One day while in my front garden I heard a distinctive, but definitely modified “Braaaapppp” of a Volkswagen. When I spun around I saw a crazy looking half van, half pick VW disappearing up the hill. From what I saw it looked low, cool, and different. The next time I saw the vehicle I set off on foot to find who owned it. I was able to narrow it down to a house where I knew several eclectic cars had appeared over the years, so I knocked on the door and waited. A neighbour, Bruce Tupper, I had never met and only seen in passing came to the door, and was more than happy to show me his VW. A VW that was sandwiched between a BMW i-8 and classic Porsche 911. On the wall was a collection of images of vehicles he had owned in the past, some very fast and some very rare. When asked why a VW Double Cab Bruce replied “I’m a car-a-holic.”
Like many of the vehicles he has obtained, retained, and let go over the years, his love of the Double Cab started 10 years previous when a friend, Anthony Lewis, purchased it from the US from the person that did most of the modifications. Anthony owns a collision and body shop in Dartmouth and painted the vehicle. Bruce had tried to purchase it from Anthony, another car-a-holic, several times over a 10 year period, but Anthony kept saying it “was a keeper” and that he would never sell it. However, like all addictions there’s always something better, and that something better was Bruce’s 1976 Porsche 911. Anthony had previously owned a vintage 911 like Bruce’s and had always regretted selling it. So in the summer of 2020 Bruce was down one Porsche, but finally owned a vehicle he had yearned after for a decade.
For the most part the ’59 Double Cab is stock, body-wise. The interior is also stock, but was reupholstered in lots of red vinyl to give you the feel of driving inside a 1950’s diner! The front end suspension was modified to lower the vehicle by inverting the spindles, and a disk brake system was installed. The original rear end was swapped for a more modern Type III VW Transporter transaxle which not only allowed the vehicle to be lowered, but also allows it to reach highway speeds. Again, a disk brake system was also installed. The perfect finishing touch is the addition of 15” in the front, and 17” in the back, chrome Porsche Fuchs rims.
The most attention grabbing part of the VW, if you don’t see it coming, is the healthy notes that come from a warmed over dual Empi-carbed, 1776cc motor. Although the motor doesn’t produce a ton of horse power, it’s much more than the original, and when mated to the newer transaxle allows highway speeds to be reached with ease. The tones of the motor are also amplified through a custom header and megaphone exhaust that sticks almost 2’ straight out the back.
Like many of the vehicles that have called one of Bruce’s many garages home, the Double Cab was not parked there for long. Not long after our photo shoot and interview Bruce sold the vehicle to a VW collector in Florida last winter. This is when the story of the Double Cab got very interesting. If you look closely at the side gates, you’ll notice that the middle of the three indentations is short. In 1959, when they decided to build the double cab, they had yet to make a press to build side gates. Instead, for the first ~2000, they took the gates off the single cabs and cut a portion of the centre out to make them fit. Of the originals roughly 150 are known to have survived, and only 70 of those are known to to be title for road use world-wide. The new owner ran the vehicle’s numbers and also found that it was built in Los Angeles in 1959, and that with a small number of options (chrome hub caps, seatbelts (!!!), overhead fan, and canvas back) the production number drops to ~400. Definitely a rare bird! I would assume that the new owner will embrace the few custom modifications of the previous builders, but also understand that he has plans to have a canvas for the back hand-painted with a vintage Coca-Cola logo.