Ted Sparks’ L639 Zenith Blue ’67 Beetle

In 1967, I was in the Air Force and owned a 1958 Dodge Cornet. In February, the engine went south and it was going to cost more than I paid for the car to fix it. I decided it was time to look into getting a VW.

My step-dad hauled cars for a living, at the time, and said he’d show me how to negotiate a good price. Apparently he didn’t know that there was no bargaining on VW’s. Off we went to Lakewood Motors. We spent some time with the sales guy before dad hailed victory by getting them to throw in a cigarette lighter. He was exhausted after the ordeal.

I drove the VW for many years while I finished my time in the Air Force, college and several years of working.  On the lighter side, in 1977, I was sent to the San Francisco area to clean up a branch of the company where I was working.  I drove the VW up with my suitcase and my 200lb Saint Bernard, Mandy.  By the time I arrived, the car looked like I had Argyle seat covers and the back windows were a mess from slobber and fur.

My biggest disappointment was when I got stupid and decided to enroll my Bug in the Beetle Board Program. This was popular in the late 70’s and involved a paint job and decals of an advertiser. My Bug was selected to advertise Kool cigarettes. While it was fun and produced a small supplemental income, at the end of a year, they ripped off the decals and gave me $60 for a paint job. The biggest problem was that when they ripped off the decals, it took off the paint leaving an uneven surface. Needless to say, it was going to cost more than $60 to restore and I simply didn’t have the funds at that time.

I had a cousin who worked on cars.  He told me that he’d give me a great price on body and paint.  He did some of the work but then took it to Earl Schieb (a large paint and body franchise). What a disaster.  Needless to say, I didn’t talk to my cousin again after that.

The Bug finally took a back seat to other cars and, while I did drive it periodically, it simply didn’t get the care and attention it needed and which I had given it early on.

Fast forward to 2018–I met a gentleman at a car show who is heavily involved in VW’s. I decided to jump at the opportunity to get the Bug running again. While it WAS running, it wasn’t running that great.  Marks Auto of Sierra Vista went through the entire car with a fine tooth comb and identified everything that needed to be repaired or replaced. When he was done, I had gotten such a great deal on the work that I told him to go ahead with the body and paint.   He and his crew did a fabulous job and I am once again able to fully enjoy driving my Bug.  It runs like new and looks fantastic.

Having owned the car since 1967 (that’s 53 years), it’s a part of me and I’m thrilled to be whole again. The day after I got it back from being restored, I entered it in a local VW car show. I was thrilled to have taken second place. I still have a few pieces to replace in order to get it back to original, but dang, I do love driving it.

Posted by Jay Salser

My wife, Neva, and I have been driving and working on VWs since 1976. In fact, we raised our family in these cars. Now, we are retired and enjoy VWs as a hobby. The ’67 Beetle always has been our favorite year. We own a '67 Beetle and a '68 Karmann Ghia.

  1. Very nice looking VW. I am looking for a stock, turn key 67 VW. Keep me in mind if you ever decide to sell your’s. Jay Grabowski

    1. I’ll sell you mine for $25,000. Just kidding…..

  2. Ted, beautiful car, exactly like mine.

  3. A little off subject but what a story to illustrate human relationships. There’s the cousin and his slipshod work then Mark’s Auto of Sierra Vista. I’m sure Mark will survive any ups and downs that may come along. Wow. Ted looks big in there. Reminds me of the Wilt the Stilt ads. If he ever gets every little bit done… Well, it can’t be done. Definitely a contrast with my short termer too, at 53 years.

  4. “I’ll paint any car for $29.95! (later $49.95!)” Didn’t we all get Earl Schieb paint jobs back then? I did! Great story, and a great 67 Beetle!

    1. My Grandpa did it. And, I spent a lot of $ fixing things such as that.

    2. Yes, I had a Earl Schieb paint jobs. If you prepped it well, took out the windows and all rubber it was decent paint job for a while.

  5. Ted:
    What enjoyable reading. She sure looks good now.

  6. Sweet ride! Wish mine was Zenith Blue from factory, but not about to change the birthday Lotus White.

  7. Great looking car

  8. 53 years! That is impressive. Nice job on the refurb too.

  9. Neat story and your VW looks great.

  10. Love the story, looks great.

  11. Ted, I salute you for hanging on to your baby through all the “thick and thin” of 53 years! This is THE feel good story of the day for us ’67 folks! Is the rear suspension geometry set up a little higher on yours? Zenith Blue and chrome wheels on a ’67 are a perfect combo! Love those old Earl Scheib references!

  12. I notice it doesn’t sag in the rear like me and our ’67 does.

  13. That’s a beautiful car and a beautiful story.

  14. I have had my 1966 VW convertible since 1974. I am the second and last owner. I recently found a garage that focuses on old bugs and buses. My car has been in parades and shows. I always get “thumbs up” when I drive it. It was in a commercial a couple years ago and I got paid for it! I’ll never sell it. I should replace the top but that will cost $7,000. I drive it. It’s been upgraded from a 6 to 12 volt, 1300 engine to 1600. It’s the original color. Now I should buy some decent tires. I wish there was a club in this area and we could drive to destinations together. What fun.

    1. Hello, Robin…A VW friend and Reader of 1967beetle.com was in the same fix as you are. I suggested that each time he went to a car show to look for another VW owner. Soon, he and his wife had found 3-4 like-minded VW owners and began meeting informally. My wife and I had a similar experience over 14 years ago. I met another VW owner and we began a group which persists to today. We meet as VW friends–no formal organization–no voting, no president, secretary, etc. We even go on cruises. We solve knotty problems which we experience with our cars. Try it, Robin! jay

  15. We’ll drive with you. Are you close to Dumont, Iowa?
    My mom sewed a new headliner for my ’59 back in 1967. But she’s not around anymore. Wow, $7,000.
    Our ’67 has a few runs in the paint, I just accept them and the non-original engine as part of the economy cay experience.

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