Dad's 65 VW Bug

Dad bought this VW bug in the summer of 65 and it was his pride and joy. He drove it 125 miles every day back and forth to work for nearly 20 years. The odometer now reads 41,000 miles and I'm sure that is the second time around. Everything is original including the package of peppermints I found in the glove compartment.

Dad was no mechanic but he took care of his car. It was always clean and he had it serviced religiously. He always use to say that if you keep it well lubed and the oil clean your car will run for ever. Pull the dip stick on this bug and you have to look closely to see the oil it is so clean.

I know dad would be proud to see his bug getting such good treatment. Below you will see pictures taken during the first phase of restoration; brakes, bearings, shocks, starting system and rubber seals.

Up and ready for business.

 New starter and battery cables installed.    Old brake drums coming off.

 New brake cylinders and brake hoses.    New brakes all around.



 New master cylinder    New drums all around.



 Rear axle is getting the same treatment.


The next step is to unscramble the electrical problems. After testing the battery and finding it good, I replaced the starter, solenoid, battery cables and checked every connection and still could not start the car. I finally ordered a new battery and when it came I installed it and the car started instantly...BUT...that is not the end of the story! The car sat idle for less than a week while I finished work on the brakes and some rubber seals. When I went to start the car the battery was dead - again! (It's not easy finding someone who can charge a 6v battery.) Sooo...I have a short somewhere in the system that is draining the battery. Since electricity in cars is a mystery to me I broke down and made an appointment with a mechanic to get it fixed. If I had the next year to tinker with the car I would track the trouble down myself, but as it stands, this car project is on the fast track and I have to get it done.

Here it is ready to go. New paint will come later. 7/12/03

 Before a good rub down and buffing.

 Look at that shine!


 Looks pretty good for an old bug!



Here is what dad's bug looks like now that everything is working and it has been buffed out. I was surprised at the shine that came out with a little buffing compound and lots of elbow grease. I want to replace the mud flaps dad had on the back but those are like ducks teeth. I found a pair on Ebay for a mere $149 and 29 people were bidding on them so the price will certainly go higher. I found some that don't have the VW logo but I will wait. Now off to the department of motor vehicles to get a license!

July 26, 2003

Not everything was working! The electrical problem couldn't be found by the mechanic who looked at it and charged me anyway. So much for mechanics! I took the car to an auto electrical shop and they suspected the generator was causing some problems. That was not good news because the in VWs the ankle bone is connected to the shin bone which is connected to the pocket book. In short you have to practically dismantle the whole car just to get the generator out and then either have it rebuilt or buy a new one. I opted to have it rebuilt. Cost was the same but if I have problems I know who to talk to. So...after getting the offending part out, having it rebuilt, cleaning 35 years of crud from the shroud and reassembling everything it is running. Here is what it looked like and looks like now.

 Old generator and fan almost out.

 New generator back in.


Everything connected and running.


Looking good.

1965 daily driver ready for the road again. 

Phase 2 - Body Work and Paint

The summer of 2005 saw the beginning of phase 2, body work and paint. I began my search for body work and paint by visiting Maco. The price was right but the quality of work coming out of the paint booth was less than acceptable. The estimator proudly showed me a car coming out of the booth but I was shocked at the poor quality of prep work and finish. They obviously had not sanded the car and had even sprayed over what appeared to be a sticker on the trunk lid. And then there were the runs and orange peal on the hood and doors. They even had a guy using a black marker to cover up over spray. Not very professional, if you ask me. At a little over $1500, I figured I could do better on quality and maybe even price. I soon learned, paint is expensive but I found what I figured would be an acceptable job for what I could afford.

My first job was to strip the car and get it ready for paint.


   Fenders off, undercoating removed, trim and lights off, windows out of the doors and sunroof open. Someone had patched the sunroof with epoxy, so that will have to be cleaned up. All new parts and rubber seals are ready and awaiting paint.

 Major Surprise

Imagine the excitement of waiting for ten days to get your car from the paint shop only to see that they had painted it the WRONG color!

The owner of the shop offered to repaint it the correct color at no additional cost, but after a some talk I got him to finish the door jams and interior for another $100. It is not original, but it is a nice color and my wife likes it much better than the original, which must count for something.

Now to reassemble it before school starts.

Updated 8/20/05



It's been 5 days since Dad's VW returned home from the paint shop. Reassembly has gone well. Today was spent installing the door windows and vent wings. A couple of pictures to capture the moment.

Things look scary here, but it actually went together quite nicely. The second window was much easier. Once I got the vent window in and pushed into place the rest went together quickly. The hardest part was making sure the rubber stayed where I wanted it to stay.

If you are wondering, the steps I followed for assembling the door and vent windows and scrapers are a little different than those posted on many web sites.

"Baby powder is your best friend!"

  1. Installed outer scraper
  2. Slid glass into door (not attached to regulator).
  3. Installed regulator.
  4. Installed inner scraper.
  5. Installed vent wing.
  6. Installed window felt channel & clips
  7. Slid window up between scrapers and then attached it to the regulator.
  8. Loosened all regulator bolts to adjust the window so it moves up and down easily.
  9. Tighten all regulator bolts.


Empty door ready for scrapers and glass.


Scrapers in and ready to install vent window..


Glass in, but not attached to regulator.

That comes later.


Vent ready to press in and then align glass and attach to regulator.

Sunroof installation
Sunroof installation has been a frustration at best. First, the OEM cables I ordered didn't fit. Then once I did finally get the sunroof assembled, using the original cables, I discovered the plastic cable guides allowed the right hand cable to flex and jump a tooth on the gear, causing the door to torque to one side and not close fully. The fix was to make a nylon bushing that held the cable in place.
 See how to press vent window rivet. Here she is minus bumpers and running boards. Those little items will come in the next few months.

Phase 3 - Interior and a few other things.

Interior on hold for 2006.

Phase 3 - Repainting...Again!

Ok, I guess I must be an easy mark. Last summer (August 2005) the painter painted the car the wrong color. I decided I liked the "new" color so stuck with it. Two months later the paint started to bubble. The painter said he would repaint any time I was ready. Since I don't work in the summer months, it was time to repaint. I told him to "match the same color." I even gave him the can of touch-up paint he gave me so he could make comparisons. After waiting 15 days I showed up with a truck to fetch my car. Surprise! He painted it the wrong color again, only this time the color was the color I originally wanted over a year ago. Ok, I didn't mind because the car was back to its original stock color. One minor problem! In the repainting he neglected to lift the hood and engine cover and paint them. So I have a good looking original color car (Bahama Blue) with a trunk and engine compartment a slightly different color. I guess if you want it done right, do it yourself!

New paint again.

 Just arrived from the paint shop

Bahama Blue - 2006

First trip out.
 All new seals and German running boards.

 Original front bumper
 Rear bumper yet to be replaced.

 Hand polished trim.

 Digging through a box of junk my dad had in the car I found the original set of tools that came with the car.

Sun Roof Assembly.

Rebuilding the sun roof seems to be a topic of discussion and consternation for many. I found the process to be time consuming but not all that difficult. Here are the steps I followed to assemble my roof.



 Opening clean and painted ready for parts.

 Rails and end pins clean & lubricated w/ lithium white grease.

 End view of roof rail. Do not lubricate end pins.



 Cable corner guide inner& outer

 Rail in place
 Rt. cable & flipper in guide rail


Rt. flipper in the up position. Put in the down position when you install the roof.  Left cable and inner corner guide Lft corner guide cover going on. Use only one screw to keep in place for now.



 Ready to install center guide. Do not install the cog yet.  Left cable being placed in the groove. Because the small metal clip (next pic) was missing I had to fabricate this small nylon wedge to keep the cables from flexing and jumping a tooth on the cog.



 This is the small clip that keeps the cables in their tracks. Rare find.

 Rear roof seal will be glued into grove along back edge.

 Seal glued in place. Now glue on felt seal.

 Once the seal and felt are glued on, carefully place the roof in its opening. Attach the sliders to the roof.  Attach the flippers to the roof and carefully push the roof forward but not closed all the way. Measure the gap at both sides and front corners to ensure the roof is closing square. Adjust as necessary.  Once your roof is aligned properly, install the cog and crank. Carefully test the opening and closing. Caution: if you have not yet installed the felt seal, the door can move forward too far and damage your paint.
   The sun roof is not a job you want to rush because it needs to be aligned properly to work properly. Take your time and you will be happy with the results.
 This is the last step. Align the crank in the closed position.

Phase 4 Interior

I have debated whether or not I want fabric or vinyl, and the debate rages on, but ince this car was originally vinyl, I think that is the way I will go. I will probably change from the original pea green colors to a lighter green or grey. Here are some pictures of another car of the same color and year.

 Not my car, but similar.  I like the original style, not the color.

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Last updated: Sept 2, 2007