Drop-top delinquent

AFTER SELLING HIS VW BEETLE CABRIOLET, GLENN TORRENS WASTES NO TIME IN GETTING FRESH AGAIN

WORDS & PHOTOS GLENN TORRENS

F or many Volkswagen enthusiasts, these last-of-the-breed 1973-79 Beetle Cabrios are the ultimate.

They blend the technical advances of the last Super Beetle sedans – electronic fuel injection, rack and pinion steering with Porsche geometry front suspension (yes, really) and a safer, more spacious cabin – with the joy of having sunshine streaming in whenever the heart desires.

So, was I crazy to have sold the Karmann Beetle I’d just finished restoring? Yes – and no. I would have been happy to keep my drop-top Bug forever but, by chance, I’d found another Beetle Cabriolet for sale. It started me thinking about building a fast, good-handling and sharp-looking Cabrio. The one for sale was sharply priced… I had some spare cash… so I made the call to the seller and

started asking questions.

The car was left-hand drive, ex-California, and 600km away. As it turned out, Peter was a keen hot-rodder who had imported the Karmann as a ‘stocking stuffer’ in a container with some cars and parts with the intention of a quick-flick sale to someone like me. If that sounds like trouble, you’re probably right – however, a quick discussion of the Beetle’s known problem areas convinced me of the car’s condition. Another assurance was the fact Peter knew people who knew me, and vice-versa, from the street machine community so there was a little ‘old mates’ network’ at play, too.

Sold! As it turned out, the car was originally white; it was wearing a clammy coat of resale-red paint.

Thankfully, that was the only surprise: as described, my new project was in basically sound condition with only minor rust in the front wheelhouses and rear floors – two routine Beetle rust areas – and none in the structurally important sills.

Sure, the roof and seats were past their best, the engine was a little rumbly and there were a few dents and dings – but it had a great body for a 37-year-old.

Safely ensconced in my shed, I got stuck into stripping it down to a rolling shell ready for a ground-up rebuild!

Here we go again!

I was thinking of building a faster, betterhandling and sharper-looking Cabrio