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The text following is part of a series of articles written by John S. Henry on the restoration and maintenance of air-cooled Volkswagens. While his experience is exclusively with the Beetle, many of the techniques can be applied to other models.

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Article: OK, I Bought a Beetle, Now What?
Last updated: 11/1/01

OK, I Bought a Beetle, Now What?

Symptom- You bought a Beetle and just drove/ towed/trailered it home. And now you have no idea what to do next.


One of my car buddies who I have a "timeshare" on a MIG welder with, said something really funny once, based on his own personal experience. He said "I'm not sure when is the best time to tell your wife about the new 'project' car you just bought, but it's definitely not when the flatbed is driving down your street on a misty night with the revolving yellow beacons on."

Despite all the pre-purchase research, questions and crawling around a seller's car, there are always surprises once you get it home. I still find myself going "oooohhh!" (pleasant surprise) and/or "ohhh!" (disappointing surprise) right after drag something home. But having gone through it numerous times, I thought I would offer some sort of framework of where you might start when you get a "new" Beetle.

I think we can loosely bucket that newly purchased Beetle into three classes:

Your approach may be a bit different depending on what your intentions are, so I'll address where to start for each....

All Cars

The "Immediate Driver"- Safety concerns

The "Immediate Driver"- Do-right-aways

Ok, you will be driving the car soon after you bought it and you have already done all of the safety checks above and fixed anything that needed fixing there. There are still some things that you should do right away, but are not safety issues.

The "fixer-upper"- You need a plan The "Project"- This is commitment Well that's about all I can think of for now, I'm sure I will add to this article a lot in the future. Congratulations if you have a new Beetle. Go read the other articles at this site, go read Muir some more, pop over to the newsgroup and read some more. The Beetles are as popular as they are with the home mechanic because they are simple and easy to work on. You can do almost everything with ordinary tools. And it is a car. They aren't making these kind any more (except in Mexico), and they (especially the old ones) are real conversation pieces. Think about telling your co-workers "Yeah, I dropped the tranny on the '66 last night. Just going to replace the mounts and mainshaft seal....". You can do this.

So, after you turn off the PC, go out and look over that car again. Sit in it. If it runs, start it up and listen. Breath in and smell the car (there was a thread over at the newsgroup this past summer concluding that Beetle did, in fact, have its own unique "odor"). Slide your hands down the curve of the fender. It is tinker toys. It is erector set. It's just a lot more expensive and you will need a shower after you play with it.

Copyright© 1999; John S. Henry 

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