This Month's Feature VW

As The Years Pass

As a young boy, my Father would take me to small car shows around San Diego which shaped me into the Car Guy I've become today. I did the same with my Son and plan to do the same with my soon to be 5 year old Grandson!

My first VW was a '65 Bug with extensive front end collision damage located in Brawley, CA. My trucker buddy at the time saw it when passing thru town one day, so we ventured out one Saturday morning to see if I would be able to purchase the car from this nice old lady. It was well worth the trip, I was able to buy the car for $250 as is! Now it was time for Project Baja Bug. I cut the front end off, replaced it with a nice one piece tilt front end and put a 15 gallon gas tank behind the back seat with the filler neck located by the driver's side back window. I put a chrome 1835 motor and an interior in it and now had another desert toy to go with my dirt bike and 3 wheeler.

As years passed, my 2 wonderful children came into my life and the toys slowly faded away. I've had several classic cars over the years but, the good 'ol VW Bug always had a special place on my row of cars.

I used to drive by the little red '64 Bug I have now each time I went to the store. The rear white mud flaps with the VW logos caught my eye and I fell in love with the car. One evening when passing by, I saw a young couple standing in the front yard and decided to stop by and see if they were interested in selling the Bug. Much to my surprise, they were just getting ready to put a For Sale sign on it asking 4K OBO. I then asked if we could take it for a test drive. When I turned the key and started the car for the first time, the rear engine sounds and smells brought back all the fond memories of my first VW. Upon our return from the test drive, I made an offer of $2,750 which they graciously excepted.

For the next 4 years I would cruise her around town, to work and car shows. Even with the ratty interior, oil dripping motor and patina paint, people would constantly give me a big smile and a thumbs up. After my Mother passed away from complications due to a long battle with Parkinson's, I made a commitment to do a resto-mod in her memory.

I then spoke to my mechanic Stephan at Import Car Service on Broadway in Lemon Grove. I asked who he would suggest do the body and paint work while he built me a new 1776cc motor.

- 69mm crank
- Engle 100 cam
- AA 90.5 pistons & cylinders
- 041 AA cylinder heads
- High volume oil pump
- 009 with electronic ignition
- Tri Mil exhaust
- 8.0 to 1 compression

Stephan suggested that I stop by his shop the next day to meet Mike Blackburn of Mike & Mike Auto Body. He was delivering a completed Bug so Stephan could install the new motor in it. After Mike's assessment of my car, we set the ball in motion with Steffen building the new motor while Mike & Mike started stripping the car inside and out. For the next 10 months they worked tediously stripping 9 coats of paint to get to bare metal. Since I chose to leave all body moldings off, change front turn signals to '58, tail lights to '57 relocate the antenna, and change to Ice Pick door handles, each hole that wasn't used was welded up.

As the layers of paint and primer were removed a few areas of rust were exposed. The bottom 1 1/2" of both door jambs had to be cut out and custom patch panels welded in place. There was a cancer section in the bottom center of the windshield which also was addressed in the same fashion. We all were aware of the car being hit under the passenger side window. Mike attempted to bang it back into shape but was too far gone. Therefore, we acquired a complete donor shell body, cut out the entire panel and welded in the new one.

I had selected the paint color long before the project started. I saw the color on a Convertible Kia Optima concept car at the San Diego International Car Show. After much research I selected Cascade Green which was used by Chevy in 1957. I also sent the original license plates out to be restored.

The new headliner, reupholstered back seat and bra were done by Ray at The Dub Shop. The balance of the restoration was done by Mike & Mike which included, sound deadening thru out, carpet, door panels, complete steering wheel, LED headlights,'58 front turn signals, '57 taillights, replacement of all body seals and gaskets and ice pick door handles. Stephan at Import Car Service had previously installed 2" drop spindles in the front and lowered the rear 2" also to give the Bug a mild drop.

After much searching for dove gray reclining front buckets seats, I was able to order them and the 4 point harnesses from Jeg's. I was able to install the new seat guides on top of the stock bases.

Since the Bug's restoration completion last year, we have really enjoyed cruising around town and entering in as many car shows as time allows. It amazes me how many people love the car as much or more than some of the other Classics I've had over the years.

Future plans may include, an up to date sound system and roof rack. But, for now let's go CRUZIN!!

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