Tuesday 28 February 2017

Epic autojumble quest

When I purchased Gretchen back in 2000, the owner before me had carried out a few cosmetic modifications that deviated from true stock appearance. The tasteful alterations included an earlier style 'popes nose' licence plate holder, earlier model of front indicators and a gleaming set of Sprintstar alloy wheels (Flat 4 reproductions). I personally loved the changes he made (I still do!) and they were part of the reason I was drawn to this particular car. To me, they formed part of Gretch's character and I had every intention of keeping these parts as they were. However, a funny thing has happened to my perspective during this restoration journey and I now find myself desiring period correct components. Call me sentimental, but I think this stems from researching the cars history and being in touch with the original owners. I have garnered a different kind of respect for my old Beetle. I feel her original identity needs to be reinstated and celebrated, but with room for a little of my own personal expression. Therefore, I have redefined my vision for the finished car; a stock looking 1965 Beetle, which appears as though it has rolled straight off the factory production line and then slammed with a slightly narrowed 2" front beam (to avoid body modifications). I will add a couple of period accessories and put her back on the original steel wheels with domed logo hubcaps, which have been in storage for the past 15 years...

With this clear vision in mind I have been actively scouring the web for missing or incorrect parts. I have also started searching autojumbles with fresh eyes and recently got lucky at Dubfreeze:

I managed to bag a year correct number plate surround (the white one) within minutes of arriving. Unfortunately it was missing the bulb holder, but I found the correct part on another stall shortly afterwards. As an added bonus it came with a new and unused rubber seal. Later that afternoon I came across another complete unit (surround, lens & bulb holder) that was in slightly better condition and ridiculously cheap! So now I have two to choose from. Curiously, although these surrounds are both correct old parts, one is manufactured by Hass (white one) and the other by Hella (green one). They are almost identical apart from the fact that the Hella version has some additional cylindrical protrusions on the inside. It doesn't particularly matter which one I use (who is really going to know!), but I will try and find out which is native to the early '65 model nonetheless...

Also found a later model RHD accelerator pedal in great condition with hinge pin and return spring:

I have come to realise that early RHD accelerator pedals are unobtainable, so I will graft the bottom section of this one onto my original pedal to make it functional again.

Following my previous success in obtaining some Genuine VW Mexi steel, I managed to get a rear quarter panel (albeit a cannibalised one that has been hacked for cuts) for a bargain £35! 

These obsolete panels are now becoming so scare that the usual aircooled parts vendors were last selling unbutchered ones for in excess of £500! Now, despite several sections being missing, I am fairly certain that I can use some of the steel to repair Gretchen from the swage line down. For the cost of it has got to be worth a punt!

Other autojumble finds I have recently acquired include a couple of OG bumper overiders (to replace my thin repros) and interior grab handles (to replace my damaged/split originals): 

I also got hold of these original front indicators for a song off of eBay. They are in remarkable condition for their age:

Lastly, I acquired a front scuttle section (eBay auction success again!) that has very little rust around the window corners where the de-mister parts exit:

It is cut from a later model Beetle, but the specific donor areas that I require are an exact match, so nobody will ever know. Say. No. More! Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, know whatahmean? A nod's as good as a wink to a blind bat!


  1. Gretchen seems to be in good hands. I agree with you on reinstating her original body yet setting aside a room for your personal expression. After all, the previous owner did the same thing. It’s like combining your soul to hers. Consider having Gretch detailed, too. That way, you can fully appreciate the beauty of her brand new look.

    Madonna Gentry @ SVS Autocare

    1. Hi Madonna, nice to hear from you again. A year on from this post and I feel even more committed to retaining a stock appearance. The personal expression thing is still important, but I don't want to do anything that overwhelms the true look of the car. Ideally I want everything I do that deviates from stock to be reversible. I have been making a few special purchases recently that will really bring back the original character - more on that soon ;-)