Brandon Barnard’s L639 Zenith Blue ’67 Beetle

old phone 236Hello, my name is Brandon Lee Barnard the proud owner of 1967 Beetle that I drive every day. One night during the spring of 2011, I was heading to the track for a run when I hit a black cow in my Jeep. I spent a lot of time trying to decide on my next car until I stumbled upon her at a storage lot in Marshall, VA. Once I saw her it was love at first site, and I have been using my ’67 as primary vehicle ever since.

My Grandmother gave me enough money to buy my first car in 1996, knowing that she would not see me graduate due to her passing away. My Dad and I found a 1973 Super Beetle in West Virginia for $1500. My father used this car to teach me how to drive a manual, which involved a lot of driving in reverse around the school parking lot. I remember when the accelerator cable broke, Dad drove it across town with weed eater line from his hand out the window to the engine. I had a blast and ended up meeting a girl that was the president of a local VW club named, “The Obsolete Few”. I had my new car for about a year, when I hydroplaned and ran into a fence. The picture shows where the post came through the windshield and speared my head rest. Thank God for the angels he had watching over me that day.

After a few months I started looking for another bug, when the back bumper of a beetle that was covered in a pole shed caught my eye. And next thing you know, I was the proud owner of a 1967 faded Ruby Red beetle. I had that car all over the roads until I through a rod right through the engine block. My Dad told me to leave it sit until it was repaired, and I was a dumb teenager that didn’t listen. I just made it out of the driveway when it happened so I asked my sister to help me push it back in the yard. My loving sister said no because I should have listened to dad. Lesson learned. After high school I joined the Navy as a Machinist Mate on the SSN Hyman G. Rickover. I started a toolmaker apprentice job with GRW technologies after leaving the military. There we made car parts for Bosch and was fortunate enough to be sent to Germany for training. Unfortunately the company was moving to another state so I got a job near DC working for a kitchen/ stair& rail company for ten years.

Now I’m getting ready to start a grounds keeper job for the owner of BET. Staying true to my reliable 67 I also own a 1971 Beetle, 1971 Super Beetle, and two spare engines. My car doesn’t get worked on by anyone but me. My beetle has become a family member and a place where I can find peace when in need. My two boys love riding and climbing around in it. It is awesome to drive a car that most ever one loves, and the people you meet because of it. I would love to find out who the first owner was being that she was bought in California. The guy I got her from purchased the car while in college and brought it back home to Virginia. Anyways, thanks for your time and God Bless.

my new phone 009
old phone 236
old phone 150
1111 016
Thanks, Brandon, for sharing your story with

Posted by Eric Shoemaker

Hello, I'm Eric. I started Air-Cooled Artifacts (previously, and Lane Russell). I drive a '67 Beetle daily and love to share vintage Volkswagen stories with the world.

  1. Brandon…I was right on your bumper through this entire story! Loving every sentence of it! Thanks for letting all of us enjoy your rides! jay

  2. Richard A. (Dick) Diaz May 22, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    Brandon-Like my friend Jay Salzer has said to me, “Never trust a guy who only owns just one Volkswagen!” I understand what you mean about your car becoming a Family member! I also have three VW’s and I am the most attached to my ’67 Bug. My wife, Carolyn, is partial to our ’71 Westfalia, even though she has a very nice ’70 Karmann Ghia Convertible! Like you, we love our Volkswagens! Enjoyed your story!-Dick

    1. If you and Carolyn ever decide to part with that ’71 Westfalia, would you drop me a line? While, we know ’67 was the best year for the beetle, many bus aficionados consider the ’71 the finest year for the bus.

  3. Brandon, Great story.
    I FIRMLY believe there are guardian angels who protect VW drivers. Maybe someday Eric or Jay will ask everyone to submit their closest “near death” experience in a beetle. I have to believe there are several out there.

    1. Mike,
      Can I have your ’67?

      1. Very cool article Eric! Hey I have a question for you, My engine froze up on me and I have to rebuild my engine and I can’t remember if it’s a 36hp or 40hp? Last night I read somewhere that it’s actually a 53hp? I need to know so I can start purchasing all the correct parts. I have the original engine and tranny still and I won’t know if I’ll be able to use the same case or not if it’s damaged. I’d rather save it if I can since all my numbers match!

        1. 53 HP is correct. 36 HP is much earlier VWs. Also, you’ll need to look at your pistons. Your case could be a 1600. If that’s the case, you can’t go back to stock 1500.

        2. Jaime…I’m sorry to hear about the engine failure. If it seized and did not throw a rod through the case–the engine case still may be usable. The engine will need to be disassembled in order to assess damage and how to proceed from this point. Find a quality VW repair shop. In my thinking, unless you have the tools and know-how to do the job yourself, you should entrust the engine to a proper VW engine builder. If the case is viable, it will need to be align-bored to assure that the new crankshaft will turn smoothly. The builder will be able to find the correct crankshaft bearings and bearings for the cam shaft. At this point, it is time for new or rebuilt lifters, etc., etc. Since 1500cc pistons no longer are available, you will need to install 1600cc pistons and cylinders. This will not change the appearance of your engine in the least. All of the same engine tins, etc. still can be used. Same carburetor, etc. Do not attempt to buy any parts before your engine case has been assessed for viability and parts sizes. jay

          1. Jay, thank you so much for responding and your wonderful advice as always! However, you were the only one who responded to my questions ; ) I’m going to do the work myself since they want way too much money for the work that needs to be performed! Although it’s been 35+ years since I last did this type of work, I have an official service manual that I must refer to during the process. You answered all my questions and for that I’m grateful. However, my question regarding horsepower has yet to be unanswered?
            Sleepless in Seattle,Jaime

      2. Sorry, Eric … Wally2 & Luna are destined to become quite an item here on San Juan Island. We are looking for 1st right of refusal should Luna ever be looking for a new home. :-)

        1. But, but, but!!! I dove from SF to Santa Rosa so you could have a free ’67 front fender. :-)

          1. Oh yeah, I almost forgot! ;-)

  4. My near death experience came last summer driving my beetle home from work. Fortunately it was early morning and there weren’t many drivers out as my brakes failed and I blew through a red light going about 45 mph. I remember thinking to myself at that moment, ” oh no, I can’t go out like this. All the naysayers would say ” I told you so!”. Needless to say my ‘ 67 is in the process of roadworthy-ing as I write! And thankfully I’m still here to share my “near death experience”.

  5. Brandon – 1st, thank you for your service.

    2nd, we’re on our third yellow beetle, second yellow bug convertible and first, ’67. Gary taught me to drive a manual transmission on his family’s 1960 bug before we were married so our family knows how deep the VW tradition can run. Our 2000 sojourn into the realm of the “new beetle” with a “Black Scarab” made us realize how much we loved the old style. This is the best support group for people with our particular disease! Loved your story!!!

    1. Yes.. Thank you for your service.

  6. Brandon, you lead us through your great story and then put double exclamation points at the end with SUCH WONDERFUL RAINBOWS-OVER-BEETLES PHOTOGRAPHS!! Inspired. Thank you!

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: