Mark, tell me a little about yourself, your background and how you got into restoring Volkswagen Beetles?
My earliest memories of VWs came as a child riding in the home made dune buggies my dad and uncles had up north. The first Beetle (Black Herbie) in our family came when I was about eight. My dad purchased this bug with a blown motor with plans to put the transmission in our dune buggy. As the story goes my dad ended up finding a separate transmission and engine. The transmission went in the buggy and the engine in Black Herbie. My dad drove Black Herbie for a few years before my aunt’s car rolled into him. At that point we got White Herbie.
My dad drove White Herbie for a few years then purchased a different car for himself and let me tinker with White Herbie. After working on him I told my parents that I wanted a different bug to work on. They told me that we would have to sell White Herbie. With that money they would buy me a Beetle that I could do whatever I wanted to with. That is when I got my first Beetle , a 1968. I ended fixing Harvey up. Since I still couldn’t drive, I sold and purchased yet another Beetle. This time a 1972 Super Beetle named Clyde.
As you may have noticed the trend had started. I also sold Clyde, just to purchase another Beetle. When my sixteenth birthday came I had bought and sold enough Beetles that I now had enough money to build myself a nice Baja Bug. As high school went on I kept buying more Beetles. Some I fixed and sold while others I parted out. At times there were five to six Beetles sitting in our driveway.
After high school I continued to work on Beetles while going to college. At this time I started restoring cars for other people that happen to see my work. This income helped pay my way through school. After college I continued to work on VWs part time while working my full time job as a mechanical engineer and application developer. A few years ago when I lost my full time job I decided to pursue my dream and restore the cars I love full time. Currently I own six Beetles and one Bus, Matt my 1969 convertible, ED my Baja Bug, Sunny and Herman, my 1967s, Oliver my 1953 Oval, Lloyd a 1957 bus and Pete a 1970 convertible. My dad has a 1974 Super Beetle and my sister has a 1974 Beetle.
What is your favorite year VW to restore and why?
That is a hard one. There are things I like about them all. If I had to pick I would say it is the early 60s models.
How many restorations are you currently working on?
Right now I have two full restorations going, a 1967 Beetle and 1970 Beetle Convertible. I also have a daily driver 70 Camper job along with a few small projects which include a 71 Beetle new interior, 70 Beetle floor pans and 77 Camper transmission replacement.
Walk me through your restoration process from start to finish.
When a car arrives it is stripped down to the bare shell. All parts are placed in boxes labeled with what car they belong to. At this time an inventory is also done to determine what parts need to be purchased. Next, any rust repair is done. All rust is cut out and new metal is welded in. All patches are fully welded, not just spot welded. I like to fully weld patches for two reasons. First, it helps me get the panel back to its original shape easier which then requires less body filler. Second, the full weld insures that no moisture will get behind any filler that is applied to the area. Once the rust is repaired the body can then be fully removed from the frame. The body is then stripped down to bare metal and final body work and paint prep is performed. During this process the doors, hoods, fenders and bumpers are assembled on the body to make sure everything fits and lines up correct. Once I am satisfied that everything looks good the parts are taken back off the body and it is ready for paint.
While the body is being worked on the frame is also cleaned and painted. Depending on the scope of the restoration (Daily Driver or Show Car) the frame is either cleaned and painted as one or disassembled and each part is cleaned and painted separate before reassembly. Any mechanical work such as brakes, engine, etc. are also performed at this time. Once the body and frame are complete it is time to start putting the car back together. This is my favorite part of the project. You get to see the car come back to life with each piece you put on. During assembly all new rubber and seals are used. In addition all parts are cleaned and detailed. I always try to use as many of the original parts as I can. There is no replacement for original German parts! After assembly the car is then test driven and checked over to make sure everything is working correctly. After it passes inspection the car is ready for its owner to enjoy.
When did you start selling parts as an addition to the business?
I started selling parts in April of 2010. It is hard to find quality and correct aftermarket parts. I am very particular in the parts I use and spend a great deal of time finding the “good stuff”. I wanted to offer other owners the same quality parts I use and save them the time searching.
Who are your preferred parts providers?
Myself of course, my major suppliers are J&L Automotive, West Coast Metric and Wolfsburg West.
Where is your shop currently located?
My shop is located in Green Bay, WI.
Ever worked on any of the more rare VWs? (Schwimmwagen?!)
No, but I sure would love to have a Schwimmwagen.
What advice would you give someone wanting to restore one of these cars?
If you are going to restore a VW do it because you want to drive and enjoy the car. Do not go into a VW restoration project thinking you are going to make money on it. In addition, do it right the first time or you will be doing it again in the near future.
Anything in general you would like to say?
Life is short. Enjoy everything you do and put 100% into all you do. Treat people the same way you want to be treated.
Mark M. Massey
2542 Sunnybrook Dr.
Green Bay, WI 54313