Don and Julie DeCuir's 1969 Beetle
Don and Julie DeCuir's semi-restored 1969 Beetle from Sierra Vista, Arizona
OWNERS: Don and Julie DeCuir, Sierra Vista, AZ VEHICLE: 1969 Type 1 Beetle, Auto Stick Shift. Assembled August 15, 1968. Odometer now reads about 81K, which owners believe to be the original mileage.
DON’S STORY: “I traded some vintage audio equipment to a co-worker (and fellow gear head) for this car on April 22, 2011. The car had been sitting in the Arizona high-desert untouched for thirty-plus years. It was driven to its ‘resting place’, where it waited patiently for me! I had owned several type 2s over the years (since 1975) ¬— a 1965 Kombi, a 1979 Bay, a 1962 Single Cab, a 1984 Vanagon and a 1972 Bay (the last two I still own) — but always wanted a Beetle. My main goals in building this ‘driver’ were to have a safe, properly assembled car and to spend just what was necessary, with very few "luxuries". I did almost all of the work myself (I had the valve seats ground and the completed front end aligned by local shops) and paid close attention to every detail. The horn, interior light, brake warning light, radio, and heater — everything works properly.
THE REBUILD: First Don disassembled as much of the car as was necessary to access its condition. He was pleasantly surprised to find the car virtually rust free. There was some surface rust on the pans and body surfaces, but that's all! The body was therefore left on the chassis, but almost everything else was disassembled, overhauled, repaired, rebuilt, cleaned, glass beaded, powdercoated or painted as necessary. He rebuilt the engine, upgrading it to 1641cc (single-port), and all engine tins (and many other items) were powdercoated. The transaxle was pulled, cleaned, checked and reinstalled. Don had originally considered replacing the Auto Stick transaxle with a more conventional four-speed, but since everything was intact, and (as it turned out) serviceable, he stayed with the Auto Stick, liking the novelty of the original transaxle — it's not something you see every day. Front and rear suspensions were rebuilt, new bearings, bushings, seals, shocks, ball-joints and half shafts were installed. The original front beam was bent, so it was replaced with a new axle. The brake system was rebuilt with new parts where needed, and almost everything powdercoated and reinstalled. Don cleaned, or inspected, and powdercoated the parts to as many systems as possible (“I have been powdercoating for about ten years now … did I mention I like powdercoating?”) He also used NOS or used German parts whenever he could and still keep the cost down. Every system was gone through, making sure all work was done to specification and the resulting assemblies worked properly. A pretty big undertaking, it turned out! The only concessions he made to originality were the firewall (his own design: powdercoated expanded metal) and the interior. Since Don and Julie would be using the car individually, or the two of them at most (empty nest and all...), they went with a two passenger interior. The "tombstone" seats were replaced with less claustrophobic lowback seats (with powdercoated frames). D