Don’s Bug Barn — A Vintage VW Salvage Yard

Featured Volkswagen Business — Doug's Bug Barn

An older article that has been getting a lot of page views lately. It’s time for another moment in the spotlight. -ES

Perhaps one of the most frustrating experiences a vintage car buff can have is not being able to locate necessary parts. As you’ve worked on your “second love” Volkswagen, invariably you’ve run against the brick wall of “that part is no longer available”! “What??? Now what am I going to do?” That’s probably putting it mildly. In my more than 36 year experience with VWs, I’ve had this problem hundreds of times. My two children and I made a regular habit of visiting salvage yards in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Then, things changed. Government restrictions began making things difficult for the salvage people. Yards were moved or closed. But, don’t give up! There still are some salvage yards located around the Country. Here’s the unique story of one salvage yard oasis; Don’s Bug Barn. As told by Dustin Carter, Don’s son.

How did you get all of this!?!
I have answered this question many times. My answer of “It is my father’s 36 year collection” never seems to satisfy.

Okay? But… but how did you get all this?
I tell the story, which always elicits smiles, that since we are in Texas, it is not uncommon that our story begins with horse-trading. In 1974, my father, Don Carter, got his first Volkswagen from my grandfather, who traded a horse for a dune buggy. My grandfather had no use for the buggy and offered it to my father, who accepted, thus beginning the story of Don’s Bug Barn. Growing up, my father always was a car guy, and throughout the years he acquired all types of American iron and muscle cars. But Volkswagens became his ultimate love.

Once my father started working on the buggy, he realized that it was missing the carburetor. In true Don Carter style, instead of purchasing one part, he bought a Volkswagen Beetle, complete with an engine, for the cost of the carburetor. From there, one Bug led to another, and another, and so on. His first Bug was a 1959 Semaphore Beetle, which we still own. He says he was drawn to the simple, yet sophisticated engineering of a VW. He also liked being able to work comfortably on the engine, while having the ability to pull and reinstall an engine by himself. It did not hurt that VWs also were an affordable hobby at that time.

My father is a collector of things, and when he becomes interested in something, let’s just say he is hooked. To this day, when asked, he is not able to pinpoint the exact reason he built the Bug Barn; other than that he needed a place to work on his VWs. He purchased land from my grandmother, and the foundation for the main shop was poured in 1977, with the help of friends and family. It was also around this time that my father made his first appearances on the local VW racing scene. He had been involved with drag racing for years, so racing VWs was only natural. The Bug Barn owns two VW race cars, a ’61 Ghia and a “slightly” modified chop-top ’67 Beetle, both of which my father named “The Bad Habits.” His hopes were to run the Bug Barn as a repair/parts shop in order to fund his racing.

Featured Volkswagen Business — Doug's Bug Barn

With his shop operating full time, and weekends spent racing, my father was living his dream. When in 1979 he became a father, my grandmother and mother told him to “get a real job”. It was at this point that my father took a job with the State as a social worker. But that did not slow progress at the Bug Barn. Since my father’s weekdays were spent working at his “real” job, he hired people to run the Bug Barn for him. Through the ‘80s till the mid ‘90s, the Bug Barn flourished. Several excellent VW mechanics operated the business while my father was working. During this time, my father never stopped purchasing VW cars and parts. On the original Bug Barn business card it read: “I buy VWs any condition”. My father had the forethought to know that even a totaled VW still had good parts. He also realized the importance of one-year-only parts, which is why he regards the ’67 Beetle as the best year built. Over the years he bought several ’67 Bugs; we still have 15 of them today.

SOLD – L518 Java Green ’67 Beetle

DSC01315

Hello, ’67 Beetle community.
As we mentioned in an earlier thread, our good friend Chris Vallone over at Classic VW Bugs in NY has just finished restoring a ’67 Beetle. (Over 80 photos!) This car is a gem and we wanted to give it another showcase.  It’s even got an NOS correct rear bumper. Amazing! Also… It’s now for sale!

This car was found in North NJ in mid 2012. It’s rock solid, and needed very little body work.  This is a numbers matching Body, Chassis, Motor, ’67 Beetle.

Status: SOLD
Mileage: 1,056
Location: Congers, NY
Price: Bidding on eBay
Contact: Chris Vallone – 845-290-9900


Ken Relethford’s L41 Black ’67 Beetle

Ken Relethford's '67 Beetle

This article was submitted by reader and ’67 enthusiast Ken Relethford. Thank you very much for your contributions to 1967beetle.com.

Hey, 1967beetle.com.
I parked next to a Porsche Speedster at the Encinitas car show last night. The owner of the body shop that painted it Jimmy at “Rancho Auto Body” is wiping it down for me in the photo below. I think the bug got more attention than the speedster.

I went a little overboard…The thing looks brand new…One hiccup on the headliner install, making them pull the rear window and redo it..They thought the carpet went right up to the rear window..Cant live with that.. (We don’t blame you!)

More photos to come. I have a pretty good collection of before during and afters..
Last item is the original wheels and white walls. We have done one for the spare for now, but will probably put some miles on these chrome moonies before changing out.

Cheers.
Ken Relethford.

Ken Relethford's '67 Beetle

Dave Fennell’s — L639 Zenith Blue ’67 Beetle

unnamed-4

Such a great story. Slowly, we are connecting ’67 Beetle owners all over the world. A big thanks to Jay Salser for his edits and being such a huge part of what makes 1967beetle.com a fun place to come to work everyday. -ES

My first exposure to Beetles was when my uncle returned from a military assignment in Germany in the early ‘60s. He brought a Beetle back with him, probably around a ’62 Model and in red. I saw it when he drove it from Northern Alberta, Canada, to Southern Ontario, with kids, dog and camping trailer in tow. It was a real revelation to me, as my family were always owners of North American cars. Here was a simple, well engineered, air-cooled, economical and durable vehicle. I think that it was then that I decided that I would own one.
I owned a couple of motorcycles as a teenager, which certainly were fun, but somewhat limiting. I convinced my mother that we should share a Beetle, so we bought a well-used ‘65 model from the local Cadillac dealership. That’s when I found out about link pins and the maintenance they entailed. I had done most of my own servicing on the motorcycles, so learning VW maintenance and repair was a logical progression.

Shortly after that, I went off to University out of town, finding that motorcycles and Canada don’t work well in our winters. So…after my first summer of working, I was on the hunt for my own car, and, of course, a Beetle was the logical choice. It had to be a used one–I couldn’t afford a new one.

I found one at a local Volvo dealership. It appeared to be in nice shape, one fender had been repaired, but overall, it was sound. I called the dealer first thing Monday to ask about it. They had planned not to sell it, but rather to wholesale it since it wasn’t a product they felt like selling retail. However, the salesman said that he would talk to the Manager and get back to me. I got a call later saying that for $1300 it would be mine! It was, of course, a ’67, a Savannah Beige, Deluxe Model, with about 20,000 miles on it, a gas heater and a beautiful Blaupunkt AM/FM/Shortwave radio in it….a real upgrade from the standard unit.

I drove it about 100,000 miles over several years, and I only had a couple of minor issues on the road with it. Once when returning from school to home, the engine started cutting out. I pulled into a service station, let it cool a bit then removed a big chunk of dirt from the main jet. The other time was a failed voltage regulator. The original regulators were mechanical, so I took it apart, cleaned the fused points and returned it to service where it stayed until I traded it in.

It took me on several trips, including an epic journey from Southern Ontario to Vancouver Island–my first trip west of Ontario, with only one oil change required. It also took four guys from University to Boston for a whirlwind two-day trip….cozy, but it worked. My brother and I also took it to the Maritimes. En route, we had a flat tire. We pulled over, both of us jumped out, hood up, wheel swapped, hubcap popped on and back into the car in record time. We started to drive off and it felt
funny, so I turned to my brother, and asked if he had tightened the wheel bolts, and he said he thought I had done it! I quickly pulled over, just as the wheel parted company from the brake drum. Fortunately all of the wheel bolts were found inside the hubcap! One of my epic maintenance fails.

This first encounter with Beetles converted my family to the point that my sister and brother also owned Beetles, and my mom replaced the white ‘65 with a SunBug Beetle, a gold-painted version from the early ‘70s with a sunroof.

NO Longer FOR SALE — L639 Zenith Blue ’67 Beetle

167942-1

Fresh to the market here at 1967beetle.com; we have an amazing L639 Zenith Blue ’67 Beetle for sale. The seller has included a lot of great information. I love seeing ’67 Beetles that are mostly correct and untouched. As you know, many of the one year only parts are very hard to find. I know from my own restoration that it took well over 10 years to find them all. What do you guys think? Who’s going to make an offer on this gem?

72,362 actual original miles!
2 owner Beetle (1st owner 67-2000, 2nd owner 2000-present)
Multiple show winner
1967 voted by VW collectors as the best year for Beetles
Original purchase order new from VW Southeast Distributors, Inc. Jacksonville FL
Resided with the same original owners for 33 years
Extensive collection of documents, articles and photographs
4-speed manual transmission

Status: N/A
Mileage: 72,362
Location: Saint Louis, Missouri
Price: Bidding on eBay
Contact: 636-600-4600