Sunday, January 21, 2018

Identification- Motor & Frame

Occasionally I get asked, how do I go about finding out what my VIN number is. It isn't easy to get to, but it is located under the center console. If you follow the gearshift and center tunnel back towards the engine, there is a small inspection cover to get to the linkage. Just to the front of that cover your VIN number should be stamped. 
Image result for vw beetle serial number location

I also get asked on engine identification, and here is the story on that. It is easier to get to the the frame VIN. If you look at the base of the oil filler/generator/ alternator cast bracket where it joins the block there should be your engine number stamped in the block. You can Google VW Beetle Engine Numbers and get the year and assembly location, displacement. 

Hopefully this helps as you investigate what you have and match parts to it.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Factory or Kit- You decide

I know you probably hear this as well, but it keeps coming up, "your car is nothing more than a kit car". I can live with it, and actually when I first bought the Mini Mark I had suspicions it was as well. The more I researched the car and its rich history I learned otherwise, a factory or "coach built" car.

Original factory pictures discovered show around thirty five different Bremen cars coming down the line. Of those thirty five cars, a mixture of Creightons, Sebrings and Mini Marks, I can count around fifteen Mini Marks just on the day this picture was taken.

Coach-building goes back to the 1450’s when wagons were built. In fact there were so many coach-builders that almost every city had one. In the late 1800’s as horseless cars came to life, coach-builders began to customize the frames and engines coming off the assembly lines. From those beginnings until around 1920 coach-builders bought artistry to the square boxy cars coming off the evolving assembly lines. The more the assembly lives developed: thanks to Henry Ford, and cars started to have curves and character, coach-building diminished. By the war years only the rich could afford the work of a coach-builder, and car companies were not willing to sell frames to coach-builders. They were designing their own stylish bodies during those years. With the end of the wars, most of the coach-builders had disappeared, and only the assembly line designs were available.

This brings me to Bremen Motors. Although they were not known as traditional coach-builders, they took a chance to bring artistry to a simple and plain Bug type Volkswagen. Their cars were not cheap by any means, actually around 9-10 times what the Beetles were. If you purchased one of the original 300-400 factory built Mini Marks, you had to like the design and be able to afford it, around $15K, expensive for the day. 

Here is a list of some of the documented coach-builders in the USA, Brewster & Co., Brunn, Budd Company, Derham, Earl Automobile Works, Fisher, Fleetwood, KEM Motorworks, LeBaron, Locke, N2A Motors Inc., Murphy, Rollston, Willoughby, SSZ Motorcars. Some of you may recognize the Earl Automotive Works, it was the company of Harley J Earl of GM and Corvette fame. I am not putting the Mini design in the same league of the Corvette, but it is stylish and innovative. It didn’t copy the much duplicated MG design of those years, that many “kit cars” did. It had a character of it’s own, and yes it did borrow other car designs, but have you seen a "new: design in any car brand or design?. 

There was a “kit” option for the Mini Mark, and I found the factory sheets on assembled and kits. I was told that at least up until the 80’s when ownership changed hands, not many, if any kits were sold. If you notice the date on the "kit" paperwork it is 1981, near the end of production. 

So you decide, there are probably some hints in craftsmanship on what you have, but with this many coming down the line, chances are you have a factory built, let someone prove otherwise, and many will try.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Shifter Bezel & Boot

It has been a while since I have posted, and it is in the middle of winter here. The car has been waiting for warm weather to come back out and show off. Not really exciting though when it is below in the single digits for days and weeks. The deep of winter does give me a chance to continue a few more custom features on the Mini. This year, the shifter has been the focus. When we originally did the carpet and interior, we had just put a boot together and put it in place. Actually the original wasn't very much different than what we had made. It just didn't look sporty though. There isn't much area on the tunnel so I fabricated a wood riser on the tunnel and under the carpet. The riser has a flat top, and large enough to work with. I took some measurements and went about making an aluminum trim ring, polishing it, and fastening down with chrome screws. Here is the finish look. I think it gives the car a very sporty look! 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Still a Winner

 Sunday July 30, 2017 the Four A's Car Club hosted a car show at the VFW In Three Oaks, Michigan. It was a beautiful day for a car show and many great cars came out to show off. This is a judged event and there were many different classes for the cars present.

The Mini Mark went thru judging and when the day was over, awarded second place in it's class. This was the biggest trophy it has taken, and that is in a literal sense. As you can see from the second picture here it is a large trophy. If you own or drive a MIni Mark, you very well know the restrictions for space. With a lawn chair, cooler, car display board, and other items, there wasn't much room left to drive the trophy home. 

Propped up in the front seat and with a hand on it most of the way home car and trophy finally pulled into the garage. Many many thanks to the Four A's for the show. They have a small group of eighteen members, but put on a first class show. 

The car shows I go to aren't about winning trophy's. I go to show off the car and educate people on it. I would say eight out of ten people who come up think it is a kit car. I have a large car display board which shows the plant and all the cars going thru, I have a sentence on the board, "not a kit car" but I keep getting that comment. A guess is you do as well? As I have said before, many many cars since the very first ones went off to coach shops for custom bodies. The Mini Mark in reality is not any different. Custom bodies were molded and installed on VW frames, frames which went thru a refurbish before being assembled. After explaining all the facts and talking with those who stop, they walk away a bit better informed. Most walk away with "I never knew that" and that it was a factory built car in Indiana. 

Enjoy your Mini Mark, take it out and show it off, take it out and explain what it is all about. Spread the word! Above all have fun with your car!

Fuel Problems!

The Mini Mark has been back together for around five years now and I have had a lot of fun driving the car around. Three years ago I learned of the Bremen Firemen's Car Show on the 4th of July Weekend. The first year I went I learned a lot about the car and talked to people who worked there as well as learning the name of one of the founders. After that great day driving home the coil went out and the Mini Mark had to be towed back home for replacement. The next year weather was not good and opted not to drive the hour to the show. This year the weather was great and started the drive to Bremen. About half way there I stopped for gas and a few miles later the car sputtered and died on the side of the road. I was able to find a driveway and after a few quick checks found out the car was not getting gas. I blew the fuel line back which started a fuel flow. Hooked everything back up and on the road again. Well, a bit too much optimism as between there, the car show and back home I had to blow the fuel line back six times. NOT a fun day driving. I actually began to think the car didn't want to drive back to where it was made and acted up as a child would!

The next day I drained the fuel tank and found the problem. There were four silicone slugs in the tank. It was clear silicone which I never use on the car. I only use black RTV and did not ever use any in the fuel tank area. The slugs were actually push out from a gasket sealing, where the screws go thru. Clear silicone expands when in gasoline which really made a bad situation. The tank has a dip where the outlet is, so these slugs rolled and were sucked into the outlet blocking the fuel.  I flushed the fuel tank numerous times and scoped it to see if I could find anything. Just the four slugs, the rest was clean. 

I did find out there is a baffle welded in the middle of the tank! which I did not know about. Good design since it keeps the fuel from sloshing back and forth in the tank and when taking corners. 

After finding no other "junk" in the tank I wanted a fail safe just in case anything ever got in the tank again. I was tired of blowing and sucking gas during what should be pleasant drives.

Just as a side note, during the winter months I had removed the brass fuel line elbow from the bottom of the tank and replaced it with a shut off. Didn't want to take any chances with the car parked of fuel leaking into the oil sump or flooding the garage.

After sorting thru my box of springs, I found one which I could force into the shut off valve. It is heavy gauge steel and I bent the tail to make an even tighter fit in the valve. Anything like these slugs gets close to the outlet again the spring should stop it from blocking the fuel flow completely. 

The inside of the fuel tank wasn't too rusty considering the age. I have been using fuel additive since the rebuild to keep rust to a minimum. Lastly before putting it back on the road I pulled out the original carburetor and put a rebuild kit in it. After a few frustrating days the car was ready to go again. Have put around seventy miles on it since than and it is running GREAT! Hopefully that problem is behind me. For any of the smaller particles which might get thru I have a GF61 in line fuel filter between the tank and the carburetor. 

I would suggest to owners out there, put a shut off, large steel can fuel filter and if you can a spring in the outlet. It may save the car from fire, and also avoid a fuel starve if something gets in the tank.

A Bit More Chrome

During spring 2016 while looking at some of the traditional sport roadsters I came across a few that had rock shields on the front of the rear fenders. I liked the look and started wondering how I could make a set for the Mini Mark. I contemplated finding someone with an English wheel and trying to roll them. The only problem was that it was really a compound form. The contour of the fender and then the roll over for the flair. Thinking about it most of the year I finally came up with the idea of finding something "close" and customizing it. 

I went web browsing and started looking at trailer fenders. Stamped 15" trailer fenders were close to what I wanted, and they had the compound roll. I was able to order just one at a reasonable cost, and started the customization process. I made a cardboard pattern of the design I wanted and started cutting metal. I then made a pattern of both contours and with body hammers, made the final adjustments to get a perfect fit to the fender. One side down, one to go! After all the hammering, I started sanding and metal finishing the shields. Finally I was able to get a mirror like finish and only then did they go to chrome plating. 

When they came back I put a thin sheet of rubber behind the shields and drilled a few holes mounting them to the fender. I think they look good, and keep the unexpected flying rock from chipping the paint there. As with most areas of working on the car I learned some new skills on this project.  

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Mufflers- Exhaust

I have been able to research the exhaust trumpets used on the Mini Mark. EMPI has added the trumpets back in their product line. The EMPI product number is 10-1048. If you Google it you should come up with a few different sources. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017


As we in 2017 appreciate the Mini Mark and the small family of cars from Bremen Sport have we ever thought of what it took to create them? 

A team of men starting a car company building dune buggies in a chicken coup. To have the vision of not only one, but a complete family of cars, Citation, Creighton, Mini Mark, Maxi Taxi, and Sebring. Each car having different styling and design. Each car requiring unique engineering, and mating each to a drive train, or in the case of the Creighton, a custom frame to an existing power plant. Fine tuning each design to make it look correct and flow. To then match interiors, lighting, hinges, tires, wheels, bumpers, all the trim.  Picking colors, and above all, just taking a chance they will sell after putting all that work in them. All of the pieces came together for the Bremen Sport team. 

It is just as much a tribute to them the number of cars still on the road as well as the global presence of those cars. So the next time you are out enjoying your car, take a moment to think of the history behind it.

Sunday, January 29, 2017


The winter is around half over this year (or half started depending on your point of view), and 2017 is underway. 

You may recall last winter I improved rear lighting to the Mini Mark by adding a third brake light to the bar on the rear deck. I still wanted to improve rear lighting so this year I went about adding LED turn signals.  

Some of the benefits of LED's are the small size to give high output as well as length of life. I love the replacement stainless light housings and glass lenses, but they do have some drawbacks. Out of the box they only allow single filament bulbs the lenses don't allow bright light to pass thru. Especially on a bright summer day, the brake light may be hard to see.

I first went looking for the LED turn signals. Motorcycles now days seem to be more inventive that automobiles in lighting. I was able to find an ideal light, but how do I mount it to the existing lights. After a little engineering I fabricated an aluminum bracket to do the job. Some aluminum H stock, tubing cut in half, welding and machining I finally had what I wanted.

I polished the aluminum and assembled everything. I purchased some high output LED single element bulbs and found some glass "STOP" red/ amber lenses with blue dots on the running lights. The red/ amber allow more light to pass, and the obvious "STOP" show what is happening.

This should wrap up read light modifications, it finally gives me enough light that I  am comfortable with someone behind me seeing what I am doing. 

The design of the turn signals also gives a bit of a side light, not only rear, so it is a win win.

One other modification which I should have done during the rebuild was to add a fuel shut off valve to the bottom of the fuel tank. Especially with an older, not daily driver this is important. The fuel tank is above the engine and carburetor, so there is a chance of gravity feed of gas when the car is parked. It would eventually drain into the oil sump and could lead to serious problems if started, spinning out your bearings. Also if during that winter park your rubber fuel lines decided to crack or break it would drain your tank. It isn't an easy spot to get to, or turn off, but the effort is outweighed by the benefit. Once again, the shut off is a motorcycle application.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Holidays 2017, A Mini Mark Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a bright and shiny Bremen Mini Mark

Merry Christmas to all! 
Remember those who are less fortunate, 
and those who keep our country and us safe.
May your holidays be safe and your wishes come true!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Deja Vu,
Did you ever wonder, if even for a second, what the Bremen Mini Mark might look like if made today, half a century later? 

I stopped by DeWayne Creighton's home a few weeks ago to drop off a magazine article on the Mark. I didn't stay long, but one of his comments as I was leaving was. "All this interest in Mini Mark's lately has inspired me. I bought one and it is in my barn waiting restoration". 

Wow, what a unique opportunity we might have? Will it be restored to the original splendor, or will it have a few of the modern touches as seen thru the eye of the creator. 

As of now his plans are unknown to me, but hopefully as he finds time, he will put his special touches on it, and even more hopefully, he will share his vision with us.

Hope you are enjoying your summer, seeing many new Mini Mark's visiting the site and even a few being posted for sale. Hopefully this renewed interest and data base for information will help keep the cars on the road for many more years.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

In The News- May 2016

Region Rides, a car publication in Northwest Indiana just printed an article on our Mini Mark in their May issue. I know it may look wrong, but "Home-Built" in this article refer to the car still being close to the home it was built. They took some great pictures, and the article was right on point. We were lucky with the unpredictable spring weather, cold and rain, that the day they picked for the shoot was sunny and warm. 

Just a little notoriety for the stylish and sporty Bremen Mini Mark. Hats off the the Region Rides crew for a great article and putting the car in print.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Winter Upgrades

Here it is March and the weather is finally starting to feel like spring. Along with the third brake light during the winter I also made these new modifications. The English roadsters have a badge bar up front. There was a small piece of real-estate in front of the grille which was the perfect spot for the bar. Along with mounting the bar, I balanced off the face of the car with amber fog lamps. The fog lamps took a major redesign out of the box, (Tail Light King- my advise pass on  buying from Al, not quite the quality you pay for.) but the size was what I wanted and the only ones I could find in that size, and with amber color. Replacing the bulbs with LED's lowered the amps drawn and I could wire in line with the headlamps. Stainless steel braiding to cover the exposed wiring and it was almost ready to go.

The new badge bar needed a badge to call it complete and authentic. Since there weren't any badges which covered a Bremen Mini Mark, it was time for some creative design work. Some .125" Aluminum and a "B" with a smaller "M"s inside of the center of the "B" was the custom look I needed. What do you think?
The last modification was the addition of two small wind/ sun visors. The visors are made from smoked Plexiglas with hand crafted aluminum brackets. Hopefully this will reduce some of the over windshield wind at highway speeds. It also can eliminate some of the sun glare at sunset and sunrise. 

Now all I need is the sun to try them out, well, actually sun and warmth to get the car out on the road and enjoy the days! I hope you have had a productive winter as well, making a few upgrades and getting your car ready for 2016. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

A little off season work on the Mini Mark. I have always had concerns with the small brake lights on the Mini Mark, so using modern technology and LED's I was able to find two high intensity red LED bars. Taking the bar apart I was able to get some clear acrylic tubing, slide the LED bars inside, and seal the tubing. I drilled thru the chrome mounting bracket to route the wires down into the read compartment and spliced them into the brake light wiring.  End result, very bright additional brake lights giving me a bit more security from being rear ended while out enjoying the road!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Did you know? Identifying your Mini Mark

I had a once in a lifetime opportunity recently, first to learn of one of the co-founders of Bremen, and then secondly to be able to sit down face to face and discuss these wonderful cars with him. 

While discussing the production of Mini Mark's with co-founder DeWayne Creighton, he shared some insights on what period of the company's production your car may have been built in. I will break these down to early, mid and late production units.

The very first Mini Marks did not have an operational trunk in front. The "trunk" had no doors and you could only gain access to the area through the passenger compartment. 

There were also two different versions of door latches and interior handles. The early cars had a slide rod for the door catch. DeWayne indicated the early latch actually had to be built into the doors. The interior fiberglass door panel was installed after the latch was installed. (May be one reason I wasn't able to fully remove my latch during my rebuild.) As years progressed cars moved to a conventional door lock mechanism as on current production cars. The inside handles were different on these units as well. Early versions had a push post and later versions had a pull out interior latch. 

The last items 0f distinction were the bumpers. early cars had a solid one piece flat bumper front and back. mid years had two piece flat steel bumpers, and later years had formed steel bumpers.

Working with these three "keys" you may be able to determine if you have an early, mid or late production car.

We also discussed the molds that were used in production. The molds and tooling were destroyed in the fire of January 1975, Bremen rebuilt all of the tooling and he stressed that it wasn't cheap tooling. Some companies made molds which were held together with he said,  but our molds were all braced with steel tubing, giving consistent bodies each and every time.  As I had mentioned in an earlier post, the sad ending is that he believes the molds were hauled to dump after production stopped in 1984. The bodies were madeof chopped strand rather than laid mat, and DeWayne was confident you could pick up the car from the lip of the fender. (not sure I want to try that to prove him right or wrong)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Going Home- Bremen Indiana

 I know it has been a while since I have made a post to the blog, the blog is still getting many views and I have been busy enjoying our Mini Mark and conversing on the Facebook page. The weather has been a bit cool, and rainy, but while not necessarily out driving I am busy looking for new car shows to attend this summer. Recently I came across something that just seemed ironic to say the least. 

The Bremen Indiana Fire Department was hosting a Car Show July 2, 2015 as part of their Summer Fair. Bremen is only around an hours drive, and as long as the weather held this was a show I was looking forward to. This would be the first trip our car had made back home, and it was being hosted by the Fire Department, which worked the fire that destroyed the production plant and put the nail in the coffin for the Mini Mark. 

As it turned out the day was beautiful, mid 70's and barely a cloud in the sky. I had been in contact with Adam who was in charge of the show with a few emails and he knew we were coming. I had also asked him for ANY information he could dig up on the car or the plant. 

Adam was able to get me a name before the show, but that wasn't the end of it. He spread the word and during the show I made contact with around eight people familiar with the cars and the factory. I will be following up over the next few weeks with the contacts made to see if I can put the story in a little better verified format than what I have posted. 

The Mini Mark didn't bring home any awards at this show, but the contacts made far outweigh any award. One thing for sure, the car did get allot of attention and comments during the show. There were also a group of people who didn't know a car was built in Bremen. 

There was a rather interesting story that one of the ex police chiefs shared. There was a Mini Mark in Bremen and it was driven in the local parade. After the parade the owner took the car home and parked it in the driveway. A few hours later the owner came out and the car was gone. Now mind you Bremen isn't a big town by any means, but someone had stolen the Mini Mark. Police reports were filed, and a few days later the local police were contacted by a department in Alabama, as it seems they had recovered the Mini Mark. Two teens had stolen the car and driven it to Alabama to a buyer. Well, on their way, an office was intrigued by the car on the road. The car hadn't broken and laws, but he pulled it over for a look. One thing led to another and the thieves are apprehended and the car returned home. 

Hopefully in the next few weeks I will be able to correct and update previous posts on the Mini Mark, Hopefully I will be able to piece together more of the history of this great car.

Until then, enjoy the summer and getting your car out on the highway.