Nik's RHD 1963 Ragtop beetle
Nik had owned his Beetle for 12 years when he brought it to us; his daughters had all grown up with the car as part of the family, so it held a lot of sentimental value. After a false start with another restoration shop, Nik came to see us to enquire whether it would be possible to get the car done in time for his Daughter's wedding. The car had already been fully stripped and had new floorpan halves welded in, although the floorpan still needed repairs to the tunnel, frame head and Napoleon's hat, as well as rectifying the rear crossmember panels, which had been welded in at the wrong angle.
We knew that the historic repair work carried out to the body was poor, but it wasn't until the body came back from the blasters that we realised just how bad; the fact that this car was an original (and very rare) RHD ragtop sunroof car made the restoration worthwhile though, and we all know that you can't put a price on sentimental value too. We had to work with the limited panel availability for Beetles of this age and this meant lots of repair panel fabrication and rectification on this car; the decision was made to use the best quality Klassic Fab heater channels too, in order to get the best quality finish.
Rust-repair wise, the car received a new N/S front quarter panel, new front clip dissected to fit the new 1/4 panel, new front and rear bulkheads, lower windscreen corner repairs, lower A-pillars, both heater channels, lower rear quarter panels and wing mounting panels, rear luggage area edges, rear inner wings and body mounts, rear firewall repairs, engine bay side trays, rear valance and roof repairs at the rear of the sunroof area. The doors were replaced with ones from California. which only needed small repairs; the original bonnet needed the corners repaired, the decklid needed a lower section making and letting in and the hinge area repaired and all 4 wings needed some localised repairs too. After all of this, the underside of the car was painted in tinted UPOL Raptor for the sake of longevity and resistance to knocks.
The car was dry built before going next door for paint; it had an exterior repaint years ago but the colour was off, so we took a colour match from the original L380 Turqoise paint on the interior of the car. The paint formulas for the original wheel colours - Sea Green and Turquoise White - took an exhaustive search to find, but we found a supplier in the end. Nik wanted a mild lowering job, so we fitted a new 2" narrowed beam with drop spindles and new adjustable 2" lowered rear spring plates. The floorpan was completely built up and detailed before the repainted body could be reunited with it; this included a dual PCD front disc brake kit, as Nik wanted the option to fit Porsche pattern wheels in the future. The repainted wheels were fitted with 145R15 and 165R15 tyres for a more classic resto cal look.
Nik had driven the car for a few years prior to stripping it for restoration, so he knew that the original gearbox was good enough to be reused; we had it blasted and fully detailed it. The 1500cc engine that came with the car was retained but the case was line bored and it was fully rebuilt with new parts, including powder coated tinware and a stainless steel exhaust with better flow characteristics. As we were nearing the wedding deadline at this point, the whole team jumped on the car to put it back together and get some miles on it before the big day; the wedding day went off without a hitch and Nik is delighted to have his beloved car back just in time for the 2022 summer VW shows!