Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Nautilus hits its second show

The Nautilus makes its second car show in an unfinished state with its recent attendance at the NuVintage Bug In at Bandimere Raceway, just outside of Denver. The car was brought in with the Motorworks Restorations crew and was to be delivered again to my home after the show. While the car didn't get delivered, what I saw at the show was the best version of the car, so far...and it's going to get even better!

What might not be commonly known is that on the Type 3 cars the spare tire well is a bolt on item that fits into the front trunk area, just ahead of the front beam. This goes for all Type 3 models. As one may or may not suspect, the spare tire well for the Type 34 is a very Type 34 specific part. Yet another one, and the three of these I have are each hammered in some nearly terminal way. So, we are actually trying to resurrect at least two of these from the three I have. Motorworks Restorations needs the car to fit this panel as many times as it takes to get the shape of the part right. I've also asked Motorworks to buff out some relatively light scratches that made their way onto the car's paint as part of the rear latch carrier install and to clear the paint and bodywork from the script mounting holes on the nose and rear body panels. On a bare metal panel, the script mounting holes are just a hair over 3mm in diameter. Lee Hedges received information from Franck Boutier that an Audi 'barrel nut' will work as a decent replacement part for the original Type 34 script thimbles, with are very NLA. I gave Motorworks a dozen of these nylon barrel nuts to use as a guide. During final assembly, I plan to work these nylon parts over a bit to make them a lot more invisible to the casual observer. The collar is a tad too thick and diameter too large, which shows around the edges of the scripts. This minor flaw is easily fixed with a bit of fine grade sandpaper wrapped around a piece of flat glass, but the availability of the base part is a big hurdle cleared for me for the final assembly process. Ultimately, I want to be able to easily remove my car's scripts during polishing and waxing operations to prevent product buildup behind the scripts, which I consider tacky. I insist that it's all about the details and doing the job right, though some will see it another way. Those folks know me too well.

The color of the car is amazing to me. It's a '63-'64 Karmann Ghia specific color referred to as L514 Emerald Green. I like emeralds and the way there's a blue flash through the green in a real, non-artificially grown stone. The color on the Nautilus does the same thing and I believe the effect is compounded by the use of a base-clear finish, and the shadowing along the sides of the car when under direct sunlight. There was nothing else at the show like it, which caused a lot of comments on its own. Nevermind the car was a Type 34. If I was looking for a color that flies under the radar, I clearly missed the mark. This is a stand-out color for a standout VW, specifically developed and determined by me, and expertly applied by the Motorworks Restorations staff. The paint is actually a year and a half old and is now hard as a rock and aging very well. I am both stunned and pleased with the results and next to some nice shiny new and re-chromed parts, this car should present exceptionally well. Now...as to when those parts will be installed? Well...I really don't know. I want the bodywork done first. The parts will fly onto the car fast and furious once I actually start installing them, starting with the wiring harness. I still need gauges redone and an interior sewn up, though I do have an original one entirely in black. That was a distant 3rd option for interior color for this paint scheme. Expect to see an authentic silver beige/gray heat seamed door panel combination, with silver beige vinyl with authentic cloth inserts in the final product.

A Type 3 Floor Pan Manifesto

I'm a purist, an idealist and a realist--which often puts me at odds with myself on the topic of what an automobile restoration actually means and how the finished results should be. In short, I'm willing to spend the money required to get a car within that 95% or better nearly correct category for restoration quality. I've hesitated for while now in wading into this topic...but I can no longer resist.

Type 3 floor pans are a serious bummer. They always seem to be rusted through and there's nothing authentic, new and readily available to replace them with. The small battery tray repair panel that is available from sources such as C1P is never large enough to deal with the later stages of pan cancer on a car. Just so it's clearly stated, the original Type 3 floor extended front to rear, side to side, as a single large stamped panel, with the tunnel welded to it. Front beam and rear subframe bolt to it. Lots of metal, with unique angles, bends and curves. In a Type 34, the seat rails must also weld directly to the botton of the floor, so when the Type 1 Ghia pan halves are used for the restoration process, one quickly finds that they aren't shaped correctly, by default. This can be worked though, but at additional cost, and again the authenticity suffers. The purist rages, the idealist rolls eyes heaven-ward and shrugs, while the realist smiles.

The purist is really looking for a huge sheet of stamped steel with correct bends and contours that represents the full pan, tunnel optional. The realist knows that this is improbable and idealist is willing to accept a new pan half. Both the realist and idealist know this pan half can be installed nearly invisibly by a talented body shop without breaking into the retirement fund. The purist remains un-swayed.

Where the idealist and realist part ways is with the use of used floor pan panels. The idealist wants new, but the realist uses whatever comes along, just to further the project, knowing the new panels are not to be had, because T3D either doesn't have them or is not returning emails at that time.

After having bought at reasonable prices and shipped at unreasonable prices 9 pan halves and having ended up with Swiss cheesed results after media blasing on every one--despite notable sellers claims of solidity--I can absolutely say that I wish I had had a new panel option to go with. The realist ended up costing me FAR more money in the long run than the proposed pricing of new Type 3 Klassic Fab floor pan halves, which the idealist in me is more than willing to pay.

Let EVERYONE, et al, keep their used crap. When restoring your Type 3 pan, insist on new pans. Let Gerson at Klassic Fab know you need them and in turn help them keep the faith to make them!

You can email Gerson at Klassic Fab by clicking here.