Darryl's 1967 Beetle
Last Updated on April 20, 2017
UPDATE: 7/9/15 - A very funny thing happened to me yesterday as I was driving my '61 VW commercial van down to buy gas. As I was driving away from the neighborhood Shell station, a Subaru Impreza station wagon following me started beeping its horn and the driver was waving. My first thoughts were, did something fall off or is there something dripping out of the old split window? I pulled over and the Subaru pulled up behind me and the driver, an older gentleman, walked up the passenger side and stuck his head in the sliding window. He introduced himself as "Larry" and complimented the van and asked if I was a "Volkswagen nut" to which I replied a hearty "YES!" to his question. He then asked if I would be interested in buying his mother's, one-owner, all original 1967 Beetle. I really wasn't in the market for another car but a true survivor '67 Beetle at the right price would definitely interest me, my first question was whether or not it was a sunroof model, unfortunately it was not, but he gave me his address and I drove over to take a look. What I found when he opened the garage door was like a recurring dream I have, a completely original, never wrecked or repainted "robin's egg blue" (paint code L639 Zenith Blue) survivor from my youth. Larry's mom lived in Sacramento and the car had never been out of the garage more than one night so rust wasn't even possible. The paint was oxidized but still showed shine though the chaulky haze and the original color matching running boards and fender welting was intact. Larry said his father had the car decked out with every option the dealership offered so the car was covered in original EMPI and VW trim bits like stone chip and door handle guards, door threshold protectors, bumper protection blades, under dash parcel shelf, wood steering wheel and extremely funky aftermarket versions of the classic "crotch coolers" that pulled air in through the horn grills and delivered it through a vent into the cowl of the car. Like a cherry on top, an authentic VW roof rack was sitting on the top, with what still remained of the original varnish on the wooden slats, easily worth $500 bucks itself. I hesitated to ask Larry what price he was asking but when he answered, "$7250" I couldn't argue, I shook his hand and told him I'd be back the next day, we both admitted to not sleeping much that night! The next day I went to pick it up and when I attempted to drive it home, it started cutting out on the hills so I parked it and went back home to get my F-250 pickup and tow bar. Once home I took a trophy photo of it sitting outside my shop in the summer sun, a true diamond in the rough!
I have been working on reassembling and installing a wiring harness in a '52 split-window Beetle after a complete repaint for a customer and needed to get it off the lift and safely tucked out of the way before rolling the '67 onto the lift but I did get it inside for the night and gave it a kiss, it was now mine, all mine. Volkswagens restored to look like new are cool and everything but there's just something magical about the original look, feel and especially smell of a vintage Volkswagen that I wanted to make sure and preserve while doing the minimal cosmetic work necessary to make the old girl "pop" again.
A closer look at the paint, trim, interior and engine made me feel extremely fortunate to "adopt" the car from Larry, since it certainly didn't feel like a purchase. The original interior only had some damage on the driver's seat back and the carpet is worn through in a few areas. The paint, while having a few rock chips and dings, certainly could be polished out to look very presentable and the 1500 cc engine was all original except for a Brazilian fuel pump. Larry spoke of a meticulous professional rebuild at 100K miles that included balancing everything, less than 22K miles ago and a file containing all the receipts for the rebuild performed in 1985 as well as all work done on the car since new is included with the car. The spare tire is the original Goodyear whitewall and it looks to have only been used once given the minor paint wear around the lug nut holes. The original windshield is still in place, the headliner is in perfect condition and the owners manual and dealer jacket is still with the car.
UPDATE: 7/10/15 - Today I got the cars in the shop rearranged and put the '67 on the lift for a look underneath.
What I found was a thing of beauty, torn up axle boots had thrown gear oil all around the transaxle area but everywhere else was a light surface rust with Zenith Blue factory paint still visible under the fender wells. The floorpan under the battery area under the passenger side rear seat was perfect! Not even a dent or wrinkle from driving over a curb! This was just going to take a little cleaning to look amazing, after installing new axle boots!
A little search of TheSamba.com enlightened me on the aftermarket "crotch cooler" accessory that was installed on the car. They are a product sold back in the day by EMPI called a "Uni-vent" and they really do pull in a lot of air. Here's the original brochure.
Here's how the ducting looks coming in the left front horn grill, up by the horn, over the shock tower, back to the front quarter panel with what looks to be a bypass duct back out the rear of the wheelwell. Inside the cabin is a round "directional air valve" that opens and closes by spring tension. It really is quite a nice improvement on hot summer days and when shut, no drafts are noticed.
The first thing to solve was why the car cut out when climbing hills, my first hunch was that the fuel pickup screen in the gas tank was clogged with rust. A quick investigation with a flashlight showed there was no screen in the virtually rust-free gas tank so I ordered one from Wolfsburg West and started there with figuring out what was wrong. The replacement tank screen had a soft metal crush washer integrated into the base of the screen so no additional sealing rings were needed. Once installed, I put an ample length of braided German fuel line so I can install an in-line fuel filter there once I find an original metal length of fuel line for the engine compartment, which might take a while.
UPDATE: 7/18/15 - Today was the big vintage Volkswagen meet at Shoreline Community College and of course I was on a mission to hit the swapmeet for missing bits on my projects. I scored big time, an actual stock '67 Beetle steering wheel, horn ring, horn button and securing hardware for $60 and the correct oil filler cap for $5! I'm not a big fan of the chrome and wood steering wheel but know my buddy Adam Bruno would love it for one of his vintage hot rod Beetle projects and he's getting married soon so let's call it a wedding present!
UPDATE: 7/28/15 - Over the last couple weeks I've tackled the engine compartment, first to clean and degrease everything, especially the underside of the engine lid and then to replace plastic hoses, fuel lines, paint the generator pulley the correct color and replace the faulty (leaking air into the fuel line) Brazilian fuel pump with a factory original Pierburg fuel pump I purchased off TheSamba.com for $100. Last step was new decals and to remove the ski rack and replace the older model right side bumper over-rider bar with the correct '67-only version and reposition the right backup light to its proper position inside the bumper bracket. A test drive of the car shows that the fuel pump was the culprit for the cutting out on hills but a new problem resulted, fuel dripping from the carburetor when the car sat after running creating a severe fire hazard!
I also did a similar degrease and detail of the front spare tire well ahead of the fuel tank. Something had spilled, probably gasoline and caused the sealing material, asphalt, to run down the sides and bottom of the bulkhead. Here are the before photos:
The purple degreasing cleaner did a pretty good job of removing the majority of the asphalt goo but there was some discoloring and rust underneath that show up in these after photos:
UPDATE: 8/27/15 - Funny how a $10 part can make the difference from gasoline dripping out of the carburetor onto a hot engine to bone dry and no potential for fire! Than goodness for eBay and some guy in Vermont having a NOS Solex float needle valve and knowing they only work on '64 to '67 Volkswagens! I received the part and installed it into the carburetor in addition to cleaning all the jets and replacing the gaskets and the electric choke element. Now the car starts immediately, runs strong and doesn't drip gasoline at all, the mechanical problems are solved, now to move on to the cosmetic stuff!
UPDATE: 9/7/15 - The first thing I wanted to address was the sad looking driver's seat and thank goodness for Wolfsburg West because they make a seat upholstery kit and original style rubberized horse hair (actually coconut husk) seat cushions that match the original exactly, right down to the heat pleating. Upon disassembly, I discovered the major reason for the seat sag was the springs in the back were broken in 4 places. Wolfsburg West also provides matching gray/black spray paint to make the seat frames look good as new. A guick patch job with the MIG welder and it was good as new and ready for installing the new padding exactly as original and vinyl covers using the heat of the sun to get the maximum stretch from the black vinyl. Once I got the drivers seat finished, I reinstalled it into the car and decided that I'd rather search for a passenger seat frame and eventually restore it and preserve the original passenger seat since it's still in such good shape, it's only original once and it's the original materials that give the car that distinctive "Volkswagen" smell.
UPDATE: 9/12/15 - At one time the running boards on the car matched the Zenith Blue paint but time has taken its toll on them and while in amazing shape for their age, new German-made running boards would really improve the appearance of the car. All the original mounting hardware came off easily and was reused but the really amazing thing was the quality of the paint under the running boards, a little Windex and paper towels and it shined right back up. I put the original running boards into the boxes the new ones came in and tucked them away for the next owner of the car, you can never tell how patina will be valued in the future, right now the look I'm going for is a very well-loved original.
UPDATE: 10/1/15 - Searching for proper touch-up paint for this paint code L639 - Zenith Blue, I remembered that Volkswagen had used "vintage" colors on it's "new" Beetle convertibles a few years back and a little work with Google resulted in the new name for the color, Aquarius Blue and its new paint code. I trotted right down to my local VW dealership and ordered the two-stage paint touch-up pen set for $16 and waited for it to arrive a week later. The following photo shows two pens, one color, one clear.
There were countless little rock chips on the hood and a few scratches but the major thing I wanted to address in an effort to give the car the "pop" I'm going for is covering the rust on the door hinges. Well the Aquarius Blue is a very close match and the pen method of application worked fantastic for the color portion. Applying the clear using the pen tended to scrub the color off so I used a brush-on clear coat that came with another two-stage touch-up set I had from some other Porsche or VW in the past. Take a look at the following photos, I'm extremely happy with the results and study photos from the running board replacment photos preceeding this entry, the change is actually stunning as are all the little spots I did on the car. The retro colors are in fact an exact match for the original '60s colors, well done Volkswagen, not to mention $16 is a fraction of what the paintscratch.com type places charge.
UPDATE: 10/8/15 - The original door weatherstripping was dried out and shrunken to the point the passenger door actually rattled so ordering up a new German-made set from Wolfsburg West was the next task on the list. The old stuff came out fairly easily and the paint underneath cleaned up very nicely as well as the door hinges and screws. I also replaced the rubber seals around the door check straps and interior light switches so the whole thing looks nice and fresh. The result is that I now have that famous air-tight seal that requires cracking a window to get the doors to slam shut!
UPDATE: 10/12/15 - Next area needing some new weatherstripping was the front trunk as prior photos show lots of cracks and rust discoloration of the retaining channels. I spent a lot of time cleaning and touching up the rust areas so the whole thing looks much better. I was also able to catch some rust forming on the underside of the hood up along the back edge that got a good sealing using SEM Rust Seal and touch-up paint. The new seal from and made by Wolfsburg West went in beautifully and I'm happy to know that water won't be able to creep onto that beautiful original pressed board trunk liner and wire cover. I still am amazed at the condition of the original spare tire.
UPDATE: 10/16/15 - My nostalgia response tracks directly with the factory originality of my Volkswagens and while I enjoy the ones I've customized to my tastes, I don't necessarily like other people's custom tastes. Like the wood and chrome steering wheel being returned to stock, the wood gear shift knob was also returned to stock and a period-correct dealer accessory shift pattern decal is added to the one-year-only ash tray (earlier ones had a knob matching the dash knobs). The radio knobs, while correct for an early '67 dealer inventory radio, weren't the rare '67 only rubber ones that matched the dash knobs so I patiently watched for a Sapphire V radio with the correct ones to appear on TheSamba.com, bought it and swapped the knobs with the one in the car and now have a spare working radio. The finishing touch was a set of black and blue polkadot coco mats to replace the thoroughly worn out ones that came in the car. New VW-logoed rubber clutch and brake pedal pads as well as a new handbrake boot replaced the worn ones and new Wolfsburg West sun visors were installed to replace the deformed (beyond holding a garage door opener) originals and give the interior a nice fresh look without losing the patina the original used steering wheel and well worn original rubber floor mats give the car. Now the car has the look of a well cared for car and over time the new stuff will develop its own patina and blend in with the old.
UPDATE: 2/24/16 - Today I made the trek down to Ravensdale, Washington on a Craigslist treasure hunt to bag a restorable late 1967-only passenger seat. I found the seller has quite a boneyard of VW parts and will be a good resource in the future as he's connected with a Veteran's VW club that's nationwide. Now I can save that original, survivor front seat that came with the car and have a perfect matching set of front seats using the Wolfsburg West pads and upholstery that I used on the worn out drivers seat last summer. I will stash the seat and wait for the day when I can find another prefect one or perhaps sell it to somebody who really wants an original for the right price.
UPDATE: 9/26/16 - I finally got around to restoring that passenger seat I found down in Ravensdale last February. The key ingredient to nice tight fitting seat covers is solar energy! Sitting in the sun allows the black vinyl to stretch easier and makes the job of securing the cover to the seat frame much easier. I sent the seat frames to my media blaster in Marysville and then painted them with the Wolfsburg West paint I used on the drivers seat. The seat back springs had a couple cracks that needed to be welded back up but it was in much better shape than the drivers seat. I had taken lots of photos of how I did the drivers seat last summer so replicating the passenger side was pretty straight forward. Once I was finished, I installed the new matching passenger seat into the car and pulled that perfect, original out and stashed it in my loft, I'll probably never find a drivers side seat in as good of shape but at least I have it in the event I do, or in the event I ever need a little extra cash.
UPDATE: 4/20/17 - I've longed to own a '67 for a long time, like the rear bumper overrider bar I had in my parts stash for decades, I've also hoarded a set of 6 steel wheels to fit the car and I'd love to preserve the originals and the trim rings that came on the car by storing them and running a freshly restored set that will go without trim rings and really make the car look sharp. I ran all 6 wheels up to the media blaster in Marysville earlier this year, ordered the correct color spray paint from Wolfsburg West and bought a set of 3/4" whitewall Goodrich tires from Coker Tire. Over the winter I proceeded to paint them with Wolfsburg West's original paint code L43 "grey-black" and then constructed a "hat box" out of 6" wide aluminum roof flashing and cardboard to make masking the center of the wheel off easy for applying the original paint code L581 "cloud white" to the rims. Since I worked in a gas station in high school, I learned how to mount and balance tires so for about the price of a good set of golf clubs, I've set myself up with a used tire machine and wheel balancer to mount and balance my own "wide-5" wheels. Getting the tubeless tire beads to seat brought back memories of using a "bead seating ring" so I found one for sale on the internet. It is a hard rubber donut that is put on the inside bead of the wheel using the tire machine once the tire has been mounted and soaping it up real good to get a seal before adding air until the pressure violently pops it off the back while standing on the wheel. Once mounted and balanced, I installed new Brazilian hubcaps that I've been holding onto for years, knowing the newer Chinese copies are crap that don't stay on if you hit a bump. The old wheels, hubcaps and beauty rings will go into storage along with the original running boards and passenger seat so I have the option of putting the car back into factory original "patina" condition when I go to sell it. I'm loving how crisp and clean the restored wheels and new tires and hubcaps look, I don't want the car to look over restored but looking like the owner takes extremely loving care of it.
Adobe PDF format of the original '67 owners manual from TheSamba.com
Wolfsburg West Vintage Parts
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