The BugShop: My Beetle Scrap Book

This page last modified- 11/3/01

I can't take credit for this idea. I was visiting another VW site one day and looked at the "VW Resume" that was there. This guy had pics of all the VWs he had owned and some text describing them, what he did to them and what eventually happened to them. I thought it was pretty cool. So last night, I dug out my old photo album and pulled out some pictures for scanning. Being a guy, of course I had lots of pictures of my cars. So here they are....

My first car, a '68


My first '68 This was my very first car. (Some notes about how I started with VWs in my "About Me" page) This picture was taken probably just days after getting this car home in the summer of 1980 in North Charleston, SC. See those boxes on top of the car? Those are Radio Shack 4" full range speakers in custom cardboard and Elmer's glue "cabinets". They were wired to a portable "boom box" that rode on the floor on the passenger side.

I paid $500 for this car, it had been painted with canary yellow latex house paint. With a paint brush. It had leopard skin seat covers.

 It was a true first car. 

In the 6 years I owned this car, it got two paint jobs. This was just after the first. As it turns out, latex house paint is very easy to remove. You just leave the car in the hot South Carolina summer sun, then go and gouge a bit with a fingernail and peel it back like a rubbery skin. The car was the familiar baby blue underneath.

I had a high school friend who painted cars for $50 in his parents backyard do it. I think I paid another $70 or so for some car paint. "Rallye" yellow. And for those of you who can remember the early 80s, flat black was the rage, chrome was out. So door handles, headlight rims, bumpers and all got the Krylon treatment. Those are some rearview mirrors from the K-Mart Automotive "accessories" isle. And yes I "upgraded" those turn signals to the larger early 70s kind. I was a freshman at the College of Charleston at this time. 

First 'resto'

This was after it's second paint job, probably around 1984. I did the paint myself at the Charleston Air Force base auto hobby shop. They had a paint booth that you could rent of $8 a day. Notice the "Nerf" bumper bars ($9 a pair) and shaved turn signals. And if you can see it in the picture, there were wire mesh stone guards over the headlights. In black, of course.

I also had one piece tinted windows. I hadn't put any front turn signals on it when I took this picture, I eventually opted for some rectangular surface mount units just below the headlights, don't remember where I got them. Even today, I have to say that I like the looks of this car. This was about as much of a mild custom as I could afford as I was still churning may way through a multi-institution college career.

Eventually (1986) I graduated from college and took a job in Ft. Lauderdale Florida as a field engineer for a major computer company. The old '68 was blowing oil very badly. My mom gave me her old '76 Plymouth Valiant to drive down, the '68 was brought down on a truck with all of my "belongings". My new company paid for the move. I drove the Plymouth for a few months and then got a company car. The apartment complex was ragging me to get rid of a car or two, so I sold the barely running '68 for $240.

 Then I was without a Beetle.


My second Beetle, a '67


I think it all started when after a year "on my own", I picked up a Hot VWs magazine just to read and gotten bitten. I had always really liked the "old" Beetles, so I started looking around. I didn't need to drive it, the Plymouth was now gone too, so I had a space or two in the complex that I was entitled to. I bought this '67 for $900

Now living alone in an apartment complex with no real other hobbies, I had tons of time. And the weather in Florida was nice year round, so I started working on the car. I had a little better cash flow than when I was in college, so I started ordering stuff. I could run a 100 ft extension cord out of my ground floor apartment down to where the car was parked. I borrowed an Oxy/Acet welder from a friend and did some brazing. I mostly patched up rust holes and redid the interior. It was a little banged up, but mostly complete and the engine was freshly rebuilt and very strong. 

In 1988, I took another position with my company in Massachusetts and moved to an apartment in Framingham, MA. The '67 was brought up on the moving truck with all of my other stuff (company paid, again). I lost the company car so a Beetle was again my daily driver. I had owned this car for over a year but never registered it or drove it. I still remember picking it up at the truck storage facility with a new plate. "Cool, I'm drivin' a Beetle again!"

With a decent salary increase and still (barely) single, NOW I was ready to do a real resto-custom on this car. I started doing some more parking lot work. Fortunately there was a nice space alongside the building with an outlet just inside the door. This was a couple pics from the "nose" job I did on the car. I literally hacksawed the wrinkled nose off, welded on a clip I got from a local yard for $35, with one of those department store disposable cylinder oxy/acet rigs and brass rod. Then I shaved the hood handle and sprayed some auto primer from cans. All in a day!

Look behind the dash on the far right, you can see a Super Beetle blower rig that drew air through the speaker grill and pumped it up on the windshield.


This was the final "primer" stage. One of my favorite mods was the electric antenna in the right rear fender. It rose up out of the top of the taillight housing when the radio was switched on. Note the Monza 4 tip exhaust and shaved front turn signals.

This was the car after a $750 paint job. On the left, the day it came home from the shop, on the right "fully dressed". This car still had to serve as a daily driver, year round, in some very harsh winters. So I put a 2 piece black bra on it. It looked very nice, but trapped moisture under it ruined the paint. I don't like bras anymore. But I still think it looked damn nice. 

That's a cheapy ski rack on top, and they are hard to see but there are 6 3/8" Bosch driving lights with black plastic covers on them on top of the front bumper. (Those lights are now in my Cabrio grille. See my "Other Car" page...) For turn signals in the front I was using '67 Hella back up lights below the front bumper, with yellow bulbs in them. A bit of vintage preservation.


The Second '68, the king of all Beaters


About the time I was seeing the '67 quickly deteriorating from year round driving, my brother in NC was loosing interest in a short affair with Beetles. He had dumped a ton of money into a '68's mechanics, and then was just willing to give it away. The timing was perfect. I was getting married, would be getting house with a garage soon, I could put the '67 away, drive the '68 year round and build a hot motor for the '67 at my leisure.

Mechanically this car was a solid and strong as an ox, and I had no respect for vintage preservation with this one. Any mod was authorized. (See the "Light reading.." at the end of the "Dealing with rust" article at the FAQ for more about this car) It may look like this car had some really big running boards. I actually had none, what you see in this picture is roof tar painted up on the whole lower edge about 4 inches. 

This is the "custom" dash. No I didn't put that fabric on the dash, my brother did. The whole headliner, door and quarter panels were done in that stuff (on the glove box door). Not a car to ride in with a hangover. On a bright day it gave me a headache. You can see my custom gauge and switch panel in the center. It is dark, but the cassette deck is below the switches. And that gauge just to the right of the speedo, partially obscured by the steering wheel, is a JC Whitney outside temperature gauge. Very cool, I wish I could still buy one. Seats from a Honda Accord and those decals on the right side of the windshield are (Clemson Univ.) Tiger paws.

And you can see the tail end of the '67 through the windshield, all tucked away under an old comforter. 

I knew I had some pics of "Beetles in Snow". This was only a moderate snowfall. Look at how the running engine melted some "tailpipe holes" in the snow. This car saw snow often.

Three in a Row


Then one day, scanning the trader ads, I saw a "'57 totally complete, no rust. $2000". I had to call. It turned out to be a dream-come-true oval. Now bear in mind, that at this point in my life I had: This was to be the real test of Beetle enthusiasm. Cave in and pass it up, and my wife might never take my hobby seriously (nor would I ever forgive myself). By try to by a third Beetle!? Now!?.

 I love my wife, she's a sweetie. I scared up a quick loan, promised to sell the '67 very quickly and, well go read the Project '57 pages if you want to see what happened next......

So there, frozen in a moment in time in this picture, I had three VWs. Each with their own special character. A servant utility vehicle, light custom with some "old world" character and a "one day" true vintage Beetle. That's Alex (L) and Scooter (R), our dogs. Alex is a border collie and Scooter is a rescue league "puppy of the week". I have told people that that picture is all of the things that were important to me; of course my wife had to take the picture and my son was sleeping.

The '67 was sold for $1800 pretty quickly. The beater '68 I drove well into 1993. But as my son got older and I drove him around in it more, I never felt like it was the safest car for him to ride in. And then my job moved from 17 mi. away from home to 42 mi. away, almost all interstate highway. I needed a better highway commuter car. So I bought an '85 Cabrio. I advertised the '68 for $500 (with a big speaker box w/dual 12" pyle driver sub woofers in back). A young fella came over, cranked up the stereo and said "I'll take it".

So I was just left then to toil away on the '57......