Monday, January 3, 2011

1956 Oval Background

Way back in February, 2003 we purchased the 1956 VW Oval Window Beetle pictured above. Fittingly, it came from a now defunct shop called Brad's Bugs in Richmond Hill. I picked it up for $600 and traded some other parts I had lying around. We rented a Uhaul trailer and brought it home.
It was purchased with the understanding it needed a full restoration. The decision to buy it is a decision I am still very happy with. At the time I had no running VW's. I was looking for a solid base for a project and knew that I wanted to one day own an Oval. I absolutely love the lines of the oval and as far as collector cars go, not only is it a true vintage car, but by the oval era the bugs were quite driveable, able to reach highway speed, syncromesh in 3 gears, hydraulic brakes, etc.
I fairly quickly had it stripped down and started to collect parts. This phase of the project has been ongoing since 2003. In some ways I'm thankful it's taken so long. In that period of time I've become much more savvy and experienced in all aspects of restoration. I've also never made any hasty decisions that can't be undone. For example, at the time I bought the car I may well have slapped in as many aftermarket parts as possible, tacked it together and put it on the road. Time has taught me otherwise and I have been painstakingly searching for original parts, or devising ways to modify the aftermarket metal to resemble original.
There's no doubt the car requires a lot! Floors, heater channels, front clip, fenders, etc., etc., etc. As mentioned in another post I bought and resold a '57 a couple years ago, from which I will be using the doors, hood, decklid, gas heater, and possibly the engine. In 2009 & 2010 I sourced some original front fenders from Colorado and a front clip from Australia by way of California. The rear fenders are rough but original metal that I personally picked up in Cheraw, SC. At our first VW show in 2004 we got a gas tank, NOS exhaust, and a number of other parts.
At one point I bought an engine rebuilders stock of 36hp engines and parts. I sold most things off, leaving only the best for me.
Every now and then I pick up a few more parts and have a good number of mechanical parts ready for the rebuild including cables, hoses, brake lines, bearings, etc.
The car has bounced around from one side of the shop to the other, to outside storage and back inside for the better part of 8 years. From time to time I've put a little effort into one part or another. At one point I welded angle iron inside the car, with turnbuckles too, so that the dimensions could be brought back to original. This also helped brace the car.
Hopefully the next updates will shed some light on the processes since then...