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Gary's 1971 Super Beetle

At the age of nineteen I got my first VW in the form of a Gambia Red 1985 Jetta diesel. I was hooked on VW's but had no real knowledge about cars and probably wouldn't have embarked on a project of this magnitude without a little guidance. A few years later, in the summer of 1992, I got a job, working for a drywaller, near the family cottage. A coworker of mine, Andrew Way, drove a red 1973 Super Beetle and we carpooled to work. At this point I knew that I had to have one and with the help of my coworker turned best friend we were going to make that possible. Working in rural areas in Central Ontario we would quite often drive past derelict Beetles and would stop and ask the owners if they would be willing to donate these gems to us. More often then not, in those days, people were happy to get rid of them. We accumulated a lot of parts but I still didn't have a good, solid project car. Late in 1992 we found a pair of flat windscreen Super Beetles for sale in Haliburton. They were $100.00 each. Andrew bought the '71, I purchased the '72 and they both sat for several years while our lives turned down different paths. A few years later I bought a 1972 Baja SE but I ended up giving up on that project due to lack of time, money and a place to work on it. Andrew bought it from me. For parts, the '72 that I had bought years earlier was sacrificed. When the time finally came that I could put time and money into building a car, I no longer had one to build. Andrew donated his '71 Super Beetle, that was still stored in a shed, to the cause. It was now 2004 when the project began. My wife had serious doubts when she saw the deteriorated condition of the Bug.

Nearly two years were spent on cutting, grinding, sandblasting and welding. Everything had to be completed on a budget, which meant that 90 percent of the work would be done by Andrew and myself, with only paint and rechroming tasks farmed out. My vision for the car was for a complete custom job that didn't really look like much of a custom at all. I wanted a different look. The German look wasn't the approach that I wanted to take. The Cal-look had been done to death and the Super Beetle "stock" look wasn't really my thing. I really prefer to drive the Supers but I like the classic look of '60's vintage VW's. Not having the money to build two cars I put the mid sixties look and the early Super into the melting pot. I wanted people to do a double-take. I wanted the look a Super Beetle would have if it had been introduced five or six years earlier... a very retro-looking Super Beetle! With all of that in mind we began shaving the filler door and the fresh air vents. Even the heater channels are of the early variety for this "off the pan" restoration. As the body began to become solid again a lot of thought went into the final look. Hinge pins were changed to the mirror-mount style. Trim holes were enlarged for early moldings. Wide fenders were ordered to accommodate a wider footprint. Front widened fenders, from CREATIVE CAR CRAFT, bear the early headlamp buckets while the rears are 2" wider than stock from GLASS ACTION. Conversion bumper brackets for the front put the bumper at the right height but I had to fabricate a custom adapter so I could mount it. Early style brackets mounted the rear bumpers. Because the fenders are two inches wider, the stock running boards looked dwarfed. Custom widened, stock looking, running boards were made at 4-WAY METAL FABRICATING in Bolton as well as the gas tank filler modification. Many of the trim items such as speaker grilles and glovebox door as well as the rear seat rail were sent out to THE PLATING HOUSE in Concord to receive a show quality chrome finish. Having spent countless hours working the body straight enough to wear a gloss black finish, the car was now ready to be painted. It received final preparation and paint at BANCROFT AUTO BODY (Bancroft, ON.). This was done using two-part BASF paint in Chrysler DCX Black and VW Salsa Red.

The car was starting to come back together. First a black cotton napped headliner purchased from J.C. WHITNEY was installed. Seats were recovered as original with covers and foam from TMI. Custom carpeting (cut for Super Beetle but with early heater vents) were made at SEWFINE INTERIOR PRODUCTS. An original Hurst shifter was installed adorned with a custom leather shifter boot made by friend, Sally Loewen. Door panels are genuine VW of Mexico. Polished Empi style 8-Spoke rims from Retro-Rim (UK) were wrapped in P205-60-R15 Michelin Hydro-Edge tires. Adjustable front struts and lowering springs set the front ride height while the rear was turned down 1 outer spline on the torsion bar. The car stops quickly thanks to four wheel disk brake conversion kits from CALIFORNIA IMPORT PARTS. When time came to build a motor, I started with a 1600cc single port. Oddly enough I pulled it out of a '74 Beetle. It was pulled apart, freshened up, converted to dual port and now runs an 80 Amp polished alternator. We installed 87mm. (1641cc) pistons and cylinders. All of the original VW engine tin was stripped, powdercoated Gun-Metal-Grey and reinstalled. I don't know what the next step for this car is. Perhaps a type 4 motor. Right now I am happy just to drive it, tinker with it and turn a few heads doing so. She is my "Fat Chick in a Pretty Dress" and I couldn't have done it without the wonderful support and patience of my lovely wife, Cathy and the amazing fabricating/welding talents of Andrew Way as well as much understanding from his wife, Leslie. Many thanks to you guys and may God bless you all!

Gary Keeping
Orangeville, ON
Canada

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