Category Archives: Beetle Restoration
The dashboard is ready to come out. All bolts removed, just have to remove the knobs for the vents and remove the speedo, but need to document the wiring before it’s disconnected. Also noticed that the heater vent control cable tubes that reside under the back seat are missing. Upon inspection, it doesn’t look like they were ever there which made me dig a little further. I don’t think the floor pans are original. I’ll need to do some more cleaning up before I know for sure, but I really think that they’ve been replaced at one time. As you can see from the bottom, they’re in really good shape, no rust at all. From the inside, the picture doesn’t do it justice, there is some surface rust, but they’re in really good shape. But it looks as if the heater vent control cable tubes have been cut flush with the floor pan channel. You can certainly tell that there was something there at one time as the driver side still has a piece of the control cable hanging out.
Back to the dashboard, it’s covered with silicone as somebody apparently tried to cap it at some point. I think it the dash may be salvageable, not sure yet. I’ll know more once it’s out and cleaned up. Dash repair can be an interesting adventure.
This is bound to happen at one point or another. Dealing with 40+ year old rusty bolts can be trying and time consuming and sooner or later, you’re going to strip one or break one. So far, I’ve been pretty lucky. Usually, the bolts holding the fenders to the body can be such a headache, but I got all of mine out without issue thanks to soaking them in penetrating oil. However, when it came to the removal of the decklid hinges, I wasn’t so lucky. Only three 10mm screws hold each hinge in place. I soaked them all the best I could with penetrating oil and five of the six bolts came out without issue, but the last one wanted to be a pain. Applying the slightest amount of pressure, the nut that was welded to the casing spun. Since there is no way possible to get a wrench or anything else in there to hold the nut while the bolt is removed, I had no choice but to pull the bolt and nut through the housing. The metal is pretty thin, so it came out without much hassle. However, it’s just another thing that will have to be repaired. I’d rather for this to happen where it did instead of a fender mount or body mount. And I’m sure this won’t be the first time that this will happen as we continue to tear down the Beetle. First pic is of the arm of the decklid hinge that came out without an issue.
Check out our How To Page for dealing with rusty and broken bolts.
Lenora and I spent a few hours cleaning out and re-arranging the garage to make a little more room to work on the Beetle. All the while, we were watching Christmas movies (Elf and Christmas With The Kranks) on the tv in the garage. Afterwards, spent some time removing more parts and inspecting the body a little closer with some sanding and grinding. Both doors came off with ease, I’ve never had that much luck getting bolts out of the door hinges before, they’re usually a royal pain in the butt. Sanded the passenger side quarter panel, no big surprise, solid metal, no rust or bondo. Took the wire brush to the passenger side heat channel, again, so surprises, very solid and minimal surface rust. Hit a few spots on the floor pans, surface rust cleaned up well. Found one nasty pocket of rust around the passenger side bumper mount. Shouldn’t be a major fix, but I’m hoping that’s the only hidden rust that I come across.
My first attempt at a restoration happened way back in 1983/1984, our junior and senior year of high school. A group of about 6 of us were involved with the rebuild of this Beetle and most of the others involved were also Beetle owners. This was my first Beetle, it was actually my second. My first was purchased the previous summer with money that I had earned by cutting grass in the neighborhood. I paid for half of it and my parents paid the other half. A total of 500 dollars! I remember driving it home and looking at the road through the missing parts of the floor pan. It was a disaster, but it was mine. The idea was to “fix up” this old Beetle and give it new life. It was a 1972 Super Beetle. My friends and I spent a couple of months working out a game plan to bring new life to this fun little car. However, it was quickly apparent that this poor little car was just too far gone to bring back to life. It would cost way to much money to fix and finding somebody to take on the task would be impossible. Through luck and fate, I was able to acquire another ’72 Beetle from a junk yard that had a much better body, but was pretty much missing everything else. (that’s a whole other story) So the idea was to take the junk yard body and transfer everything off the running Beetle to it. Simple, right? So on a Friday after school, we acquired the junk yard donor, got it to my parents house and the work began. Three days later on Monday morning, I drove the FrankenBeetle to school. My friends and I, along with my dad, spent countless hours that weekend building one Beetle out of two. It was certainly an accomplishment. The next few winter months were spent doing body work and finally having it painted at the vocational school the following spring. It was a great project, it was a great time that I’ll cherish forever!
As I begin to put together a laundry list of items that will have to be replaced on the Beetle, I concentrated on a big ticket item and probably the most time consuming and nerve racking, the wiring harness. The wiring harness in the Beetle isn’t in terrible condition, but it is over 40 years old and some of the insulation on the exposed wiring is a bit brittle. So as I began to research a complete wiring harness, I found numerous sites that offered harnesses for just about every year of Beetle…..except for a 1974 Super Beetle. I’ve posted on a couple of forums and emailed a few businesses that sell wiring harnesses so hopefully somebody can shed some light as to why a wiring harness for a 1974 Super Beetle is so hard to find. Worse case scenario is that I repair the existing harness or try to find another original harness that’s in better shape than the one I have. Either way, we’ll figure out something.
So, between cutting the grass and trying to make room in the garage for the Beetle, I managed to start the tear down process. Sorting and separating what is trash and what can be re-used. The process sure brings back some old memories of evenings after school when Robert Love, Terry Diamond, Charlie Greene, Ray Roe, Rodney Salyers and myself would spend hours upon hours working on our old Beetles. No big surprises so far, the body is very solid on this car. Not much to look at, but a great foundation to start with. I’ll be posting pictures as I can and documenting the entire process. You’re all more than welcome to join in on the fun and get your hands dirty… You can check out all of the photos here!