by Michael Kitchens
The 1980′s in Hawaii were known for a number of different automotive trends, one of which was the huge Volkswagen craze which still exists today. Whether it was drag racing, sand buggies, or cruisers, VW was a mainstay of the tuner scene. At the age of 16 Daniel Arakaki became a fan of the Volkswagen as well. Local legends like ex-drag racer John Karcey and his super-fuel efficient Ghia engine and Marc Deacon’s turbo’d Red Rider, capable of mid 9′s in the 1/4 mile, contributed to his love for the classic VW engine. Since then, Dan has owned a number of different cars, and continues to build and modify them to his heart’s content including this 1964 VW Bug.
“You have to ride a Volkswagen; you have to own one, to drive one, to understand the passion”. says Dan. Volkswagens is a vastly different type of cars. They have short wheel bases, their engines are in the rear, and their sound is unique and immediately identifiable. Dan’s first VW was a 1965 Bug with a 1776cc engine with 48mm throttle bodies. As time went on, he increased the engine size until realizing that he could get more power with a small turbocharged engine. His current setup is made up of a T04E turbocharger mated to a 2165cc motor pushing thirty-two pounds of boost.
To handle that amount of boost the engine and transmission has been gently massaged. The engine is built up with an original 1974 Gene Berg crank, Wiseco pistons, powder rods, super flow heads, titanium valves and more. “It had a Type 1 transaxle that kept breaking, so we had to switch” says Dan which necessitated a swap to a Mendeola MD4 transaxle. In addition, the rear-end has been shorted 5 inches and power is put to the ground with Mickey Thompson Slicks slapped on a selection of Bogart Racing Rims.
The body is painted in lavish shade of yellow detailed with lustrous color-change purple flames. Its aggressive stance is further enhanced by a custom Wally Maze spoiler. The entire appearance of the car screams drag racer. Stepping into the interior continues that motive with a Grant GT Steering Wheel, Simpson Racing Harness, MSD Ignition and more. All of this comes together to form a VW capable of running the 1/4th mile in 9.57 seconds at 162 miles an hour.
Unfortunately, this speed and power is sadly wasted on an island without a proper drag strip. “It’s become a shelf in the garage” chuckles Dan sadly. He believes that even in poor economic times, people will still support their hobbies and passions. “Look at how many city golf courses we have…how money is mismanaged. I think the racing population could generate millions of dollars in Hawaii.” Sadly, the general public is simply unaware of the amount of income invested in racing as well as its benefits for youth and community.
It goes farther than simply being an economic problem. Dan says “Our younger kids are missing out…it was a family thing we used to do with our older children. When the younger ones hear their brothers and sisters talk about going to the races they realize they’ll never experience the same thing.”
Although there’s no track on Oahu, this hasn’t stopped Dan from moving forward and enjoying himself. Building VWs is a hobby of his that he’ll never tire of…in fact; he’s currently building a Meyers Manx in which the heart of this bad bug will live on in. I can’t wait to see it.