1968 VW Beetle assembly - Our Shed

By: Glenn Torrens - Words & Photos

Presented by

vw beetle 2 It’s on a trolley here but very soon this Bug will be back on its wheels and scrambling for traction vw beetle 2
vw beetle undertray vw beetle undertray
vw beetle seats vw beetle seats
vw beetle doortrim vw beetle doortrim
vw beetle brakes vw beetle brakes
vw beetle parts vw beetle parts
vw beetle dash vw beetle dash
vw beetle wheels vw beetle wheels

With his Bug chassis done, Glenn Torrens drops a body on top and tops-up the lot

After a couple of months of evening and weekend work, my backyard bargain 1968 VW Beetle project car was looking terrific. I’d fixed seme minor rust and applied a fresh coat of its glorious retro-but-real Safari Beige paint to the interior and underside, leaving the outside skin with its 50-plus years of patina. With that work completed, the body was ready to be placed onto a chassis.

vw-beetle-seats.jpg

The seats are from an early Mazda MX-5. Reupholstered in durable two-tone vinyl, they are an ideal size for the Bug’s small cabin

Although all VW Beetles are old these days – the last and therefore youngest Aussie-made Bug came off the Melbourne production line 45 years ago – I always like to add a sprinkle of modern (!) tech and drivability to my Bugs. Usually I rebuild them with the later, smarter, safer and better-handling semi-trailing arm design rear suspension rather than the older models’ stone-age swing-axle rear suspension.

| Read next: VW Beetle body work

vw-beetle-doortrim.jpg

Good second-hand doors were fitted to the body and assembled with new fasteners and rubbers. I also rust-proofed the door internals

I had a chassis, bought from another VW enthusiast, in good condition that needed little more than a coat of glossy black paint to be road-ready. To ensure many more years of trouble-free use, I installed all fresh parts such as tie-rods, wheel bearings, brakes and bushes.

vw-beetle-brakes.jpg

The front discs are top-quality DBA slotted rotors I bought in the 1990s. I teamed them with new calipers/pads, master cylinder, rear drums and shoes, and all hoses for a 100 percent new brake system

With the chassis rebuilt to the stage where it was almost ready to be placed on its wheels, I installed a new rubber seal and asked a few mates to help me lift the body onto the chassis.

With the body on, I could string-in the refurbished wiring harness (I cleaned the fuse box terminals, repaired some wires and fitted all new fuses), plumb the fuel system (including an electric fuel pump to better suit a more powerful motor) and re-install all the fiddly bits such as the door latches and windows. Everywhere, I fitted fresh rubbers and rebuilt or new components, such as a new band-tinted laminated windscreen.

vw-beetle-parts.jpg

The pedals were disassembled and electro-plated. Yes, there’s one set here: the second is for my new race Bug more on that in a future issue!

Despite the hoary, tarnished, half-century-old appearance of this Bug, I carefully chose the best components from my stash of spare parts – fuel tank, speedo, door light switches, gearstick etc – to assemble it.

vw-beetle-undertray.jpg

I also began considering what I would like to do with the interior of my little street car. I wanted this car to be driver-focussed and fast, with no extra ‘fluff’. I bought a pair of Mazda MX-5 seats for a bargain price. They are great in a Bug as they don’t weigh much and are compact, ideal for the VW’s narrow interior. I left-out the bench rear seat to reduce weight. This was all to support my ambition of making this Bug light, simple… minimalist.

vw-beetle-dash.jpg

Carpet underside fitted with press studs for quick and easy removal. Beats vacuuming

After staring at my car one afternoon while having a beer, I decided that removable carpets suited this minimalist mood, too. I found some inexpensive brown carpet that would be a good complement to the car’s paint colour; I cut it to shape and installed press-studs to the carpet edges and the VW body. With the VW’s chrome dash trims that I carefully polished, the shiny press-studs not only allow the carpet to be removed in seconds, but they also provide an extra sprinkle of sparkle to the interior, adding to the growing retro-race/outlaw vibe of the car.

vw-beetle-wheels-2.jpg

14x6-inch rims are smaller but fatter than the Bug’s original 15x4.5. A 195/65-14 tyre will help performance when teamed with a ‘hottie’ motor. Which style wheel should I choose?

With my seating and interior sorted and the mechanicals under control, I really like how my patina’ed Bug is coming together!

 

From Unique Cars 458, Oct 2021

Unique Cars magazine Value Guides

Sell your car for free right here

 

 

Subscribe to Unique Cars magazine for 12 months and save!
Australia’s classic and muscle car bible. With stunning features, advice, market intelligence and hundreds of cars for sale.

Subscribe