My first experience with 1967 Volkswagens was as a kid in the early ‘70s. My Dad got a Navy-colored Sunroof ‘67 Beetle from a friend. It had been rolled down a mountain, but it still ran and drove, even though every panel on it was in ruin.
Dad then picked up a Sunroof ‘64 that had experienced an engine fire. His plan was to swap the ‘67 motor into the ‘64, but he never got around to it. Me and my siblings played in those cars for years until some neighborhood teenager bought them for parts. My 1967 VW brings back many fond memories—I still remember that cool wooden Formula Vee shift knob Dad’s Bug had.
I had been looking for an older Bug for a while when this one came up for sale about 75 miles away. Rust-free Bugs are hard to come by on the East Coast but supposedly this was a West Coast car. The original Owner’s Manual showed service stamps from VW dealers in CA and OR, and there was a CA college parking sticker on the rear window, which helped to confirm her origin.
She was super solid underneath, and although shabby, she did run, drove well, and was fairly complete. The previous owner (PO) had just replaced the transaxle with one out of a ‘67 Ghia, and mentioned that the clutch was sloppy and needed adjustment. When I got it home it turned out the real problem was the clutch cable tube which had broken free inside of the tunnel at all three welds. But with a bit of careful welding and fabrication of new mounts, I was able to fix it, and she now shifts as good as new. I asked the PO to include the original transaxle in the sale. I now suspect that nothing was wrong with it as the clutch cable tube may have been the root of the problem Maybe one day I’ll get it back in.
The engine ran “ok” when I bought it, and the heads under the valve covers were very clean (which indicated a low mileage motor), but she really lacked power. I found that her distributor was allowing only 12 degrees of maximum advance, so I swapped it for a new one with electronic ignition that gave 25 degrees advance, all before 2700 rpm. I also found that the throttle cable was allowing only 2/3 of the required travel, so that was adjusted too. The carb jetting also was very lean, especially for having a header, so I rejetted the carb with fatter jets, performed a complete tune up and adjusted the valves.
Rosie runs really great now, and pulls 18″ of vacuum at idle, which is a sign of a very tight motor. I think she may have been rebuilt as a 1600cc single-port since 1600 and 8/31/07 is stamped on the bottom of the case. The motor case and car VIN match within 3 months of manufacture, so I believe it may be the original motor. I’m sending away for the Certificate of Authenticity to confirm.
I’ve refurbished the exterior the best I could by doing some careful touch up and paint blending. The paint on it looked to be about 25 years old, judging from the fading and all the dings and wear it had, but it was a good, solid paint job. I used Griot’s Correcting Cream to buff it out (it’s amazing stuff), and pulled the bumpers and running boards and refurbished them as well.
I’m slowly replacing all her seals. The doors, pop-outs, hood and trunk seal have been replaced. Next, I’ll do the windows and sunroof seals. The interior needs some work too. The seats have been recovered, but there is no headliner or carpet. In the Spring, when the weather is better, I will address those needs.
I have the original wheels and hubcaps, and plan to refurbish them as well. I was able to get a nice set of NOS beauty rings from Lane Russell, which will add some original bling to the wheels. The car came with a vintage German Kamei package shelf that was date-stamped 1967, so it’s possible it was sold with the car.
Rosie still is a work in progress, but at this point she really is a fun car to drive. She keeps up well with modern traffic and I use her for errands all the time. She is my “weekend” car when the weather is dry. She has great heat too, I drove her one night when it was 17 degrees here and she warmed up faster than my 2009 Mazda. I’ve had several mid-‘60s sedans in my day–comparing them to her, I can’t help but think that the 1967 VW Beetle must have been a stellar little car in its day when it was new.