Back-To-Stock 1964 Notchback

Gary Stell, Jr. had Buddy Hale of Type One Restorations do a body-off restoration
By Judy Smith | March 11, 2013

Photos by Dean Kirsten


Now a resident of Anaheim Hills, California, Gary Stell, Jr., like many air-cooled VW enthusiasts, was exposed to VWs early in life, thanks to his dad. His father owned a '63 Beetle when Gary was growing up, and constantly told his dad he wanted a Bug when he got his driver's license. Well, when Gary turned 15, his dad bought him a '68 Bug from one of his friends. Per Gary, "I was totally stoked to have my dream car before I officially had my license; luckily for me, my dad was a gearhead and helped me turn my first car into a Cal Look Bug."
From this angle you can spot the pop-out side windows, NOS taillights and ultra-straight bodywork and paint.
Shortly after high school, Gary sold his '68 and went to college. Twenty years later, he started looking to buy a Chevy Camaro, vintage 1969, and ended up on a website called Classic Car Marketing owned by Richard Abate. While perusing the site, Gary stumbled onto a 1964 Notchback that looked fairly clean. He remembered his early V-Dub days and commented, "Back then, I always admired the Notchbacks, but just could not scrape-up enough money to buy one. After thinking about it for a few days, however, I contacted Richard, saw the car, and was sucked back into the VW scene with the purchase of a nice Cal Look Notchback."
Dan Lawson of CE (Phoenix, AZ) rebuilt the 1500cc Type 3 engine. Lower end was balanced, while the sheet metal was powdercoated gloss black, and hardware was zinc plated.
Then six months later, in May 2009, Gary "got the itch" to buy and restore another Notchback, from the ground up. He had been looking on TheSamba.com site and found a '64, what appeared to be a nice project car. It was a factory sunroof located in Sunnyvale, California. After talking to car's owner Chris, Gary purchased the Notch, and after receiving it, he changed his mind and now wanted to make it a radical custom Notch, inside, out, and underneath. To find out what the car's original paint was, Gary ordered a "birth certificate" for verification, and discovered the factory color was Nutria (brown), not the Birch Green repaint.
VIP Interiors installed the brown squareweave carpeting, using herringbone brown cloth binding.
So Gary took the sunroof Notch to a shop in nearby Orange, where it was torn-down, but progress was very slow. At this point, Gary was looking for a solution, then remembered meeting Phoenix, Arizona's Buddy Hale at Nick's Burgers during the June 2009 VW Classic Weekend. Gary was impressed with the quality of Hale's workmanship, so he finally called Type 1 Restorations, to see if Buddy would be interested in taking over the Type 3 project. Per Gary, "Buddy was totally flexible and said he would love to work on the project. Once Buddy was in possession of the car, I had a change of heart, and instead of a custom one-of-a-kind Notch, I decided to take it back to its original beauty, with factory color and specifications."
To seek advice and help with this project, Gary placed a call to Alex Pegado, at ISP West in Carson, California. He informed Alex that the car's birth-cert stated the original paint color was Nutria, with Brown Cord Leatherette upholstery. Luckily for Gary, Alex had enough of that material in stock to complete the interior.
Interior material came from ISP West, and was installed by VIP Interiors.
Front seats were completely redone using a brown and white stripped vinyl. VIP also made up the door panels and wrapped the arm rest with matching material.
While Gary was busy handling sourcing interior and mechanical work, Buddy had the car apart, with the body off its pan. As Buddy puts it, "The Notch showed up at the shop in boxes. The best part was the pan was rust-free. After hammering out all its dents, the pan was sent to Affordable Powder Coat, along with suspension components. After being powdercoated, the entire pan (and all parts) were sanded, sealed, then painted gloss black (base, then clear) for a smooth finish. The trans was sprayed satin gray for a factory finish, and all bolts are correct Kamax.
Original headlight, wiper and interior light switch was restored to new condition.
"The body received countless hours of sheet metal work, including a pair of NOS (new old stock) rockers, and front clip, plus bodywork and prepping for paint. Every inch was hand-sanded after primer, to make sure it was perfect. I sprayed the entire car, using Sikkens base-clear Nutria, code L573. After the paint was good and dry, we color-sanded first with 600-grit and worked our way up to 3000-grit wet/dry paper, then buffed it all to a deep mirror finish.
Engine lid was recovered, while the upper storage area was painted and covered in headliner material.
"Hardware was glass-beaded, tumbled, then zinc plated, along with all moving mechanisms. All engine sheet metal was powdercoated, sanded, and painted, while all the interior's knobs and buttons were restored and painted to correct specs, along with seat frames, steering wheel, and column. Prestige Worldwide's Wayne Elam did all the wiring, not to mention built the side windows and sunroof with NOS parts. Speaking of new old stock, the taillights, bumpers, and brake drums were also NOS. After the 1500cc Type 3 engine was balanced/rebuilt to factory specs, thanks to Dan Lawson at Competition Engineering in Phoenix, and the trans was gone-through at Arizona Transaxle Exchange, the rest of the assembly took place at Type 1 Restorations."
Beautifully restored rear wheel tubs, show off body-off restoration... and then some! Floorpan and brake drums have been painted gloss black with clear coat. Inside wheel wells have been color sanded and buffed.
Brown Cord Leatherette upholstery kit came from ISP West, while the crew at VIP Interiors (Phoenix, Arizona) installed the headliner (from ISP West), and cut-to-fit German square-weave carpet, stitched it up, ending with a perfect fit. VIP's Chris Hawkins also custom-made all the door panels, wrapped the door handles, and formed the rear trunk vinyl.
Front wheel well is just as dazzling as the rears. Front suspension and trailing arms have been painted gloss black with clear coat. Buddy Hale reset the trailing arms to lower the front 2-1/2-inches.
When Gary's Notch was running, driving, and lookin' good, it was debuted at the June 2010 VW Classic, where a first in class (Vintage Notchback) honored this freshly finished Type 3. Gary gives special thanks to the following: Buddy Hale (Type 1 Restorations, Phoenix, Arizona); Alex Pegado (ISP West, Carson, California); plus more Phoenix, Arizona supporters (Dan Lawson at Competition Engineering, Bill at Arizona Transaxle Exchange, Chris Hawkins from VIP European Auto Interiors, Concourse Plating, Affordable Powdercoating, and Arizona Zinc Plating). Gary also told us. "I am completely satisfied with the outcome of this project, and look forward to my next one. Actually, it's an over-the-top customized '58 Ghia convertible, nearing completion at Buddy Hale's, and will debut at this year's VW Classic Weekend in June."
"Late" California license plate was restored using older-style, black-on-yellow colors used in 1963 vintage.
Wayne Elam restored and assembled the metal sunroof assembly, using NOS parts where possible.

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