low-key advertising, is that the more the car changes, the more it remains the same. And by the end of next year, they'll be 15 million of the little dudes floating around the world -2 million in the U.S. alone. Okay, you've got the numbers and low price and interchangeability and acceptance by the youth market (Ford has had that for years and lost it in '55). It doesn't take an MIT degree to see that the VW will far outstrip the popularity of the '32 Ford and every other all-time favourite to boot.

Believe it or not, the home office in Wolfsburg, Germany could care less about the wild, young, money-laden Americans that leave a trail of greenbacks across every major market, especially the automotive one. What we mean is that the Germans want to sell them cars, but not special cars -what could be the matter with the perfect beetle? For the average person, very little. For the kids, possibly a lot. That's the raison d'être for the EMPI outfit -making the VW more faultless.


Where is that GTV today...

EMPI is Joe Vittone. It's actually Engineered Motor Products, Inc., but Joe's the guy who started it all. A few years ago he began making camber compensators to correct the beetle's inherent oversteering difficulties. In pre-1500 days you'd go lickety-split around a bend and up would go the back end as the rear wheels de-cambered. If you were at the right speed -the car might throw in a free barrel-roll. Most owners never realized that this trait existed because they drove low and slow, not being schooled in the proper technique of keeping the r's up on the power curve. But those smouldering Juan Fangio's knew it, and if they were smart, they went out and bought one of Joe's camber compensators.

So that's how it all started, a mini-empire that now includes one of the biggest, if not the most spectacular, new car dealerships in America -Economotors in Riverside, California. Just because it's a VW place doesn't mean it's the usual blue and white sanitary but conservative, ho hum, beetle sales outlet -because Joe's shimmering palace is much more. What it really looks like is one of those model architectural proposals that everyone is going to build someday, somewhere, when he gets the money. The profit margin on VW's is the same percentage as on a Cadillac, so Joe didn't have to wait. He went ahead while factory officials protested that he wasn't conforming to their ''image.''

                                        To be continued on page 2...

Copyright © 2005 El Dub - All Rights reserved.

E-mail : eldub@cal-look.com

SMALL WONDER. By Eric Dahlquist.

Hot Rod July 1967.

Five guys in a VW to Erie, Pennsylvania; that's how I learned to know and love the beetle. It was 1957. Wide lapels and padded shoulders were out and Ivy League natural shoulders were in. Dwight Eisenhower had just been re-elected for a second term, running against Adlai Stevenson instead of Jack Kennedy, who decided to wait for '60. Gunsmoke was in its third year on TV, and Emory Cook and Cliff Bedwell were about to electrify the drag racing world with a 166.97 run in the 8's! Despite Detroit cries of un-Americanism on the part of citizens who bought one, a foreign-car boomlet, epitomized by an odd-looking little German machine, was beginning to be felt. The dew was still on the melon.

A proud Joe VITTONE stand next a stock '67 bug and a oh so cool '67 GTV in front of Economotors...

It was all pretty uncomplicated. Five of us wanted to get to Erie (actually Wattsburg, a few miles south), 130 miles distant, for the drags; and being unemployed, students or a combination of both, cost-per-mile was the critical consideration on any such voyage. One ray of hope shone through our darkened economy; Joe D'Errico or, more precisely, Joe and his VW. At a time when the beetles still meant insects plural, good old forward-thinking Joe had a Volkswagen complete with 37 Teudonic dray horses. A torsion-sprung black jewel that would get us to the track at slightly less than 30-miles-per-gallon of low test, allow a surplus for pit passes and food (Erie always had the best hot dogs in the world), and get us back in one piece, relative comfort and in a humorous frame of mind. The excursion stands out in my memory like a milestone in the history of overland transportation.

Wow, would you believe this... A truck full of '67 GTV leaving to deliver the red example right down to my house... More on this soon ;) Picture courtesy of Glenn MILLER.

In a small way, it was. Before the 1200, 1300 and 1500 engines, the chrome Porsche and mag wheels, candy-dipped exteriors, wooded-over interiors, tawny long-haired dollies blurring down the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu with a surfboard growing through the sunroof, or the extractor exhausts moaning into Bob's Big Boy on Van Nuys Boulevard; before all this - for all its delightfully bizarre foibles - that ride through an early fall day in a VW was a peek behind the curtain of the future to a time when the odd-looking machine would actually challenge the Big Three for outright supremacy. A decade later, the Volkswagen is what's happening! Everywhere we look, in high school parking lots, in college parking lots or just parking lot parking lots, a swarm of beetles engulf ever-shrinking islands of "regular" vehicles. Then there's the VW hop-up phenomenon that is blazing out of sight in mushrooming potential, as more and more 1700-pound weaklings take the pay-as-you go muscle building treatment.

Beautilful girl... Beautiful car...

If some of you perceive recognizable parallels between the Volkswagen phenomenon and the Model T Ford, we do too. (Not to mention Ford, who blanch at the prospect of having 15 million of anything to compete with.) And so, off we rode to Riverside where, at the house that Joe Vittone built, Economotors a brand-new 1500 was waiting for a road test. Econo is the largest Volkswagen dealership in the U.S., and it looks it. There's enough shining glass, steel and landscaping here to vie with the GM Tech Center back in Warren, Michigan, and when you see the cushiony customer lounge and patio, conference rooms, combination parts counter and speed center (Joe also owns EMPI), work area with waxed rubber-tiled floor, forested with 26 single-post hydraulic hoists, you can hear the gnashing of teeth in Detroit as the inevitable draws near. Any Chevy dealer would be green with envy at this setup, but the pièce de resistance is the cars - the ever-lovin', fantastically-detailed beetles! You can get anything from the prosaic humble bug to a pizazzy cold-air package street job that will scare the lederhosen off a GTO - but that's another story.

After all this, plus the sight of a trade-in lot filled with Chevelle 396's, Fairlane GTA's, Sting Rays and other assorted super-cars, testing the beetle was almost anti-climactic. But we took heart, because, after a get-acquainted session between us and the stocker, an EMPI-ized 1500 was on the ramp for comparison. Putting the knitting needle-like stick through the gears the first time, it doesn't take a stopwatch to tell that acceleration has been escalated sharply in the last ten years.

                 To be continued on page 2...