Your Cars: Sam Storey’s 1954 VW Beetle Ragtop

Your Cars: New Beetle or Classic? VW enthusiast goes retro


Yes, good things come to those who wait. Sam Storey won a new 2012 Volkswagen Beetle in a charity drawing, but when delivery was delayed he decided to accept the cash equivalent and shop for a classic. That led to the purchase of a 1954 VW ragtop that Storey adores and also “brings a smile to so many people here in Los Angeles.” Part of the reason the green Beetle is such a head turner is the green 1957 Schwinn Jaguar bicycle mounted on top. “I already had the Schwinn, and I thought they looked and felt exactly the same – except the Schwinn is a little faster,” Storey joked. “To match them up just seemed obvious.”

Name: Sam Storey

City: Los Angeles, Calif.

Vehicle(s): 1954 Volkswagen Ragtop, 2013 Volvo C30 Polestar Special Edition.

Hobby Background: I was obsessed with cars as a child. My mother used to call me “Buzzy” because I was always running around making car noises. I’d use my fingers as wipers and my eyes as blinkers and brights, too. I became a VW enthusiast as a pre-teen when my older sister’s then-boyfriend had one of the earliest “Cal Bugs” around. This was in 1982 or so. I’ve since built and owned many classic VWs, as well as other cars.

Why a 1954 VW ragtop?  I chose the ’54 ragtop because it is a “U.S. spec” car. Very few VWs were in the U.S. in ’54, and it is the last year they had “semaphores,” which are mechanical turn signals that stick out of the “B” pillars and glow.

Repairs and Modifications (planned or completed): This is a bone stock car with a perfect pan. I’ll only address parts that have already been replaced with later components – the interior, for example.

Hobby activities: I’m a member of Vintage Volkswagen Club of America, Stadt der Rosen VW Klub and Great Autos of Yesteryear.

Interesting Car Stories: I once owned six Volkswagens at once.

Favorite Drive: Along Farrell Drive in Palm Springs, Calif.

Memorable Moments: I had a ’63 Corvair that hadn’t run in a while, so I put a 2×4 between the seat and the gas pedal and was turning it over remotely while priming the carbs. Someone had bypassed the switch that prevents an automatic from starting while in gear, and when it fired up it was floored – in reverse – with no one in it. Luckily, I was jump starting the rear-mounted battery at the time and my Blazer was parked in the driveway just a few feet behind it or that car would have shot clear across the street and into my neighbor’s living room!

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