Today we’re introducing the bug project affectionately named Dweezil by a college friend back in the mid 90’s. Yup, that’s how long this thing has been around and it still isn’t on the road.
There has been a little progress but life has provided some good and some not so good interruptions that have kept this dream as nothing more than that- a dream. Really the car wasn’t worth buying in the first place but it’s mine and has been for over two decades so I’m sticking with it. You’re invited to come along as Dweezil is finally put back on the road again, so let’s take a brief look at the car’s colorful history. Dweezil was purchased for $300 in 1995 from a pool of VW’s that had been hastily modified for off-roading. We got it to run that day and drove it 70 miles home. Only broke down once! This wouldn’t be the last time one of my vehicles broke down the day it was purchased so remind me to tell you about the RV purchase or even the 68 double cab some day. Work was done on the car over the next few years but the project didn’t really get anywhere.
After my college graduation in 1998 the car was returned to the back yard I bought it from until 2004 when I had a place to keep it. Retrieving the car with a little utility trailer was a 500-mile adventure that involved an alligator, a blown tire, and a top speed of 45 miles an hour. Be sure to check out the Haptic Garage website for the full story. As the disparity between my goals for the car and its condition widened it became obvious how much work would be required to drive this thing reliably some day.
I didn’t have the skills necessary to complete the project so I started learning how to weld and fabricate and breathe life back into old forgotten stuff. Of all the things some experience in a shop make possible a willingness to try is the greatest mechanical advantage. So I moved not so cautiously forward and took the body off. And then the body had to go back on so the vehicle could be registered at the DMV. The engine had seen better days and while attempting to set its timing it was realized that the distributor was installed backwards. No problem, all the wires were installed backwards too and it ran. Good enough for some but not the way I’d do it. The body came back off, this time with the help of a homemade body removal dolly that’s not really a formal thing it’s just a Haptic Garage solution to a Haptic Garage problem. Next the engine didn’t want to leave the car, even with all the mounting bolts removed. It turned out that the clutch disc was seized on the input shaft. That means big trouble. Solvable with a little luck and removing the clutch plate bolts through the starter hole.
Disassembling the engine revealed many terminal issues including a broken piston. The next diagnosis involved a bent front suspension followed by a lot of waisted time trying to save body parts that were not savable. I’d put in a lot of time and had not gotten far except that I had a blast doing it all and learned a lot. It was time well spent. In 2015 things started picking up. The heater channels and floor pans were replaced with the best reproduction parts available. As part of that project, the entire front third of the car was cut off and replaced with the front of a 69 donor Beetle. The next step was to build an engine which I opted to do with a bunch of worn-out swapmeet parts just to see if I could. It’s the Grenade Engine because it could blow at any time but it kinda runs and should be enough to test the steering and brakes when we get there.
Parts have been set aside for a decent engine build and you’ve got to know I’m looking forward to that. Let me know in the comments if you want to see a video about anything we’ve covered but this is where the Vlog begins. We’re gonna build it and go so subscribe now and we’ll get started by having a little bit of fun. I’m resurrecting an old project today. This Beetle has been sitting off and on (mostly off) for over 20 years now and I’m really getting tired of seeing it sit there unusable.
I’m just gonna see if I can get it fired up and maybe do a lap or two around the yard and then park it for disassembly and I’ll spread it out over the floor of this garage get everything cleaned up and put back together. So, kind of a fun thing here, gonna see if we can crank this thing up and move a few inches That’s stupid silly fun.
Now I’m all about doing this for real. getting this thing on the road, and getting to experience this more than just five minutes in the yard making my neighbors think I’m crazy. So, a long way to go to get there but my my plan is to get the chassis done and so I’m just gonna focus on that. Gonna lean into it hard and get that done and go from there. Right now I’m feeling pretty enthused about the project which I’m gonna need because it’s going to be pretty intense. So, here we go. Let’s get this thing spread out across the garage and cleaned up.