Water-Cooled Volkswagen Club

True love for Volkswagen and Southern California are two things that have always just gone together.  And nobody truly ‘gets’ that like Ontario Volkswagen.

For the past two years, Ontario VW has altered its entire business operation for what would otherwise be a very busy day.  And they’ve done that to morph their dealership in a venue for all types of Volkswagen fans to gather, show their cars, swap their car stories and share their passion for all things V-Dub.

And note the ‘all-types’ indicated above. If you’re already in the ‘VW-know’  then you’re aware of the difference between air-cooled and water-cooled.  You see, there’s a division among VW enthusiasts.  A fun-loving division for sure but a partisan divide nonetheless.  So much so that there are entire car clubs dedicated to one and the other.

In this iDriveSoCal Podcast, Ontario Volkswagen’s 2nd Annual Oktober Fest Car Show, we talk to the leadership of one of the water-cooled Volkswagen clubs and learn more about their growth plans to share their brand of VW-Love.

Forward facing custom Volkswagen parked inside Ontario VW with license plate propping up hood


Recorded October 28, 2018, in Ontario, CA

Water-Cooled VW Club @ Ontario Volkswagen Oktoberfest

Mike: We try to do stuff our own, we try to have cars that are a little bit beyond the norm. They may never be perfect, they may never be done, but they are built by us in our garages. Jimmy’s house always looks like Ontario Volkswagen.

Tom: Welcome to iDriveSoCal, the podcast all about mobility from the automotive capital of the United States, Southern California. I’m Tom Smith, and as you can probably hear, I’m not inside in a studio. We’re actually at Ontario Volkswagen in the Los Angeles suburb of Ontario, California, and we’re outside at the Oktoberfest, the 2nd annual Ontario Volkswagen Oktoberfest. We’re podcasting outside.

Ontario Volkswagen is just off the 15 and also right by Ontario Airport so just as we were doing that open, a jet was flying overhead. But joining me is Mike Pitman from … Where are you from?

Mike: Wildomar, California.

Ontario Volkswagen Podcast interview during Oktoberfest

Tom: From Wildomar California. And Mike is part of not only the Oktoberfest Auto Show, here at Ontario Volkswagen, but one of the clubs that’s involved in this show and your club name is Scrappy Dubs?

Mike: Yes sir.

Tom: Mike, thank you for joining me for the iDriveSoCal podcast.

Mike: Thank you for having me.

Tom: Tell me, what… The Scrappy Dubs, I know Jimmy Willhide who’s the service manager here, service director, service advisor, whatever his exact title is here at Ontario Volkswagen, I know that he’s part of the Scrappy Dubs Car Club, but tell me a little about it. How’d you guys get started, and what do you do?

Mike: You know-

Tom: Other than participating at Oktoberfest here at Ontario Volkswagen.

Friends w/ Shared Passion – Water-Cooled VW’s

Mike: Right, right. We’ve known each other for a long time. We’ve been friends, practically kind of grown into a family.

Practically what we do, we’re just a group of friends. We all have the same love, same enthusiasts for Volkswagen, for European cars, and we all got together and we help each other out.

And we have different strengths and when somebody needs help with a car we get down to the garage. There are late nights and get some good music going and we put together our crazy ideas and we make the stuff happen, so that’s how it became.

Close-up of an official mark window sticker for Scrappy Dubs Car Club

And we try to stand out a little bit. We try to do stuff our own, we try to have cars that are a little bit beyond the norm and like I said, the cool thing about all of our cars is they may never be perfect.  They may never be done. But, they are built by us in our garages, and like I said we have a great time with doing it.

I think that’s what friendship’s all about, growing up and growing older and constantly evolving, constantly changing stuff and doing stuff for the love of the cars that we love to drive.

Tom: Did you guys go to… Are you all southern California, all high school buddies or college buddies, or just kind of meet somewhere along the line or…?

Volkswagen is the Common Bond

Mike: We kind of met in between. We had friends that kind of knew each other and we kind of met. At the time I was a wheel repair guy and I did some-

Tom: Wheel repair?

Mike: I had my own mobile repair business, so I did that. That’s kind of how I met Jimmy and we got together, repaired some stuff for him and started hanging out and we would literally Friday, Saturday night.

It was almost either at Jimmy’s house or other friend’s houses and we’d hang out late at night, and multiple times that I had probably four or five cars stored at Jimmy’s house and yeah, I mean Jimmy’s house always looks like Ontario Volkswagen.

Tom: I know he’s got seven or eight, or six or eight. I know he’s got a number of cars on his own.

Front-driver's-side view of a gray VW Golf with hood popped during Oktoberfest at Ontario Volkswagen

Mike: Definitely. Definitely.

Tom: If you’ve got a few cars stored at his place too, he must have a little bit of space.

Mike: Yeah, he did and he still has more space now. There’s always been a little bit of competition between us, between who has more cars. It’s always changing.

Tom: You have a number of cars at the moment?

Mike: About 10. Somewhere around there.

Tom: All Volkswagens?

Mike: VW Audi, trucks, some big 4 wheel drive trucks, boats, jet-skis. We have quite a bit of stuff.

Tom: Let’s talk Volkswagens specifically. What car did you bring here today?

Mike: We brought my wife’s Volkswagen Mark 4 Jetta GLI.

Tom: Mark 4. And for those of you that have listened to the podcast, you know that Mark 4 is just interchangeable with the generation, right?

The Wife’s Custom Commuter –> Water-Cooled Volkswagen

Mike: Pretty much.

Tom: Every time a car is completely redone, that’s a new generation and same thing for Volkswagen. They just use Mark as a German thing, right?

Mike: Yeah, chassis.

Tom: Got you. And we were looking at your wife’s car in the dealership actually. It’s literally parked in the dealership right now. Tell me about some of the things that you guys did. I know the hood was something special that you did, where it comes over the headlights just a little bit.

Front-passenger-side view of a custom VW Jetta by Scrappy Dubs Car Club during the Oktoberfest Auto Show at Ontario Volkswagen

Mike: It’s called a Boser. Like I said, it was-

Tom: It’s called a Boser?

Mike: Boser hood, yes.

Tom: Boser hood.

Mike: And-

Tom: And that just like a style?

Mike: Yeah, it’s a style. It’s for people who kind of want a little bit more of an aggressive look and there are different variations. They do sell pre-made kits that you can weld on. That one was actually custom. Like I said, cereal boxes and cutting out templates onto metal and making it happen.

She wanted a little bit of a one. She didn’t want one too crazy, so like I said that was done. Welded. Most of all the bodywork was done between me and a friend of mine, Dave Ellidge who’s the one who painted the car. Everything from that to all the interior being redone. Suspension, bushings, coil-overs, the custom Euro trunk on the back as we were speaking about.

Hot Rod Shop to VW Dealership

Mike: Yeah, there’s quite a bit of things done to it. We didn’t want to go too far-fetched with the car, like most of our other cars, because she does drive the car every single day. The car sees a freeway, it sees the rocks, it sits in traffic. I mean… and if that car’s not in tip-top shape I definitely hear about it.

Tom: And regarding rocks, you mean, the suspension’s not so tight that you’re ruining your wife’s back as she drives it to and from work every day.

Mike: Exactly. Exactly.

Tom: Got you.

Mike: If that Starbucks is spilling inside the car, we’ve got a problem.

Gray Matter custom VW by Scrappy Dubs Car Club during Oktoberfest at Ontario VW

Tom: I have to mention this. I don’t know that this correlation is going to make a lot of sense.  But, I’m in the middle of reading the biography that was put out on Steve Jobs shortly after he passed. Or, right around the time that he passed… and I can’t help but think how him and Wozniak…

So many other businesses, and so many other passionate hobbyists, whatever, they start in the garage.  Knocking around, doing things for fun with a couple of friends and there’s really no difference between what Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak did… except the big business, the advent of Apple of course.

But it’s on a similar plane and the funny thing is here at Ontario Volkswagen, I don’t know if you know the history of this dealership but Earl Reed who’s the general manager here, I’ve had a couple of talks with him and this store was actually started by Mr. Sherman, and Mr. Sherman started as a hot rod shop.

Sharing the V-Dub Love

Tom: You never know, 20, 30 years from now you could be the owner of a dealership somewhere from you and Jimmy-

Mike: Right.

Tom: …and the rest of the guys messing around and hobbyists, passionate hobbyists and taking it to the next level.

Mike: Right.

Tom: I’m just saying.

Mike: Right. Right.

Tom: You never know about these things, but there’s a little irony that I wanted to point out.

Tom: You brought your wife’s car here. Now, are you one of the judges for the competition?

Mike: Yes, I did help.

Tom: The judging’s done?

Mike: Yes.

Driver's side profile view of a matte gray custom Volkswagen displayed during Oktoberfest at Ontario Volkswagen

Tom: Alright. I didn’t know that and Jimmy didn’t share that with me. Do you want to share any insight or… You know what, I don’t want to ruin it.

Mike: Well, what we kind of look for is… we kind of look for the whole package. A lot of cars look really great on the inside and then on the outside, vice versa.

A lot of the cars we look at, a lot of the cars… some of the cars are still here anyways. We like the whole package.

Tom: Sure.

Mike: We like to see things that have been done in every aspect of that car.

Tom: Sure. Sure, sure, sure. Focusing back on yes, we are here and the auto show’s going on the Oktoberfest auto show, but Scrappy Dubs… The club started as you guys buddies, and what are your activities now. Do you have a website? Do you have a Facebook page?

I know you mentioned you have a big event coming up so it kind of sounds like a club that is potentially growing into something.

Water-Cooled Volkswagen Club –> Annual Show: Dubs on the Shore

Mike: Yes, yes. We’re trying to. Right now we have Facebook. We have a Facebook page, Instagram page, so we’re a little bit on social media and like I said, it’s… We’re not trying to grow as a big, huge car club going to be all over the place. We want-

Tom: You just want to share the passion.

Mike: Exactly. Share the passion, share what we love, what everybody else loves about these cars and yes, we have a show that’s going to be coming up on July 20th of next year, down-

Tom: 2019, July 20th, 2019.

Mike: 2019 down on San Diego Harbor so literally it’s Spanish Landing is a park. It’s across the street from the airport, San Diego Airport, and it’s going to be beautiful. Great weather, of course, you know San Diego, and we’re probably going to be exhibiting 150 to 200 cars.

Rear-driver's-side view of a Scrappy Dubs Car Club custom called Gray Matter during the Oktoberfest Car Show at Ontario VW

We don’t want to go too much. And we’re trying to get practically SoCal’s finest of European VW Audis to the show, to the event and yeah, we just want to have a great time. We want to have a fulfilled day. We’re going to have everything from friendly competitions as I said, to corn hole, potato sack races…

Tom: It’s going to be a show but it’s going to be a gathering. A Woodstock if you would, right?

Mike: Pretty much.

Tom: But of Volkswagens and of people getting together and enjoying.

Family Friendly Volkswagen Fun

Mike: Right, and you can bring the whole family and come down and have a great time and that’s kind of what we want to be able to bring back into, where you’re able to come down. You don’t have people who are bored, sitting around. Everybody’s able to come. Everybody’s able to have a great time and share the love together.

Tom: I’m sure more details of that are going to come out as it gets closer because we’re a number of months away right now.

Mike: Yes.

Tom: But how do people find you guys, Scrappy Dubs, wherever online. Facebook or Instagram or website. Give us the stats of where they can find you.

Mike: Well, a good friend of mine, Mike, he’s normally posting stuff every single day.

Front-driver-side view of a custom Volkswagen from the Scrappy Dubs Car Club during Oktoberfest at Ontario VW

Tom: Right.

Mike: Every single day you see a new car that has applied to be in the car show, so every single day you will see a new car pop up-

Tom: Are we talking about on Facebook?

Mike: Yes, Facebook and Instagram.

Tom: Facebook and Instagram. What is the… How do you find you guys on Facebook?

Mike: Our name on there so far is Dubs by the Shore.

Tom: Dubs by the Shore-

Mike: Yes.

Tom: And that’s D-U-B-S by the Shore. B-Y the Shore.

Mike: Yes sir.

Tom: And then… So that’s for the event. Do you actually have a Facebook page for the club itself?

Mike: We do have one for Scrappy Dubs and that’s exactly how it’s spelled. Scrappy Dubs.

Tom: S-C-R-A-P-P-Y-

Mike: R-A. yes.

Tom: D-U-B-S.

They Customize VWs Because They Can

Mike: Yes sir. And we mostly just share our love, so the things we do on our cars. Like I said, right now we just got done completing a right-hand drive Mark 3 turned into a Bento now.

Tom: A right-hand drive which… For those of you listening that don’t know, literally they move the steering wheel and all controls of the vehicle from one side of the car to the other, just because they love the cars. And they can.

Mike: Exactly. And just to be different, just to have the car kind of be a little different from the rest and just to try out our luck and our skillset to see if we’re able to do it, and the only way to test it out is to jump both feet in.

Pristine engine compartment of a custom Volkswagen Golf with a California license plate profiled inside during the Oktoberfest Auto Show at Ontario Volkswagen

Tom: Alright, well that’s cool. I look forward to seeing that car. Facebook you’ve got Scrappy Dubs, Dubs by the Shore, and then Instagram?

Mike: Same thing. We also have SoCal water-cooled as well.

Tom: SoCal water-cooled. And the significance of that is from ’84 on its water-cooled. From ’84 prior it’s air-cooled for all the Volkswagens.

Mike: Yes, yes. SoCal water-cool we like to just share great cars, so anybody’s cars.

Tom: Is that a website or is that Facebook?

Mike: Facebook. Facebook and Instagram as well. SoCal water-cooled, we just share the love. We go on there and we share a lot of cars. Cars that we come across, cars that are inspiring to others. Scrappy Dubs are mostly our cars. We like to just share progress on things that we do, and then also Dubs by the Shore for the show we’re having July 20th.

Ontario VW’s 2nd Annual Oktoberfest Car Show

Tom: Man, you guys are busy. You’ve got social media management going on here.

Mike: Right, right.

Tom SoCal water-cooled Volkswagen club on Facebook, Scrappy Dubs on Facebook, and Dubs by the Shore on Facebook.

Mike: Yes.

Tom: Alright. Mike Pitman of Scrappy Dubs, SoCal water-cooled VW club, and Dubs by the Shore, thank you for coming on the iDriveSoCal podcast here at Ontario Volkswagen during the Ontario Volkswagen second annual Oktoberfest, 2018 style. Is there anything you’d like to add before we wrap it up?

iDriveSoCal's Tom Smith interviews Scrappy Dubs Car Club's, Mike Pitman during Ontario VW's Oktoberfest Auto Show

Mike: I just want to say thanks for having us on. I appreciate it. It was great talking to you, and like I said this is a great event and I’m glad you were able to come and make it out.

Tom: Thank you sir. Thank you for joining me and we’ll look forward to doing it again in the future. Who knows, maybe I will come down to Dubs by the Shore. We’ll have to see.

Mike: Definitely. That’d be awesome.

Tom: Alright Mike, thanks again.

Mike: Thank you.

Tom Smith: For iDriveSoCal I’m Tom Smith. Thank you as always for tuning in.