City Surf | 1975 Volkswagen Type 1 Baja Beetle

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Photography: Manabu Kanda — Kalifornialook.

You may have noticed that we’re pretty keen on cool custom Volkswagens here at Fuel Tank. Koichiro Sano’s Tokyo-based Baja recently popped up on our radar so of course, we were keen to take a closer look. Thanks to our man on the ground in Japan, Manabu Kanda of Kalifornialook, we now have a full shoot of the car and an interview with Koichiro. Read on..

Who are you and what do you do for a living?

My name is Koichiro, I’m a graphic designer for VW Paradise Magazine and Stance Magazine here in Japan.

From where do you get inspiration?

I lived in the USA (NYC) for three years between the ages of 7 and 10. At that time I used to watch drag racing, stock car racing, hot rod rod events, Evel Knievel shows etc. These were all shocking to me, I had not experienced them in Japan. So, I became very inspired by American culture.

What was your first car?

A 1972 VW Type 1 Standard Beetle.

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How many cars have you had?

1972 VW Type 1 Standard Beetle

1981 MG-B

1990 Mini Cooper

Honda Vigor

1968 VW Karmann Ghia

1968 VW EuroVan Multicamper

1958 VW Karmann Ghia Convertible

1998 VW EuroVan VR6 Multicamper

1959 VW Type 2  Panel Van


VW Type 1  Baja(1975 Standard Beetle base)

2002 Chevrolet Astro

2017 VW UP!

Why Volkswagens specifically? Are you into other genres?

I was affected by movies such as American Graffiti. I’d love to have had a hot rod. But I couldn’t buy one, so I bought a Beetle. I adore Porsche, but I couldn’t afford one… So I bought a Karmann Ghia, a poor man’s Porsche!

Do you have some hobbies and interests in your life?

Yes; Longboard surfing, My dog (a toy poodle), Sometimes I get out on my motorcycle (a Honda Motra).

What are we looking at here?

My Baja is a 1975 model, based on a Type 1 Standard Beetle.

When and how did you come to own it?

I have owned it for a year. I found it at a used car store.

In what condition was it when you bought it?

Although it was pretty much finished, I changed the engine, tyres, wheels, and other small parts.

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Body + Paint

It’s a genuine VW colour; Mango Green, but not the original paint. 


Flat 4 Seat covers


1835cc (92mmX69mm), Engle W-120 Racing Cam, Weber 44 IDF Dual Carbs, Tri-mil + Empi exhaust, chrome engine parts, MSD Ignition system.


Front  Enkei mags 5.5j-15, 175/80R15 BF Goodrich Touring T/A tyres.

Rear US mags 7J-15, 255/70R15 BF Goodrich Radial T/A tyres.


Nakata Chrome suspension front and back.


VW Scirocco option steering wheel, Scat shifter, air conditioner kit, Webasto FF air heater system.

What’s next?

Next, my vision is to repaint the car with a metal flake colour.

Follow Koichiro: @ko.1.low

Follow Manabu: @kalifornialook

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Fuel TankJapan, Volkswagen