Finding Mabel, Our 1968 Beetle

So, in our quest to find a regular Beetle, our week started last Friday with a viewing of 3 Beetles in our local area, all within 40 miles of each other. The first one, a 1970 Beetle, the owner was asking $7995 for it. The guy had too much sentimental value on the car. It was decent, but certainly not a 8000 dollar Beetle, more like a 3000 dollar Beetle. The other two were within 5 miles of each other, so I checked them out before work. A 73 Beetle with the asking price of $3996. And it was on a used car lot.

I didn’t even talk to the owner, I took a quick look only to discover that this Beetle was ate up with rot. It needed to go to the scrapyard years ago. The other was a 74 Beetle that didn’t look bad in the ad pics, but up close, it was in pretty bad shape. Lots of bondo, lots and lots of bondo! The owner was asking $4900, I thought it was worth $2000 at best. So I spent the weekend checking out ads within 300 miles of home. Corresponded with some, shifted through the BS of others and found one in Winston-Salem, NC. Owner was asking $6500 for the car and from what I could see in the pics, it looked promising. Asked a ton of questions, determined it was worth the trip, so our Tuesday started with a 556 mile round trip from Ashland, Ky. to Winston-Salem, NC. We were there by 10:30am and back on the road by 10:40am. Again, from 10 feet away, the car looked great. The owner was less than honest with the answers he provided to my questions. Bad patch jobs, bondo, etc. Certainly not a 6500 dollar car. At best, maybe a 4000 dollar car. And the quest continued. I had been corresponding with the owner of a lowered 68 Beetle out of Bowling Green, Ky. Pics looked good and being the VW person he was, he posted the right pics, fender wells, spare tire compartment, all the typical places vulnerable to rust. This Beetle looked nice and clean. Not perfect, but a daily driver with great potential. He was just a bit too far away to make plans until warm weather. Also found a 69 Beetle in Cincinnati that looked nice as well. However, the owner had a hard time answering questions, that was a red flag, even though he was asking $6500. But it still warranted a visit so I could see for myself. I spoke with the owner of the 68 in Bowling Green and he agreed to trailer the car to Lexington, Ky. and I’d drive it the rest of the way to Ashland, Ky. if I bought it. So at 6:30am this morning, we headed to Cincinnati to check out the 69 Beetle. Arrived by 9:30am ready to talk business. At first glance, I was impressed. Somebody before the current owner had put a lot of work into this car or either paid somebody to put a lot of work into the car. I drove it. Very strong 1600SP, NO BRAKES, but a very strong runner. Paint was nice, interior was beautiful. Lowered a bit to make it look nice. Then I took a peek underneath. No rust, at least I couldn’t see any rust. But something just didn’t look right, so I started feeling around and soon found all of the typical rust had been filled with tar. Perfect parade car, not a daily driver. I was disappointed to say the least, the outside of this car was beautiful. Most Id consider giving would’ve been $3500, but I didn’t even offer. Not looking for something to redo somebody else’s piss poor work. So we hopped back in the car and headed to Lexington just in time to meet up with the 1968 IRS Beetle. This is a very dry car from Oklahoma that only has 63k og miles and its original bill of sale from the dealer and the original owners manual with dealer stamped oil changes. It has a 3 inch narrow beam built by Rusty Bottom Garage with new tierods and German ball joints with CB drop disc spindles and new rotors and drums drilled for Porsche pattern with all new brakes. New tires front and rear on repop Gasburners with real Porsche 3 prong caps 155/60 Conti front and 195/65 Conti rear. All connected to a rebuilt 4 speed IRS tranny also built by Rusty Bottom Garage. The motor is a very strong 1600SP with a fresh top end starting with new rod bearings, new Brosol carb and a rare nos 4 tip muffler from the 70s that they dont make anymore. The gas tank as been lined and professionally painted black has a new nos German VDO sending unit. The inside has a new dash with all the vents, along with new TMI seat covers on lowbacks with new padding and new carpet along with oem rubber mats. Lots of new German rubber and new German running boards. All original glass. This was the car that I was looking for. Screw the fact that it was 29 degrees outside and starting to snow. I test drove the car, talked with the current owners for a bit and bought it on site. The wife and I had a Valentine Day lunch at Teds Montana Grill (owned by Ted Turner and an awesome place to eat), gassed up and started the 123 mile trip back to Ashland. About a third of the way home on Interstate 64, near the Frenchburg exit, total white out, road completely covered in ice and snow. For the next 100 miles, I was all over the road, slipping and sliding across both eastbound lanes numerous times. If you’ve ever watched the movie, The Spirit of St. Louis with Jimmy Stewart and remember the part when the plane ices up over the Atlantic, that’s what it was like for me for about 100 miles. White knuckles all the way! But we finally made it home just in time to meet up with a guy from Circleville, Ohio who wanted to buy my 74 Super Beetle project, minus the motor. He already had a motor, just wanted the body. So in the frigid 28 degree blowing snow, we loaded up the 74 onto his trailer and he headed off into the sunset. Now our new 68 occupies its space in the garage. Now its time to relax and enjoy what’s left of Valentines Day then get some well deserved rest!

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