We’ve begun a project for a client who wanted to relive some of his fond memories from the 70s. He drove all over the country in various Beetles and felt they were one of the most reliable cars he has ever owned. His request to us was to build a clean, original Superbeetle that he could drive at freeway speeds with AC and a bluetooth/Sat stereo. We’re big fans of these cars so were happy to help!
After a thorough search, we found a car with a body that had never been in a serious wreck. We bought the car north of LosAngeles and drove her back to Temecula where the work quickly got started.
We found that the car was in a great shape with minimal rust and bondo. Mechanically the car was in good condition with a recent rebuild to its 1600cc engine.
After stripping the parts off, we had the body media blasted to remove the paint to reveal the body. This car clearly has lived its life in rust-free Southwest.
Epoxy primer was sprayed on to protect the bare metal during the next stage: bodywork. Dents and a couple of small rusted areas will get done during this stage.
A very thin coat of bondo was applied to areas that had minor scratches or waves that could not be fixed with a hammer and dolly. Then a polyester primer was sprayed and allowed to cure for a few days. Then a black powder guide coat is applied to find even smaller scratches. These are then smoothed out with even finer sandpaper – by hand (see above).
The floor pan was cleaned up so we can separate the corroded section. We had this sand-blasted to remove all the coating. The corroded area was located under the battery – an area that typically gets battery acid-induced rust. We are replacing this area with a new panel.
We removed hardware along with nuts and bolts that we had stripped and replated. They came back looking excellent. This will make reassembly an easier and smoother process.
We dry fit the fenders, hood and trunk to check panel gaps. Everything looked good but a few minor adjustments were made to get her looking really great.
The pan has been primered and then painted gloss black. We will spray undercoat underneath next.
Undercoating was applied to better protect the floorpan. It looks excellent.
We masked off the car to paint some secondary surfaces. The engine bay was painted satin black to keep it looking presentable.
We sprayed a few of the secondary surfaces with the Toga White paint that we got from PPG. The color took on a yellowish hue when we were expecting a greyish one. The paint booth is so white that we thought that might be having an influence and took a panel outdoors in the natural light. The yellow hue was still present so we decided to get a new batch of paint. We brought the paint back to our local supplier, who mixed up a new batch. They found an old Dupont paint chip sheet and sure enough, Toga White had a grey hue.
We resprayed with the new batch of Toga White and it came out as expected. See below. Very nice!
Many of the parts that we have been ordering have been coming in. There are many excellent suppliers who make parts for VW. Though finding a dash proved to be difficult and we had to source it from Germany. We are starting to reassemble her now.
More assembly but Christina first decided to get things organized nicely.
We are spraying the wheel wells with undercoating to give it better durability. This required more masking but the results are really nice.
Next up is the exterior panels, so more masking along with paintable seam sealer and few other details.
First layers of base coat and then clear. It is looking nice.
We’ve begun reassembly…
Some of the parts we had refinished are going back together nicely while others were in need of replacement. Luckily we have suppliers in SoCal that can ship quickly. We reinstalled the body onto the pan after adding some sealer.
Several new parts have arrived including a great new steering wheel, LED lights, and the stereo. We also had the stock wheels stripped and powdercoated. New Yokohama tires were mounted and ready to roll.
More sub systems need assembly in order to build the final car. We sourced a new dashboard as the old one was too far gone. We are also integrating AC into this car and Carlos found a clean way to incorporate the rotary switches. We’ve also tapped all the threads to ease reinstall of the interiors bits. This is tedious but makes for a better reinstall. We also took this opportunity to add a bit of sound deadening.
Carlos rewired some of the new wiring harnesses that we bought to make it more compatible with the AC system as well as to make it more reliable with improved connections. We also added more sound deadening to make her even quieter.
Suspension components are now getting bolted in place. We like paint markers to identify the hardware that we have torqued. New dampers are getting installed on all four corners. We are adding disc brakes to the front. Soon we will bolt on the wheels and she will be sitting on her new Yokohama rubber.