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Story by Lois Grace

I've got a need for speed. You might think this is an odd confession, coming from a die-hard vintage VW fan, but it's true. There's nothing quite like the roar of an engine and the squeal of tires on pavement to really get my blood moving. Either I'm too chicken to buy a car that can actually accomplish this, or I'm just too deeply into the VW hobby to give them up for something else, but I now freely admit that horsepower is fun.. My few meager weeks with a VW Golf of a friend taught me this. And, truly, there are much more impressive types of horsepower out there than an aging Golf. But it just seemed like so much MORE to me than my Beetle.

There are quite a few ways to acquire more horsepower if whatever you are driving seems to be lacking. You can turbo charge or supercharge or fine tune your engine to do pretty much whatever it is you want it to do, within reason. Recently, I had the chance to pick up a Judson Supercharger, for what I was told was a most reasonable price. Now, if you are unacquainted with the finer points of VW hot-rodding, a Judson Supercharger is a unit that was made especially for 36 and 40 horsepower VW engines, way back when. As I understand it, a supercharger is a basic single turbine setup that pushes air through the intake manifold, resulting in more horsepower. Now, I've also been told that where a Judson is concerned, more horsepower usually translates to something less than an impressive boost, but the thought intrigued me. Besides, the Cool Factor for a Judson-equipped engine, in the vintage circles I travel, is WAYYY off the scale, too. Since both of my vintage show cars are powered (poor choice of words, maybe) by 36hp engines, a Judson would fit nicely into the decor of either one. When I heard this unit was for sale, I began entertaining the idea that it might just be a really nifty little thing to have for Vernon or Oscar.

Why I drive Volkswagens is not normally a hard-to-answer question for me. Considering the Judson changed all that. On the one hand, I lust for power and speed (which usually means pondering buying a new car), and on the other hand, I'm too cheap to pay the price most new cars (and some used ones) cost. I like the fact that I own four cars, every one of them paid for. I like the fact that they all run, reasonably well. While I savor the ear-splitting wail of tires peeling out on pavement and the rush of adrenalin that it brings, I really like getting almost 30MPG. I demand fuel economy and reliability, but at the same time I long for the thrill that excessive speed and horsepower could give me. Given this split personality, is it possible to get both fuel economy and the thrill of fast driving from one car? I wondered about that. I wondered if it was some basic flaw within myself - was I just reluctant to admit that Volkswagens were no longer enough for me? Did I want too much??

When I heard about this Judson for sale, I did have to think twice - did I really want to go fast, and if I did, did I really want to do it in VERNON? I mean, my urge for more horsepower has never directly translated into a need to put that extra speed into my years old pickup truck. Sure, everyone can dream of piloting a 65 GTO Tripower down the freeway and getting their jollies that way, but how many really relish the thought of High -Speed Transporting?? The logistics of handling and braking something like this boggle the mind. While I suppose the Type II Single Cab pickup was designed and built for sheer practicality (that flat, 9-foot bed really does hold quite a bit), the buck-toothed shape of a Single Cab doesn't really lend itself well to speed and sports-car-like maneuverability. It's a handful around a turn the way it is - add a few extra horses under the deck lid and what would you have? A runaway tool shed!

But, given my unreasonable need for speed and my lust for the roar of horsepower under the hood, when this Judson popped up for sale, I had a terrible urge to buy it. To buy it would mean that Vernon or Oscar would have the distinct and quite rare experience to belong to a new group of Volkswagens: VWs that have been legitimately amended, as it were. Judson's were made just FOR VWs; they weren't some cheesy little way to make your VW look like a racer. OK, they were a way to make your VW look racier, but they weren't cheesy. Rob, of course, thought I was crazy for even considering this. You wanna WHAT? You've got to be kidding. Isn't a 1600cc ENOUGH for you? And he went on like that for minutes. He is, of course, the one that thinks that any car bigger than a bicycle and with more than 2 cylinders is a Flying Death Trap in my hands, since we all KNOW I cant be trusted with anything with REAL horsepower. God forbid I might actually ever own a car that can do zero to 60MPH in something less than Imaginary Time. Lord help the rest of the poor driving public if I should ever be so fortunate to be able to actually own something that can really get out of its own way.

That is not to say that I ridicule the Volkswagen for what it is, oh no. It's just that I'm realistic enough to know that the VWs powers are limited. And, while the VW is a fine machine as it is, I've always been intrigued by the idea of making it MORE. Rob is not such a purist that he can let go of his own horsepower dreams that easily - it was Rob who, not too many years ago, entertained the notion that his life would be complete if only he could find that elusive 65 GTO Tripower he wanted so badly. His dream is now just that, a dream, and one that he is happy to leave unfulfilled for the time being. Let us just say that Rob has a distorted image of my driving, one that is not helped at all by the thought of going FASTER. In reality, I have no delusions about the Judson itself and what it can do. Adding even 5 horsepower to a 36hp engine is not exactly going to make either of my little engines a Holy Terror on the Highway. It might just add some nice OOOMPH to an already very nicely running and extremely reliable power plant. Once I said that, Rob's response became predictable again: Well, why do you wanna MESS UP that reliability by goofing everything up and putting a supercharger on it?? SIGH. Really, men can be SO annoying.

I mulled this possibility over in my mind for several days. I didn't want to act impulsively, but then again, I didn't want to let it get away from me. And so, once I had thought out the practical aspects of such a move, the next logical step was to think about the cost. Once I thought about the monetary outlay that would be required for this little dose of coolness, I reasoned that I could probably rebuild 2 36hp engines for what it would cost me to buy the Judson. Common sense and reason won out: I decided right then and there to leave it be, but for a brief, shining moment, I was tempted.

So, for this year anyway, there will be no 36hp Monster inside either of my oldies engine compartments. That makes me sad, in a way. It would sure have been fun to watch the reaction at car shows. Can you just imagine the looks on people's faces when they went around Vernon and looked inside the engine compartment to find...A SUPERCHARGER??? I mean, the thrill of actually doing this to either Oscar or Vernon was almost too much to bear. I did resist, and the world is now a safer place because of it. Probably.

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