Ever since watching The Love Bug as a child, I’ve been hooked on VW Beetles. As I’ve grown up I’ve come to appreciate classic cars and it’s fair to say I’m obsessed now – watching all the classic car shows and even developing a new website for the workshop that restored my Beetle. I love the combination of modern technology and classic cars.
I bought my first Beetle when I was 16, a 1968 1500 deluxe from my aunty – she’d spent over 6 months looking for a solid example. It was a great car and I had 4-5 great years with the car but unfortunately it was scrapped without my knowledge when my father went bankrupt and didn’t tell anyone in the family. I found out a few weeks later that the house had been re-possessed, and any cars on the drive were scrapped.
Since losing that Beetle, I’d been desperate to get another one but with work and life getting in the way (plus not having a garage) I didn’t have a chance to get one…
Then during a family BBQ in 2009, my father in law’s uncle talked of an old Volkswagen Beetle his son drove in the 80s and 90s. After a couple of months of waiting, I finally got to see the Beetle (a 1968 1300) in late 2010 and fell in love with it.
After buying it, I took it to a VW ‘restoration specialist’ in Pembrey for a new rear valance and to get it back on the road. The deeper we delved, the more we discovered work that was needed.
They replaced the front and rear clips, both floorpan halves and the heater channels. Up until this point the work was going well, but then the progress updates stopped and the work seemed to be taking forever. Also, they weren’t keen on customers coming down to check on progress – making up excuses to stop people coming down.
In March 2013, I was told that the car was almost ready for paint and would be finished by May. After weeks of chasing and trying to see the car, I was starting to get more and more concerned. Then in August 2013 the owner of the restoration workshop sent a text to myself and other customers to say he had ceased trading – to make matters worse, he said that due to his ex-wife’s father owning the land he was not allowed access to the workshop.
At the first possible chance, me and Nick from NJ Restorations went down with a trailer and were shocked at what we saw. The body and heater channels weren’t welded together and were in 3 separate parts. My doors, bonnet and decklid were nowhere to be seen and my running gear was outside in the grass!! Luckily, my engine was intact in the workshop (after checking my V5).
After loading everything up onto the trailer, we took it up to the NJ Restorations workshop where Nick and his expert team assessed the car. It was a project they were happy to take on but it would take some time fixing the bodge jobs that the previous workshop had made. For example:
– Front and rear quarters were welded on incorrectly
– Heater channels weren’t lined up
– Front and rear clips and valances were welded on without test fitting the wings so were over 1/2″ out!
– Cheap LHD floorpans had been used when I had paid for heavy duty RHD units
– Repair panel above Napoleans hat was welded too high up
– 1x spring plate had been taken out and sold so we had to source and fit another
To add insult (and cost!) to injury, we found out that several parts had been lost/stolen like my carburettor, which was completely missing along with my distributor. The cheeky sod had replaced my working 009 dizzy with an empty unit, which was loosely screwed into the engine (ruined cam, no points or condenser and different make/model).
The problems kept mounting up, not to mention trying to build a car from pieces which were spread all over the previous workshop with nothing labelled!
To cut a long story short, after just over 7 months of hard graft and amazing work by NJ Restorations my Beetle is finally home and I am loving air-cooled VW ownership. I especially the Guards Red paint job, which was applied after blasting the body back to bare metal and repairing any rot and rust.
I have installed ‘Silent Coat’ sound deadening all over the interior and it’s made the world of difference, without losing that classical feel and air-cooled sound. I now have a carpet set, insulation, RetroSound Zuma classical radio, speakers and a few other bits ready to go in – once those are in my car will be complete (for now). I plan to keep the car stock for a couple of years then maybe look at getting dropped spindles and a few modern touches.
It’s been one hell of a journey. Another former customer of the previous workshop was in a similar situation to myself but with a Bay Window Camper that he’d been overcharged for work that wasn’t done right (paid for pop top refurbishment – not done, paid for engine rebuild – not done, front clip didn’t line up with windscreen, rear valance welded too low, the list goes on!).
We both took our VWs to NJ Restorations on the same day and drove them home 7 months later on the same day. It was such a relief to see my Beetle (and the camper) all finished and I couldn’t be happier with the results.
1968 Volkswagen Beetle 1300
Engine: Stock 1300 with new 009 distributor, rebuild 30 pict 1 carb & tapered tailpipes
Paint: Guards Red (Bare metal respray)
Chassis: New floorpans & all new running gear
Interior: Classic Porsche 944 leather seats (RetroSound Zuma & black carpets to be installed soon)