Fiery Fasty | Brook James' 1969 Volkswagen Type 3 Variant
Photography: Brook James.
We have a soft spot for interesting Volkswagens here in the Fuel Tank, so when photographer Brook James showed us his latest photos of his Type 3 ‘Fastback’, we jumped at it.
You’ve probably already noticed that it’s got a few battle scars on view. If you’re keen to hear the full story and to get some background on Brook and his interests, read on…
Who are you and what do you do for a living?
My name is Brook James living in Melbourne but originally from New Zealand. Full-time freelance lifestyle, editorial and travel photographer.
Tell us about your first love for cars, right back when you were young. What inspired you?
For as long as I can remember there have always been cars, both my father and grandfather were right into their cars. I remember vividly my father showing me old photo albums of all of his old cars he did up as a young man and that I wanted to do the same as soon as I could. So I guess it’s the old cliche of “it runs in the family”. We would always go to race events growing up with my father and two brothers, whether it be rally or V8 Supercars. I still remember going to meet Brock at a signing and getting a poster signed when I was super young.
Then I guess as I got older I started getting into car racing games which I learned a heap from in terms of knowing which car was which, so much so that my father would test me when we were doing long road trips to see if I could name all the cars driving past. Once I got my licence at the age of 15 I purchased the first car and what a day that was. My world changed..
What was your first car?
1988 BMW E30 318i, which we converted to manual even though I couldn’t drive a manual. I quickly learned on the drive home from my friend's garage...
How many cars have you had? List a few.
Actually not that many, I tend to hold onto them unless I need to sell. mMk2 Golf, Mk3 Golf GTI, B3 & B4 Passat, VW T3 camper van, Mk1 Golf Cabriolet.
Why Volkswagens specifically? Are you into other genres?
I’ve always been heavily into Volkswagens and to be honest I can’t remember what triggered the addiction to the brand. I was always a dub snob until I turned 25 when I started appreciating a wider range of vehicles, especially classics. Now I prefer everything that drives, but I still have my favourites of course. Porsche is up there as my number 1. An early 911 is still the long-term goal. Love the old Alfas, Lotus Esprit Turbo and almost anything two door with chrome bumpers.
What are we looking at here?
So here we have a 1969 Volkswagen Type 3 Fastback.
When and how did you come to own it?
I purchased it in May 2016. I suddenly became infatuated by the early Type 3 Fastbacks, I saw one overseas in Finland that was on air with mesh-style wheels. I saved the photo and set it as my desktop background and said “I have to own one of these”. From there I starting noticing them more and more and if I saw one on the road I was like a kid at Christmas.
I began the hunt, I say hunt as the early ones are becoming very rare. I put up WTB listings on all the Facebook pages and forums and received little response. After a month or so a workshop down in Croydon messaged me saying they had an early ‘69 ‘Fasty’ that had been sitting there for some years with fire damage and that they would sell it for x amount of dollars firm or else they will fix it up and sell it on running etc. So, naturally, I went down and checked it out. It was sitting outside under a Kombi pop top roof to protect it from the rain but the car was in need of some work. I pretty much left and didn’t think too much of it to be honest. I’m not sure what happened but I kept thinking about this burnt Fasty and what it would need to get back on the road so I went and looked again, got it up on the hoist for a closer inspection to see the extent of the damage. I withdrew the cash and organised a tow truck back to mine where I began working on it..
In what condition was it when you bought it?
Fairly rough, it’s an art I swear to see potential in a car. Most just see a burnt fastback covered in years of filth and moss, my girlfriend wasn’t happy when she saw it arrive on the tow truck! The car had a burnt engine which obviously didn’t run, the rear engine bay was burnt and had surface rust. The carpets inside the back were all melted and wet where it looked like they had used an extinguisher. There was thick tar everywhere and parts missing but overall a fairly complete car that was super straight. I am led to believe the car had a full restoration around 2004 so would have been a pearler in its prime show days.
What were your intentions back then? Stay stock? Modify? What was your vision?
The plan was always to get it running, fix up the inside, underneath and just leave the burnt panels. Also to lower the thing on some tidy wheels and enjoy it for the summer! It turned out to be more work than I had anticipated...
I found it super hard to do a half-ass quick job on everything. Once you had taken something off it was like “well I’m here now and have this off, may as well do this and this too..” So, what began as a quick simple tidy up and fix turned into something tedious and time-consuming but worth it in the long run.
Now list all the modifications that have been done to the following, including any interesting facts and/or stories to go with them:
Body + Paint
Body + paint had a restoration around 2004. I have left it how I found it with the burnt panels, basically, I have just given it a cleaning a wax to preserve it. The front end actually isn’t too bad..
Full custom red interior, custom carpets, dash.
Rebuilt 1600 twin port Type 3 engine with Empi hpmx 40 carbs.
Stock Type 3 wheels painted polar white running 135 tyres up front and 165 tyres on the rear, polished chrome hubcaps to complete the look.
Lowered 3 splines up front (I think) and 2 inner, one outer on the rear.
Sun visor, ragtop, tunnel basket, original headhunt from 1965.
Just a huge thanks to all who helped me get this car on the road! Adam, Taylor, Mark and many more. The help is always appreciated.
Do you take the car to events? How is the social scene that goes along with owning a classic?
I’ve just taken it to it’s first show last weekend down at Lorne for ‘Revolks’, an air-cooled VW event. It drove heaps better than I thought. Two hours to Lorne and I had a blast!
The social scene is great, a lot more of the older crew with owning an air-cooled Volkswagen but so far I’m finding everyone super friendly and helpful. A bunch of legends to be honest..
Tell us about the fire! Keeping the paint damage visible definitely makes a statement…
Simple; I thought it looked cool and was something different. It has a story, so why get rid of it? I’ll admit it’s not everyone's cup of tea and that’s totally fine. It’s my car and I'm happy with it.
The car caught fire when the previous owner lent it to his nephew, I believe. The ol’ classic ‘split fuel line’ scenario and the thing went up in flames. I’m guessing he was quoted a bomb to have it repaired so said to the workshop “you can sell it.”
What’s next? Future plans?
This car I think next will be a 1776 engine for it and air shocks all round, but other than that just enjoy the thing coming into summer. Future cars... I would really want an early Land Rover series 1 to work on next, they’ve grown on me super fast, such a classic and timeless shape.
Follow Brook: @brookjames_