Around The World
I bought this one owner '73 1303S stock Bug back in 1988 when I was 16 and living in England. It was my first car, and I'd wanted a Beetle since I was 7 years old. I didn't yet have my driving license so spent my time going about a restoration. I remember unbolting each of the body pan to body bolts then calling my friends to come round and help me lift the body off the floorpan. They thought I was crazy, taking my first car to pieces literally days after buying it!
Once the restoration was complete, the car looked like new again. The original 'Marina Blue' color had been a subject of much mockery among my friends due to that being the exact same color as some kind of awful three wheeler fiberglass buggy used by the elderly throughout the UK at the time. I had the Bug repainted Porsche Indian Red during the restoration for this very reason! After about a year of ownership, I entered my first rally in it. It was a road based rally, so no safety modifications were required, but it was great fun competing against other historic cars such as Mini Coopers, Lotus Cortinas and 356s. A few months later I found myself entering a proper Rally, on gravel forest access roads. To satisfy the regulations, I had to fit a roll cage, and 4 point harnesses. Safe to say, the Beetle was no match for the rest of the field but it was enormous fun and the car always got plenty of cheering from the spectators on the way.
The Bug served me well throughout my university days, and for a few more rallies and autotests. I even entered a round of the British Rally championship, pitting myself up against 350hp Subarus and Escort Cosworths! With twin Weber 40s and a modified cam I was still the slowest in the field, although some poor souls still finished behind me due to accidents or mechanical woes. What made up for the lack of horsepower was the enthusiastic spectators, cheering on this very obvious underdog at each corner. Once I'd left University I'd got my first job and wanted something a little quicker than the Bug. I bought a 1600cc Golf Mk1 GTi and the poor old Beetle was left in a corner at my mothers place, gradually rusting away. Over the next twenty years I wouldn't have the heart to sell the Beetle. Despite it's condition, I'd promised myself I would restore it one day.
In 2015 I landed a job in California, and would relocate there from my home country of England. This news gave me the option of either selling what was left of the Beetle, or restoring it completely and taking it with me to the USA. Well, suffice to say there was an enormous amount of work involved. By the time I had to pack it away in a container to sail it around the world to the West Coast, the body and floorpan had been parted, sand blasted and repaired but there was still plenty of work ahead. It took me almost three years in the US to finish the restoration but I was determined to do it properly and make sure I had a reliable daily driver at the end of the process.
Just about every part has been replaced, and if it wasn't it was carefully refurbished. The stock 1600cc engine is a new unit from VW Heritage in the UK, rebuilt with new VW crankcase and heads. The gearbox is a rebuilt part from Rancho. My biggest problem I found during the restoration was finding good quality parts. I was a little obsessed with finding NOS VW parts where I could. I think I found the last set of new original VW fenders for a Super Beetle, but had to take the ferry and 6 hour drive from UK to the Netherlands to pick them up.
I was really pleased when the time came to start the Beetle for the first time in 24 years and it fired right up. I've been using it for the last couple of months with no problems at all...as I would hope, seeing as it's basically a brand new Beetle!I never thought all those years ago I'd be driving this Beetle around Silicon Valley on my way to work, and it's great fun seeing the looks on peoples faces as they try and figure out what's so different about this little Bug driving along. Most of them spot the RHD set up pretty quick though!