OUR CARS – TOR­RENS

GT’S DOES UN­MEN­TION­ABLE THINGS TO A BEETLE

Unique Cars - - CONTENTS - WORDS & PHO­TOS  GLENN TOR­RENS

ONE OF THE rea­sons I en­joy re­build­ing, restor­ing and rac­ing V Ws Bee­tles is their sim­plic­ity. The rear-mounted flat-four air-cooled mo­tor and gear­box are seen as weirdly com­pli­cated by some peo­ple, but the fact the car has no radiator and the en­gine and gear­box are made of light al­loy, makes the Beetle one of the world’s eas­i­est-to-own clas­sic cars: a Bug can be main­tained – even re­built – in a sub­ur­ban back­yard with only a hand­ful of tools and equip­ment. It’s al­most as easy as Lego! But my mate Mick didn’t want to cram his al­ready-full brain with V W tech while run­ning his crash re­pair and ve­hi­cle restora­tion busi­ness, Old School Body works. In­stead, he asked me to co-or­di­nate the R&R (re­move and re­place) task for some rust re­pair work with a cus­tomer’s car that in­volved lift­ing a V W body from its chas­sis. I’ve re­stored and re­built – and wrecked – plenty of these dak-daks so I knew ex­actly where to pull plugs, wran­gle wires and spin span­ners to get the body swiftly and safely sep­a­rated from the chas­sis. I knew where to buy com­plete re­place­ment f loor sec­tions, too, sav­ing Mick even more time and has­sle.

We be­gan by re­mov­ing the seats and dis­con­nect­ing the bat­tery and wiring har­ness to the rear-mounted en­gine. Then we used the work­shop hoist to lift the Bug so the heater ducts, the brake lines, starter mo­tor ca­ble and a few other bits and bobs could be

“MICK THE PANEL-MAN DIDN’T WANT TO CRAM HIS HEAD WITH VWS SO HE USED MY BRAIN IN­STEAD”

un­fas­tened or re­moved from un­der the car. While the Bug was in the air, we drained the front-mounted fuel tank and re­moved most of the floor-edge bolts hold­ing the body to the chas­sis.

Re­turned to the ground, we re­moved the fuel tank, dis­con­nected the steer­ing col­umn and loos­ened the last of the body-to-chas­sis bolts, in­clud­ing those hold­ing the front sus­pen­sion to the strut tow­ers. The in­tended re­pair of some rust in the fresh-air plenum – a com­mon Bug rust spot – meant re­mov­ing the wind­screen wiper mo­tor, too.

Then, by repo­si­tion­ing the hoist’s legs un­der the ver y edges of the body’s sills, we were able to lift the body from the chas­sis in just a few hours.

Voila! See… I’m telling you; play­ing with V W Bee­tles is easy!

Sure, we used a hoist but many V W en­thu­si­asts achieve this at home with a few strong mates to lift the body. Four 20-litre drums and some stout lengths of tim­ber eas­ily sup­port the shell.

With the body out of the way, Mick and his side-kick Gra­ham were able to re­move the rusty f loors from the cen­tre spine of the V W’s chas­sis and re­place them – and re­pair some other mi­nor rust – be­fore the chas­sis was wheeled back un­der the body and the R&R process re­versed.

Sure, it needs some lovin’ else­where, but with fresh floors, this Bug now has a firm foun­da­tion for an­other four decades of reg­u­lar use.

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01 The two new floor sec­tions in place be­fore the car’s re­assem­bly 02 Thank­fully, there was min­i­mal struc­tural rust 03 A not-of­ten seen sled beetle. 01

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