Got a car guy or gal in your family? Especially a VW enthusiast! What a great Christmas gift this would be for them. Show your support for the Kentucky Old Volks Home by purchasing one of these quality (made in the USA) t-shirts for the car enthusiast in your family!
Really wanted to give the rear of the Beetle a different look, so I decided to black out the lower valance. Not a difficult mod, a little time consuming, but very inexpensive. The lower valance is held in place with 3 plastic rivets in the center of the valance and two metal torx on each side of the valance. You can fight the plastic rivets all day long, but save yourself a lot of time and just drill them out. The rivet at the top of the picture is the one I drilled out, the rivet at the bottom of the picture is the replacement. They’re readily available at any auto parts store for just a couple of dollars. Total time to remove the valance is about 5 minutes. Once the valance was removed, I washed it thoroughly and wet sanded with 2000 grit sand paper. You’ll appreciate the effort you put into this later. It’s very important that you remove any dirt, grime and wax before you paint. I spent about an hour wet sanding and prepping for paint. Once I was convinced that it was prepped and ready for paint, I used a prep cloth to ensure that the valance was clean and free of any oil or wax. The prep cloth is a necessary step, probably the most important step. If the valance has any oil, grime or wax on it, the paint/primer will not adhere. I then gave it a light coat of primer and examined for any imperfections. I ended up giving it two good coats of primer, then wet sanded until the surface was smooth. Again, not rocket science, just time consuming. Just when you think you’ve got it where you want it, do it again. Don’t be in a rush. After the final wet sanding, I let it sit in the sun (while the sun was out) for awhile. Up until this point, I’ve got about 3 hours into the project. I didn’t want to paint the valance in the garage, so I was dodging off and on rain showers for a while. Once I was convinced that the rain was over, the painting began. A total of 3 coats, letting it dry at least a half hour in between coats. After the final coat, I let it sit for about 3 hours. I was surprised at just how fast the paint dried. It was actually dry to the touch within an hour, but I didn’t want to rush. The car isn’t going to be driven anywhere today, so the paint will have plenty of time to cure before it hits the road. But after 3 hours, it was plenty dry enough to install. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the hardest, I’ll give this project a 4. Not hard, but takes some patience and is a little time consuming. But hey, I wasn’t going to get the grass cut today anyhow, so I had plenty of time. Total cost for the project (considering my time is free) was $10.79. All of these supplies can be picked up any any auto parts supply store. That covered the cost of the paint, the rivets (pack of 6) and the prep cloth. I already had a can of primer. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!
Thinking about doing a new mod. This one should be fairly easy once I figure out if the lower part of the rear clip is separate from the upper part. The part in question is outlined in read. If this part is separate from the upper part of the rear clip, I’d like to paint it a satin or flat black as shown in this photoshopped pic. I’m hoping that this part of the rear bumper is separate for the upper part. From what I can tell, the bumper cover is two separate pieces. I’ll have to do some research, but it looks like it’s totally possible. A quick look underneath, doesn’t look like a lot of work to remove the valance. Three plastic rivets and two torx screws. I think it’ll add a whole new dimension to the rear of the Beetle.
Weather be damned, these eyelids were getting installed today. The added benefit of having a garage free of enough clutter to actually park a car in. So, after getting both eyelids prepped, painted and polished, the last step of the project was the installation. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve opted to adhere the eyelids to the headlight assembly using 3M VHB tape. This stuff is very strong and used on door trim and molding to hold it in place for years. Before I applied the tape to the back of the eyelids, I had to do some prep work. I sanded the back of the eyelids with a 800 grit sand paper, used a 3M prep cloth to clean it, then rubbed it down with rubbing alcohol (as per the instructions). Then I started laying out the 1 inch tape to the back of the eyelids, covering about 90% of the surface. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. And I’ll be damned if I’m taking them off to get a pic. I also cleaned the headlight assembly and rubbed it down with rubbing alcohol as well. After that, it was just a matter of peeling off the back of the tape, aligning the eyelid to the headlight assembly and pressing it into place. I’d recommend that you dry fit the eyelids before you pull the back of the tape off and use something to mark reference points before you finish. It’ll make installing them much easier. Keep in mind, once this tape touches a surface, it sticks! So here’s the finished product. Overall, I’m pleased with the results. A more aggressive looking headlight assembly. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the hardest, I’ll give this project a 7. Only because the prep, paint and polish requires a lot of patience, which I don’t have. I had to muster a lot of patience for an acceptable outcome. Would I do it again? Probably, but only after the price of the eyelids drop! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!
Some additional photos:
We gave the painted eyelids all night for the paint and clear coat to cure. So today consisted of wet sanding and polishing. First was a good wet sanding using 2000 grit sand paper and lots of water. The key here is to take your time and keep the painted surface and sand paper wet. Too much friction can cause many issues. Sand evenly with slight pressure. All in all, I’d say that I spent at least 20 or 25 minutes wet sanding each eyelid. The process wasn’t hard, you just need to pay attention to what you’re doing! The end result was very pleasing. The eyelids had a nice, smooth surface, ready for polishing. After the wet sanding was complete, I began the process of polishing. I actually dreaded this part, thinking that it was going to take forever and that somehow, I’d screw it up. Fact is, it wasn’t hard at all. Time consuming yes, but not hard. I used a buffering disk that fit on my variable speed drill and Turtle Wax polishing compound. Again, patience is virtue. Take your time, use even pressure. Keep plenty of rubbing compound on your buffering disk. Every once in a while, you can wipe down the eyelid to check out your progress and to find any spots that may need more attention. You’ll be amazed at just how easy this is. I really took my time and spent about an hour on each eyelid. All in all, I’m very satisfied with the finished product. I figured that I’ve got about 3 hours total into the project and about $45.00 worth of supplies. Don’t know exactly how much a good body shop would’ve charged to paint these for me, but I’m sure it would’ve been more than $45.00 dollars. Unfortunately, mother nature is not playing nice today, so I won’t actually install them until tomorrow. Stay tuned!
So after a two week wait, I finally received my ABT eyelids. It was a hard decision to pay the $179.00 for them, but once I got them, I understood the price. However, I still believe a $60.00 price tag would’ve been sufficient (come on GTS, get on the ball)….Anyhow first impressions were good. They were very well packaged, even UPS would have a hard time destroying them during shipping. The finish was good, they were already sanded, primed and pretty much ready to paint. ABT is stamped in the top of drivers side eyelid and there were a couple of pinpoint air pockets there, but other than that, I was impressed with the finish. If you wanted to, you could easily fill in the ABT stamp with a minimal amount of bondo. They also came with a sticker to place in your door jam or under the hood indicating the ABT product and part number in case you’re ever in a collision. Of course the first thing I did was to do a quick dry fit. Overall, I was satisfied with the fit. They’re not perfect, but better than the GTS eyelids I had on a 2001 turbo that we used to own. After a few days to dwell over whether or not to have these painted at a body shop or to do them myself, I decided to give it a go myself. Our Beetle is Candy White, so matching the Dupli-Color was easy and a quick trip to AutoZone allowed me to get everything I need to start this project. One thing that I’m doing a little different than what ABT recommends is instead of “gluing” the eyelids to the headlight lens, I’m using high bonding automotive tape. If you choose to glue your eyelids to the headlight lens, you’ll need to order the two part adhesive from your local VW or Audio dealership. Audi Ag article number 00A 071 785. Just keep in mind, if you use the glue, the eyelid will become a permanent part of your headlight assembly. So anyhow, I gave the eyelids a quick once over with some 2000 grit sand paper, wiped them down with a prep cloth and let the painting begin. First coat was a very light coat just to ensure that the paint was going to adhere to the eyelids with no issues. You really need to make sure that your surface area is prepped properly. I gave the eyelids light, even coats, letting them dry for at least 30 minutes in between coats. In total, I gave each eyelid 3 good coats of paint. The paint dried evenly, leaving me a nice smooth surface to apply the clear coat to. Same process with the clear coat, but instead of 3 coats, I gave each eyelid 4 coats of clear coat. I haven’t decided whether or not they’ll require any wet sanding before applying the polishing compound, but if they do, I’ll use a good 2000 grit sand paper to go over them lightly before applying any polishing compound. That process will have to wait until tomorrow.