• Feb 21, 2007
This is a tale of a man and his first love, which for a young man named Matt, and many of the rest of us, happens to be a car. Matt came to own his 1969 VW Beetle as a hand-me-down that had been bought and sold through a few family members before winding up with him. He's been driving it since he received his license in 2003, and as many of the pictures attest, the little Bug has weathered more than a few Colorado winters and come out the other side.

We applaud Matt for getting his hands dirty in the back of the bug where he and a buddy installed a new motor after the original one began giving him trouble, but have to question the decision to install sub woofers and an enclosed speaker box on such a classic car (love the luggage rack, though!).

Nevertheless, we've chosen Matt's '69 Beetle as today's RR of the Day not just on account of the close relationship he has with ride, but also to pay our respects, for you see recently one of the Bug's control arms failed, sending Matt and his steed into the guard rail on a snowy evening. It's fixable, but chances are this college student won't be able to sacrifice his beer and pizza fund to take on the job. All we can say to ease your pain Matt is that this too shall past. We all remember our first car love, and how hard it was to give her up when that unrepairable problem finally came around to roost.

How to submit to RR of the Day:
Create a Flickr account if you don't already have one. Join the group called 'Autoblog RR of the Day'. Upload up to three photos of your ride to your own account at a size no larger than 450 pixels wide if possible and include as much information about it and yourself as you can. Click on each photo and just above the picture it will say "Send to group". Click that and select the Autoblog group. You're done!

See Matt's entire Flickr photo set by clicking here.




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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 18 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      A fitting tribute to a first ride.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Hello Richard,

      I forgot about the steering dampers...The car's front suspension would violently bounce back & forth when you hit a bump when they were bad. I was always surprised how long people would drive it that way before getting it fixed. Then like you said, it was very cheap to fix. You were a hero mechanic at that point to the customer! The customer was mad at themselves for not fixing it earlier.

      Whoa I seen a lot of dropped valves. The result was usually total destruction of the head, piston, rod and sometimes crank & engine case. The reason was as you pointed out was burnt valves, usually #3. The root problem was that the oil cooler and fan system allowed that cylinder to run hotter. Then people would not adjust their valves. When the valve did not fully close it ran hotter. Eventually you get a burnt valve like Matt had. If you kept driving it the end of the valve would break off.

      I am with you on the rubber boots & lubricant on the heater cables. However older cars had rusted heater control tubes and broken cables within the tube. My fix was to use modified welding rod with a drill to get the rust out and the old cable. Then fill the tube with grease using an adapter to a grease gun.

      We both forgot having to change accelerator cables and clutch cables!

      And how about the brake and cltch pedals that would fall to the floor because the floor board rusted or the pedal stop bent.

      Or..when the emergency cable was out of adjustment the center push button popped out of the pull arm!

      Come on, the same design through the 60s into the 70s and they still had these same problems. You and I could have engineered some easy fixes. Probably most the problems I listed were more a regional problem in the midwest due to salt water corrosion.

      Best regards,
      Rene
      • 7 Years Ago
      What people forget about the VW was it would float. When VW drivers encountered flooding in low areas they went right on through. Drivers following in American cars thinking the water was shallow got stuck. They were that tight, no leaks. Keep the engine running and the wheels turning they would putt putt across. Beetles were made of thicker sheet metal than today's cars, the paint was thicker, and every detail inside was of good materials. Real chome, not the crap they use now made of Reynold's aluminum glued to clear plastic.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Want to get rid of the ice scrapper for the inside of your VW, try this: http://mechotronix.com/air-cooled-volkswagens.htm !
      • 7 Years Ago
      Eduardo, are you going to post that in every thread? Or just every thread today?
      • 7 Years Ago
      @ Nick

      In fact I've posted only in these two threads, which seems enough for them (the blog team) to see it

      And I reposted it cos I commited some erors on the previous post

      Don't bother, ok ?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Since I restored a 1968 vw beetle by line boring the case and fitting new pistons and barrels and cylinder heads, the engine went like a Rolls Royce but sadly it didn't last long because it seized. I read in an article where it says by a vw expert "A case is not an item that should be reconditioned, when it's worn out, it's worn out. You're better off with a new one. " Okay, what cause the case to warp initially, are they the heat exchangers being too close to the cylinders or is it the vertical oil cooler in the fan housing which subsequently turns it into an oil heater that cause the engine to run too hot except in places like Germany, Canada wherever there's snow? This expert recommends aluminium crankcases are better than the magnesium ones but bear in mind there are aluminium cylinder heads in water cooled cars too which sometimes warped after a big mileage.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I had a VW repair shop in the late 70s. Here are some observations...
      * It is the only car that needed an ice scraper for the inside!
      * Everyone said "It gets great traction in snow" but I say just don't try to turn!
      * The engines were prone to design problems. Oil leaks, burnt valves, dropped valves, etc. Usually a VW engine required major work around 60,000 miles. But people still loved them. Typical customer response after just paying big bucks for a rebuild... "I love this little car and hate my American car". Then I would ask, did you need to rebuild your American car engine? They would say no, then they would shrug and say they never thought of it that way ???
      * Because it had no oil filter you had to change the oil every 1500 miles. You get to know your customers well.
      * I built the most dependable bug engines ever for special customers. They were single port 1967 engines with the super beetle oil cooler & shroud along with an oil filter/oil pump kit. 67s had good blocks & heads. This set-up would last. I can't believe VW couldn't design something that easily.
      * Gotta love the heater cables. They always froze up. To save money most people just had me wire the heat exchangers on or off. Then the heat exchangers rusted away and the floorboards.
      * I sold a lot of fenders. In the winter the snow would build up in the wheel wells. In the evening the snow would freeze. Then in the morning they would hit a bump and the tire would hit the frozen snow and bust off the fenders.
      * No self adjusting brakes. We offered a free brake adjustment after 500 miles of any brake service. If you didn't do the free adjustment they had hardly no brakes after the wore in unless they pumped them up.
      * You could sure roll over a swing axle version easy! I bought many roll overs for parts. Why did they only pick on the Corvair?


      Bottom line, a fun cheap car but poorly designed.
        • 7 Years Ago
        You sound like someone who really wanted a Bug but just never gto one. I think these are the longest lasting cars ever built. I dont see people having corvair conventions. Plus I dont think this is a mountain car I think it was made for the european streets. Not -40 Denver Colorado with 12-24" snow. So please check your self at the door.
      • 7 Years Ago
      And you thought headlight eyebrows were NEW! What's old is new again.

      My first VW was a 1960 followed by a VW squareback (stationwagon), and then a 1968 which had the black bumper stripe like Matt's. The last one was a VW mini-Bus. Each in its own way was a great car: durable, doable. What turned me off about the New Beetle was the sound -- they don't have it. Loved that roar!
      • 7 Years Ago
      I too had a old bug for my first car. The funniest thing was whenever I drove in a puddle whoever was sitting next to me had to put there feet up to avoid getting wet. The most nerve wracking thing was looking in my rear view mirror and seeing flames shooting up from the engine. Cute to look at but what a pain in the a$$. The new bugs seem to have their own little quirks too.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Rene @ 8

      Thanks for that inside info on the service and repairs of the Beetles. I think it goes to show you that when people love their car they tend to overlook any problems and design faults. European cars were ( and some still are ) classic examples of that. But we love then for their unique driving experience.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Ha! I was going to submit my 1972 Super Beetle (convertible) for an RR, but haven't gotten around to it yet. Hopefully this doesn't ruin my chances in the future. ;-)

      Good luck in the voting Matt!
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