A son’s 38-year quest to find and restore his father’s Type 3 fastback

Lynn Pfenning and his father, Marvin Pfenning, in front of the 1967 Type Fastback before the North Dakota State Fair in 2018. Photo courtesy of Lynn Pfenning.

Lynn Pfenning spent 38 years chasing down his father’s beloved 1967 Volkswagen Type 3 fastback and four years restoring it to its original glory.

The cousin of the Volkswagen Beetle was a major touchstone of Pfenning’s childhood. His father purchased the Brunswick Blue Type 3 fastback for $2,200 in 1967 after totaling his 1965 Volkswagen Beetle. The car was no match for a cow he hit while traveling home from their grandparents’ house in rural North Dakota.

“Growing up, my job every Saturday was to wash and detail the family car before church,” Pfenning said.

Eight years later, his dad sold it to a local farmer who then gifted the car to his son – a friend of Pfenning’s – to drive to and from school.

Once Pfenning’s friend graduated from high school, the Type 3 fastback was used as a utility vehicle for several years before being barn-bound for approximately two decades.

A lifelong gear head, Pfenning went on to trade school, trained as a construction electrician and went on to work at an automotive plant for 20 years. As the years passed, however, Pfenning grew more and more eager to add the special air-cooled to his collection; he currently has two other collector cars, including a 1963 Beetle.

“Over the years, we may have gone our separate ways, but I always kept track of that car,” said Pfenning. “I would check in every five or some years to see if he was willing to sell me it.” The owner wouldn’t budge.

Pfenning poses with the original 1967 Type 3 fastback (pre-restoration) and the car’s second owner Lyle Opland. Photo courtesy of Pfenning.

Thankfully, Pfenning’s luck changed in 2013. After spotting another Type 3 Fastback in St. Paul, Minn., he decided to ring his friend and ask again if the car was available for purchase. To his surprise, it was, and he was invited down to North Dakota to negotiate a price.

With some strategic haggling, his compelling backstory and a small nudge from the owner’s wife, he was able to buy the car at a fraction of the asking price.

“Before he had a chance to change his mind, I handed him the cash and away we went,” Pfenning said.

Contrary to photos, however, the car was in rough shape. The past owner had used the fastback as a farm vehicle to round up cattle, which in turn caused damage to both car doors and crushed the nose of the car. Instead of a proper fix, panels were filled with several inches of putty.

On top of that, the engine was severely damaged due to a hidden mouse nest, which caught fire and impaired the car’s cylinder heads. The windshield gaskets had failed years earlier, deteriorating the floor pan and transmission deck.

“It was like peeling back an onion – once I started pulling back the layers the car told a very different story,” Pfenning said.

The total job, along with custom additions, would eventually run him nearly $40,000. To help pay for the project, he worked late shifts, overtime, during shutdowns and covered coworker’s vacations. He also devoted 10 and 12-hour days on weekends to repairs and bodywork.

“I cut out all the rust and replaced it with new metal. All the nuts and bolts were replaced or refurbished,” said Pfenning.

Pfenning’s restored 1967 Type 3 fastback. Photo courtesy of Pfenning.

A car collector at heart, he told the mechanic that he worked with during the restoration process he didn’t want to just write the check, he wanted to do the dirty work and learn about everything being done.

“He was more than happy to let me tear out all the rat-infested parts, grind paint, rip out of all the moldy, stinky interiors and rust,” Pfenning said.

Pfenning rebuilt the engine to 1776 cc from the stock 1600 cc and installed a custom tweed interior. All the brightwork was new or reconditioned. The final step was replacing the car’s original Brunswick Blue paint with a head-turning Candy Brandywine – a popular color found on 1930’s era hot rods.

“I was so far into the project there was no use in cutting corners,” said Pfenning.

Pfenning completed the project in July 2018 and decided to enter it in the North Dakota State Fair, where it received first place for best antique car. To celebrate, he invited his then-83-year-old dad to participate in the parade with him.

“He couldn’t believe it was the same car,” Pfenning said. “He smiled the entire parade – which lasted nearly two hours – yelling, in his distinct German dialect, ‘It’s a Volkswagen, and I bought it brand new!’ He was so excited.”

Since then, he’s entered the car in several competitions and received more awards. “I won first place for Vintage European car in Minneapolis’ Light the Night event: second place went to a fancy Porsche and third went to a BMW,” Pfenning said. “It was pretty fun to see my little Volkswagen beat out over them.”

That said, nothing will compare to his father’s priceless reaction from riding in his original Volkswagen. “Sharing this experience with him … has made every penny worth it,” Pfenning added.

Pfenning displays his best in show award in front of his winning 1967 Type Fastback at a car show in Minneapolis. His red 1963 Beetle is behind him. Photo courtesy of Pfenning.

Revealed: The next-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI, with new style and more power

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The hot hatch lives on.

For more than four decades, the Volkswagen Golf GTI has been the standard for affordable, European-designed performance hatchbacks. Over seven generations, more than 380,000 Americans have taken home a GTI, enjoying the mix of driving enjoyment and everyday utility that few competitors even approach.

Now, Volkswagen unveiled the eighth-generation GTI, with more power and more technology than its predecessor that’s relevant to drivers worldwide. Don’t worry: there’s still a stick shift, a functional hatch and all the other features that make the GTI so flexible – all demonstrating a commitment by the driving enthusiasts at Volkswagen to keep building cars other drivers can enjoy.

The new Golf GTI arrives with a power boost. In European trim, the GTI makes 241 hp and 273 lb.-ft. of torque, generated by an upgraded version of the 2-liter turbocharged, four-cylinder engine. That power hits the road through either a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG automatic transmission.

The style of the eighth-generation GTI takes on a sharper, sleeker edge than its predecessor. Built off an updated version of the MQB chassis, the new GTI maintains the comfortable yet compact dimensions of the current GTI. The new look includes a more dramatic light signature with standard LED headlamps featuring a red and while illuminated strip across the grille, and optional fog lights integrated into the air intake in an “X” layout. New standard LED taillights, a more pronounced spoiler and the classic C-pillar shape of the Golf complete the look.

For improved handing, the GTI updates its suspension geometry but maintains the key basics, such as an independent, multilink rear suspension. The brakes and wheels have also been updated, with new designs up to an optional 19-inch wheel.

The most dramatic changes to the GTI come from new technology. Start with the driver, who will control the road with the standard Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, available with an optional heads-up display. The in-dash entertainment and control center now lives behind an updated touchscreen of up to 10 inches diagonally, with fully automatic Climatronic climate control below. The background lighting in the dash and passenger compartment can be customized in up to 30 colors. The updated Car-Net with available in-car WiFi and compatible wireless cellphone charging also now come standard.

Beyond the interior technology, the GTI now comes with an updated Front Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking and pedestrian monitoring as standard, along with a long list of available tech including Lane Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control and Park Assist.And yes, there’s still a golf-ball shifter on the manual and a plaid design for the cloth seats – albeit in a new checked design called Scalepaper.

Expect the new GTI to come to America sometime in the second half of 2021, as a model-year 2022 vehicle.

Volkswagen Golf GTI

European model shown. Specifications may vary.

One Rabbit GTI fan’s years-long build of his ultimate custom car

However much you’ve worked on a single vehicle, chances are you haven’t done as much as Derek Spratt did to his 1983 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI.

Over the course of seven years, Spratt estimates he spent more than 12,000 hours modifying his GTI and documenting his labor of love in over 180 videos on social media. The videos range from Spratt’s descriptions of basic electrical wiring to installing a modern digital dashboard in a vintage vehicle. His own estimate of his costs: $140,000.

And today, he doesn’t even own the car.

This Mk1 GTI was the first car Spratt purchased as a 21-year-old college student in Ontario, Canada. He was among Canada’s first buyers of a true GTI, which arrived that year with a 90-hp engine and stiffened suspension of the true European GTI.

“All the automotive magazines had the GTI on their cover, saying that it was the car everyone had to have,” he said.

In the summer of 1984, Spratt and his now-wife, Cheryl, drove down Highway 1 from Vancouver, Canada, to San Francisco and back in the GTI. When Spratt, a former CEO and venture capitalist, turned 50 in 2011, his fond memories of the car prompted him to chase the dream of customizing a GTI in extreme detail.

“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to go back to the first car I had as a young man and revisit that time in my life?’” he said. “My goal was for the car to feel and drive like an original Mk1 but with modern capabilities. I wanted to show that you can take an old car to the point where it operates like a supercar — without taking away the fun factor.”

Spratt with the GTI he drove along Highway 1 with his wife in 1984. Photo courtesy of Spratt.

Although he sold his original GTI decades earlier, Derek found another that matched his original with the same build date from 1983. He bought it and got to work, spending long hours in the garage at night and on weekends, methodically taking apart and elevating every aspect of his beloved GTI by hand. Over time, Spratt boosted the acceleration, chassis rigidity, corning and braking performance on the GTI — acknowledging that his perfectionism complicated and lengthened the process.

“I wanted the car to be versatile and flawless with its mannerisms and behaviors,” he said.

Spratt also wanted a track-capable engine for his GTI. Working with an engine builder, he designed a custom engine, avoiding the easy route of turbocharging in favor of naturally aspirated power that helped save weight. When mated to a custom cooling system, the engine generated roughly 220 hp.

Spratt also updated the car to include modern creature comforts, such as electric windows, adjustable heated seats, push-button engine starting, an electronically adjustable brake system, two-axis accelerometers and a touch-screen digital dash.

Carefully documenting each step of the process online, he quickly grew a following. Passionate Volkswagen enthusiasts and classic car hobbyists from Sweden to South Africa began following his journey and sent him encouragement, questions and advice. Some followers even offered to send Derek rare parts to the GTI, knowing they can be difficult to come by.

At some of the more difficult moments in the modification process, it was the enthusiast community that kept him motivated to persevere.

The 1983 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI. Photo courtesy of Spratt. Modifying vehicles can adversely affect warranty coverage & compliance with required safety & other standards

“There were times that I felt like this project was eating me alive,” Spratt said. “This was one of the most extreme commitments to a project I have worked on.”

When he finally finished the “Ultimate GTI” in 2018, he knew how he wanted to celebrate.

“The first thing I did was take my 85-year-old dad out for a drive,” he said. “We are a family of engineers, particularly in the automotive space. I owe my love for German cars to my dad.”

He also raced the car on the track and took it to several auto shows where he connected with followers. One fan he met in person at an auto show in Vancouver said he had watched every one of his videos. “I thought, ‘Wow, I haven’t even watched them all!’” he said.

And to complete the circle from 34 years earlier, Derek re-created his trip down Highway 1 with his eldest son.

“You can tear apart every nut and bolt of a car and then go and drive it for 10,000 kilometers and have nothing bad happen to it,” Spratt said. “The car made it all the way there and back without any issues.”

When he felt he had spent enough time with his GTI masterpiece, he turned back to his community of classic car lovers to sell it. He connected with a young couple living in Vancouver who are also Volkswagen enthusiasts and sold them his vehicle at a fraction of the cost of the modifications.

Spratt does not count this as a loss.

“If you get into restoration and modification for the money, you should find a new hobby,” he said. “The purpose of the project was fulfilled for me. I made the car faster and better than before and pursued my passion for seven years.”

Spratt’s father seeing the fully modified GTI for the first time. Photo courtesy of Spratt. Modifying vehicles can adversely affect warranty coverage & compliance with required safety & other standards.

He was thrilled to see his project in the hands of fellow Volkswagen enthusiasts who would fully appreciate his labor of love. “It was important to me to sell it to someone who would allow me to stay connected to the car,” Spratt said. “I can take it for a drive or a tune-up. I’m happy they have it and love it. And I’m glad I can see it now and again.”

After seven years of detailed building, most people might take a break. Spratt already has ideas for his next project.

“My long-term goal is to electrify a 1961 Beetle,” he says. “The technology behind converting a vintage vehicle to an electric car really interests me.”

Classic Volkswagens, modern EV power: The future of hot rodding

Embracing the future doesn’t have to mean letting go of the past—just look at the growing number of classic Volkswagens that people have converted to now run on electric power.

The mid-century Beetle and Bus have long been used as canvasses for hot rodders and customizers, with the Meyers Manx serving as an early example of such inspiration. In recent years, hobbyists have explored how to combine the old-school Volkswagen charm with no-tailpipe electric drivetrains.

Showcasing the possibilities of the e-Golf powertrain to motivate classic VW models, Volkswagen of America recently commissioned west coast electric vehicle conversion specialist EV West to construct an electrified Volkswagen Type 2 Bus. Disclaimer: Concept vehicle shown. Not available for sale.

Volkswagen of America joined in last year, commissioning California-based electric vehicle conversion specialist EV West to build a one-off concept vehicle by merging a 1972 Type 2 Microbus with the modern electric powertrain of a 2017 e-Golf. Over several months, EV West harvested the 134-hp electric motor, 35.8 kWh battery pack and all the necessary charging hardware from the e-Golf and arranged the pieces into the Type 2 body.

The goal? To demonstrate what’s possible.

“When people see a classic Volkswagen charging next to a Tesla at the grocery store, their jaws drop,” says Robert Tietje, a design e-mobility, charging and battery management expert at Volkswagen of America.

An exterior shot of the electrified Volkswagen Type 2 Bus concept vehicle. Disclaimer: Concept vehicle shown. Not available for sale.

Bolted into the rear where the Type 2’s 60-hp engine had been, the powertrain from the e-Golf is designed to give the bus an approximate range of 125 miles. EV West also installed regenerative breaking through a single-speed transmission and a high-voltage auxiliary unit for heating and air conditioning. Wiring harnesses and control units completed the process.

While EV drive systems are typically reliable and can be easy to work with, an older model’s original hardware can create challenges for the conversion team. “The technical challenges are mostly around trying to update the car in regard to the older systems—things like upgrading the vehicle’s brakes and suspension,” Bream says.

An electric drivetrain from an e-Golf now powers the Type 2 concept vehicle. Disclaimer: Concept vehicle shown. Not available for sale.

This transplant gives the Bus a more modern and refined driving quality but keeps intact its vintage charm. “The Bus is iconic because of its character,” says Michael Bream, the CEO of EV West, who drives an electric Volkswagen himself. “We want to preserve that character. We take our technology to the limits to make the vehicle more enjoyable to drive, without altering the classic driving experience.”

Although the movement to drive electric has been alive for over half a century, Tietje and Bream have seen a spike in electric vehicle deployment over the past ten years. The trend has grown so much that EV West now works on around twelve projects at a time and has a multi-year waitlist for new conversions.

Bream attributes this to two things: “People want to drive the classic car that they love, but they want to do it sustainably and dependably.” The Type 2 Microbus has always been popular for its charm, and there is usually a sentimental reason that people choose to convert. “Maybe it was their first car, or their parents’ car or the car they took on a road trip,” Tietje says. “People don’t want to let that go.”

The interior of the electrified Volkswagen Type 2 Bus concept vehicle. Disclaimer: Concept vehicle shown. Not available for sale.

For Bream, switching to electric mitigates a few negatives that are associated with hot rodding. “Driving classic cars is always fun, but with an older car, you do worry about the old car breaking down or whether you need to stop for gas,” he said. Since converting his car, he drives without the worry associated with driving a decades-old car. “It really changes people’s whole perception of driving,” he says.

Volkswagen’s efforts illustrate how an iconic vehicle like the Type 2 Microbus can get in on the trend of going electric and have a second—and more sustainable—life. Many of these models have already survived for decades, and with a lower-maintenance EV powertrain, can have many years left to run.

“A converted car can drive sustainably well into the future. It wouldn’t surprise me to see a vintage electric bus driving down the road 100 years from now,” Bream says. “They can last a lifetime—or several lifetimes.”

The modifications described are complex and dangerous, and they should only be handled by experienced professionals.  Modifying vehicles in the manner described can adversely affect compliance with required safety & other standards and can increase risk of fire and injury.

The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas: Arriving soon with new looks and tech

In three years, more than 170,000 Volkswagen Atlas sport utility vehicles have joined American families as the kids-and-stuff hauler of choice. With up to seven adult-sized seats, 17 cupholders and more cargo room than almost all of its competitors (96.8 cubic feet with second and third-row seats folded, to be exact), the Atlas has proven itself as a compelling family companion.

In the past, that might have been good enough for a three-year-old vehicle, but not in today’s market. Instead, Volkswagen today revealed a refreshed Atlas, based on Volkswagen’s understanding of what Americans want in their SUVs.

“This refreshed model brings all the functionality of the previous model, and ups the ante with new technology and more style,” said Scott Keogh, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America.

If you’ve seen the all-new Atlas Cross Sport, the new face of the Atlas will look familiar. The standard LED headlights, grille and bumper all adopt a similar theme, while the rear of the Atlas also gets redesigned LED taillights. On higher trims, the Atlas daytime running lights have a new two-line look; a new all-weather lamp takes the place of separate fog lamps, and a new dynamic range control and cornering system allows them to turn with the direction of the vehicle and automate high-to-low beams.

Under the sheet metal, the 2021 Atlas arrives with a plethora of available new technology and advanced driver-assistance features. The Lane Assist feature has been updated to help keep the Atlas stable within a lane, while the new Traffic Jam Assist helps maintain the following distance to the vehicle ahead, from a full stop in traffic up to 37 mph. If traffic starts moving again within three seconds, the system restarts the vehicle into the flow. If the stop is longer than three seconds, the driver can start things off again by tapping the gas pedal or the “Resume” button on the steering wheel. Meanwhile, Dynamic Road Sign Display can display select key road data like speed limits in the on-board navigation system.

Standard Driver Assistance features on all Atlas models include: Forward Collision Warning with Autonomous Braking (Front Assist), Blind Spot Monitoring, and Rear Traffic Alert. Higher trims add features such as Adaptive Cruise Control and Park Assist, which can automatically ease the Atlas into parallel and perpendicular parking spaces.

As with most new Volkswagens, the 2021 Atlas will arrive with the new Car-Net® with available Wi-Fi hotspot as standard equipment, with a long list of no-charge services for five years, and new subscription options. The interior has been reworked with a stylish new steering wheel and updated colors. To help keep everyone entertained, there’s now up to five available USB ports for charging in the first and second row.

Power choices for the Atlas remain either the 276-horsepower VR6 or the 235-hp (achieved with premium fuel) four-cylinder turbo, now available on all trims. Both engines pair with an eight-speed automatic transmission and are available with Volkswagen’s 4Motion® all-wheel-drive system (which had not been previously available with the four-cylinder engine). The V6 is rated at 5,000 pounds for towing, when equipped with the V6 Towing package.

Most importantly, the smart features that make the Atlas so welcoming — like holding three child seats in the second row — remain for 2021. If you need a three-row SUV, the Atlas might be your most versatile choice.

The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas

Disclaimers:

Driver Assistance features are not substitutes for attentive driving. See Owner’s Manual for further details and important limitations.

VW Car-Net is available on most MY20 and newer vehicles.  Always pay careful attention to the road and do not drive while distracted.  Certain services require trial or paid subscriptions, which may have their own terms and conditions. VW Car-Net requires vehicle cellular connectivity and availability of vehicle GPS signal, and not all services and features are available on all vehicles.  Certain Car-Net services, such as Roadside Call Assist, connect out to 3rd party providers that may require additional payment.  Standard text and data rates may apply for app and web features.  Certain services may collect location and vehicle information. See Terms of Service, Privacy Statement, and other important information at www.vw.com/carnet.

The Wi-Fi hotspot feature is intended for passenger use only. 4G LTE coverage is not available in all areas. See materials provided for terms, privacy, data security details. Requires trial or paid Wi-Fi plan from third party wireless provider.

Remote Car-Net services offered for 5 years from vehicle in-service date.

Maximum tow rating when equipped with V6 engine and factory-installed towing hitch. Vehicle load, other accessories and options may reduce maximum towing capacity. See the vehicle owner’s manual for details.

When installing child safety seats, always ensure that the child restraint system is positioned correctly, is securely attached to the vehicle, and does not contact any of the safety belt buckles. See owner’s literature for details.

Helping train the next generation of auto technicians

To help address the growing need for trained automotive technicians, Volkswagen will donate 31 Atlas SUVs and diagnostics equipment to technician programs across the country.

Volkswagen recognizes the need for vehicles to be in the hands of students to help educate and equip tomorrow’s technicians with the tools necessary for future employment.

Over the next few months, Volkswagen will donate 31 Atlas SUVs and diagnostics equipment to trade schools and career centers across the country.

The goal? To help address the growing need for trained automotive technicians who understand both the hardware and the increasingly complex software in modern vehicles. With such skills in high demand by many industries, simply learning the nuts and bolts of automotive repair no longer suffices.

“There is a national shortage of technicians, and it’s expected to grow as many technicians are, or are very close to, retirement age. We have to start looking for avenues to backfill these individuals,” says Jon Meredith, Volkswagen national service operations manager.

Volkswagen will donate 31 Atlas SUVs and diagnostics equipment to U.S. trade schools and career centers.

Today, more than 770,000 people work as automotive technicians and mechanics across the country, according to federal government estimates. While the overall number of roles remains steady, federal labor experts and the automotive industry estimate the need for new technicians at tens of thousands of workers per year just to maintain current openings – demand that’s greater than what trade schools can currently supply with graduates.

“As an industry, we need to come up with different ways of thinking and doing to attract young people to this industry,” Meredith added. As a vehicle manufacturer, Volkswagen sees tremendous value in partnering with dealers and the technical and trade schools in their markets to bring both the Volkswagen product and diagnostic equipment to the younger generation considering a career in the automotive industry.

The Volkswagen ODIS software used to diagnose and update vehicles would normally have to be purchased directly from Volkswagen under the Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right to Repair Act and would be out of reach of many programs. The selected schools will also collaborate with local dealerships to provide supplemental assistance and instruction on the donated equipment.

Darin Lewis, an automotive instructor at Ohio’s Medina County Career Center, says the Volkswagen Atlas and software will be the newest vehicle in his school’s training fleet by a decade.

“It goes far beyond donating a physical car. With the technology, they are providing their entry-level curriculum,” Lewis says. “I look back when I was in school and you were either a Ford guy or a Chevy guy. Those days are long gone.

“To have something that’s the latest and greatest out there – and to be able to show students, ‘This is where the industry is headed’ – is important.”

How one gourmet coffee shop gets up and goes with an Atlas

In honor of the National Gourmet Coffee Day, Volkswagen chose to spotlight Dom’s Coffee, a family-run coffee business out of Avon, CT. The European-style coffee store opened in May of 2015 by Andrius Plankis and Asta Plankiene, who both emigrated to America from Lithuania with their family in 2013.

Named after their 8-year-old son, Dominykas, specialties of Dom’s Coffee include craft brews and locally sourced, scratch-made treats. Their artistically crafted drinks include espressos, affogatos, specialty lattes (honey, maple, matcha, and charcoal, just to name a few), cold brews and hot chocolates.

Dominykas poses with a cup of joe from Dom’s Coffee. The beloved European-style coffee store was opened by his parents, Andrius Plankis and Asta Plankiene, in May 2015.

The bright, minimalist brewhouse was recently recognized as the most beautiful coffee shop in the state by a national architectural magazine. “It’s really been an amazing adventure, and a lot of that is thanks to our community,” says Plankiene. “They are really supportive [of us] and people really appreciate what we offer.”

In addition to their popular brick-and-mortar shop in Farmington Valley, the family has a fully-equipped mobile espresso bar, which can be set-up and operated out of the trunk of their Volkswagen Atlas R-Line, when the car is parked. The mobile bar components are securely stored away in the vehicle when the car is in motion.1

The Volkswagen Atlas R-Line offers “a beautiful, modern, European-feel that is authentic to our brand,” Plankis said. Also, he loves that the car is spacious, and can be used for both business and family trips. “Our Atlas is a large part of our lives,” he says.

Dom’s Coffee built a fully-equipped mobile espresso bar that can be set-up and operated out of the trunk of their Volkswagen Atlas R-Line when the car is parked. Disclaimer: Professional installation required to minimize risk of injuries in a crash event and reduce the chance of an accidental fire.

A regular fixture at their local Volkswagen dealership, the couple participate in regular Cars and Coffee events hosted by the Volkswagen’s showroom on Sundays. They serve espresso drinks from the trunk of their Atlas-R Line and answer questions about their Volkswagen to interested parties. “Most people are shocked because they had never seen anything like that before,” Plankiene says. In addition to their Atlas, their roster of former Volkswagen vehicles include a Passat and two Jetta cars, including a Jetta GLI 35th Anniversary Edition.

With their portable coffee bar, the couple has the chance to grow in their community steadily and economically. “We know from our experience that opening a new coffee shop is quite expensive because of all the equipment, staffing, and rent,” Plankis said. By adding a mobile component to their brick-and-mortar enterprise, they can reach new audiences and build new customers. They hope that their unique set-up helps them inspire future baristas to enter the coffee business as well.

“We want it to be an inspiration to people,” said Plankiene. “You don’t need to start big to start a business. You can start small.”