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VW 1200 Cabrio, restoration: Beetle project without compromise

VW 1200 convertible, restoration
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M an could have done some things cheaper and with less effort, but that's not my style, 'says Udo Kiesewetter with a look at his restored VW Beetle convertible. It all started in 2010 when his wife expressed the wish for an open car. Maybe an oldie like a VW 1303 convertible.' That was To me, however, too new and too everyday ', reports the native of Coburg. For a short time, a Mercedes-Benz 190 SL was in focus, but the prices were too high.

Euphoric beginning in Seligenstadt

By chance, the 51-year-old came across a VW Beetle convertible from 1960 that was advertised on the Internet and that made the perfect combination Promised rarity and suitability for everyday use that he had in mind. The description of the car also sounded promising, and so Kiesewetter set off for Seligenstadt with his son and brother, who would later occasionally help him with the restoration.

The Beetle Cabrio, An example of the last model year with indicators did not quite match the description in the advertisement, but Kiesewetter had lost his heart to this car at the first sight. There were no papers of the car, however, and its history was in the dark. The seller had rescued it from a barn at some point and wanted to restore it. But apparently he hadn't got any further than removing the engine. Kiesewetter did not hesitate and bought the ailing convertible.

'At the beginning you are particularly euphoric, and so on the evening of the same day after my return I started to dismantle the engine of the Beetle convertible' , he says. This was an easy exercise for the master mechanic, who had worked in a VW and Audi dealership for 32 years.

Complete overhaul of the Beetle boxer engine

Starting with this first one Day he kept a record of all work. And he worked just as carefully as he documented this. So the first thing he did was to grind the Beetle convertible's boxer engine, which was covered with a thick layer of oil and dirt. This could still be turned by hand, but an overhaul was inevitable due to the long service life and the corrosion inside. The air-cooled four-cylinder received, among other things, new crankshaft bearings, new pistons and piston rings, connecting rod bearings and valve guides.

It hadThe wear and tear of the parts from driving is kept very limited. The 32,000 kilometers indicated by the counter actually seemed to correspond to the total mileage of the Beetle Cabriolet. This is also supported by an oil change trailer from 1978, which was found in the car. After that, the mileage at this point was 25,000 kilometers.

Every part restored for eternity

A lot of time went into cleaning the parts belonging to the engine and everything made of sheet metal was first blasted, then galvanized and painted. 'In principle, I made every part to last,' admits the restorer. No part was spared, even the starter and alternator of the Beetle convertible he dismantled into all individual parts and overhauled them.

'I sat on the distributor for a week alone, disassembled it, polished small springs, cleaned the centrifugal weights, the mechanism made normal, some small parts painted and much more, 'remembers the Beetle convertible fan.

He first had to clean the gearbox thoroughly before he could take it apart. It turned out that the straight-toothed gear of the unsynchronized first gear had suffered badly. The damaged teeth were welded on and then ground. After that, the reassembled, newly sealed gear train of the Beetle Cabriolet worked perfectly.

Beetle body needs a lot of work

The first inspection of the body showed that a lot of work would be necessary here. The rust had raged everywhere, an accident at the front right had been makeshift repairs in the past, but there was also good news: So far, nobody had attempted to repair the corrosion damage, so this VW Beetle Cabrio was an unmodified object .

But initially the lifted body found shelter in a shed next to the garage, protected from warping by the square tubes fixed in the door cutouts. Kiesewetter concentrated on the chassis and the base plate of his Beetle Cabriolet.

After the latter had been freed from all stubborn, rusty parts, she first started with sandblasting. After that, Kiesewetter had no choice but to renew both halves of the plate. Then he gave the entire floor of the Beetle Cabriolet to be hot-dip galvanized and painted it himself in his yard. To do this, he pushed a large rod through the center tunnel and arranged the whole thing so that he could turn the plate like an ox on a spit.

Prices for Beetle spare parts skyrocketed

After that, solid mechanic work was the order of the day, because the overhauled chassis parts had to be installed, with the front axle bolt used on the old Beetles being a bit more intensiveNeeded affection. It goes without saying that Kiesewetter also dismantled and renewed or overhauled all the steering and brake components in his Beetle convertible.

Now it was the turn of the Beetle body, which turned out to be a problem child, so to speak. But not because the man from Coburg lacked specialist knowledge. He approached the repair with great care. He didn't just cut out the bad parts with the Flex, but drilled out each welding point and later welded the new sheets back in, true to the original, with the spot welding gun. The problem was the cost of parts, which skyrocketed for early Beetles, and especially convertibles. But everything should be as original as possible, and that's why we had to pay 500 euros for a rear end panel with H embossing or 650 euros for the wooden rear bow of the convertible top.

The costs for the were completely out of the ordinary Indicators that are mounted in the side panel of the Beetle Cabrio. Kiesewetter had to shell out 1,400 euros for these rare parts. 'At some point you are at a point where you start thinking about whether to stop or go through with it,' he recalls.

Stop or continue?

He continued without reducing his quality standards. And then it happened. A number of friends helped to put the completely restored and already painted body of the Beetle Cabriolet on the base plate for testing purposes. In doing so, the window frame hit a roof beam in the garage. A catastrophe, but in the end the damage turned out to be far less serious than feared. The painter, a good friend, was able to paint in the scratches.

Kiesewetter was also lucky with the choice of the saddler. Because despite his high quality standards, he was impressed by the care with which Siegfried Grahner in Schalkau, meanwhile retired, adapted and installed the new top for his Beetle convertible.

After three years it was finally time . Kiesewetter was able to ask his wife for the first test drive. The fact that it was only brief because he was too eager to tighten the flywheel with the correct torque is just a funny story in the family today. Because in the end this Beetle convertible has become a gem.


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