Our 1973 Volkswagen Beetle 1300 S Project Car has been in the JSK Custom Paint and Auto Works garage workshop since February 10, 2019. Now, four and half months after we took the disassembled special Bug from the residence of its owner, Ildenfonso “Fons” Caluag, in Pandacan, Manila to the JSK workshop in Marulas, Valenzuela City, we are finally scheduled to drive it back to the eagerly awaiting owner tomorrow (Sunday, June 23, 2019). But first, JSK workshop supervisor Erene and his boys had to do some last minute repairs, or as they say in the car restoration business, some serious last minute thrashin’, before we present the car to the owner.
For those who are wondering why it took so long just to do a paint wash over and reassemble our Beetle, you have to realize two things: (1) It’s hard to paint a car that you did not do the initial paint preparation on; and (2) it’s hard to reassemble a car that you did not disassemble yourself. The JSK painter who first handled our project car had to carefully assess its existing paint preparation, which he found inadequate. Thus, he had to scrape the paint of both doors because the adhesion underneath was no longer good due to the “powdering” of the welds from the door skin repair done ages ago. But after he was done with his own prep work and the subsequent paint job, we were satisfied with shiny, glossy result.
A few weeks ago, Erene asked us to acquire and deliver the rubber weather strips and seals for the doors, the front hood, and the rear engine lid so they can install it at the workshop. He found that without the rubber seals, the edges of the front hood jams with the metal ridges that holds the rubber. The owner, Fons, showed us the rubber parts that he has acquired for the Bug but asked us to allow him to install these rubber parts himself. He said that since he bought his “baby” in the early 1980’s, he has been working on it himself. And, despite of his age (he’s 80), he still wants to get his hands dirty and work on the car. How can you say no to a serious Beetle enthusiast? Erene temporarily installed short strips of the old rubber seals on the hood and the rear engine lid so these won’t jam again while the 1300 S is in transport.
As an award-winning paint and body specialist workshop, the JSK technicians, under the guidance of “Uncle” Johnson Tan, really took their time to carefully prepare, paint, cut, buff and polish the paint of our Bug. We received some comments online that Special Beetles like our 1300 S did not come in this color, and we had to acknowledge that they are right. Owner Fons narrated that it was sporting its original factory yellow paint when he bought it in 1982 but he decided that he preferred a more conservative color when it was time for a respray, so he changed it to Cream. Of course, you can’t argue with the owner. However, if it was our Beetle, we’d bring it back to original, but it’s NOT ours. So there…
The JSK technicians were also busy working on the interior, fixing and reassembling the window mechanism of the passenger side door and lubricating the mechanisms of both doors. After reinstalling the door lock mechanisms and lubricating the door pulls, they fixed, installed and cleaned the door cards, which is more commonly known here as “sidings”. Erene was looking for the rear bench seat but we later realized that the seat was left at the owner’s house when we picked up the Beetle via flatbed truck in February. Anyhow, the interior is almost complete.
They say that the wheels of a vehicle is like the shoes of a person – its cleanliness and condition reflects on the whole vehicle as shoes does on the appearance of a person. With that in mind, we asked Erene to have the blacked-out portions of the 15×6 EMPI wheels resprayed and he obliged us by doing a nice job of it. The Bridgestone Potenza RE003 195/55R15 tires were likewise cleaned and given a coat of tire dressing so that the old wheels and tires of our newly painted Bug lives up to its new fresh image.
After our visit to the JSK workshop, we phoned the owner that his “baby” is coming home tomorrow. We sensed a lot of excitement in Fons’ voice over the phone, but we also sensed some trepidation. We learned that Mr. Caluag’s wife was hospitalized and that we just caught him as he was preparing to go back to her bedside and be with her. He’s terribly excited that his 1973 Volkswagen Beetle 1300 S is finally complete after almost a year of being disassembled. But he’s also terribly sad that his wife won’t be at their residence to witness his baby’s homecoming. Here’s hoping that tomorrow will be a happy day.