Chuck K

Wunderbug Forever !!

Back in 1972 my dad was operating a VW dealership in R.I. and I needed to replace my first car, a 1964 VW Beetle, since it was on it's last legs and I needed something newer to get me through college and possibly beyond. He had this 1970 Bug with low miles on it stashed away in a corner of the lower garage at the dealership and it had been sitting there for over a year. It had been totaled and the dealership took title to the car after the owner decided not to fix it. So, I was given the opportunity to buy it for $300.00 and my dad said he would make sure it got repaired properly. After a few months, I went back to the dealership to pick up my newly repaired Bug only to find out that the body shop guys, per my dad's instruction, went all out and customized the bug with a, now rare, Wunderbug front end kit, that replicates a 1937 Ford nose, and completely rebuilt the entire car with every known VW accessory that was available at the dealership in 1972.

I instantly loved it and drove it as a daily driver for 24 years, 375K miles all around the country. When my wife and I got married 37 years ago, this was our primary vehicle. We had a roof rack that we used to get Christmas trees, load up with camping gear and packed the interior to the roof with everything needed for annual vacations. I rebuilt the engine myself twice after 100K miles were put on it each time but it still has the original engine case, crankshaft, and camshaft in her. When we needed a bigger car for travelling and hauling our golden retrievers around, I mothballed the Wunderbug in our garage in 1986. When we moved to N.C. from CT. she was loaded onto the moving van and came with us in 1988. I tucked her into a corner of the garage, as seen in the first pic, in 1988 and there she sat for the next 25 years. Untouched and never started.

Fast forward to Oct. 2013. Now retired, I finally decided to pull the old girl out ot the garage and begin the restoration process. Just for fun, my brother and I said "I wonder if it will start?" So, we put a set of jumper cables to the long dead battery, checked to make sure the engine wasn't seized, pulled the coil wire and cranked it over to get some oil flowing and then decided to see if it would fire up. Hooked everything back up, cranked it over but it wouldn't start. We checked for fuel and found that the diaphragm in the fuel pump was totally rotted so we took a cup, put some gas in it and "spoon fed" it to the carb. On the third spin, she fired right up!! A cloud of spider webs, mouse nests, acorns and rust came spitting out of the tail pipes but as long as we kept feeding her, she ran like new !!

After that, I was so excited that we started the restoration process that very day. The fun part was reminiscing about all the experiences I had driving this little car. Being the only one to make it up the access road to the ski area in Vermont one winter. Cramming five people in plus luggage on a trip from Mass. to Conn. for Thanksgiving one year. Going on our honeymoon with the Wunderbug. And there are many more great memories owning this car.

The ground up restoration continues and while progress is slow it is exciting to see her being brought back to life and the anticipation of once again getting behind the wheel of this classic car brings happy days as the end gets closer.

1 Reader Comment

  • 1
    Barry Plato Bel Air April 12, 2016 at 13:15
    Not really a fan of this style. Was wonderin what is involved in putting a Wunderbug back to original?

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