Found on our street five blocks away last night. It’s going to be for sale soon. I can have first crack at it. Those of you who have been around for a while know that I have a very special relationship with VWs, going back to my very first memory. This may just be the way to rekindle that relationship and make some new memories. Or not.
It’s a ’63, and is an Oregon car. Which means a bit of surface rust, but presumably nothing more than a coat of “patina” on the underside, except for the battery box floor, which is getting replaced shortly. I will take a closer look and have a drive today.
I had a ’63 and a ’64 back in the day, both of which were essentially my home on wheels during my free-wheeling younger days. I’ve been obsessed with Ferdinand Porsche’s creation for a very long time. After I wrote that post the other day about which car best reflects your personality, I realized I had muffed it. The VW Beetle combines elements of both the 300E and the F100 in one, as odd as that may seem. So it really is my automotive alter-ego. Fine German engineering and go-anywhere ruggedness, all rolled into one cute little ball.
The owner, who saw me shooting it and came out of his house, just finished rebuilding the engine. He seemes to know his stuff, as he’s building up a basketcase Porsche 912. He said the case is from a ’66 1300, but it has 1500 or 1600 cc cylinders (I forgot which), single port heads, Solex 30-series carb, and an alternator. He says it runs (and pulls) well, but he hasn’t pushed it past 60 yet as it’s still very fresh and not really broken in yet.
That’s almost exactly as I would have built one myself. A stock 40 horse 1200 (34 net hp) is just too slow for me, but I don’t need (or want) a “hot” engine either. This one should have a healthy dose of torque, which is low-speed VW engines are mostly about. I wonder about the gearing; if it’s the original gearbox, the gearing will be pretty low for a 1500/1600. Good for the mountains and the stop-light drag races; not so good for the freeway, where I don’t intend to spend much time with it.
He’s replaced window rubber and other important functional items, but the interior is still very much original. One of the reasons I like VWs is that they fit me surprisingly well. They’re tall and narrow, like me. Plenty of headroom.
All which is actually a good thing, as I don’t intend to restore this car if I buy it, but will make some strategic “improvements/redecorating”, to the interior, which may not necessarily be stock. No, it’s not going to be broughamtastic crushed velour.
I’m drawn to this car specifically because it’s not pristine, but in good mechanical condition, because I don’t want a “Sunday driver”, but a car I can use for running local errands and take down rough gravel forest roads to distant trail heads. I drive my cars pretty hard, and therefore a pristine vintage car is just not in the equation. It just doesn’t fit into my lifestyle, which I’m not about to change.
There’s so much history in the VW, the most important and influential car since Henry’s T. It’s a baby Tatra 87. And one that’s perfectly usable today, and parts are of course highly available and reasonable.
The patina is just about perfect. The two right side fenders are in primer, but there’s ways to get them to match reasonably well.
I’ve not bought an old car since my ’66 F100 back in 1987 (well, I guess the ’77 Dodge Chinook qualifies), and I’ve resisted numerous attractions. But this one talked to me the instant I saw it on the street last night on our walk.
Let’s see if it’s still talking to me later today, through those quad-tipped exhausts.