In the early 1960's Mike Griffin started Cartune. The company sold performance parts for Aircooled VW's. Initially they operated from a postal address on Grenfell Road in Mitcham Surrey, but it wasn't long before they were ready for expansion. Locations in Ashford Middlesex and Middlesbrough were chosen. Cartune Teesside was formed in 1967 and operated from a premises on North Ormesby Road. Their successful line of VW tuning parts were available, but alongside those they there we also able to offer new Volkswagens and Porsches. The business was so successful that by 1972 they were moving into a new purpose built building at Park End on the outskirts of the city. Ron Turnbull was the man in charge at Teesside.
In early 1970 Cartune (South) moved to 147 Stanwell Road in Ashford. From here Cartune were able to offer a full VW workshop facility which included servicing, performance engine upgrades and general repairs. From here they also manufactured their own high quality VW performance parts. This operation was mainly overseen by Roy Vaughn, but little else is know about the Ashford premises at the time of writing. Mike Griffin oversaw both operations as the chairman of Cartune, but it should be noted that the two operations were their own separate entities as Cartune (Teesside) Ltd, later Cartune (Volkswagen) Ltd and Cartune Ltd (Ashford Location).
As well obtaining Porsche, Volkswagen Audi and NSU dealership status, Cartune were also able to offer the GP and Apal Buggies and also imported the Puma to the U.K. market.
Cartune (both north and south) also had a hand in Motorsport, most notably in rallying. Drag racing is by far the most popular form of Air-cooled motor sport these days thanks to the Cal-Look scene which emered in the 80's, but back then in the U.K. the Beetle had a good reputation on the rough stuff thanks to the Volkswagens rugged build quality. Cartune were able to sponsor several competition cars, such as Francis Tuthill's London to Sydney Beetle Peter Noad's rally/autocross car and stunt driver Russ Swift also drove a handful of beetles sponsored by Cartune in auto-tests and rally's.
Remarkable to think that right here in the U.K, In the 60's and 70's, there was a company offering all of the above, including many unique, quality parts built in house, yet they are seldom mentioned anywhere. After an impressive rise at it's peak in around 1972, it wasn't to last, as the economic climate of the U.K. crippled the business and the Teesside dealership was sold off to the Martins group. The Ashford branch would carry on and eventually fizzle out sometime in the early 80's. The memory of Cartune has mainly been consigned to the odd mention in magazines and a handful of posts on internet forums.
I have been collecting Cartune parts for the last 10 years which is pretty difficult due to the rarity of them. I suspect that a lot of the parts met their fate as the Beetle fell out of favour and littered many scrapyards across the country. It also didn't help that Cartune missed out on the "new wave" VW boom in the mid to late 80's in the U.K. As already mentioned, Cartune Teesside was sold to the Martins group in 1975 and reverted and the Ashford site disappeared a few years later. I'm sure if they could have held out for another decade at least, they would be more prominent, but who could have guessed how big the VW scene would eventually become.
I find it such a glaring ommision that a little part of our own VW performance history got left behind, so finding the parts and Information about the company has been a real labour of love for me. You could come to a dead end pretty quickly doing serches online, so It's taken a lot of old issues of VW Safer motoring and other magazines just to put this small web page together. Having said that It's been satisfying for me to have put the information together into one place and bring the story back to life. They were pretty pioneering at the time and have had little recognition in VW circles. I'd like to think I could change that.
I have also included a short page dedicated to Peter Noad. Without his journalism and championing of the VW as a race car, this page would have been much more difficult to create.
My plan is to reproduce some of the original, unique, Cartune VW Accessories, starting with the superb exhaust Taper Tips. Of the parts that I've collected I feel they are really well engineered and have stood the test of time. I'm convinced they still have a place in the current VW scene. A small range of apparel and merchandise will also run alongside the parts, so make sure you check that out as well. Also on this page are some photo galleries featuring many original images of Cartune cars and parts.
There is also the feature car section. In here you will find a couple of small write-ups on some cars either supplied by Cartune or built in a fashion that pre-dates Volksworld magazine including my Cartune tribute beetle. You can sign up to our mailing list by subscribing below, this way you'll know when new products are available.
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I'll start with the founder/chairman of Cartune Mike Griffin. Little is currently known about Mike at the time of writing, as he unfortunately died not long ago. What is known is that Mike started out his career as an apprentice at Lagonda, but left after they were brought out by David Brown (Astom Martin DB). He then spent some time in the RAF, a spell as an engineer, then became an Austin Morris dealer. Eventually he would work in VW's technical service department and become workshop manager at VW's St John's Wood facility. By 1966 he had progressed to general service manager, effectively sorting out all VW's UK problems of a technical nature. During this time Mike was also an RAC scrutineer for rallying, so it was fair to say he many strings to his bow!
As stated Cartune was started in 1960/1. This was from the Grenfell Road location. At this time they were very much supplying parts such as OJR disc brake conversions (wide 5) and MAG superchargers, so not yet producing Cartune parts. 1967 on wards is the bit we're most interested in as both businesses were launched simultaneously. It also seems Mike had a hand in AFN Porsche and National Benzole garages at sometime in the 70's. Little is then known about what Mike did in later years, but according to Facebook user Jimbob King, he was teaching mechanics at a college in the north east and finally would work for a rallying company called Triple 6 also based in Middlesbrough. Mike is pictured (centre) with Jack Charlton (left) and Ron Turnbull (Right).
Ron Turnbull a Scotsman settled in Middlesbrough also served time in the RAF. Ron was also a keen rally enthusiast and had entered a Ford Prefect in a rally in Sestriere Italy. Ron also piloted two rally beetles for Cartune, one an Orange beetle as seen in Motorsport magazines June 1972 article and another white 1302s pictured above. These were both co driven with Russ Swift. If that name rings a bell, then you will better remember Russ as the famous stunt driver who has worked in many films, commercials and probably most memorably known as "that bloke that can parallel park a mini with the handbrake!" He is pictured here on right of shot. Ron would eventually be headhunted by Griffin to take the reigns of his new Teesside dealership as he had already built a good reputation for himself at another dealership in the city. Ron really was the brains behind the meteoric rise of Cartune. The company regularly smashed sales targets and went from strength to strength. During his time at Cartune, Ron was fortunate enough to be invited to visit Wolfsburg to see the VW production line in action, it was no surprise to him that VW went on to be the giant that it is today. He also visited the Porsche factory at Stuttgart and met Ferry Porsche as well as being at the launch of the VW K70 on the banks of the river Danube, although Ron reckons they should have pushed them all in!! After Cartune, Ron set up Ron Turnbull garages, which still operate in Middlesbrough today and have always been a Volkswagen specialist. The reg number RON 234 seen on his rally cars can today be seen at the garage now on a VW Amarok. I found all of this out through Ron himself as I have been fortunate enough too be able to speak to him via the telephone and WhatsApp, which is even more remarkable as he is 80! Ron also kindly sent me many of the photos you see here and much more. I was also lucky enough to be sent one of the original Cartune 1200 decals which were fixed to the glove box of Cartune supplied beetles. You can find an in depth look at the 1200 under the feature cars heading.
Roy is someone I really don't know much about at all as he seems to be a much more elusive character. It certainly seems that Roy would be the Brains behind the Cartune Parts. He certainly was working alongside Griffin in the early days of Cartune from the Grenfell Road address and would become the director of the Ashford premises. It's Roy's signature that signs off on the official Cartune catalogue so his importance cannot be ignored. It appears it was Roy's knowledge of the Beetle that led to which parts were made. It was about improving the overall driveability, looks and performance of the Volkswagen, so if it was thought that a certain aspect could be improved, off they went into the workshop to set about it. Pictured is Roy on the left of shot next to Peter Denness (machine shop manager) and Alan Brown (apprentice). Out of shot on the picture is also Tony Brown (workshop foreman) and Graham Peacock (financial director). This picture was taken from Safter Motoring magazine in May 1970. I was put onto the article by Martin Peart, so thanks for that!
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