In our previous report, we got our 1974 Volkswagen Super Beetle 1303 S running again after we replaced the fan belt and the ignition coil, and fiddled with the carburetor and the timing. We drove it out of our garage, had it fueled up at a nearby Petron gas station; had the air pressure of all tires, including the spare, checked; had it washed; and then drove around for a while before we parked it back in our garage. Believe it or not, this was the first time that we really got a good look in and around our green Bug under bright sunlight after we got it FREE from the late Ildefonso “Fons” Caluag in June 2019.
For the most part after we became the custodian of this 1303 S, we’ve inspected it under a roofed garage – at the Caluag residence in Pandacan, Manila or at the Dizon ancestral home in Sampaloc. We were told by Mang Kid (what we affectionately called the previous owner, Fons) that this VW has some mechanical issues and that he was not satisfied with the paintjob that it had sometime in the late ’90s. Now that we have some time in our hands, we decided to go through the car with a fine tooth comb and make a list of the paint and mechanical issues that we need to tackle in the future.
Scratches, Dings and Rusty Things
We have to take into account that our green Super Beetle rolled out of the Volkswagenwerk AG factory in Wolfsburg, Germany 47 years ago. Add a more-than-20-year-old semi-professional local paintjob to a 47-year-old import, and we have a lot of work that will need to be done soon. Let’s start at the front of the car:
We opened the front trunk, took out all the stuff crammed into it, and inspected the inner portion of the trunk lid as well as the trunk floor. We were happy to find just a few rusty areas but we need to address these issues immediately so they won’t become bigger problems.
Tires and Spares
Looking at the spare tire, we could surmise that our 1303 S was originally equipped with 15-inch Lemmerz GT M444 sports wheels when it rolled out the factory in 1974. The spare Lemmerz GT rim was shod in a 195/55R15 Bridgestone Potenza RE94 tire that had worn-out treads. Since the car rolls on 15-inch five-spoke ATS aluminum alloy wheels that use longer wheel bolts, Mang Kid thoughtfully taped four shorter wheel bolts to the spare wheel just in case it will be used in an emergency.
After we removed all the stuff from the trunk to inspect and take photos, we decided not to put some of the unnecessary items back. As we sifted through the stuff that Mang Kid had left in trunk, we were surprised to find several spare parts that he said we might need when we work on the suspension and steering. We realized how thoughtful he was, stuffing much needed spare parts for our future needs, even after he gave us the green Bug for FREE as a token of appreciation for helping restore his other Bug – the cream 1973 Beetle 1300 S that we chronicled elsewhere in this website. God bless his soul!
Repairs and Quick Fixes
As we continued to walk around the car, we found some paint flaws as well as repairs and quick fixes that were done to keep the car from rusting and deteriorating much faster. We can only guess that some repairs were done by Mang Kid to ensure that the rust doesn’t spread. With our current limited budget, we are more likely to follow his lead for quite some time.
At the back, we found more evidence of shoddy workmanship by the person who did the green paintjob. The paint on the fender looked like it can be peeled off like a thin foil or vinyl wrap. The painter probably did a poor job prepping the surface for the finishing coat of metallic green. According to Mang Kid, it was a quickie wash-over paint job to change the color from the original light blue to this metallic green. Thankfully, we found some traces of the original paint that we can color-match when we get the car painted back to its factory color.
Fixing What We Could
We then turned our attention to the interior of our green Super Beetle and found a few other problems that will require our attention soon. Lest we sound like we do nothing but complain and point out problem areas, we got our tools and fixed some things that we can fix immediately. For example, when we ordered the new EMPI distributor, we ordered a pair of new black window risers or crank handles to replace the old ones in the car. These may be small jobs but they are “baby steps” forward in making the car look and function better.
We were extremely lucky that the interior of our FREE green Super Beetle is mostly complete and that the repairs needed are minimal. Being obsessive-compulsive (OC) car restorers, we like to sweat through the details of the interior so we can dream of… err, plan on a course of action and hopefully, a future budget, to restore the interior back to its original condition like when it left the factory.
Future “Inside Job” and Missing Mang Kid
The more we dug into the interior of our green Bug, the more work we find that we’ll need to do. We even found a big chunk of rust hiding in the footwell that we’ll need to sand or grind down before it spreads out to other panels. Thankfully, these challenges are all manageable. We’ve seen worse in other project cars.
One of things we got out of the front trunk was a huge box that contained a brand-new headliner material for the ceiling. We looked at the ceiling of our car and found it is still intact so we can only guess that Mang Kid ordered it as a spare for a future teardown and restoration. We really feel blessed that he stuffed all these spare parts and trim into the trunk when he gave us this green Bug in June last year.
We spent half of a cool and sunny December morning looking around our 1974 Volkswagen Super Beetle 1303 S and we were lucky to find some hidden treasures. But the biggest gem of all was the previous owner, Mang Kid, the late Ildefonso Caluag. Even after his passing in March 2020 at age 81, his generosity, his knowledge, and his passion for all things Beetle lingers. We’re honored and extremely grateful for the privilege of having his rolling legacy handed down to us.