1972 Volkswagen Beetle 1.2 from Sri Lanka
My first car, will be sad to part with it
Worn engine, rusty body, sagging doors, brakes pulling to the side, worn carburetor and fuel pump (when I bought it).
Snapped clutch cable.
Shuddering steering wheel above 50kmph (bad steering damper).
Broken indicator stalk.
Split brake hose.
Snapped throttle cable.
Slipping window winder.
Binding wiper motor.
No starting (starter just clicks).
Intermittent oil light.
Cracked oil cooler.
My father used to have a VW Beetle and that was his first car. Also it is the one I remember the most. I used to play in it a lot as a kid and we made many unforgettable journeys in it. So many fond memories I am not going to write them all here.
Almost 15 years later, I bought my first car which is this 1972 Beetle. It is a 12V ventilator model and being inexperienced in cars, I have bought a total lemon.
The engine was worn, body was rusted underneath, doors were sagging, and brakes pulled the car to the left dangerously. I took it to my father’s mechanic for a check. He asked me to throw it away and he showed me the noticeable play by pulling the crank pulley. But I insisted on getting it fixed despite his advice. After 2 years and spending twice the purchase price on repairs (body, engine, electrics and interior), I was happily driving my first car.
I got the steering damper fixed to cure the steering wobble and got an engine rubber seal that goes around to keep the heat out.
I had heat shields fixed under the roof above headliner so it heats less inside.
I drove it daily averaging 25km for 3 years and made a few long journeys (250km+) with friends and sometime alone. The only time it made me stranded on the roadside was when the clutch cable broke, which is just after the restoration and that mechanic apologized for not having that checked.
It lacks torque big time, but could keep up with modern traffic in the city, but on open roads, you get beaten by almost everything running on the road. It runs best and most economical at 50-60 kmph.
I replaced the indicator stalk by myself (my first DIY job on any car) bought from eBay.
The wipers used to get stuck and the fuse used to blow. So I took it apart, cleaned and greased, and put it back together. To this day, it works without any problem.
Being a car enthusiast I have bought few rare cars, so I joined a technical college to learn automobile tech. After that, I made many repairs on the car myself which are mainly because of cheap fixes made by the PO.
It had the horn on the dash as a button, which I converted into an electrically operated windscreen washer and it works wonderfully.
Then I bought a correct horn ring and brought the horn back to the wheel center.
It had an ugly ignition key hanging under the dash. I purchased a correct switch from breakers and got the wired switch connected to the key barrel I bought from eBay.
I put a used hazard switch and got it working. I also fixed the antenna, dash air vents and the handle above the glove box.
I fixed the cigar lighter which charges my mobile phone now. Also put new wiper arms, new front indicator lenses, a fuse cover and new front quarter glass rubbers.
I also took apart the window cranking rails, cleaned and greased them, rotated the biting surface by 90 degrees, and to this date, the windows crank without any problem.
The charging was low and the oil light was intermittent. Also the starter was clicking but no cranking.
Checked online and found a post that the starter solenoid contacts often get dirty and that could be an issue. So I removed it, de-soldered and took the solenoid apart. Yes they were right. I cleaned and put it back together and to this date, it starts on the first go.
Being slightly more experienced and having accumulated more tools, I made valve adjustments, cleaned and put new gaskets to oil strainer, did a compression test (all 4 were at 90-100PSI), set idle RPM (from 420 to 800) and correct ignition timing, which was very wrong.
Now the generator (yes, not the alternator) gives out 13+ volts when cruising and correct RPM keeps the oil light disappearing as soon as the engine has started. Engine pulls well and idles without any hesitations.
Low beam was not working on one side. Took out the relays, opened them, sprayed contact cleaner and put them back. And that is a job well done.
This is the great thing I see in the Beetle (and cars of that period). You can take things apart, repair and re-use it.
Cannot say it is the easiest to work on due to the location of the engine, but most things you can manage if you have the interest. But it is unlike a new car, you have to be patient and I don't expect it to drive like a new car. It is 44 years old now.
The next best thing is the fellow Beetle owners. I have noticed that they are nice people and you always flash lights or wave at them when you see one passing.
Had a great run on the world VW day organized by the VW Beetle club.
These are the reasons I love to keep the Beetle, even though it is not a rare nor a sought after one.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 7th July, 2016