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COLLECTORS CELEBRATE LOVE BUGS : VINTAGE VW FANS FLOCK TO ANNUAL SHOW.

Byline: Howard Mintz The San Jose Mercury News

A thick photo album lay open on the flatbed of a gleaming aqua 1959 Volkswagen Cab owned by Lois Grace of San Jose. One picture after another showed the car, starting as a broken-down rust bucket and transforming over time into a mint collector's item.

It is the type of photo album a parent might make for a child.

Grace's passion for her VW may illustrate why an estimated 3,000 Volkswagen aficionados showed up last week for the 13th annual Vintage Volkswagen Car Show and Swap Meet in San Jose's Kelly Park: Some people are just flat-out serious about those old love bugs and magic buses.

``A VW has touched people's lives in some way or fashion,'' says Rick Spohn, president of the Golden Gate chapter of a national vintage Volkswagen club. ``It's hard to find somebody who hasn't had a VW at some point in time.''

The car show - which has grown each year, organizers said - attracted VW lovers from throughout California and dozens of other states. Some were there to sell cars, others to lounge on the grass in front of their VW buses, munching sandwiches and drinking beer. Most piled into their VWs for a chance to spend the sunny afternoon gawking at hundreds of different Volkswagens, from dilapidated old sentimental favorites to souped-up hot rods.

While some cars were for sale during the day, the biggest attraction may have been the auto parts, strewn everywhere around the park. From gaskets to hoods to doorknobs, VW collectors were on the lookout for hard-to-find original parts for cars from the 1950s and 1960s.

Ed Economy of Los Angeles sets up shop at the San Jose show by the same tree each year, buying and selling parts. Sunday's hot ticket: original license-plate frames, selling for 10 bucks a pop to eager customers.

Economy had sold 40 of the frames by lunch time. But he spent his profits on - what else? - a pile of VW parts he bought at the show to haul back to his buddies in Los Angeles.

``There is a joy in helping people just put their cars back together,'' Economy says.

The mountains of car parts present an annual problem for the event's organizers. This year they begged the crowd to take unsold parts with them at the show's end - last year it took several truckloads to clear the debris afterward.
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Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 13, 1997
Words:404
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