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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

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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.

Kevin Gabor’s L620 Savanna Beige ’67 Beetle

Another look back into the archives. There are so many great stories shared at 1967beetle.com about the one and only ’67 Beetle. Kevin’s car is a fantastic example.

Hello, my name is Kevin Gabor. The story of the ’67 beetle that I now own goes back to my high school years. When I was 17 starting my senior year, my Dad let me “co-own” his green ’71 VW beetle. For my entire senior year he would let me drive to and from work and school. This is the car that my Dad taught me to drive in. My wife Stephanie also drove a beetle to school – a ’66 off-white sun roof. She too learned to drive in her ’66 VW.

After I graduated high school in ’82, I went into the United States Air Force, Dad took possession back of the ’71 green beetle and sold it and by the time I came home from basic training.  I was bitten by the “bug” again and was soon looking for another VW beetle.  I sold a motorcycle (so glad I did that) and used the money to scour Fayetteville, North Carolina where I was stationed. I found a ’66 sea foam green VW beetle and paid $450 for it.  This was my daily driver for 8 years and was a slow project car – nickel and dime replacement parts here and there.

An interesting story with my ’66 bug was when my wife and I were driving it home from Chattanooga, TN to Fayetteville, NC. In the pouring rain, our already extremely slow 6 volt windshield wiper motor “died”. We had seen on TV that potatoes have basically the same water repelling properties as “Rain-X”. Around Atlanta we stopped and bought a handful of potatoes. For the next 400 miles while driving down the interstate in the pouring rain, we would lean out our windows every 20 minutes and wipe the windshield with a fresh slice of potato so we could see (and yes – it really works).

When I was leaving the Air Force in ’92 I sold the ’66 bug because I didn’t want the hassle of dragging a spare car all the way home to Chattanooga, TN. For 20 years I regretted selling the ’66 beetle. I had a spot in my heart for another VW beetle and since my wife too was a VW person convincing her that it was time to start seriously looking for another VW beetle was not hard to do. We both have fond memories of riding around together as teenagers in our VW beetles. I started seriously looking on Craig’s list for a VW – anything before a ’72 but preferably something  before ’68 was in my sights. She and I took a few road trips to check out a few VW beetle ads only to be disappointed in what we saw when we got there. We even drove from Chattanooga, TN, Atlanta, and Macon, GA; spent the night in a hotel to see a brown ’66 beetle the next morning – only to again be let down and to drive all the way back home – “beetle-less”. I kept looking on Craig’s list and spotted this beautiful ’67 Savannah beige beetle – I called the owner about the car/price but she was unwilling to budge on the price which I thought was a little steep. Now looking back I realize, a 45 year old VW beetle not needing a restoration job at all and probably 90 percent original in extremely good condition – the price was very reasonable. We drove about 50 miles to go see the car – and when we saw it, the “chemistry” began to happen- then we sat in it and it was like stepping back in time – the VW “smell” was there along with the interior and exterior that was completely unmolested and in excellent condition down to the Sapphire V AM radio. I fell in love with it. I made her an offer, she accepted and we drove it home mid May 2012. It now sits garaged and babied and it is by far my most favorite vehicle I’ve ever owned.

Gavin & Mary LaMaide’s L282 Lotus White ’67 Beetle

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Another fantastic story, Jay. Thank you for everything you do for 1967beetle.com and the ’67 Beetle community worldwide. -ES

Your story is both amazing and exciting. I find these stories of ’67 Beetles and their owners very intriguing. There are some very amazing situations that bring together people and cars and your story certainly bears evidence of that!

I gather from your latest reports that you are plenty satisfied with the way your car looks and how it performs. What influenced you to begin to show your Beetle?

My friend Tom, in Traverse City, MI, originally proposed the idea to start doing car shows last year. He has an ‘83 Olds Cutlas/Hurst 15th Anniversary Edition that he purchased new. It is immaculate and he has been showing it for years. I knew that my Beetle was not near to the standard of Tom’s car but we decided to give it a go anyway. I learned from a VW Festival that VW people, including me, are very forgiving and rather just appreciate these iconic cars as-is, bringing back fond memories.

I understand that there were prizes for winning cars at this first show? What were the criteria for winning?

Most of the shows in Michigan have several classes of competition. Chairman’s Choice, Best of Show, Top 20 or Peoples’ Choice, etc. Votes are cast by club members, judges, participants and/or spectators–or all the above. One never knows what may strike the fancy of the voters on any given day. I do believe from observation “criteria for winning” is grounded on the display you present to the viewers and their experience. Although every participant has great pride and passion for his vehicle, it’s the nostalgia which spectators remember about these cars that wins the day.

Given that your geographic location isn’t set for early spring-time weather, didn’t you find it a bit intimidating to enter your car in that first show? I know that many vintage car owners won’t take their cars out of the garage if the weather is not fully cooperative.

Yes, Tom and I did talk about the rain and cold we would experience during the first show (May 1st) and the “what if” plan. I never had driven my Beetle in the “driving rain” before this show and I was paranoid with regard to my electrical system. You are “spot on” with regard to weather and participant turnout. The usual 100 plus cars was down to 30 due to the weather. In any case, we had a great time and look forward to the 81st National Trout Festival Car show in 2017!

What did you learn from the first show that helped you as you prepared for the second one?

Advanced Vintage Volkswagen – Atlanta, GA

856821_380234758750925_1877074071_o-2As some of you probably know by now, we relocated back to our hometown of Atlanta, GA after a long cross-country adventure. Recently, I had a generator, fan issue with my ’67 Beetle. (Jay Salser is working on an article that goes a bit more in-depth on the issue and resolution)

Being that I work, run a business and have small children, I don’t always have time to do the work myself, as much as I truly love and enjoy.

The vintage VW business landscape here in Atlanta, GA has a changed drastically. I really did get spoiled by the West Coast. As it turns out, the old places I had come to depend on long ago had long since closed up. I event extended my search to non VW shops. It went a little something like this.

Eric: “Hello. Do you work on old VWs?”
Shop: “No.” Click.

Eric: “Hello. Do you by chance still work on old VWs?”
Shop: You can’t get parts for those, no we don’t.”

Eric: “Hello. Do you ever tinker with old VWs?”
Shop: “Whatcha got a dune buggy? No, we don’t.”

As you can see, it wasn’t looking good. Even Advanced VW off College Ave seemed to have closed up; or did it?… After some searching, I was able to get in contact with Bobby who’s the owner. Apparently, the City of Decatur made him move so they can “clean up” the area.

Luckily, he’s still in business and probably the last vintage VW shop standing. He’s over in Tucker, GA now and going strong. Bobby’s not really one for attention, but I can tell you with all honestly that he’s the best guy for your vintage VW. I can’t tell you how happy I am that he’s still working on these old cars. Here’s his info.

Advanced VW
1878 Forge St
Tucker, GA 30084
(770) 938-4499

Now for some photos of his shop. If you look closely, you’ll see my ’67 with some of his other old friends.