Posts Tagged ‘Volkswagen Super Beetle’

1973 Volkswagen Beetle Restoration, Part 3: Engine & Exterior

1973 VW volkswagen super beetle bug

When I look at these old pictures of my bug, I can’t help but miss the way it was.  Dents, dings, bits of rust, mismatched fenders…it was what I bought and, to me, “it had the look.”  I’m not too sure, as I think back on the restoration process, what drove me…I didn’t really have a vision.  In reality, I had very little automotive experience.  What the car reminds me of now is how much it changed me.  It helped me grow from an average admirer of vintage vehicles to a person who has a much deeper appreciation of the process, dedication and skill required to accomplish auto restoration.  As I believe the beetle holds the record for the longest-running body type of all time, I’ll spare most of the details and attempt to cover the parts of my restoration which are on the ends of the spectrum of good and bad.

True to novice form, I actually had the car painted before the engine work was completed (or started for that matter).  This is a pretty good car to make that mistake on because, of course, the engine is removed from underneath the car.

1973 VW volkswagen super beetle bug

For me, the most difficult item to find for this engine was a K & N Filter to fit the Air Cleaner shown.  I know enthusiasts swear by the stock cleaner, but I haven’t really seen any negative effects of the supposedly erratic air flow created by this style cleaner.  My two favorite modifications are the Gene Berg Oil Temperature Dip Stick and the SCAT Serpentine Belt System.  If your a fan of EMPI you can also check out their comparable Polished Aluminum Pulley System (paid link) as well.

1973 Super Beetle VW Volkswagen 3 modified

After the decklid is closed, there isn’t much to see back here except the CURT trailer hitch (paid link).  Yes, the beetle can tow!  I mostly use the hitch to haul and launch my 14’ foot aluminum jon boat.  Since there’s usually more beetles than anyone wants to see at car shows, this is where my bug really gets some attention.  On the back end, I also refit the entire muffler system.  My biggest complaint is the chrome tailpipes.  There’s just no way to stop them from rusting.  Mid America Motorworks lists a set made of polished stainless steel, which I am sure are much more resilient.  The only issue for me is that anytime I go to make the purchase they are out of stock.

The question I get the most about my Super Beetle is, “Is that (truck) bed liner on your fenders?”  The answer is yes.  The story behind the bed liner is also telling of my level of experience when I was completing this project.  As you can see in the first picture, the passenger side rear fender was damaged.  I proceeded to hit the fender with a hammer (a wooden handled, homeowner type hammer) until it appeared to be close to normal.  Then, using body filler for the first time, I called myself doing body work.  The truth of the matter is that the bed liner was something that came to mind when I was searching for a way to mask my shady workmanship.  So in a nutshell, this is the story that usually starts every conversation I have about this car.  Inadvertently, total strangers constantly remind me that if I reach my hand underneath that fender, I can literally count the dents and tell how many times I hit it.  It is of note that the particular bed liner I used was Herculiner (paid link).  While it was very easy to apply (it rolls on with a paint roller), it faded tremendously over the first summer, in a matter of months.  At the time I didn’t know that it wasn’t UV resistant, so to fix the mess, I merely taped the car off and spray painted the fenders gloss black and then clear coated them.  That fix has held up (for the most part) for over 3 years.

1973 VW volkswagen super beetle bug

All in all I am happy with the car.  I usually find something to mess with on it from time to time, even though I usually refer to the project as being complete.  In reality, the 2 biggest mistakes I feel like I made are 1) trying to use body filler to fill in the louvers underneath the windshield and 2) not replacing the hood and decklid seal channels.  With all that I have learned over the past couple of years, I’ll definitely dig back into this car at some point, but for now, I just enjoy driving it and sharing my experiences with others.

Jordache Williams | Atlas Concepts
Jordache Williams
, of Rock Hill, South Carolina, is the Program Manager for Atlas Concepts, LLC.  He understands that sometimes a small piece of information is the difference between success and failure. His contributions to the Shop Talk blog are purposed with sharing relevant information based on his own experiences.


1973 Volkswagen Beetle Restoration, Part 2: Interior

Anytime you get your hands on a classic car it’s probably already passed your pre-purchase checklist. This is to say that it was either a great find or a great buy. The truth is that it boils down to what the individual purchaser wants or needs—street rod, hot rod, daily driver or parts-vehicle.

Common concerns typically result in a search for rust, checking the VIN and mileage as well as researching the vehicle’s current versus potential value. Because I purchased my 1973 Volkswagen Super Beetle from a trusted relative, I have to admit that my purchase was based off his “rundown.” Let’s face it, the Classic Beetle is one of those cars that people love or hate.

Perhaps the late model (or New) Beetle’s production, which started in 1997, tainted the purity of the Punch Buggy game resulting in the question of “do those count?” By the way, if you’re looking for the “official rules” visit TravelingMamas or…just use your own rules.

At any rate, the Bug is a German (or Mexican) vehicle that has had a long and relevant history here in the United States. For me, it was as simple as, “I want it.”

As mentioned in 1973 Volkswagen Beetle Restoration | Part 1, the vehicle was generally in great shape, especially the interior.

Atlas Concepts LLC_Shop Talk_VW Restore 002-1

Since there are plenty of websites that walk you through Beetle restorations, such is not my purpose herein. It is my intent to share with you the direction I went with my Beetle to give you some options that you may not have considered.

The way I went about formulating the direction of my Bug was by searching a JBugs product catalog. I quickly learned that these cars can literally be built from the ground up with reproduction and original parts. Simple product installation can really transform any vehicle…so it began. A great deal of the interior was removed prior to the vehicle being painted, and installed (and in some cases reinstalled) after the car’s new paint.

Color Change: Headliner and Seats. I went with a black headliner to replace the dirty and worn original white one. I decided to uninstall and cover the rear air vents and dome/courtesy light. Before installing your headliner, develop a plan for such items. As well, here are a few other areas to consider: visor mounts, rear view mirror mount, the pillars, seat belt mounts, rear seat mounts, rear carpet and rear window seals.

While you can simply buy new seat covers, I decided that the condition mine were in did not warrant such measures. I did, however, decide that a color-matched (with the vehicle exterior) customization would bring the interior to life. The headliner installation (and visor dying), as well as the seat upholstery, was completed by Custom Made Upholstery in Rock Hill, SC.

Atlas Concepts LLC_VW Head liner

Atlas Concepts LLC_Shop Talk_VW Restore 002-10

Carpet. There are plenty of carpet options usually varying by color, style and quality. I went with Jbugs Premium Carpet Kit with footrest (34-F1176-301) and Baja Rear Carpet (34-R1104-301). The installation is simple, but obviously take the opportunity to assess your floor pan and deadening material while you have the seats out. When removing your seats, you should take time to note the Seat Lever Assembly as it can be a bit more confusing putting it back in than you would imagine. I ended up using a photo I found online to refresh my memory. My Floor Vents were a bit beaten up from years of feet moving in and out of the car. I decided to uninstall the vents and hide the hole with the carpet. With your old carpet removed is the best time for installing kick panels if you are considering this option. I went with JBugs Speaker Kick Panels (331-003 SBUG) and a Phoenix Gold Component Set (paid link).

Atlas Concepts LLC_VW Beetle Floor Pan_Heater Vent

Rear Seat Delete. It took a great deal of trial and effort figuring out what to do with the space after I decided that I didn’t need or want the rear seat. Again, I did reinstall the mounts, this was done so that the seat could be optional. I finally settled on building a “trunk” that could be used for tools and other random things, which would be secured inside the vehicle. Additionally, the speakers finally settled down to the plywood cover I made for the rear seat compartments.

Atlas Concepts LLC_VW Speakers

Atlas Concepts LLC_Shop Talk_VW Box-1

Atlas Concepts LLC_Shop Talk_VW Box-2

Doors. Though the door panels were in decent shape, I tried several times to seal the saggy door pockets and never had any long term luck. I decided to get JBugs Door Panels (10-1004-11) without pockets to avoid the issue altogether. Another simple installation. I decided to not reinstall the door handles to achieve a cleaner look. Also I went with JBugs Window Cranks (11.4521-B) to match my Grant Steering Wheel. With new seals/rubber all around, there isn’t much else I could do to the door area except add Satin Sill Plates, with polished ribs (NTSP837 4582) from Jbugs.

Atlas Concepts LLC_Volkswagen Beetle Door Panel

Atlas Concepts LLC_Shop Talk_VW runner 1

Dash. I removed the entire dash of my Beetle with the purpose of “fixing” a few cracks. I found that, when it was all said and done, it was much less painful to buy a Dash Cover (4447) from JBugs.  They actually sell complete dashes as well, but they are much more expensive, and I really just didn’t want to take the old dash out again. I installed a VDO oil temperature gauge from California Import Parts  into the clock cutout/hole and in combination with the steering wheel that I already mentioned, realistically that’s about it.

Atlas Concepts LLC_Shop Talk_VW Dash-1

A few other parts used in the interior from JBugs are:

Drink Holder (DH-SUPER); this can be removed/replaced for show.

2-point Seat Belt, Push Button, 60 inch (1201-60); this is a kit with hardware.

8 AMP Fuses (10 –Pack) (N 171 211/10)

16 AMP Fuses (10-Pack) (N 171 214/10)

Lastly, I found the 9-ball shift knob on ebay. It is custom-made and internally threaded (12mm X 1.50) to fit without any adaptors. The last addition to the bug was an LED Digital Tachometer (SUM-G2981) from Summit. The mounting bracket is something I made with scrap metal and a mig welder (have fun).

Atlas Concepts LLC_Shop Talk_VW Beetle Restoration 004-1

Atlas Concepts LLC_Shop Talk_VW Trachometer

Stay tuned for more details on this 1973 Super Beetle’s restoration and customization. Feel free to contact me regarding any specific questions, tips or ideas regarding your own VW Beetle restoration. If you are interested in sharing your automotive experiences through this blog, email Atlas Concepts, LLC at

Atlas Concepts LLC_Jordache Williams_Shop TalkJordache Williams, of Rock Hill, South Carolina, is the Program Manager for Atlas Concepts, LLC. He understands that sometimes a small piece of information is the difference between success and failure. His contributions to the Shop Talk blog are purposed with sharing relevant information based on his own experiences.