NYer_in_MI

When I found this car, he looked a sad thing that had great potential.  Gunter had been a daily driver to the previous owner, who'd sold it to the body shop guy from whom I'd bought it.  Originally, the owner had wanted him to paint psychedelic "70's Hippie" designs on the car, but opted instead to sell it to him.  The car was listed as a "drivable project" when I found it in "The Samba" for sale.  Not many cars in Michigan of this type that I could afford.  This one was only $1,500, so I was intrigued.

 

It was raining when I drove the hour-and-fifteen-minute schlep out to Michigan's "Thumb" area to view the Volkswagen in question.  I brought my other half to balance me out, for I was afraid that I might fall for the car too easily, and I needed a skeptic with me.  If my sweetie, not necessarily a VW fan by far, could be impressed by the car, then I knew that I might have something!

 

The body shop guy drove the VW into his shop so that I could check the car out at me leisure, indoors, where it was dry.  I looked the car all over, took my time, ran the engine, poked around every where, and asked a million questions about the car's history.  One peculiarity that had struck me was the installation of a volt-ohm-meter mounted to the top of the generator.

 

I reefed on the wheels, pulled, pushed and turned on the steering wheel, climbed under the chassis and poked under the back seat.  Though I noted a hole in the battery tray and also the driver's side rear pan (so far very normal stuff), I was not yet deterred.  Not for $1,500 I wasn't, any hoo.

 

Finally, I did the John Muir "Zen" thing... I just scrunched my butt in the driver's seat, feeling the car out to see if we could "be friends".  I deeply inhaled the aroma that is unique to old German cars and in particular to old Volkswagens.  I felt the rough, dry-rotted leather covering on the steering wheel, ran my fingers across the dusty padded dash, fiddled with the radio knobs (it didn't work, quel grand surprise!) and felt the cool interior metal exposed everywhere inside the cabin.

 

The sun visors and the rear view mirror were filthy beyond belief.  I could clean them.  The head liner was a little worn, had a couple of tears and was also some what discolored.  I could replace that.  Beyond the little things, the engine was strong, the clutch in good condition.  The car was a little loud, I noted, even for an air-cooler.  Looking I noticed a fisher starting along the pinch weld of the muffler.  Replaceable, plus it really wasn't that loud.  Just a little.  All relatively minor stuff.  The suspension was in good shape, the strut towers seemed unmolested and the car as a whole sat up very well on an even keel.  As I sat, and I sat, and I sat in that little car, I began to feel the real and attainable potential it had.  We could be friends after all, I thought... provided I get a "yes" vote from the other half as well.

 

The sad, but still well intact, little orange car got the, surprisingly, enthusiastic thumbs up from the other half.  A week later, I rode out (this time with my mom, because she too loves these old things) to purchase the car.  While the body shop guy made double sure for me that the tires were pumped, I had oil, etc, his son drove us to their house, near by, in his 1980-something Citroen 2CV.  The day was nicer than the previous time I'd been over, so we had the windows flapped down and the rag top sun roof rolled back!  Mom had a blast driving in that little French cousin to the Beetle, rocking and rolling on the grooved dirt and mud roads of this rural location.  At his house, the kid showed us his Beetle, a 1974 Super that had been re-worked to like new!  He then showed us some other cars in his family's collection before trundling us back to the shop in the 2CV.  I had never ridden in a Citroen, so it was a real treat!  This, believe it or not, was largely the kid's daily driver around his own neck of the woods, dispite the '74 Super and a New Beetle as well!

 

In the week before purchasing the car, I had come up with, what I felt, was a good, solid, German name for the little 1302..."Gunter".

 

Gunter was sitting in a low field at the bottom of a hill behind a line of some other "project" cars of the guy's, including an old Porsche 944.  The guys son, also a bug nut like myself, drove the little car up out of the gully to the hill where we all waited for it.  I swore, as the thing puttered up obediently, I detected a bit of relief and happiness on its otherwise tired, worn "face".  Despite appearances, Gunter seemed ready to go back into regular service, as he'd been so long used to.  He would not, after all, wind up fodder for a scrap machine, nor be cut up into parts for other "more deserving" machines.  He was again going to belong to someone, and to be driven!

 

Since then, Gunter has under-gone several repairs and improvements.  Though he's no show car, he has proved to be a solid, stalwart little daily driver, faithful to the last.  The only things that have held him back have been the very normal things that time and use will wear on any car.  Also, who is to know what indignities the little orange car has undergone within the past 30-plus years?

 

Gunter's Improvements

1.  New weather seals around the doors, the inside of the lip of the trunk and beneath the rear deck lid.  Also new rubber seals around whole body (tail lenses, license plate light, front hood handle, deck lid latch etc).

 

2.  Replaced driver's side door handle when original handle was broken, this past winter.

 

3.  Installed wire cover under hood, behind dash.

 

4.  Painted side view mirror silver as temporary aesthetic fix until will replace with a good one.  Had been rusted horribly.

 

5.  New steel in rear pans.

 

6.  Some re-done wiring in harness.

 

7.  Installed intact glove box liner, complete with attached remote trunk release cable (previously, cable had been fed through hole where gas flap handle is supposed to be).

 

8.  Original "Sapphire XI" radio works (AM).

 

9.  New tires.

 

10. New hub caps

 

11. Sanded, primed and painted only surviving original hub cap that was not utterly pitted and dented.  Painted similar orange as car and mounted to spare tire.

 

12. Did first oil change on my own.  Noticed that mechanic had been doing it wrong all of this time.  As a result, I fixed horrible oil leak Gunter had suffered from (note pic of clean underside of engine, two weeks after oil change by Yours Truly).

 

13. Did valves on my own.  Need three hands, but not very hard.

 

14. Replaced plugs.

 

15. Fixed loose door panel.

 

16. Replaced inner and outer wheel bearings for front, right side wheel.

 

17. Bled and adjusted breaks on all four corners on my own.

 

18. Made hood handle guard out of mylar auto exterior chrome trim to cover up mistake made when had to cut off original hood handle to get into trunk.

 

19. Replaced hood handle.

 

20. Replaced non-retractable, "lobster claw" seat belts with retractable, more "modern" type VW Beetle seat belts.

 

Lots to do yet, but I think Gunter is well on the way!

Daniel Mosher
Resident Cartoonist

www.allaircooled.com
www.superbeetles.com
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s0cks
She looks thrilla for a 1500 dollar east coast car. I'd recommend that you look into getting those wheels sandblasted and chromed or powdercoated though. They look nabbledy. Also, you might want to replace that steering wheel with something more...... less fruity. Go with the nice 3 spoke drilled T or something.
73 Super Beetle
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flash

Ah...sweet, sweet progress.

Your story had me smelling the smells and feeling every touch.

Well written and fun to read.  That's for taking me along!

 

Loren

Loren R. Knapp
In The Hot Sonoran Desert of Arizona - 73 Super Beetle "The Blues."
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NYer_in_MI

  F.Y.I. S0cks... the "fruity" steering wheel is bone stock Volkswagen.  1972, the year of my car, was the first year of this "new" style wheel.  The intention was that, eventually, these cars would be fitted with air bags, etc.  What I do want to do to it is to purchase another leather cover for it to replace the original.  The one Gunter had come with had dry rotted to the steering wheel itself, flaking and crusty.  It took a long time to literally pry the original off in little bits and strips.  I had thought that it was some cheap after market job, but the thing had actually been stamped with the "VW" logo, so I knew that not to be true.

 

Through research, I have come to the conclusion that Gunter had been a "May Beetle"... one of the limited edition Beetles for the 1972 year.  If I am correct, then it would behoove me to keep him just as stock and original as possible.  But, I do appreciate the input.  As for the wheels themselves, yes I know they need attention.  A VW repair guy had told me that he thought I ought to paint them silver, as original, but evidence suggests that they had been originally painted black.  This I will do once I've obtained the stuff needed.

 

Thanks for the great "review", Loren.  Yeah, with the warmer weather, the aroma of Gunter's interior has become more prominent.  I love it!  I've driven so many of these things, with so many good memories attached to each of them.  The smell, some how, especially brings sweet thoughts and memories.  I had thought maybe only Volkswagens smelled that way, but no.  I did once look into buying an old, old mid-fifties, early-sixties Mercedes... and it smelled just the same on the inside!  I don't know what it is about old German cars, but I love it.

 

I'm glad you liked the writing.  I hadn't even half described the experience of first meeting this car, but I did want to express what it was like.  It really was, almost, the same experience as adopting the cute puppy in the pet shop window with the sad eyes... corny an analogy as it may be.

Daniel Mosher
Resident Cartoonist

www.allaircooled.com
www.superbeetles.com
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s0cks
I know it's bone stock wagen, but I never like it. To each their own.
73 Super Beetle
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nipper552003

Daniel-  not sure why anyone would think the stock VW steering wheel looks fruity, and I wouldn't worry about it.  You might want to consider having your wheels powdercoated when you are ready...  it's a nice alternative to painting, and quite reasonable.  About any color is available.  One thing my car is missing is the authentic old VW "smell".  It definitely had it when I bought it, but after taking it down to bare metal inside and out, and completely redoing the interior, it's gone.  Now it just smells like a new car.... OK, but something is surely missing.  I caught that missing "something" a couple of times at the show in Ypsilanti when I peeked in a couple of oldy-but-goody's.  That smell takes me back to the late 60's and early 70's when you could pick up an old beetle for a song because nobody wanted them.

Take care,

John Scribner 

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s0cks
The old VW smell? I am unfamiliar, but I suppose you mean the old crayons smell. I dunno guys. Forgive me, I just don't like the looks of the wheel. The car doesn't match the wheel.
73 Super Beetle
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NoH2O
Apparently Volkswagen thought it was alright because they continued with that style for a while.
Tell me that's a picture of you in your avatar.
'63 Ragtop
'56 Ragtop
'78 Riviera camper


"..at least I'm enjoyin' the ride"
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flash

Ah yes......the V-dub aroma.  I believe it mostly it comes from those gawd-awful straw packed seats.  You know..when you're drivin' along and drop that last tic-tac and your reachin' under the seat slidin' your big ole-paw around tryin' to find it and there's all that dried broken down straw .... that's the stuff. 

I bet you could roll it .....smoke it.... and start speakin' German!

 

Loren

Loren R. Knapp
In The Hot Sonoran Desert of Arizona - 73 Super Beetle "The Blues."
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nipper552003

I think it is him in the avatar... what flavor IS that suit, anyway?  Blue raspberry?? 

Loren-  I tried that back in '70.  Didn't work.  Tasted nasty, burned my throat and was hard to roll up in those little papers. And smelled like Roy Roger's Trigger after a barn fire.  Just kidding, I wasn't really a hippy, and I didn't inhale.

John Scribner

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NYer_in_MI

I inhailed, but not the "horse hair" straw... but I digress.

 

I will say that, for VW steering wheels, I like the ones from 66 - 71.  The chrome half ring ones.  I did think that they were more stylish.  Still, I like the stock jobby from '72 onward as well.  The vintage Mercedes that I had once checked out had a similarly large-circumference steering wheel, typical especially of cars from that era.  Something about these wheels is distinctly European.  There's a sort of commanding appearance about them... like the person that is steering with this wheel is in control!  Anyway, I like them.  Such a nice nostalgic change from the little, ergonomic, padded wheels made today.

 

Daniel Mosher
Resident Cartoonist

www.allaircooled.com
www.superbeetles.com
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