Tell us about the history of your ’67 Beetle?
I’m always fascinated by the history of things. So I did some research, made calls, and pieced together a timeline of Fritzy III’s past life. Our ’67 Beetle was originally sold by Ellwood Motor Sales in Daytona, Florida. The first owner kept it until 1999, when he sold it to a guy who bought it for his wife as an anniversary gift. They split up a few years later, and she kept the beetle. She relocated and kept it stored in her garage, undriven for years. One day her mailman saw the VW and asked if she would sell it, and they agreed on a price. The car was inoperable since it had been sitting idle so long, so he had it trailered to his home where he replaced the starter, gas tank, fuel pump and carburetor, and got it running again. He intended to do more work on it, but was sidelined by a heart attack. He held onto the car, not wanting to give up on his plans to fix it up. Meantime, his friend’s 19-year-old son had taken an interest in the beetle, so the mailman sold it to him in May 2012. It wasn’t an easy decision for him, but I guess he thought this young man would make a project out of it. But as we all know, working on a 46-year-old car takes time and money … two things a college student does not have. Within a couple months, the bug was for sale. My husband happened upon it one day, and bought it for me as a surprise … one day I came home from work, and there sat Fritzy outside our garage. I’ve never been so shocked in my life! Funny thing is, not two weeks before I made the off hand comment that owning a vintage beetle was on my “bucket list.” Who says men don’t listen to their wives!
When did you start the restoration?
It took a couple months to really get into it. We wanted to enjoy driving it a little before taking it out of commission for restoration. Plus I was dragging my feet, dreading the process of seeing Fritzy dismantled and in pieces. It’s funny though … now that we’ve started, I feel much braver about it. It’s slow going, though, and I long for the day when we can hit the road again.
How long do you think the restoration will take to complete?
Wow. Who knows. It depends on how much we outsource. We plan on doing most of the work ourselves, but will outsource the media blasting and possibly the paint job. In the end, hopefully Fritzy will be part of the VW herd in next year’s Christmas parade.
What were some of the challenges you faced so far?
Rust, rust, and more rust. Plus the original owner’s penchant for fabricating homemade floor pans out of road signs. The original pans were almost completely rusted out, so rather than replacing them, this guy patched together a network of stop signs, “men working” signs, “no dumping” signs, “keep left “signs …. you name it. Layer upon layer of them. And under all that, he had some odd, perforated aluminum to which he applied undercoating. What a mess.
Another challenge was finding space to take the car apart. But Doug is a great problem-solver, and installed a hoist to lift the body off the chassis so we can start from the bottom up. We stripped the body of everything that would come off to reduce the weight, and voila: bug in the air! Then he made a frame for it to rest on so the trusses aren’t bearing the constant load. The chassis is underneath on dollies, and can be slid in and out easily. Pretty nifty.
Finally, Doug discovered damage to the passenger side door post caused by a minor wreck in Fritzy’s history. Repair will involve replacing the passenger door and right front quarter panel. Luckily, after much searching, we have been able to locate original ‘67 parts.
In your opinion, what makes the ’67 Beetle so unique?
It’s the perfect bridge between the old and the new. It has the cool, old school features of its predecessors (metal dash, towel bar bumpers, low backed seats etc.), but the bigger engine and 12-volt electrical system of the beetles that followed. The end of one era and the beginning of another rolled into one vehicle. And who wouldn’t love the 67-only parts, like those awesome backup lights? I could go on and on …
On a personal note, one of the reasons I love beetles in the first place is because my dad owned two when I was growing up: a ‘62 and a ‘68. They were named Fritzy I and II, respectively. So now we own the perfect hybrid of those two years: Fritzy III! The look, the unmistakable VW smell, the sound … it’s amazing the memories this little car has brought back. Too bad I’m too big to ride in my old seat: in front of the engine in the bread box (a.k.a. luggage compartment). Wish I had a nickle for every baby boomer who rode around in the cubby hole. Think of all the parts that would buy!
What parts have been (so far) the hardest to find?
Body stuff. So much is peculiar to the ‘67, and we want to examine each replacement part carefully to be sure of its condition. We’ve found everything we need now, but it wasn’t easy. One of the coolest aspects is some of the people we’ve met during the search. There’s an older guy who owns a VW salvage yard about an hour away, and he had remnants of a ‘67 with a usable door post/right front quarter panel. He was a real gem, and the couple hours we spent with him will be one of our fondest memories of this whole project.
What is your take on doing a 100% stock restoration VS non stock?
Everyone needs to do what they want with their own car. But personally, we’re big fans of keeping it as original as possible. Much of that is sentimental for me, since I grew up with these cars. But they also have a historical value. Everything today is so complex. Just look at our modern-day automobiles equipped with GPS, Blue Tooth, displays telling us how much MPG we’re getting, climate controlled zones … the list of options goes on and on. And everything in life is so immediate, so incredibly fast-paced that we’re all thinking and doing 12 things at once. Yet in the midst of this insanity, the best seat in the world is behind the wheel of a vintage bug with its minimalist dashboard. It gives your MPH (never very fast), and how much gas is left in the tank. From that vantage point, the world makes sense again.
Any ’67 Beetle specific tips or words of wisdom you would like to offer?
Know from the start that restoring these cuties is a labor of love. There’s always more rust than you thought, and lots of the parts are extremely difficult to find. But in the end, you will have something very special. These cars are slipping out of existence fast, and I feel so lucky to have one!
And of course, knowledgeable resources are essential. That’s where Eric and 1967beetle.com have been a real gold mine of information, guidance, encouragement and moral support. Plus, Eric kindly introduced us to Ron Bengry at Wolfsburg West. We truly can’t say enough good things about their quality and Ron’s customer service and advice. After seeing the caliber of WW’s products, they have become our go-to for new parts. Thanks so much to both Eric and Ron!
Thanks, Susan & Doug, for sharing your ’67 with 1967beetle.com.