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Brian's 1966 Beetle

I got into VW's in High School, thanks to a friend of mine who had a '78 Super Convertible with the roadster fiberglass hood kit on it. I'd never really been interested in cars until I started hanging out with him, but once bitten, the disease is incurable. We spent a lot of free time (and more than a few "sick" days) playing with his Super, and I finally decided that I'd like one of my own. He knew where there was a '67 in "OK" shape taking up space in a field, so we went to take a look at it. That turned out to be the best 250 dollars I ever spent. Over the course of the summer, we stripped it down to the pans and rebuilt it. Everything was repaired or replaced, and it was a strong little car with a DP 1600, 110 cam and a 2 barrel Weber It needed paint and the interior redone and it would have been done. It got totaled while parked in front of my folk's house 3 days before it was supposed to go into the booth (admittedly, it was for a garish charcoal and fluorescent green "blob" paint job, so maybe it was karma. What can I say, it was the early 90's and cal-custom was king). A little part of me died that night, and I didn't own another VW for some time. I always loved checking them out at shows, and I sort of kept current on the trends, but just never got around to picking another one up. During that time I contented myself with some of my other car projects, but my head would always be turned by the sound of a stinger revving on the next block, or the sight of a nice looking bug cruising by.

Fast forward to 2004. Now I'm married and have a couple of boys rampaging through the neighborhood, all is as it should be in a happy family. One afternoon my wife and I spy this sitting looking lonely on a corner with a for sale sign on it. I think I almost caused an accident when I stomped on the brakes and swerved over into the turn lane so we could go check it out. It needed some mechanical and interior work, but the body was in very good shape and the paint was decent. The price was a little steep, especially considering the mechanical work it needed done, but we decided it was worth bringing home. My wife's into VW's too, though she's more of a bus girl, so it wasn't difficult to talk her into buying it. We called up the owner, and as it turns out, his dad was a body man and they had done all the body and paint work. We haggled a bit on the price, and eventually bought the car and drove it home. We Call him Clyde. Right away he got a small facelift. Pea shooters are fine for original restored cars, but not for me! A header and stinger went onto the 1500, as did a degreed pulley, decklid standoff kit, and a short throw shifter kit. I drove it for about 2 months, and the 2nd gear synchros finally gave up. I'd been expecting it though, and made arrangements to get a Rancho stock rebuilt with '67 gearing from Chirco down in Tucson AZ (which is about a 2 hour drive from my house in Mesa.) Swapping the transmission was interesting, messy, and quite a learning experience. Over the course of the last few years, We've replaced nearly all the mechanicals on the car. A large portion of them were still factory original, some were so deteriorated as to be unsafe, and the rest were planned changes to get the look I was after.

The next big round of mods was the suspension. There was a LOT of air in between the fenders and the rubber on all 4 corners,and we had to do something about that. Our solution was a custom 4" narrowed front end from Airkewld in Phoenix. I elected to go 4" because I wanted to run shocks and didn't want to have to cut the body or use custom towers. We also installed a set of dropped drum spindles to get the nose down. Along with the new suspension components up front, I went with a set of 195/50/15 tires. This combination fills the fender with rubber, and still tucks enough under the fender lips and provides almost complete range of motion to the steering box. I wanted to run a wider tire because future plans include a more robust power plant and I wanted real meat up front to stop the car in case I needed to in a hurry. The rear suspension is turned down 2 outer notches, which gives the car some rake. The 1500 the car came with was built by Mofoco, and ran like a champ. One of the guys in my club was trying to sell a '69 that was pretty stock, but had a chatty lifter and so he was having trouble selling it because people were concerned the noise was an indicator that something was wrong with the engine. So, we traded, my 1500 SP for his 1641 DP. and a complete brand new set of Mahle pistons and cylinders. Talk about a day and night difference! Dual port heads will definitely wake up an engine. It's more or less stock besides the header and stinger, and the 094 distributor.

We've done a bit of interior work. Clyde came with seats from a Mitsubishi Eclipse. They're comfy, but they're not what We're looking for so I've got a set of '65 lowbacks read to go in as soon as I get them covered. The stock shifter came out in favor of a Scat Drag Fast Shifter, with a wood Empi shift knob. I also installed an oil temp and oil pressure gauge and a roller pedal. The remainder of the interior is stock.

Future plans for him are a little up in the air right now. Initially the plan was a big tire fryer in the engine compartment, some new paint, interior work, and a stereo. However, I bought a new project 2 weeks ago (a '63 ragtop!), and my oldest son has asked if I'd teach him how to work on them both with the idea that he can work on Clyde and reinvent him according to his own design. He's got some really cool ideas, and they will still involve paint, interior, stereo, and engine work, but will also include some other cosmetic changes and maybe a suspension tweak or 2.

Brian Blakesley

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