The LaVere's story is not unlike the Ford story: Both begin with a mildly obsessive, slightly goofy guy who is later called a genius. At Ford, that guy was Henry Ford. At Lavere's, that guy is Gary LaVere.

Here's how Gary tells it.

"When I turned 16, I went out and bought the only car I could afford, a 1956 Oval-window Bug. It was in perfect original condition with only 40,000 miles, and it cost me $250, about a month's pay at that time. This car was responsible for the start of my love affair with VWs.

I learned how to maintain the small 36HP engine that powered the bug seemingly anywhere I commanded it to go - freeways, dirt, and snow. John Muir's "How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive, for the Complete Idiot" became my favorite bedtime reading, and a cool way to learn all about this amazing German automobile.

My father always had the memory of coming out to the garage and seeing me in the middle of the floor with what seemed to be hundreds of parts, all strewn around with no apparent order to the chaos. I had decided to rebuild the engine and had taken it completely apart. He couldn't believe that I was able to put it back together and make it run perfectly. That little bug served me well for many years.

I began buying used VWs, fixing them up, and selling them to suppliment my income. In 1987, I restored a 1956 Karmann Ghia for the fun of it. I put an ad in the San Francisco Chronicle and ended up selling it to a guy who had tapped into an overseas market. I soon began restoring VWs for overseas buyers.

For several years, I restored VWs and shipped them overseas, often to Japan. One year a good customer ordered as many 1967 and earlier Deluxe Hardtop Buses as I could find and restore in one year. I was able to locate, buy, completely restore, and ship fifteen Deluxe buses that year.

I opened up LaVere's VW Restoration to the public in 1994. We now have a complete service department for air and watercooled VWs. Todd Reinholdt, a factory-trained mechanic, is the service manager. I still run the restoration and parts departments. Some people have noted that Todd and I work together very much like Merlin and Arthur. We currently have six very busy Knights of VW working for us.

Our cars are featured in magazines, and win show awards, but we are just as happy when they are simply driven with pride down the street in the hometowns of our customers."


An average Monday...

Devotees of Gary LaVere arrive
for one of his recent lectures on
idle speeds.