Hot VW's - January 2007 - Anthracite Anomalooker
Darrel Baker's one-off Euro Sedan is now not only a great '58, but a major deviation from the common street Bug

Anthracite Anomalooker
Darrel Baker's one-off Euro Sedan is now not only a great '58, but a major deviation from the common street Bug


San Clemente, California's Darrell Baker has always had a love for VWs, ever since his godfather (who restored a '54 Bug) took him to check out the last Bug-In at OCIR (Orange County International Raceway) back in 1983. Over the years, Baker has owned a '66 Mustang and two Hot VWs Magazine feature cars - his '69 Squareback (February '88) and '73 Thing that graced the pages of our January 2003 issue. Fast forward to 2006, and Darrell still likes surfing, cycling, and Volkswagens, plus spending time with his wife Shannon and family (their sons Gavin and Garrett, as well as Darrell's son Brady). His latest project, which took three years, is the pristinely customized '58 Looker you see here.

What started as an "internet find" from a motorcycle salvage yard, this European model (with factory semaphores) '58 sedan was stripped down to its bare shell the day after Darrell took possession of the car. Then plans for total refurbishing were on Darrells' agenda, and the parts hunt began. New old stock parts that he located include: Hella red-tip turn signal switch; door still plates; SWF semaphore assemblies; 101 mirror; arm rest; Cosmic gas pedal; pop-out quarter-windows, Dehne fuel gauge sending unit, and clothes rack (from Dan Lawson of Competition Engineering of Phoenix, Arizona); SWF wiper arms/blades; decklid handlel locking ignition switch; two-tone dash grab handle; dealer badge; '58-'59-only sun visorl; Hella brake light lens; trunk cable, and door handles.

The bare '58 pan would take-on many modifications locally, but the body went to Arizona. Anaheim, California's Andy Holder was the main man behind the IRS conversion, which utilizes Porsche 944 trailing arms (from Dave Galassi) that were narrowed 1 1/2 inches by George Schmidt of The Butcher Shop in South El Monte. Other rear suspension tricks consist of Sway-A-Way 28mm torsion bars, Porsche 930 flanges and CV-joints (modified by Darrell), custom Gear One 300M axles, Empi stub axles, Koni shocks, and Porsche 944 11-inch vented rotors, that were cross-drilled and slotted thanks to Baer Racing. Up front are CB Performance drop spindles on a CB two-inch-narrowed adjustable beam that Darrell had welded, then ground everything smooth, and also had it narrowed another 3/4-inch for extra tire clearance. Baer Racing was again called upon to cross-drill and slot a pair of CSP 11-inch vented rotors, shortened polished aluminum tie rods were added, an NOS steering box was ceramic coated and capped with Jamar cover, and Koni shocks and steering damper were bolted on. Andy Holder gets credit for installing the bulk-head fittings and corresponding fuel and brake stainless steel hard lines through the tunnel, while Darrell took care of mounting the Acromotive electric fuel pump, fuel pressure regulator, and Peterson in-line fuel filter. For whells, Baker at first selected a set of early Porsche Fuchs alloys, but later decided to run four genuine Porsche "gas burner" 5.5 x 15 magnesium wheels, which feature polished lips, ribs, and centers by Al Reed Polishing in Anaheim, followed by a plastic, chrome-like enviro plating, thanks to the crew at Olympic Powdercoating in Santa Ana. Further wheel details include color-matched "windows" and hand-painted center caps with Anthracite, red, and blac, thanks to Diane Reed (Al's wife) from Al Reed Polishing. Tires are Michelin XZX 135R15's fore, and M&H DOT 215/65R15's aft.

In Arizona is where all the body and paint work took place. First things first, the bare shell (and removeable pieces like doors, hood, deck-lid and fenders) was walnut-blased, thanks to Patrick at Pro-Strip, located in Mesa. Bodywork-wise, there were the usual small dings to repair plus mimimal rust, and the man in charge of this chore was Buddy Hale of Type 1 Restorations, in Phoenix. Per Darrell's request, Buddy's co-worker Matt Howard not only grafted-in a sunroof assembly, he reworked the decklid with hand-pounded 'D-cups" (for Weber 48 IDA tall velocity stack clearance), added convertible vents, and also made extra vents (behind the license plate). Buddy, with help from Matt Howard, teamed-up to straighten all surfaces to be painted, first using a hi-build polyesther primer that was smoothed-down in stages from 80-grit to 100-grit sandpaper, followed by Spies-Hecker primer and more sanding (400-grit, then 600-grit). Once everything was prepped for paint, Buddy loaded his sray gun with Sikkens base (1,469 Anthracite, VW factory color for '62-'64 sedan or convertible) and laid-on three coats. Then he switched to clear urethane and squirted five coats. After sufficient drying time, Buddy and Matt wet-sanded all panels, starting with 800-grit, continues on to 1500-grit, and finally 2000-grit before turning the dull finish into a mirror with the buffing pad(s) and polishing compound.

Darrell not only wanted his car to look good, he was after "hot rod" performance so he had Phoenix, Arizona's Competition Engineering handle the engine upgrade. No 36-horse here, but a 2387cc Type 1 with a whole bag of tricks, thanks to CE builders, Dan Lawson and Mike Fischer. Inside the Bugpack hi-roof aluminum case (with center shuffle pin) is a Pauter 86mm wedgemated, VW journal crankshaft that moves a set of Pauter 5.6 inch steel I-beam connecting rods attached to custom-done 94mm JE pistons in Cima cylinders. Another Pauter Machine part is their 03E8 cam with .550 inch lift and 256" duration, and steel straight-cut gears came from Competition Engineering, who also added their custom full-flow oiling system to the case, and provided the custom-by-CE pop-off valve to the custom Rev-Master 34mm oil pump. Heads are CB Performance 044s, ported and polished by Mike Fisher, and also features CE True-Torque spacers, Comp Cams custom bee-hive springs, titanium retainers, 55cc chambers, 10.2:1 compression, Pauter 1.4 roller rockers on Pauter shafts, dual tapered Manton 3/8-inch chromoly pushrod tubes that came from Heads Up Performance. Spark is supplied via MSD distributor, MSD 6 Plus and NGK D8EA plugs, while fuel is atomized by a pair of Art Thraen (ACE Enterprises, Salt Lake City, Utah) modified Weber 48 IDA carbs, and exhaust gases exit by means of an A-1 Muffler 1 3/4 inch Lowdown header (ceramic coated), V-band stainless connector, and ovalized 3 inch tubing going into, and out of, A-1's stainless Magnaflow muffler.

With the newfound horsepower, 201 @ 6,500rpm on CE's dyno, Darrell commissioned Kevin Richards (KCR Transmissions, Riverside, California) to beef-up a '76 Type 1 transaxle and also convert it to a Berg 5-speed. Keving used a ZF limited-slip diff, Erco gears and 3.88 ring and pinion, welded 3rd and 4th, and added a gusseted-by-Rimco side cover. Other tricks include custom breather and traction bar, both fabricated by Troy Smith, also from Phoenix.

After the anewed body and pan were back together, with tranny and engine in (engine comparment tin had to be trimmed a little), and rolling around on the one-off detailed "gas burner" wehhls, getting the exterior and interior in order were next in line. Phoenix's Jay Lussier handled all the wiring, then careful assembly of the fenders and bumpers (with custom brackets by Troy Smith), plus trim, windows, etc. took place. Darrell restored the pair of Euro headlight assemblies then bolted them in, as well as a host of new old stock items aforementioned. Once the exterior was buttoned up, Darrell concentrated on the interior, having Lenny Copp and his West Coast Classic Restoration crew (in Fullerton, California) stitch the seat covers, red door panels with gray insert ('58-'59), and armrest cover, using three hides of Katskin Brickred leather and matching vinyl. Then the car was hauled to Phoenix, where VIP Interiors hund the German cloth headliner, and also laid down the German square-weave carpet. Back to homebase in San Clemente, Darrell finished the interior by adding a Porsche 356 A steering wheel (with full horn ring), Simpson cam-lock belts, powdercoated locking Gene Berg 5 shifter with custom Line Loc button in a machined billet aluminum housing, a fuel pump switch behind the E-brake, and a one-year-only Australian VDO speedometer (with mph and km). Darrell also gets credit for altering the stock radio block-off plate and trim for two Auto Meter gauges (oil pressure, oil temperature). Looking up to the rare day/night rear-view mirror, adjacent is a custom-by-Troy Smith chromed post with two indicator bulbs for the LineLoc and shift light.

It took Darrell three years from start to finish, but as you can see, this is one of the nicest ragtop '58 Lookers around. Like most projects of this magnitude, there's many people to acknowledge, so following is Darrell's thank you list - "My Wife Shannon, my boys Brady, Gavin, and Garrett, Buddy Hale, Dave Galassi, the Lauffer family (VW Paradise), BFY Obsolete Parts, Wolfsburg West, West Coast Metric, Mag Masters, MSD, JE Pistons, Pauter Machine, Magnaflow, Koni, Tiger A-1 Muffler, Andy Holder, Bruce Tweddle, Troy Smith, Impression Plating, and Hillco Fastener." This sedan is subtle, and suitable to take the family on a Sunday beach cruise, yet will also come on like gangbusters when the pedal's to the metal. A big hit at the DKP 3 Cruise Night at Nick's Burgers in Fullerton the Friday before VW Classic, Darrell's '58 won DKP 3's 2006 award, then at Sunday's VW Classic, Baaker took a first in Super Street. He's done really well with the show aspect (and hundreds of onlookers), but also pleases his wife Shannon and their sons Gavin and Garrett, whenever Darrell asks them if they want to go out for a drive in the Looker, to get some ice cream.