Tell us about the history of your ’67 Beetle?
I purchased Sunny in 1984 when I was 15 from his original owner. The reverse gear was out so I only paid $200 for him. He was very complete and in very good shape except for typical beetle rust. I only drove him one summer. In the winter of 1986 I stripped him down to restore. For the next 15 years, he always seemed to become the project that was put on the back burner. In 2002, I finally decided it was time to get him done. Over the next year and a half I managed to get him painted and 95% assembled. In the summer of 2004 he went for his first test ride down the road, but then once again he got put on the back burner. In the spring of 2011 when I got Matt (my ’69 convertible) out for the season, Sunny looked at me and asked if he was ever going to get finished. I felt very bad and told him that I would finish him and take him to the car show in Aug. I kept my promise, and on Aug 6th 2011 Sunny proudly drove to the show and came home with first in class and 2nd place best of show.
When did you start the restoration?
Sometime before the end of 1986.
How long did the restoration take?
I guess if we do the math it took about 25 years. Wow! Generally it only takes about a 6 months to a year for me to do a restoration, but for some reason Sunny was always put on the back burner. It was worth the wait though, I had a blast driving him this last summer.
What were some of the challenges you faced during the process?
During Sunny’s restoration the goal was to keep him as original as possible; not to make him perfect. Wherever possible I used his original parts, even if they were not shiny and new. One example of this is his survivors. The new ones you purchase just don’t look the same and do not have the “character” the original ones do. A second example is his non-German left front fender. In the late 70’s Sunny was in a small fender bender and when repaired his original owner chose not to use a genuine VW fender. During his restoration I thought about putting a German fender on, but I decided that this fender was a part of Sunny’s history so I left it on even though the horn grill is not in the correct location.
In your opinion, what makes the ’67 Beetle so unique?
I think what makes a ’67 unique is the many running changes that were made during the model year. You always hear comments about all of the “one year” only parts on a ’67. The truth is many of the items are “1/2 year” only parts. An example of this is the rear bumper overrides and front seats. It was not until about Jan of ’67 that VW changed the rear overrides and added the front seat backrest release to the side of the seat.
What advice would you give to anyone restoring a ’67 Beetle?
In addition to Sunny I also own another ’67 Beetle (Herman). Herman is a very early ’67 (Aug ’66) and Sunny is a mid-year ’67 (Jan ’67). When you put the two cars together there are many differences and you start to question the fact they are both ’67s. When doing a restoration on a ’67 look at your VIN number and make sure you do your homework to find out what is correct for your car. Many running changes were made during the ’67 model year. A very good reference book is “The Car of the Century” by J.T. Garwood. The book has a ton of detail on what changes were made and at what VIN number. There are two volumes of the book. Volume one covers 1930-1960 and volume two covers 1961-1980. Unfortunately the books are no longer in print so you will need to locate a used copy.
Any ’67 Beetle specific tips or words of wisdom you would like to offer?
I think the biggest thing I, as I have said a few times, is that not all ’67 beetles are the same. Just because you see something done one way on your buddies ’67 does not mean that is correct for your car. The other thing is, as with all years, is to try to preserve the original German parts instead of purchasing new ones. In my option a weathered German part looks better than a new part that does not have the exact same look and shape.
What parts were the hardest to find?
I was very lucky with Sunny. He was very complete and not missing many parts. I contribute this in part to getting Sunny from his original owner and the fact that he was never repainted (except for the left front fender). His engine was never removed either so there was little chance for parts to be removed and lost.
What is your take on doing a 100% stock restoration VS non stock?
100% stock means something different to everyone. I have seen many 100% stock restorations, but they were not 100% correct for the year of the car. I prefer 100% stock, but it depends on what the history of the car is and what its intended purpose is. I try to keep my restoration stock, but I also need to do what my customers want or can afford. One suggestion I do have is if you are going to customize your car do it with bolt on items. That way if you ever want to go back to stock you can just unbolt the custom item and bolt the stock one back on.