Thomas Parsons has been a Reader of 1967beetle.com for some time. Tom lives in the small town of Strathroy, Ontario, Canada, between London, Ontario and Port Huron, Michigan, USA. Tom is well acquainted with vintage vehicles having restored other vehicles, including a wonderful Deluxe Model A Ford Coupe. He has attended many shows in Michigan, New York and in Ontario. Nowadays, he participates mainly in local cruises and car shows. Here’s the story of Tom’s 1967 Beetle Convertible.
I have learned a few things over the years, as we all have. Time, money, family and learning all impact our work for sure.
When I brought this car home, the body actually was in two pieces with the doors thrown inside along with many other parts. I picked it up on a flat-bed trailer–the body and parts were piled on one end and the chassis with motor on the other end.
When my wife saw the ’67 come home, she thought I had lost my mind. “You paid money for those parts?” I had taken on difficult projects before but she wasn’t convinced about this one, for sure. It was indeed rough. I have seen much better donor cars in my few travels to Florida over the years since I bought the car. Other than some work on the heater channels, the car simply had been disassembled and left in a heap behind a grocery store in London, Ontario, Canada. I had worked in the summer to help rebuild that store to another chain’s specs, so I shopped there for awhile even though it was not close to our home. I spotted the Beetle one day and drove around for a closer look. I suppose that anybody in his right mind would have run, but like Charlie Brown, I somehow felt that this car needed me! I found out who owned the parking lot it was left in, contacted the owner, paid his price and carted it all home!
Wish I had early pictures to share. The task was daunting but I always had wanted a ‘67 Cabrio–so the work was worth it. Some heater channel repair had begun but was poorly done. I think that the owner had been waiting for someone to come along so that he could unload this pile of parts!
I read a post, a few years ago, by someone who had purchased a “basket case” ‘67 Cabrio. I looked at the pictures and began to chuckle. The car needed a complete restoration but the body was intact. At one point early in my restoration, I had the complete body and doors and most parts of my car piled into a 4 X 4 foot space in the corner of the garage while I worked on the chassis! THAT was truly a basket case. I know what scratch-build means and, as I said, I did not have, at the time, the connections and support that 1967beetle.com provides. You are making a genuine difference to fellow enthusiasts.
I had owned a ’60 Volks as my first car and had restored a few other non-VW cars over the years, so I had some experience. Thank heavens for an affordable, portable mig welder. Countless hours of body alignment, welding, measuring, researching and realigning followed. Three years-worth to be exact. Parts cars came and went, cleaning, painting, finding parts, installing torsion arms and so forth. I learned a lot by trial and error but picked up a Bentley Manual for good measure at some point.
Since the heater channels work was poorly done, I replaced them with new channels and convertible rails which I fabricated, not realizing that they could be purchased.
My skills as a mig welder certainly were developed as the nose piece from Florida found its way onto the car. And I scratch-made the rear panel since I could not find one for the year.
Every nut and bolt had to be touched or replaced. Because this was a Canadian car to start with, the salt-eaten parts were brutal while other parts, including rear bumper and bumperettes, are all original and still have a great depth of finish.
The previous owner bought decent quality Mexican fenders that have worked well and stood up over the years even though the horn grills are offset.
Convertible top mechanicals were intact and operational with a little work. The top was rebuilt and finished with the help of a friend who is an upholsterer. It is black canvas and has stood the test of time.
The car is mildly lowered, runs a 1641cc single-port engine, dual mufflers, 911 Porsche alloys, discs up front and is constantly receiving upgrades as vintage parts, seat belts, etc. are found.
One feature that is quite fun to see people notice is the original Hurst accessory shifter with reverse lockout. I have the original box, dated 1969 and made in Pennsylvania, USA (not a repro knockoff).
Editor’s Note–here’s a question by Tom. Let’s see if we get some answers to it: “One curious thing about the car was that three of the bias ply tires it came with had “Volkswagen” embossed in the rubber with no other markings other than the size. Would these have been original to the car? The odometer read 67 thousand at the time. Did Volkswagen supply their own tires for ’67 or maybe just on the Cabrio?”
It is a fun car to drive, always gathering a crowd at cruise nights and shows. In the early years, I got honorable mention or second or even third at shows which I entered in Canada, New York and Michigan. When I replaced the stock wheels with Porsche alloys, suddenly I won a few shows. Go figure.!
The car has been a great runner needing only routine maintenance since 1992, when I finished the initial restoration. The car has been used for weddings, parades and a lot of fun rides. It parks for the winters. I love the ‘67 version best, of course, but have always believed that the beauty is in the ride and enjoyment, not the verification of absolute authenticity–although I certainly try to work at that in terms of mechanicals. I appreciate all of the articles (in 1967beetle.com) for sure!
The “boat” is a hand-built version of a Mechanix Illustrated plan that my dad built for me about 1960, pulled behind the Bug on a trailer which I built from VW mechanicals.
Many late nights, skinned knuckles and great memories have been part of the resurrection of this machine. Help and encouragement from family and friends have played a huge role. I believe that this vehicle was destined for the crusher when we met.
When I was about 5 years old I told my mom that I was going to buy her a ’55 Cadillac some day. She was one of the first to ride in the finished ‘67 Beetle Cabrio in 1992 and has since passed away with Alzheimer’s. I remember her very words that day on our first ride.
“It’s not a Caddy like I promised,” I said to her. She said, “No–it’s better and I love it because you built it with your hands!” ‘Nough said. Mom had spoken.
A fun car that was heading nowhere is now a long-time family member. Another survivor in the 1967 family, the best year ever, of course.
Thank you, Tom, for resurrecting yet another example of such a rare Beetle and then letting the rest of us enjoy the story!