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William's 1973 Super Beetle

While I was stationed at Ft. Knox, Kentucky in 1973, I needed a new car. I had driven a 1962 Chevy Nova from my home in Minnesota to Kentucky and the old car was in tough shape. It leaked about six quarts of oil on the 700 mile trip. A guy in my barracks had a 1967 Beetle and he and I drove home to Minnesota on leave in his Beetle many times. There was a VW dealer right near the fort, so we went and looked at some cars. 1973 was the first year of the curved windshield and elephant foot taillights for Super Beetles. The car looked sharp compared to the older Beetle and I decided to buy one. I traded the old Nova and drove the SB away for $2000. I drove the car regularly throughout the next few years when I was discharged from the Army and returned to Minnesota and attended college. Contrary to popular belief, if the heater boxes on VWs are in good condition, the heat works just fine. One time I was driving it on a day when the temperature was about 100 degrees. As a joke I turned the heat on and couldn't shut it off. It was like riding in a blast furnace. Nonetheless, in order to "save" the Beetle from harsh Minnesota winters, I would not usually drive it in winter, choosing to buy a junker for winter use and parking the SB somewhere. This saved a lot of weathering /rusting on the SB. I think I only drove it during three or four winters. In 1983, with a few door dings, rock chips, etc., I repainted it. In 1984, with about 120K miles on it (original clutch) the motor was leaking a lot of oil and I bought (for $100) a 1974 Beetle that my dad's minister had totaled out hitting a telephone pole. I took out the motor and anything else that was potentially useful and gave away the chassis. My dad and I swapped the motor and everything was in good running order.

I drove the car infrequently for the next two decades as the need for a family vehicle took first priority. That and a vehicle with air conditioning. The car was stored in my garage for many years, and because of laziness, I didn't even start it for many, many years. It was basically a place to hide Christmas presents. In the fall of 2004, the BOSS told me we needed that garage space for my daughter's car, and the SB had to be moved. I couldn't get it started and in the process of trying to do so (i.e. foolishly dumping gas into the carb) I started it on fire!! Fortunately I had a fire extinguisher on hand and the damage was minimal I pushed it out beside the garage, covered it up and left it for the winter. The next spring I got some new wires (I bought a "fire repair kit".. wonder how it got that name), a different carb and got it running. I had the front end rebuilt and it was running good but looked kind of rough. In November of 2005, in a moment of madness, I bought a 1959 single cab transporter. I spent all winter restoring it and enjoyed the activity quite a bit. The next spring I thought I would plan on doing the same to the SB. I took the SB almost completely apart and replaced all the window rubber seals and other body rubber, installed pop out rear windows, got new bumpers and a couple of new fenders and redid the interior. It now looks great and as good as new. I got a engine core and plan on rebuilding/having it rebuilt and if and when the SB needs a new one, I will swap motors. The motor will fit in both the SB and the single cab (which was previously converted to a 12V system) so it may be a good idea to have a spare around. I have many fond memories of the SB and will never part with it. Hopefully it will last another 33 years.

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