In 1966 the American Kathleen Brooks put her signature under the order form for the car, which she still owns. She bought her Beetle in December 1966 in Riverside, California. Since then, she has driven more than 560.000 kilometers with Annie - as she calls the red Volkswagen. In other words, around fourteen times around the world. Kathleen is now 73, and she still uses her air-cooled VW for her daily journeys. That history was the reason for Volkswagen to restore the Beetle to its former glory.
Volkswagen got wind of the special story last year and offered Kathleen to restore Annie in the Mexican factory where the Beetles once ran off the North American market. In the past eleven months, a team of some sixty Volkswagen employees has restored Annie to new condition. A number of extras have also been added to celebrate the close relationship between Kathleen and her Beetle.
A lot had to be done about the Volkswagen. The long-running test of time had taken hold of several parts of the Beetle. Annies' bottom plate was completely rusted in places and there were problems with the suspension, transmission and the electrical system. In the space of eleven months, Volkswagen employees have replaced some forty percent of all components and precisely restored 357 original parts. To arrive at the original Ruby Red body color, the team took a sample of the unaffected paint in the glovebox.
Preparation of the bodywork
The Zamudio team worked for weeks on the preparation of the bodywork. The body was stripped of all traces of use and rust, and made completely bare. After this, the weld parts of another Beetle were cut, and transplanted into Kathleen's Beetle. Then the sheet metal was leveled and finally it was ready for a thorough paint treatment. The result is beautiful.
Upgrade to contemporary requirements
Other parts of the car have been improved by Volkswagen, or adapted to the requirements of the current time. For example, Annie received the disc brakes from a later Beetle, a modern audio system that resembles an old Beetle radio, new wiring, an upgraded wheel suspension and a revised gearbox. Furthermore, things like leather upholstery, a white steering wheel and new door panels were mounted. The motor has been completely dismantled, cleaned, improved and reassembled. In addition, the 1.192 cc boxer engine was fitted with a performance kit, which on the one hand leads the Beetle to improved performance and on the other hand ensures more efficiency.
With heart and soul
According to project manager Augusto Zamudio, who owns a copy from the 1966 model year, the 52-year-old Volkswagen did not have to become a museum-worthy copy. The beetle also did not have to be fully repaired in accordance with factory specifications. "The point is that Kathleen can enjoy her car for many years to come," he says. “The restoration process was quite challenging, but we really put our heart into it. When the Volkswagen arrived here we understood the feeling that the owner has with her Beetle. That motivated us enormously. ”It is clear that the Zamudio de Kever team returned to a beautiful state. The owner is happy with the second life for her Beetle, which is good for a few more decades. At least.
You will find the video impression associated with this story here.
All images are from Volkswagen AG