Saturday, September 6, 2008

What the...HECK?!

Ok, so I took the bait and bought the NOS foglight lenses Rudiger had advertised on his web site. I like Neat Old Stuff. These lenses, however, are somewhat lighter than expected...somewhat cheaper or leaner in feel...they are plastic. Hallo?

Well, they still are pretty.

I have several sets of glass lenses, but will probably run the murky depths with these plastic ones. They are marked Hella, and are similar in markings as the latest set of glass lenses I have. Note the seals, and how they fit around the lense. I've never seen these before, but then I've never owned a set of NOS Foglamps, either. Hope to, one day.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Nautilus in drydock.

I don't normally name my cars, but at one point I had so many of them that my wife asked that I give them names. When discussing cars, it helps her to have a friendly name to refer to. Even after I've downsized my collection of Volkswagens to only two, the names have stuck.

The '64 Type 343 Karmann Ghia that I am currently restoring is called 'the Nautilus'. Disney did a version of Jules Verne's "20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" and their rendition of the Nautilus has a very pronounced razor edge, all around the craft, not to mention a number of other very unusual styling cues, just like my Ghia. My car was orginally Sea Blue, is currently separated from the pan and is resting on what might be mistaken for a boat trailer. Some have commented that the car body looks a little like a boat or submarine. I think that in this nose shot it looks a little like a puffer fish.

I've been through the restoration 'spanking machine' several times before, however this particular restoration adventure has really been the most intense and frustrating of Volkswagen endeavors that I've ever experienced. For those of you considering the restoration of one of these cars, I have a couple of 'lessons learned' to share with you: set your expectations low, and your budget high. With regards to the bodywork--and to hopefully not overstate the obvious--if you know you have rust or damage in a particular area, definitely go into it with as many body panels as you can scrape together, in advance. Then, find the best and most patient body shop you can afford.

These pictures document the work done before the right rear quarter and extreme rear body panels and valence panels were replaced. The car looked like a great start for a restoration, but once media blasted it became apparent that there was a right rear fender replacement and some structural damage to the right rear in times past. I put the feelers out, as we were definitely looking for better panels to use. Came up completely empty. We ended up using the panels from the other '64 I originally rolled into this body shop for restoration. This also required the use of one of Lars' rear wheel well arches and more patience was necessary before this part arrived from Germany.

We've used Lars' Type 34 rocker panel replacments before and in fact we used his front two rocker panel sections on this particular car. And I'd use them again on any Type 34 project. They fit great and work well. However--and in stark contrast--the rear wheel arches are disappointing, as the coutours are not entirely authentic. They do work, and this part is currently the only game in town, so there you have it. With the car now in paint, I still consider this area to be a weakness in its appearance and will probably one day have that section redone using an original piece--or even a Lars' panel, if they improve.

These pictures were taken back in October of 2007 and it was slow ahead through much of last Winter. The good news for me is that patience prevails and that major progress has been made by the body shop since April and the car has since been painted L514 Emerald Green, but 'the Nautilus' is a name that still suits it.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Building it up on a solid foundation.

A nice original rust free Type 3 floorpan is a great thing. Sadly, mine wasn't so nice. Not the least bit seaworthy, what with ebb and flow of the tide crashing in around my feet.

After buying 7 pan halves, you'd have thought I would have ended up with at least two usable pan pieces. Not so. The basis for this restoration project actually ended up using the original main pan with original driver's side piece, however the passenger side pan half was taken from a much later car. Note the black strip running along the right in the picture, which was exposed after the later style reinforcement rail was permanently removed. Retaining an authentic 'one piece' Type 3 pan look is key, so spot welds have been patched and ground, the butt welded seams smoothed out, and pin holes exposed during sandblasting welded shut. There will be some more bodywork done and filler used to smooth things out, so the pan will be satin black epoxy coated, rather than powercoated.

My first two Type 343s.

This is what I termed 'the little mess in the side yard', before our big move to Colorado a few years ago. Though not visible in photo, there was also a bare squareback pan leaning against the fence to the extreme right. This was used to restore the Type 34 pan on the left. There was another rolling automatic transmission Squareback pan (with seats) to the left of that, barely visible over the Type 343 in the foreground. A few small odds and ends were scavenged from that pan before it was donated for use with other projects.

The white with black roof '64 Type 343 in the background was sold to an acquaintance for $1.oo. Quite the deal--literally pocket change--considering the dash pads alone were cosmetically perfect. I needed to get rid of the car, and fast. I heard that the car ended up up in Portland, Oregon and I later saw it for sale on the Samba.

The car in the foreground made the trip to Colorado with us and I had it cut it up for body panels about a year ago. A lot of it made its way onto my latest project.