Rick’s Ortenburger’s L639 Zenith Blue ’67 Beetle

Our interest in the VW Beetle was peaked again while attending a classic car show in Röllbach, Germany while visiting our family there in the Upper Franconia area in August 2017. There were many classic cars at the show; VW’s, Porsche, Fiats, some American cars to include a few Mustangs, Buicks & even an Edsel. (Image 1) We had owned three VW’s through the previous years, the first was a 1956 Beetle when I was stationed in Germany from 1969-1971.

We went home & thought about it but many things got in the way, but we kept looking for a long time. I looked at many different VW years on the Internet but somehow zeroed in on the 1967, basically it had “the look” that I liked. We came close to purchasing a Ruby Red VW Beetle that Eric had posted here in April of 2021, but in the end, it was sold. So I looked again, even locally in Utah. I found a few & one day in May 2021 I found a 1967 VW Beetle in Bountiful, Utah. I called the guy & he happened to be in Sandy, UT, about 15 minutes from us and he was driving the car around. We met up, looked it over, went to the credit union, transferred the money & bought the car in 15 minutes. We took a chance, he said the car was straight, no rust & had not been messed with. It had spent most of its life in the San Francisco area. We found out later all of that was true. I told Elfi, my wife, that maybe it didn’t need much done to it when we bought it.

But my eyes, in looking at it later & the perfectionist in me told me different. The paint was poorly resprayed & the interior really needed a makeover. I looked for recommendations to do the minor body work repair & paint in Utah & got a few from a VW Facebook page. One person recommended was Juan Rea at his 801 Garage in Salt Lake City. I met up with with Juan about the bodywork & paint job in June 2021, he said he could do it, but in time. He gave me a price & told me he’d call me, as he had two cars in front of mine to work on. He’s a popular guy here, the best VW painter here in the area.

A few weeks after the purchase I found out by looking closely at the 67, that this was a matching numbers VW with the correct engine number, started in December 1966, finished in January 1967. This was a most pleasant surprise.

I asked Eric for advise on where to buy the interior, if that was even possible. He lead me to Wolfsburg West & then West Coast Metrics for all new rubber. Juan Rea said I would also need new rubber. Eric saved me a lot of future grief, steering me to buy the correct interior parts & rubber kit. He also told me to “keep those European bumpers”, instead of buying new ones. I had the bumpers & hub caps fixed & re-chromed at Salt Lake Chrome. I’m glad I listened to Eric! So I bought stuff & I bought more stuff, it went on and on, but in a good way. It was exciting & satisfying to be able to buy parts that were reproduced pretty much in the same manner as the originals.

I asked Juan when I could bring my car…………. One day he called me & said bring it down. I figured if it was in his locked gated yard, that’s better & he’d get to it eventually. On July 30 the car went to the 801 Garage. But there were still those two other cars in front of mine, still being worked on. Our VW was actually started in early October. That’s OK, we were happy. The seats & panels were removed from the VW. The body & paint work was started 22 October. “It does take time”.

The fenders and trunk & engine lid were removed from the car & eventually painted the original L 639 Zenith Blue (zenitblau) The original paint color code decal was still in the trunk.

The total restoration included removing all of the minor body dents & scratches, replacing all of the interior, putting new rubber on the car, re-chroming the hub caps & bumpers, painting the body, the gas tank & the rims back to the original colors. One day we will rebuild the engine, we’ll have to save up some money for that!

Thanks to Eric Shoemaker & Jay Salser for his excellent guidance during the restoration process.

In the meantime we want to drive our 1967 VW for as long as we are here, a few times a week or whenever we feel the need to get out. And since we are retired, that might be often. Off we go.

Posted by Eric Shoemaker

Hello, I'm Eric. I started Air-Cooled Artifacts (previously, 1967beetle.com and Lane Russell). I drive a '67 Beetle daily and love to share vintage Volkswagen stories with the world.

  1. That’s a great story. Congratulations.

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  2. Agree! And my fav color too.

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  3. Great looking car! Looks like it was worth waiting for!

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  4. Great working, best result!

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  5. I like the happy ending. Beautiful car! Enjoy!

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  6. We also have a restored 67 Beetle, love the car.

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  7. Hi Rick. You be a lucky guy… like me. Really an amazing process depicted here.
    When my mom thought a valve job was a big deal, I sold my ’59 and bought a new bug just like yours. $2004.44. The ’68s were out but they were absolutely terrible compared to the ’67 (smog stuff, high back seats, lame bumpers ect.). At 2004 miles a Roadrunner with a 440 Magnum hit my door and I ended up in the yard by the front door of a house. The insurance company wouldn’t let me keep the Koni shocks. Now we have a Savanna Beige version, shipped from California to Iowa. It has a Brazilian 1600 but apparently a better body starting out than yours.
    If you are ever in Iowa stop by for a beer and we’ll race around the section.

    Reply

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