Gene’s love affair with the VW Beetle started in 1956. From that time on he worked on hopping up and racing VWs and supporting events all over the world in one form or another. Some of his first experiences were not all that good and even stock VW parts were impossible to get except from the dealer. Everything that was needed had to be fabricated from nothing or another automobile part had to be modified to work. At that time, he was only interested in making his personal VW run faster. He and Dee had been married for a couple of years, and they had 3 sons. Gene depended on his car for daily transportation so it had to maintain its full reliability.
Soon some of Gene’s friends requested that he rework their VWs because they saw that his was far faster and still retained its life. He did this as a sideline from 1957 until 1961. During that time Gene met Andy Knebel. Andy had his own business in Renton, Washington and did work for Gene. Gene then went to work for VW, working his way up to being the service advisor in just 6 months. Then, Gene opened his own VW shop in late 1962 in Renton, Washington. It was called Gene's Service. He did repair, hop up, body, and paint work. Needless to say, it was not long until he had a dream of a fire breathing Ford and Chevy eater. By 1962 Gene was able to hold his own with his 1961 Beetle with a hopped up Porsche engine. Gene soon discovered he could not afford Porsche parts, so he started making the VW engine into a faster engine. He built his all out VW powered racecar in 1963. Gene ran it until he and his family moved to California in 1969 to join the newly formed Deano (Lowry) Dyno Soar as a partner. Gene was unable to fit in with that arrangement so; 6 months later in December of 1969, he moved on to open Gene Berg Enterprises. Gene had been manufacturing the drill press operated flycutter, the boss cutter, sumps, intake manifolds, linkages, close ratio gears, and much more for a number of years even before moving to California. Gene was more interested in the performance products than working on the cars. He soon stopped doing all engine and transaxle assembly except for his own use and those for test applications.
Fortunately, for the industry, Joe Vittone, owner of the original Empi (not Mr. Bug) and Dean Lowry, his R&D manager, had similar interests and dreams in the late 50's. All with one exception, to develop a market and sell products to the consumer. Joe, like Gene, was committed to an excellent quality of products, which provided more performance, longer life and worked properly. Dean who was committed to providing R&D with the same quality supported this. Dean was the head of Empi's race program as well and must be credited along with Joe as the innovator of many of today's products and technology. Many of the original Empi products from years past are still demanding up to 500% more than they originally sold for new in the 60's. Without Empi and Gene and Dee’s early commitments of quality, it is unlikely that this industry would have survived to this day. People would have quickly become fed up with poor quality products and returned to Chevys and Fords.
Through the years Andy & his wife Elaine spent winters in California and worked at Gene Berg Enterprises. During this time Andy developed various tooling and machines to manufacture products. This tooling and the machines he manufactured are still in use today to manufacture our parts. It was always Gene’s wish that Andy would move to California and work full time with him. Andy and his wife didn’t want to leave family in Washington.
In 1988 Gene had his first heart problems. Then in 1995 he had a couple of strokes. He continued to have problems and in December 1995 he needed heart surgery. The surgery went fine but he never recovered and Gene died January 6, 1996.
After Gene died, Dee again approached Andy and Elaine. They made the commitment to make the move in 1996. Andy is an experienced machinist, innovator and an inventor. He has developed his skills using the computer as it applies to the industry today, and has experience in computer operated automation. If something needs to be developed just tell him and he will fulfill the need. Quality has always been very important to Andy too.
Commitment To Quality
Gene’s vision of having more longevity and performance never diminished. The commitment to producing products that fit, work properly and provide as good or better life than the stock part they replace, as well as value for the money, continues today. Fortunately, for VW industry, Gene Berg Enterprises has grown every year since Gene and Dee started it in 1969.
Yes, most companies today are strictly in the marketing business, selling inferior copies (often costing more than our better quality products) that are made to maximize profit margins. Yes, these parts will often run and work; however, longevity and dollar value is at best marginal and often just plain horrible.
Unlike competitors Gene Berg drove and used his products on VWs to be sure they were dependable for daily transportation before he would sell to customers. Gene Berg Enterprises is the only company in this business today that can make the claim of not selling anything they do not use themselves. Needless to say, through research, development and racing programs Gene contributed an extensive number of the products used in the industry today.
Today we are proud that we are the developers and manufacturers of many of our American Made products and that our quality control is superior to all others in this business. The reliability from our race program speaks for itself with not one single failure in our last 2 years of racing and more first place wins and runner ups than any other single VW Beetle in history. Our 1665 pound racecar and Gary held the 1992 VW Super Street record at 10.39 ET. Today this car has been retired and plans are in the works to build another car for racing. We have demonstrated more power per cubic inch from a normally aspirated gas engine than anyone else has. We have developed race products that provide 10 to 15 years of service, some in race applications with tests currently going on, and they still have not failed.
The original modified genuine VW cylinder heads that Gene made for his racecar in 1974 are still running in the 10's today. Our race program allowed us to develop quality products that withstand the rigors of competitive racing, yet are reasonably priced for daily driving. We have addressed product development with the same view that any successful automotive manufacturer has. This enables us to provide engines of larger sizes with no loss in reliability. After all, if Chevy can offer 265, 283, 327, 350, 400, etc. cubic inch engines with total reliability, so can we, with a VW engine. By engineering all of our products and combinations, just like Chevy, Ford, Porsche, VW, etc., we are able to provide this reliability to our customers with strokes up to 86mm and bores up to 90.5mm. (See specifics in the catalog).