A little about Rob...

Rob

Rob writes - I live in Gawler with my wife Julie, 40km north of Adelaide, Australia. I'm not a trained mechanic - I just love aircooled Beetles and have spent a lot of time working on them. I'm an old geezer too - nearly as old as Dave :-)

I learned to drive in 1967, in my Dad's 1960 beetle. Dad later owned a '65 VW Camper, and I used to say it had 1500ccs of unobtainable power! Fun, but sloooow.

I really enjoyed driving the Beetle, but in 1968 my Dad sold it and bought a nice new Morris 1100 (big brother to the Leyland Mini and used the same 1100cc engine).

The Morris had problems whilst it was under warrantee, and Dad borrowed a '65 Bug whilst the Morris was being repaired. The '65 Bug was in a dreadful condition. It appeared to have been bought new and then run into the ground - not even an oil change in 3 years. My Dad thought it might not last even a week, so I set to work on it - 18 years old and I knew everything of course. I worked on it for about an hour - just cleaning up and regapping the old burned plugs, filing and adjusting the existing burned points, adjusting the very loose valves (I didn't know back then what gap to use so I adjusted them until the rockers were only just loose). I replaced the 1 litre of semi-liquid goo left in the sump with some used engine oil I had handy, and tuned the carby by ear. I spent not a single cent - just adjusted and cleaned what the car had already.

The car then purred like a kitten and ran at 72 miles per hour just like it should, and I thought then that they MUST be good cars to survive that kind of abuse and be so easily repairable. So a few years later when I could afford a new car (in January 1971), naturally I chose my own Beetle - a 1970 1500cc swing axle model (most countries except the USA still had swing axles in 1970). It cost me $2059 Australian and I still have the original receipt. I still own Bertie the 1970 Bug - 40 years later.

I would have liked a blue beetle, but the choices were limited to black, red and beige - the Superbug was about to be released in Australia and stocks of the '70 model were running down, so I chose a Savannah Beige one instead (soon dubbed "Bertie Beetle"). Click here to read some VW poetry on Bertie

I still have Bertie, and (I used to - see below) drive it every day to work. It now has over 248,000 miles on it's original engine (rebuilt, but still original). I like to do my own maintenance and have done so since the car was new. It is now looking rather unkempt (torn headliner, faded paint, a few rust spots), but it's hard to take it off the road for a restoration when I like to keep driving it!

My car has a character of it's own. It HATES driving in ovecrowded Sydney. On those occasions when I have to travel there, I have to tell it "I know you hate Sydney, but we will only be here a short time, and I'd hate to see you break down in front of all those cars who have to live here all the time" and it then behaves perfectly. If I forget to talk to it first, it ALWAYS starts sputtering and stalling at a particular set of lights on the outskirts of town. No kidding!

~ UPDATE ~

Unfortunately, Bertie Beetle was badly damaged on 1 April 1999 when I was hit from behind by an inattentive driver. He pushed me (with locked brakes) into the car in front of me, so both ends were "shortened". Bertie is therefore undergoing a forced restoration, which will take me some time. The chassis was almost untouched but the body was extensively damaged. I found a donor body for him, one made in the factory just 15 days before Bertie was "borne" so it's an exact match.

At the time of the accident, my sister was selling an old bomb of a Chrysler, so I grabbed that for a set of wheels. Big 6-cylinder engine, automatic and ran on LPGas (which is 1/2 the price of petrol/gasoline in Australia).

But I missed driving a Beetle so much I just had to get another one whilst Bertie is up on blocks; and in early 2001 came across a very nice 1968 Beetle. He's a semi-auto which has been converted back to a manual (not all that hard to do), and has a '71 twin port 1600cc engine. He drives very nicely (once I got the leaking fuel, worn out carburettor, miswired headlights and badly adjusted clutch and brakes sorted out), so I'm a happy chappy again. My teenage daughter named him Bradley, which suits him very well.

The Bertie restoration isn't going anywhere at present. I started a business in 2003, and it's taken so much of my time that poor Bertie has had to sit waiting patiently for years now, and Bradley's engine wore out in 2007 and has been parked until I can find time to replace his engine with a donor engine I recently found for him.

I also have a 57 beetle which I got for a song. The previous owner had not realised that bugs need regular attention and he was not good with mechanics. I did not really want it as it had been ruined by a past owner with a 64 body, hand painted with blue house paint, flared guards, fat wheels and a 1600 engine... turned into a "boy racer". But I could not stand to see it crushed, so it now sits waiting for attention too. Anyone out there in Australia with a spare 57 body?

I feel like a fraud - helping others to keep their bugs on the road, whilst I have three which don't run!

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