1976 VW Beetle: our shed

By: Glenn Torrens, Photography by: Glenn Torrens

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Glenn Torrens' 1976 VW Beetle Glenn Torrens' 1976 VW Beetle Glenn Torrens' 1976 VW Beetle
Glenn Torrens' 1976 VW Beetle Glenn Torrens' 1976 VW Beetle Glenn Torrens' 1976 VW Beetle
Glenn Torrens' 1976 VW Beetle Glenn Torrens' 1976 VW Beetle Glenn Torrens' 1976 VW Beetle
Glenn Torrens' 1976 VW Beetle Glenn Torrens' 1976 VW Beetle Glenn Torrens' 1976 VW Beetle
Glenn Torrens' 1976 VW Beetle Glenn Torrens' 1976 VW Beetle Glenn Torrens' 1976 VW Beetle

After smacking his beetle into a racetrack wall, Glenn Torrens finds peace in a minor detail

1976 VW Beetle: our shed
Glenn Torrens' 1976 VW Beetle

 

1976 VW Beetle

SIDE BY SIDE

There was the sound of mud being slapped onto the undercarriage as I slid backward from the bitumen, but no explosion of glass to follow the THOONK of hitting the wall. Sitting there collecting my thoughts for a few seconds, I reckoned that was a good thing; no shower of glass pellets was the one positive outcome from my decision to brake just a splimity-teenth of a second too late… on a damp, downhill left-hander.

Unharnessed and out, I gingerly examined the left-rear (of the car). Although knocked ajar, the engine lid was undamaged, as was the engine and left-hand carburettor. The mudguard was squashed flat, but the wheel seemed to be pointing in the right direction, so I hopped back into my now battle-scarred little yellow VW Beetle and drove slowly back to the pits, feeling for wobbles on the way.

Closer inspection revealed the Beetle’s rear quarter-panel was punched in about 50mm – enough to pull the pillars out of alignment; not quite enough to break the side window – but the car drove with straight steering. After a little attention with a hammer, fellow nutter Dave Morley and I continued our weekend’s track shenanigans.

I put aside some time to properly repair the damage several months later. Earlier in the year, I’d condemned a later-model VW: sand-blasting revealed it not worthy of restoring, so it became a parts donor. I unpicked the damaged panel, straightened the sub-structure (it was crushed back to the roll-cage mount) and installed the section cut from the dead Bug.

Even though I carefully installed the panel into my weekend warrior and matched the bright yellow paint, something continued to trouble me. The donor car had been fitted with flow-through ventilation, so now one side of my Beetle featured a little half-moon vent behind the rear window and the other side didn’t.

I’m no perfectionist, but I do like things reasonably neat and tidy. So for months, every time I washed the VW, or worked on it, or even glanced at it sitting in my workshop, I could see a vent fitted on one side and absent from the other. It was as aggravating as a dripping tap, or a crooked painting. How could one small detail be so inordinately annoying?

So, one wet, cold and miserable winter weekend, I removed the driver’s side rear quarter window, peeled back the headlining and got busy, grafting-in the other vent-equipped section of metal from the later model. Sliced, welded, filled, smoothed, primed and painted, my little yellow Beetle looks balanced and wholesome again.

 

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