Tell us the history of your ’67 Beetle.
As per the maintenance card for this VW, it was inspected and delivered to the original owner on January 6, 1967, at BOB SMITH VOLKSWAGEN in Hollywood, CA. On 1/18/67, at 357 miles, the dealer performed the “300 Mile Free Maintenance Engine and Transmission Oil Change”. The next service was performed at 5,000 miles by a mechanic who thoroughly recorded the entire service record, by hand, on the under-side of the engine compartment lid, until 1986. That’s when the car was sold to its second owner for $5,500.00. The second owner was living in Minnesota and had specifically wanted a 1967. One day he received a call from his brother, in Los Angeles, telling him he had found the ’67 for him, for sale in the parking lot of Studio City Golf and Tennis, which the owner frequented. So he bought the car and trucked it to Minnesota, where he had an igloo (garage) built, at the ready. He drove the Beetle only in Summer months. One year later, the owner moved, bringing the Beetle back to Studio City, now living here himself. The car was straight , just as it still is, and well-maintained, when it was sold that second time. The new owner continued to maintain the car, replacing everything as needed, including interior, paint and eventually the engine, kicking it up from 1500cc to a 1600cc dual-port. When this car, that I drove by almost daily for 11 years, was finally for sale the third time, 23 years later, I grabbed it the first day it was for sale. I bought this ’67 Beetle in 2009, exactly 42 years, 1 month and 3 days from the original delivery.
When did you start the restoration?
The day I bought the car I was off and running, buying everything I needed to start the window scrapers for “Walter” at United Auto, in North Hollywood, and from Wolfsburg West. A big problem for me was the fact that the car came with three different keys—one for the after-market ignition and a different key for each door. I quickly found an NOS German ignition with original VW keys. That same week, I had the door handles re-keyed to the ignition key by Kevin Kilfoyl. One key, the way it’s supposed to be. Before the Internet, you never had the resources you have now. Parts were limited to mail order, local mechanics or parts shops or wrecking yards. Many parts that were on the car had to go right away, since the closer to stock, the more I like VW’s.
How long did the restoration take?
I wouldn’t call mine a restoration. I really like the old parts and want to keep them as long as possible and replace with other used parts, when I can. It can get to the point where your car looks like a bug replica, if you’re not careful. This is truly on-going. I will be finished when I sell it and someone else takes over the responsibility.
What were some of the challenges you faced during the process?
The challenge I’m facing right now is that I would like to change all of the window seals back to the stock look with the chrome inlay. While the windshield is out, I would have to restore the hole that was drilled into the dashboard for an alarm light (these cars were stolen all the time in the 1980s). While the rear windshield and the two side glasses are out, I must re-do the headliner with the period correct type that goes all the way around the back window. Also I would like to redo the rest of the interior, but I’m stuck for now. This car was ordered new with European model cloth upholstery, which is no longer available anywhere, at this time.
In your opinion, what makes the ’67 Beetle so unique?
What makes the ’67 so unique, to me, is that the ’67 is the link between 1958’s big rear window and the Standard Beetle that was introduced in 1968. It’s what I think of, personally, as the Last Beetle, the Special Anniversary Commemorative, the Final Beetle. “Break out the champagne, this is one of the special ones.”
What parts were the hardest to find?
EURO STYLE CLOTH INTERIOR! That’s what’s hard to find. And, ’67-only rear over rider bars (aka “towel racks”). All of the one-year-only parts can be a real problem. Original stock shifters, I finally found one. When I purchased my car, it had an EMPI trigger shifter. Worked great, just wasn’t bone stock.
What is your take on doing a 100% stock restoration vs. non-stock?
If you have a Bug, you probably love it, be it a Baja Bug, Cal-look Bug, patina, vintage restoration or a simple daily driver. With a non-stock Bug, you get to have your own point of view. 100% stock Beetles require research, time, and strict adherence to the original concepts of this car as established by its designers and engineers, and patience. It’s this niche that I appreciate the most but could never really abide by. For example, I would never give up my rims for stock ones. I like the vintage speedster-looking wheels. As for the engine, I used to drive a 1500cc stock Deluxe Beetle. It’s perfect and feels just right, but I still might go even bigger on my car. More power. It’s very difficult not to personalize a Beetle and make it into a “Bug”. Beetles are 100% and “Bugs” are non-stock. It’s that simple.
Any ’67 Beetle specific tips or words of wisdom you would like to offer?
Specific tips include: always check your oil when you gas-up. You can keep your own shop rag stuffed into the push bars on the rear bumper. And…if it’s not broken, don’t fix it; if it is broken, don’t fix it; and if you have to fix it, simply fix it but don’t replace it with a reproduction part; and if you have to replace it, don’t throw away that original part! Stay posted to 1967Beetle.com. Get your horn fixed, pump your brakes, and carry an extra throttle cable and fan belt.