The History of the Central Jersey Volkswagen Society - Art Neary

In spring of 1989 I had the chance to work at the only performance VW supplier around, Mid-State Performance in Manville NJ. I was to run this parts shop during the day, normally Mid-State was only open in the evenings so this was a major step for a small store that only sold VW and Truck parts. I think I worked there about 6 months and the business was just not there during the daytime hours, most customers stopped by on the way home from work not in the middle of the day. The people I met during that time would create the beginning of CJVWS. I started compiling a list of local VW owners interested in forming a club.

Over the winter of 1989 the time had come to contact the VW enthusiasts I had met in my Mid-State days. I sat down with my friend Derek Diaz to see what we could do to start a NJ based VW club called Central Jersey VW Society. We decided to meet in Green Brook at the Sunset Diner. Derek did have a gavel and we tried to take role at the first few meetings but a role call and a gavel was not the laid back format we were looking for. The first meetings averaged about 15-20 members including Rich Borchers, Dean Lowrie, Bill Egenton and Phil Pinella to name a few. Over time CJVWS meetings were moved to Felix #9 Diner in Bridgewater.

In 1990 Billy Egenton got me a job at Princeton VW in the parts department, again meeting more VW owners interested in a club. 1990 would be the second year Billy would have a VW show at PVW and the first year CJVWS would help run it. I think the club doubled in size that day! When PVW was sold, Billy and I along with alot of other people lost our jobs and a place for our show.

CJVWS did hold 4 annual “Club Day Picnics” at Duke Island Park in Bradley Gardens. Dash plaques and trophies were made, event t-shirts were also made with two of them being pictures of club cars, Phil’s VW rod for #3 and my Baja for #4. Every one brought there own picnic lunch, the club bought a volley ball set just for our picnics. This was our own car show, sometimes we would pull some outsiders from Pa, but the furthest distance ever traveled to a club picnic was when Tay Woykowski drove up in his super beetle from Manassas Va. We also had members travel just to get to meetings, I think the furthest points would be Lou Hodi from Old Bridge, Pete and Carol Hollish from West Windsor, Phil Pinella from Clifton and Nelson Cedeno along with Carl Kastner would lead the Elizabeth crew.

As the club grew the diner meetings were OK but it always seemed like we didn’t order enough food for the table space we were using, management was not very happy. A new location was found at the Somerset County Bridgewater Library in the community rooms at the front of the library. This worked right up until CJVWS s tarted to go stale sometime around 2000. I had done it for 10 years and just didn’t have it in me to go to every show, greet people with a smile and just promote CJVWS the way it was meant to be. Members still showed up even though it was more a gripe session on my part, new blood was needed and quick if we would continue and/or improve.

With a little push again from Billy Egenton, Mike Buckholtz was talked into getting the mailing list from me and seeing what interest was still out there for CJVWS. The meetings were moved to the Chimney Rock Inn and Bucky woke this club from the dead. He started the web-site and made new club shirts. The way I see it Bucky set the stage for the next generation of the club. A few years later, Bucky’s school was demanding more time and he felt the club would suffer from this. In 2003-04 the baton was then passed to Jeffrey Hicken who came in with more new ideas, a new look and feel for the club and with his help brought theclub where it is today. The Central Jersey Volkswagen Society is now are the premier air-cooled club in New Jersey and one of the most represented in the North East. Under Jeffrey's watch the club has helped reestablish the vibrant vintage VW scene in the north east. The club sponsors five major events each year, starting with the Paul Goerz Memorial Mustache Ride in June, the Spring and Fall VW Classic Show-n-Go at Raceway Park in Englishtown, an annual BBQ/show-n-shine at Foreign Car Werks in Boundbrook, and the premier north eastern two day vintage VW event, the All Air-Cooled Gathering in Flanders NJ. These club events, and many members cars have been featured in Hot VWs and UK magazines like Ultra VW. With over 100 members, the club continues to grow and helps define what it means to be a vintage VW enthusiast in the northeast.

Finally, lest we forget those early members that we have lost. Kevin Brown, Pete Hollish, Phil Pinella and Dean Lowrie. These men as with many of the members that have been involved with the club have left a positive mark on the history of Central Jersey VW Society. - Arthur Neary