Owner: Sergio Ramirez, Lomoc, CA
Owner: Miguel Flores, Shafter Ca
Owner: Jim Bevan, Cambria, CA Club Feature Car Fall 2011
I purchased the 1968 VW Cabriolet in 1991. It was a desert car (I lived in Ridgecrest in the Mojave desert at the time). It had a cheap red paint job, the top was shot (as was the bow that seals the top in front), and the interior was shot. It had been souped up a bit--porshe distributor and rims, lowered front, race car steering wheel, dual trumpet pipes, etc. It was mechanically pretty good so it was a fun car to drive and I used to drive it to work a lot, especially in the summer. I had the engine rebuilt and replaced the carburator, distributor, and speedometer while in the desert.
I kept it as a retirement restoration project. But when I retired, I flunked retirement. I went back to work. Unfortunately, the VW suffered in the coastal climate. In the month I had it outside while I moved in, it picked up more rust than its entire life in the desert. I did stop that process by garaging it and covering it. It was great to drive in Cambria but over time it slowly degraded and eventually I couldn't drive it. About 3 years ago I found a guy here in town named Brad Jarvis. He loves VWs and begged me to let him restore it. My approach was to return it to stock/new condition. Since I was still working, I agreed to pay him to be the lead/mechanical guy in a restoration.
It was not a frame off restoration but we did pull everything off! We stripped out the interior, pulled the motor, totally pulled out the dash, and pulled off fenders, everything. It was painted inside and out at Cambria Auto Restoration. I had to replace one fender due to damage but that was it for the metal. There were six coats of paint on it....the original tan, orange, blue, green, yellow, and finally red. The restoration guys sand blasted it inside and out. It turned out (unknown to me), it had been hit on the right side. They redid all the damaged parts from that. After painting, the restoration guys put the fenders etc. back together. We replaced every piece of rubber. Next we towed it back to Brad and he put the car back together. That meant putting the engine in, putting all the windows and their mechanisms in, and redoing the dash. The biggest problems were replacing the dash, replacing the broken drivers side window regulator, and replacing the steering wheel.
We had also restored and repainted the hardware for the top, ordered a new top, and ordered all the wood pieces (very expensive). We then drove the vehicle to Mike Wray in Cayucos. He has a home shop and is well known for his fabulous interior work. He agreed to do the VW. In the only significant move from stock, I couldn't bear to put in rubber mats and vinyl seats etc. It has a canvas top and very nice seats and carpet.
With all the work I have done since I bought the bug, I have about the same costs as a new car. Since I view it as my around town car, it was like buying a new, American made car! It is great to drive it around town!
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