Volkswagen, Jeep enthusiasts enjoy show

PARKERSBURG – Volkswagens and Jeeps took over a portion of City Park on Saturday for the 2013 West Virginia Volkswagen Festival and the West Virginia Jeep Lovers Festival.

Greg Stanley, of Zorro’s Show Co. and event organizer, said more than 50 Volkswagens were registered for the show.

“We had a much larger turnout this year,” Stanley said. “It seems the public is more interested than last year, attendance seems to be triple.”

Stanley said the show benefits from being at the same time and place as the Mid-Ohio Valley Multi-Cultural Festival, which ran from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon at City Park.

“People come over here from the festival,” he said. “The whole flair of the Volkswagens, the little cars from Germany, is they have that multi-cultural feel.”

Stanley said the Volkswagens and Jeeps in the show came from West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The Volkswagen show has been presented every year since 1998. Stanley said it began in Parkersburg for several years and then moved to Ripley, Mineral Wells and back to Parkersburg, where it has been in City Park for the last two years. This was the first year for the Jeep show.

“We decided to give the show something different with the Made in U.S.A. Jeeps,” he said. “These Jeep enthusiasts seem to be a breed of their own, like the VW enthusiasts.”

While no one entered both a Jeep and a Volkswagen, Stanley said those in attendance seem to be interested in the other group’s cars and he saw a lot of interaction between the two groups.

“They are one or the other, they seem to attract each other,” he said.

A Volkswagen bus decorated in a 1960s psychedelic style was entered in the show by Tim Wagner Jr. of Barlow. Wagner said the bus was bought as it looks today by his father two years ago. They said the artwork was from the original owner.

“I’m the second owner,” said Tim Wagner Sr. “I bought off the guy who did it. This is how it looked back in the day.’

Wagner said he traded a 1981 Volkswagen bus for the classic 1971 model. Despite it being 42 years old, it runs as good as it did back when it was new, he said.

“It has the original engine, we upgraded to a two-barrel carburetor and a new alternator.”

Wagner Junior said he has a couple of more Volkswagens and a 1947 Ford pickup.

Mike Hillbery, of Moundsville, showed his Volkswagen Roadster at Saturday’s show. He said the vehicle was constructed from four different Beetles.

Hillbery said he had the roadster idea for 20 years but finished it only a year ago.

“It’s like the Johnny Cash car is the best was to describe it,” he said. “The center section is from a 1968 convertible, the front is a 1966 Beetle I narrowed by four inches and the rear is a 1973 Beetle I widened by eight inches.”

Hillbery said the dashboard is from a 1956 Beetle and he moved the steering wheel to the right side. He said it has the air-cooled engine but it was moved up front.

His wife Michelle said he has worked on Volkswagens for many years and accumulated parts.

“I’ve moved three time in the last couple of years and people asked my why I carried all this junk around,” he said. “Now I can show everybody why I was hauling my junk around.”

“I can’t call it junk anymore,” Michelle Hillbery said.

Hillbery’s car was recognized as the People’s Choice Winner on Saturday for the VW festival, while David Harris of Ripley was winner of the award in the Jeep show.