‘Carlos’ is a 1974 Super Beetle, four speed, with a stock 1600cc carbureted engine.
I purchased Carlos soon after completing my work on Gracie, the 1965 Sunroof Beetle. I found her on Craigslist, and the purchase price was decent ($2700 USD). She ran OK, although she coughed a bit. The main issue was the large amount of rust. It extended through all the fenders, especially where they connected to the side panels. The right front fender was stoved-in, probably from a mild front end collision. Her insides were in rough shape; seats roached, dashboard cracked and carpets filthy.
On the good side, she had had her brakes redone by the seller (who worked at a brake garage facility) and she was an interesting design choice: The paint was ‘Sahara Beige’ and the interior upholstery was brown (rather uncommon given that almost all VW upholstery in the ’70s era were black) so it made for a kind of interesting curb appeal.
Carlos need all four fenders replaced, plus the quarter panels (front and back) had to be rebuilt with welded patches that contained ‘captured nuts’ to allow the fenders to be attached to. These requirements set my on my odyssey into welding, which has been a new source of enjoyment. I also sprayed these fenders myself using a part urethane and a ‘tornado type’ spray painter. Sadly the replacement fenders came in with a few dents, but I’ve since learned that this is fairly standard procedure. These must be a bear to pack and ship.
Carlos received new window rubber, and replacement upholstery covering, also in beige. The coughing and rough idling were corrected by rebuilding the carburetor and addressing a few places where vacuum to the intake manifold was compromised.
Renovating ’70s era VWs have pros and cons. The cars were at the peak of their design, so they are among the easiest to work on and find parts for. The engines are robust and reliable. The down side is that their resale value often will not cover the cost of extensive renovation. I had to be very careful with Carlos so as to not over build the car past what I could recoup in resale value (and this does not include one minute of labor time). This fact was never more true than when I began work on Syd, the 1979 convertible rust bucket. However in Syd’s case, the condition was so bad (and the purchase price so reasonable) that she could be used as a teaching tool for the much more critical restoration to come on Wolfgang.
Carlos is fun to drive, and looks great from about ten feet, good from about five.
STATUS: Restoration more or less complete; upholstery remains to be completed
AVAILABILITY: Carlos is available for sale.