An older article we wanted to put in the spotlight again, as we’ve been receiving a lot of emails on this topic.
Before I knew “Jonesie” (not his real name), he had purchased a Beetle which, by all logic, should have gone to the crusher. Never had he revived a car, much less a Bug. But, he had disassembled the car, removed the body from the chassis and proceeded to cut and weld and renew the car.
By the time we had met and become better acquainted, he was driving the vehicle but experiencing some major difficulties due to poor advice which he had received and some poor workmanship from a shop which rebuilt his engine and did some front end work.
I took Jonesie under consideration and introduced him to a bonafide VW mechanic and engine builder. Almost immediately the mechanic identified some of the problems. Together, we began solving and drawing the car out of its slump. It was gratifying to see Jonesie driving and enjoying his car. He talked about it, joined a local club, went on cruises and even was joined by his wife in his forays onto the highways.
I wasn’t surprised when he asked for help to build an authentic engine for his year of Beetle. After considerable expense, he soon was cruising with an engine to-kill-for—a real German engine from ring gear to crank pulley.
When he talked to me some months later and announced that he was selling his Beetle and all of his VW things, I was shocked. He told me that he had experienced a problem with his speedometer. Then, there was some other minor problem. These distractions bothered him and resulted in his disenchantment with a vintage vehicle. He plainly told me that he had not expected these things to happen. Clearly he was under the impression that once “restored”, the car was going to run without a hitch.
His has not been the first case I have observed! A person spends thousands of dollars and countless hours laboring to “get it right” only to have little stuff happen—usually when it is least expected and least appreciated—in terms of money, time and inconvenience!
I am a diehard VW fan who doesn’t like break-downs and other mechanical distractions, but I am in there for the long haul! I never have been under any delusion that a restored vintage car is going to be like a brand new car off the assembly line. Nothing is going to work exactly as it did in those days long past. Never!
In an article in the September-October, 2014 Saturday Evening Post, Jeanne Wolf interviewed Jay Leno—known the World ‘round for his vintage car collection and now-famous garage (pp.38-41 and 82). When but a boy, Jay was given a ’34 Ford Pickup to work on. His dad told him that if he could fix it, he could have it. Jay met the challenge and eventually had the truck running. He said about that first challenge: “You sort of learned to respect the machine and how to make it work. That’s probably what really got me into cars. And that’s what has kept me involved in creating my own collection and building the garage.”