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Author: Subject:  1961 Bug Resto (or, How I Bought A Beetle By Mistake)
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posted on January 11th, 2016 at 11:40 AM
1961 Bug Resto (or, How I Bought A Beetle By Mistake)


This story starts in early December 2015. Master Eleven had just finished primary school, so we decided, just the two of us, to go on a road trip from Sydney to Adelaide for a few days.

The road trip is another story, but on the second day we were travelling through the small outback town of Balranald, situated on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River about 850 kilometres from Sydney.

As we passed the now defunct Ford dealership on the main street, the familiar and friendly shape of a Beetle passed through my peripheral vision.

Over the years I'd been thinking of how cool it would be to own a bug again. I'd owned only one before, back in the early 1990's, a brown 1500 which I loved but eventually sold. My main interest though was Kombis, and over the years I'd owned (not at the same time) a 1976 van, a 1970 dual cab ute, a 1969 Microbus and a 1984 Transporter van in which I'd installed a centre bench seat.

Over time, as the responsibilities of becoming a father and homeowner became more onerous, I didn't have the resources or time to keep buying and running a VW viable and I slowly drifted away from the marque that I loved. I reluctantly sold my last VW, the dual cab, in 1996 and bought a cheap Japanese car (much to my chagrin and my then wife's delight).

So 19 years later, with more time and resources, I'd been thinking about how great it would be to own a Beetle again. These quirky little cars are so much fun to drive and you can't deny the history that seeps through each and every one of them. Buying one, however, is fraught with pitfalls. As they become scarcer, there are less good examples around. I'd been warned to watch out for cut and shut jobs, newer cars being passed off as earlier models, and Brazilian imports which were substandard.

I looked at a few beautiful examples which had been restored, but the prices were quite high, and you never knew exactly how much actual work had gone into some of these restos, with potentially some serious problems lurking underneath that shiny new deco and immaculate square weave carpet. My lack of knowledge didn't help there either.

So my decision was to restore my own Beetle, if possible. I knew it would be a great learning experience I could share with Master 11 and we would end up with something we could be proud of. Only one obstacle - She Who Must Be Obeyed. But more of that later.

Back to Balranald. I spotted the Beetle in the dusty showroom of the closed dealership, and my interest was piqued. I turned the camper around at the next street and made my way back, wanting to get a better look. Me and Master 11 peered through the grimy windows and saw a Beryl Green Beetle, quite the worse for wear but mostly intact.

https://baileythebeetle.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/img_2896_sm.jpg

Mmm, looked promising. It was 8am so no-one was around, so I carefully noted down the phone number on the sign and continued on our way to Adelaide.

On our return to Sydney a few days later, I called the number and spoke to Colin, who was in charge of the place I'd seen the Beetle. He said he was selling it for someone else and he would receive a commission which would go towards his project of restoring a replica of Charles Kingsford Smith's plane, the Southern Cross which had been moved from Albion Park south of Sydney. Colin told me it was a 1961 model and assured me there was a motor and an interior, although the interior was "shot". In his words, "just install a battery in it and some fuel and she'll start up fine". I couldn't rely on the veracity of that statement of course. Still, for $1500 I couldn't really go wrong, could I.

That's when the doubt set in. First of all, I would need to return to Balranald with a car trailer to pick the car up. That's a four day round trip as I'd want to take it easy. Then I'd need to spend a lot of money and time restoring it, which would be added to the fact that I'd never restored a car before and knew nearly nothing about car mechanicals.

On the other hand I really wanted to challenge and test myself, plus teach my son about old cars and what technology was like before iPads, Playstations and Netflix (and get him away from those of course!)

So I was very indecisive. Take on this huge job, spend a lot of money, and commit to it for 1,2, 3 or even more years; or just forget about it, treat this idea about restoring an old VW Beetle as a fantasy that would never come true? I decided I'd let She Who Must Be Obeyed decide for me.

"Remember that Beetle I saw in Balranald? I'm thinking of buying it and restoring it together with Master 11. It would be fun and a challenge."

"That's a good idea," she replied.

"You think so?"

"Yes!"

So I had the go ahead! I paid for the car the next day. I came home from work that night and said "I bought that Beetle today."

The look of surprise confused me. She Who Must Be Obeyed exclaimed "I thought you were joking when you said you wanted to buy it!"

Oops!

"Too late now," I answered sheepishly. Apparently the conversation had gone more like this:

"Remember that Beetle I saw in Balranald? I'm thinking of buying it and restoring it together with Master 11. It would be fun and a challenge."

"That's a good idea," she replied.

"You think so?"

"Yes! But how will you ever have time to do any work on it? And where are you going to work on it? Does that mean you would take over the garage? It looks like a wreck!"

Obviously my man deafness had kicked in and I never heard anything from the "but"!

Imagine, she could have talked me out of it!

In early January 2016 we made the trip to Balranald again and picked our Beetle. This was the first time we'd seen it up close. We asked it's history, but after extensive consultation among the gathering crowd of locals (who had collected to see these big city idiots who had driven all that way to fetch a crappy old car from their town) the consensus was that it had sat in a paddock for a couple of years before being bought by another local who had started restoring it (they had only sanded back one door before giving up), who had then sold it to another local who also had plans to restore it but had given up before even touching it, who had then put it in the old Ford showroom cum museum hoping to find it a loving home. Before it's paddock days, it's a mystery.

https://baileythebeetle.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/img_3168_sm.jpg

Over the years the only use the Beetle had received was as a home for spiders, judging by the amount of webs we saw inside.

https://baileythebeetle.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/img_3162_sm.jpg?w=450

https://baileythebeetle.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/img_3163_sm.jpg

Nevertheless, we were happy with our purchase, and loaded our Beetle onto the car trailer. That night we set up camp at Mamanga Campground in Yanga National Park just near Balranald, and as we sat in the afternoon sun we started to discuss what we would name our new family member. Several ideas were put forward, discussed and discarded until we had just one name left - Bailey, in part due to it's origin (Balranald) and in another part because it was androgynous (for the time being it nullified the vociferous argument as to whether the Beetle is a he or a she).

We arrived home two days later with our precious cargo, unloaded it and put it in our garage where it now sits awaiting a start. No rush!

I want it to be stock standard, but perhaps with some modern upgrades - seat belts, front and side airbags, power steering, cruise control, central locking, front and rear disc brakes, water cooled engine. Just kidding!

All advice will be gratefully received :)

https://baileythebeetle.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/img_3166_sm.jpg

https://baileythebeetle.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/img_3169_sm.jpg

https://baileythebeetle.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/img_3164_sm.jpg

https://baileythebeetle.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/img_3167_sm.jpg

https://baileythebeetle.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/img_3165_sm.jpg

https://baileythebeetle.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/img_3170_sm.jpg
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posted on January 11th, 2016 at 03:02 PM



Hi there, welcome and good luck with the project. It looks like it has plenty of potential :tu:
"Bought a beetle by mistake" I'm going to try that one day :)




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posted on January 11th, 2016 at 03:27 PM



I like the "Oops!" bit when it came home.
:D

Have fun (coz that's why we do it).
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posted on January 11th, 2016 at 04:59 PM



It looks pretty good to us.

How is the rust in the door pillars, heater channels,.. etc???
It it's not too rusty then consider saving as much of the original paint as possible. The drivers door paint could be 'matched' if you find the right person. (They are out there.)

It's a 50/50 taillight model which is pretty cool.
You also have a reserve fuel tap and what looks like an 'accessory' fuel gauge fitted.
You even still have the plastic fuse gauge cover. Usually they are broken or missing. Be careful with that.

If the rust is ok,.. get it put back together and drive the thing before you spend huge amounts of money 'restoring' the car.

Maybe do the interior as that's where you are looking out the window from. Make it a nice place to be inside. Who cares if the paint or body isn't perfect. It's 55 years old after all.

Congrats, Welcome and Enjoy.
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posted on January 11th, 2016 at 10:10 PM



I think thats a 1960. The tail lights, the 40hp with stale air heaters, and I bet the fuel gauge was added later in its life. Dave
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posted on January 11th, 2016 at 11:13 PM



Great story so far....
And
I now know where Balranald is and the meaning of vociferous..
Keep em coming..........
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posted on January 12th, 2016 at 03:04 PM



Good story. I think a vw in this condition is the best kind to restore because nobody has done any modification and nothings been tarted up. Its solid and honest. Every part you need for the car is available off the shelf, just stay away from the cheap stuff! Realistically for the same price as a new base model Golf you can have this look like how it did in 1961. Way cooler then a new Golf.
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posted on January 13th, 2016 at 10:35 AM



Quote:
Originally posted by oldskoolguy
Hi there, welcome and good luck with the project. It looks like it has plenty of potential :tu:
"Bought a beetle by mistake" I'm going to try that one day :)


Thanks for the welcome oldskoolguy. It worked for me :)

Quote:
Originally posted by modnrod
I like the "Oops!" bit when it came home.
:D

Have fun (coz that's why we do it).


The whole idea is to have fun, right? :)

Quote:
Originally posted by Carl and Emily
It looks pretty good to us.

How is the rust in the door pillars, heater channels,.. etc???
It it's not too rusty then consider saving as much of the original paint as possible. The drivers door paint could be 'matched' if you find the right person. (They are out there.)

It's a 50/50 taillight model which is pretty cool.
You also have a reserve fuel tap and what looks like an 'accessory' fuel gauge fitted.
You even still have the plastic fuse gauge cover. Usually they are broken or missing. Be careful with that.

If the rust is ok,.. get it put back together and drive the thing before you spend huge amounts of money 'restoring' the car.

Maybe do the interior as that's where you are looking out the window from. Make it a nice place to be inside. Who cares if the paint or body isn't perfect. It's 55 years old after all.

Congrats, Welcome and Enjoy.


Thanks for the welcome Carl (or is it Emily? :crazy:). I was hoping you would show up, the car in your avatar looks very similar to mine.

Believe it or not I haven't a chance to have a really good look at the rust, I have a home project She Who Must Be Obeyed insists I finish before I make a start on the car. The fuel gauge has a piece of black vinyl stuck over it, perhaps the dash has been replaced at some point?

Before I attempt to drive the car I think I need to ensure it's safe which will probably be a lot of work. It was difficult getting it down our drive with no brakes, and no brakes would just be the start lol.

Quote:
Originally posted by ragged
I think thats a 1960. The tail lights, the 40hp with stale air heaters, and I bet the fuel gauge was added later in its life. Dave


Thanks Ragged. The body tag number(?) is 11193, the chassis number is 3480674 and the engine number is 5331066. Is this the best place to check for dates http://www.clubvw.org.au/vwchassis? 

Quote:
Originally posted by bugmaniaar
Great story so far....
And
I now know where Balranald is and the meaning of vociferous..
Keep em coming..........


bugmaniaar is a learned man I see :)
It was a great trip and the kids were very excited to go all that way to pick up Daddy's new toy!

Quote:
Originally posted by Finky
Good story. I think a vw in this condition is the best kind to restore because nobody has done any modification and nothings been tarted up. Its solid and honest. Every part you need for the car is available off the shelf, just stay away from the cheap stuff! Realistically for the same price as a new base model Golf you can have this look like how it did in 1961. Way cooler then a new Golf.


G'day Finky what do you mean by "the cheap stuff"? I'm a noob so is there any supplier I should stay away from (not wanting to start any arguments of course!)
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posted on January 13th, 2016 at 11:01 AM



Do a search on Classic Vee Dub, that will give you some good information.
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posted on January 13th, 2016 at 11:37 AM



Yes Classic Vee Dub. used them about 10years ago but not anymore....If I buy parts from overseas I use vwheritage.com or cip1.com. cip1 gives you a choice of cheap rubbish or good quality. VW Heritage in England only sell good stuff and free postage with orders over $250. In Australia dasrestoparts.com.au is very good but not a big range of parts. http://www.justkampers.com.au  is the same. Vintage Vee dub supplies is a favorite of many people. This is just my experience of the last 10 years of restoring beetles.
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posted on January 13th, 2016 at 11:43 AM



Quote:
Originally posted by landfall
Do a search on Classic Vee Dub, that will give you some good information.


Thanks landfall. Do you know where I could find a parts list for my car?
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posted on January 15th, 2016 at 08:46 AM



A very good selection of parts can be purchased from vwheritage and there web site is very user friendly.

Otherwise I have found justkampers here in Australia to be a reliable source for parts.

I have also found Vollks in Sydney OK, but not a huge range of spares.

Good luck.
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posted on January 15th, 2016 at 07:54 PM



Thanks for the welcome Carl (or is it Emily? :crazy:). I was hoping you would show up, the car in your avatar looks very similar to mine.

Believe it or not I haven't a chance to have a really good look at the rust, I have a home project She Who Must Be Obeyed insists I finish before I make a start on the car. The fuel gauge has a piece of black vinyl stuck over it, perhaps the dash has been replaced at some point?

Before I attempt to drive the car I think I need to ensure it's safe which will probably be a lot of work. It was difficult getting it down our drive with no brakes, and no brakes would just be the start lol.


It's Carl generally. It's just so when we do go out and about here in Brisvagas everyone knows who we are,.. you know, they can say,... "there is carl and emily" rather than "there is the guy with that user name______ and some chick." :lol:

Anyway here is a link to both our cars.
http://forums.aussieveedubbers.com/viewtopic.phptid=97513&page=1
and
http://forums.aussieveedubbers.com/viewtopic.php?tid=96490&page=1

Rust sucks is all I can say,.. If yours is not too rusty,. then yes just get all the mechanicals up to scratch and go from there.

I can see your rear window glass is out of the car.
I think the consensus is that WEST COAST METRIC is the most satisfactory for rubbers. The cheaper ones just don't fit right generally and may cause you to swear quite a bit.
DAS RESTO PARTS have a good name too.
I'm sure if they don't have what you want they'll source it for you if you're not in a rush.

More pics as you go please.
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posted on December 1st, 2021 at 11:37 AM



Well progress has been slow, but I'm in no hurry. Actually the body is soon to be reunited with the chassis after 5 years which I'm looking forward to! I'll post some shots of the progress over the next few weeks.

November 2017 - I'd stripped the car interior and removed the engine so we could separate the body and chassis. We made a dolly for the body, making sure to put a rod between the door jambs to ensure there was no twisting or warping.

https://baileythebeetle.files.wordpress.com/2021/12/20170909_142424.jpg

https://baileythebeetle.files.wordpress.com/2021/12/20170927_174639.jpg

https://baileythebeetle.files.wordpress.com/2021/12/20170927_174656.jpg

A bit of dirt caked on to the gearbox!

https://baileythebeetle.files.wordpress.com/2021/12/img_0348.jpg
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posted on December 1st, 2021 at 11:58 AM



At least its progressing



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posted on December 1st, 2021 at 06:23 PM



That is a good start



From your ole' mate Jeff


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