Your classic: Volkswagen Beetle

| 22 Apr 2024
Classic & Sports Car – Your classic: Volkswagen Beetle

In my defence, if such is needed, I own my VW Beetle because of my accountant.

“You’ve had a good year,” he said.

“You ought to have something to show for it rather than money in an investment.”

Fair enough. I was without a classic car at the time, having sold a Hillman Super Minx Convertible to a farmer in Australia.

Classic & Sports Car – Your classic: Volkswagen Beetle

Stuart Pearcey’s Volkswagen Beetle was worth the wait

He had bought two, so, in his words, there could be no argument with his wife about who was going to drive.

My year in business hadn’t been amazingly successful, but was good enough to invest £3000 in a classic.

There were only two rules about my choice: that it didn’t leak, and that it had a heater.

The 1974 VW Beetle ticked both boxes.

Classic & Sports Car – Your classic: Volkswagen Beetle

This Volkswagen Beetle looks the part with a surfboard on the roof

I wasn’t able to buy it straight away because it was in pieces at the home of a family member, James.

Given his expertise I was happy to commit to buying the car while the body was off and the engine was in bits; I knew it would be worth waiting for.

And it was, in spite of a few subsequent hiccups.

Classic & Sports Car – Your classic: Volkswagen Beetle

A starting issue turned out to be a loose connection between the Volkswagen Beetle’s starter motor and ignition barrel

A chum, with whom I had shared outings in a borrowed Sunbeam Tiger, had counselled: “No matter what you pay for a classic, remember that it’s only the down payment; there will be more bills as you go along.”

How right he was.

The first came when I went to the tyre fitters to have them look at a slow puncture that had developed after a year of ownership.

Shaking his head having removed the tyre, he drew my attention to a repair inside the case: it looked very ugly.

Classic & Sports Car – Your classic: Volkswagen Beetle

The 1974 Volkswagen Beetle ticked all the boxes for this enthusiast

Apparently it was the type of repair legal only on farm vehicles not intended for road use – even though I’d driven it for hundreds of miles without incident.

That cost me two tyres (my late father’s advice: always buy in pairs).

Then there was a problem with the fuel feed, which was resolved by a kind man from The AA.

But worst of all was the starting issue, which appeared some years later.

Classic & Sports Car – Your classic: Volkswagen Beetle

Stuart’s Volkswagen Beetle can be a reliable workhorse, too

If the engine caught on the first turn of the key, all was well; if it didn’t, it wouldn’t turn over – but adding a powerpack to boost the battery invariably got it going.

Yet the battery was fine and fully charged, so what was the issue?

It took another man from The AA to get to the bottom of it, on a day when the engine refused to turn no matter what I did.

Having heard what the problem was, he reached for the classic motorist’s invaluable tool, the mobile phone, and called his mentor, who had cut his teeth on VW Beetles when they were new.

Classic & Sports Car – Your classic: Volkswagen Beetle

Stuart’s Volkswagen Beetle becomes his daily driver when the weather’s good

After a brief chat, he reached for the jack and lifted the offside rear wheel so the starter motor became visible above the tyre: its connection to the ignition barrel had come adrift.

A new connection crimped tight to the terminal, and a cable-tie holding the wire to the HT lead, solved the problem, and the car hasn’t failed to start since.

It gives me the confidence to use the VW for all sorts of jobs, such as fetching pallets, and there are times in decent weather when the Beetle becomes my daily driver.

My accountant was definitely right: having something to show for a hard year’s work has been invaluable.

I count among my blessings being able to turn to the Beetle during the pandemic, when this near-50-year-old had a vital part to play in sustaining my mental wellbeing by allowing itself to be driven in isolation along COVID-quiet country roads.

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  • Owned by Stuart Pearcey
  • First classic Hillman Super Minx Convertible
  • Dream classic VW ‘Splittie’ bus

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