I bought a 1962 Volkswagen Beetle from a junkyard in Salt Lake City, Utah, about ten years ago. It was an all-original car that had never been restored, the only modification was that it’d been converted from a six-volt system to a 12-volt one. I got it running and driving and I used it as my daily driver for a few months. I loved that car but I had to sell it because I had too many projects and needed money — I was in college at the time.
Beetle values shot up in recent years and all-original models from the early 1960s sky-rocketed out of my price range. Moving to Europe, where a good Beetle is even more expensive than in the U.S., didn’t help, and I have to admit I’m rather picky about what I buy. I figured I’d missed the boat on Beetles and set my mind to satisfying my craving for a rear-engined econobox with a Renault Dauphine.
The quest took an unexpected turn last month when I drove up to Lyon, France, to cover the annual Epoqu’Auto car show for Hemmings. Walking through the parking lot I stumbled upon a modified 1972 1302 with a “for sale” sign on the back window. I called out of sheer curiosity, and I was surprised to hear it was right in my price range. I drove it the following day before heading home, and I agreed to buy it a couple of days later.
At this point you’re probably thinking “what the hell, man? I thought you wanted an all-original car?” I did, and I still do, but hear me out. I’m not crazy about the modifications on my Beetle but they’re all cosmetic. The engine is the original one, the suspension isn’t lowered or narrowed, and the body hasn’t been cut up. The plan is to source a period-correct steering wheel, find original seats, fit a set of steel wheels, remove the purple (!) tint on the rear windows, and install a proper license plate light. Hopefully selling the parts I’m removing will help fund the project.
The body has a couple of minor rust spots but the pan is solid. The engine burns a little bit of oil but it’s sound; the trip home took approximately six hours on back roads and the Beetle performed flawlessly, I didn’t have to crack open my suitcase full of tools once.
So there you have it, the latest addition to our ever-growing (and ever-changing fleet).