Sunday, January 15, 2006

Close inspection of my new '63 Beetle

my future Herbie.

Ok, I purchased this 1963 Beetle with original ragtop for $800.  I
got it back in November.  I'll be honest that I purchased it over
the internet, and was dissapointed with the condition when I got my
hands on it.  I've had several people convince me a full
restoration is possible and am feeling better about my acquisition now.

Ok, I show more detail later, but you can see with the missing fender
that there previously has been some frontal collision.  The
fenders and deck lid and front hood are obviously not original to this
vehicle, although I do believe they are all '63 (or equivalent) shaped

I know I know, cut apron.  I do have another section of apron that
I believe I can use to rebuild the rear end with original sheet
metal.  I was considering using sheet metal from Mid America,
however, recently learned it tends to be a lot thinner than original
sheet metal, and not always part accurate, so I'm trying to use real
original parts when possible.

Just another view.  I do have all of the fenders, although only
the right front is on the car right now.  You can also see the
right side door isn't the original one.  I have the original right
side door as well though.  Most of the extra parts are being
stored inside the vehicle for easy transport at this time.

Another view.  I've already ordered new custom wheels from
Bolton's Classic Wheels to original Herbie specs.  15x6 with zero
negative offset.  I should get those in a couple weeks, then I'll
put some new rubber on them.  I'll be running 195/65R15 FRONT and
205/65R15 REAR.  Thinking about getting BF Goodrich Precept
Touring which are speed rated at TR, although I may just get the
cheapest thing I can find initially, since he won't be doing anything
but getting towed for a while, and the alignment can't be correct.

Close up of the right rear.  You can see I am missing a lot of the
rear suspension components.  Towable, but not at high speeds.

Top view of right rear tire.

Left rear suspension close up. 

Top view of the left rear tire.  I know, lot's of missing pieces.

While the rear is missing a lot, I'm worried more about the
front.  This is the area that is in worse condition than I
originally expected (remember, purchased over the internet based on
pictures.)  It's obvious the front was crumpled a bit
originally.  Looks to me like it was hammered back into
shape.  It would explain why the fenders and hood are not original
to this vehicle as well.

You can see here that the sheet metal doesn't match up straight to the
gas tank, so the damage was further back originally than I would've
liked.  There's a good chance I'll have to replace the whole front
apron assembly.  I circled in red the area of concern.

Another view of the front area.  You can see the speedometer
sitting loose in the bonnet area.  Since this was taken, I've
cleaned it up.  It actually looks pretty good, with little fading,
but I have no idea if it is functional.  There is also a small
amount of dust beneath the glass (I thought these were sealed so that
wouldn't happen.)

One more view of the front.  Don't know much about the
headlights.  Haven't checked to see if they are 1963 parts
yet.  At this stage I'm not too concerned with minor details like
lights which can be picked up later.

Well, we knew not to expect much of the interior.  What is that
inside the door?  Old insulation.  I didn't think they put
insulation in these doors.  Is that something someone threw in
years ago when driving the car around in the cold, or was there really
factory installed insulation?  Weird.

The bumpers don't look right either.  Luckily there are great new
after market bumpers available these days.  Shouldn't cost too
much to replace.

Another view of inside.  I haven't pulled a lot of the larger
parts out yet, as it is sitting in a temporary storage area and I wont'
be doing any work on it at that location.  Mostly you can see I
have rear fenders here.  They look like 63's to me.

Ah the deck lid.  Yes, it's the bane of my existence right
now.  It is a correct 1963 deck lid, only look at the custom
louvers someone has stamped into the right side?  Grrr, now I have
to find another deck lid.  Off the The Samba I guess.

Here's a better view of the deck lid.  Grumble grumble grumble.

There are decent after market seats for 1963 Beetles, however, most
purists have told me I have to restore the original ones.  These
look beyond restoration to me, so I'm not too thrilled about my current
seat situation.

Hmm, I wonder if I can restore those visors or if I just have to get
new ones.  Everyone says the current new visors are not nearly as
good as originals, but I could see me compromising on this one. 
It's nice to see the original sunroof handle is there.

More shots of the back inside roof.  You can see the blue rear
apron in the lower right corner.  I haven't verified enough of
that sheet metal is there to replace the missing parts that were cut
off of the rear yet.

Left side again.  Being born and raised in Phoenix Arizona, it's
weird to think that cars might rust.  Just like it's weird to
think that water sometimes falls from the sky.

Right side.  Tried to use the flash to get some under views, but
still didn't have the camera low enough.

Right front.  The suspension components look pretty salvageable to

Left front.  Not much to say.  Lot's of work ahead of me.

Ok, it was really important to me to find a 1963 Beetle with an
original sunroof.  Unfortunately due to the rust, this is the area
that appears to be in the worst shape.

Lost of metal work and welding (that is beyond my abilities) will need
to be done to resurface this roof into original condition.

Ok, let's look at what I'm missing on the rear again.  The missing
fenders make things easy to see.  This is the right rear wheel
from the top.

This is the left rear wheel from the top.

Another shot of the rear.  That tar paper that insulated the
engine compartment looks pretty weak.  I wonder what better
material I could use in the restored version?

Another view from the top.

And the driver door closed.  At least the handle is operational,
although I have no keys for the vehicle.