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TOPIC: Passing of Lee Leighton

Passing of Lee Leighton 2 years 7 months ago #19871

  • chip
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Lee Leighton Passed Away Last Night, Thursday, September 18, 2014
By Dean Kirsten | September 19, 2014

Photos by Staff of Hot VWs





Today we mark the passing of one of the great pioneers of the VW industry, Lee Leighton. For over 60 years, Lee has been devoting his life to the VW industry, working back at Econo Motors and the original Empi, with Dean Lowry and Darrell Vittone in the '60s, then moving on to opening his own engine shop in Riverside. Lee practically invented the 2180cc off-road engine, as he built race engines for all the top drivers. Lee was also well known for his famous red drag sedan, which ran at the Bug-Ins at OCIR, with both himself and son Bobby driving in the '70s and early '80s. Lee continued to build VW engine well into his '70s, and only recently did he shut down his shop on Alamo Street. Not too long ago, he was spotted driving a fast VW sedan at the Bug-In, which we all were thrilled seeing him still involved with our sport.

Last Thursday evening, he suffered a massive heart attack and never recovered. With sons and friends at his side, he passed away about 9:00 last night. Lee is survived by three sons; Jerry, Mike and Bobby. Lee Leighton was 85

Lee was a friend and inspiration of mine for a long time. I remember as a teenager in the 80s, driving to the Infamous corner of N.Main st and Alamo st in Riverside Ca, where Lee had his shop of many years where he usually had an engine on his dyno, being very patient, explaining everything he was doing. Jerry, his son, is a good friend of mine who has been doing work for me for many years. Most recently, putting together an excellent shock package for my 11 car that has worked very well. Had it not been for pioneers of the industry like Lee, Joe Vittone, son Darrel Vitone, Dean Lowrey, Gene Berg and others, the VW aftermarket, street/strip and offroad would not be known for what it is today. Rest In Peace Lee.
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