1974 Volkswagen Sunbug Convertible


1974 Volkswagen Super Beetle Sunbug Convertible

This is our 1974 Volkswagen Sunbug convertible. Jim purchased it about 1976 from his son-in-law's father.

VW of America made Sunbug series for two years (1973 and 1974). Volkswagen made only 300 Sunbug convertibles in 1974 making it very rare.

This is a picture of an advertising brochure for the Sunbug We were able to buy an original one on the internet.

The most common Sunbugs were made with a hardtop with sunroof. All were painted gold with clear coat. Other than the gold color, they also had distinguishing parts such as SunBug logo on rear, unique gearshift knob, center console, and leather-looking seats and door panels.

Volkswagen used two colors of paint for SunBug. Hellas Beige (L98C-W4) was the first color, but the production line was changed to Harvest Gold Metallic (L99B). When we got the car the earlier color was marked inside the front bonnet.

Using Imron paint and a clearcoat, Jim painted his bug about 1980.

The engine was professionally rebuilt about 5,000 miles ago. The entire top was replaced and new upholstery was installed about the same time.

New fabric was placed on the seats rather than vinyl to make them more comfortable and that may also be considered a no-no by perfectionist restorers.

At one time, Jim considered giving the vehicle to a granddaughter, but thought better of the idea because the car is very fragile and not particularly a safe vehicle for a new driver. In addition, one needs to be a shade-tree mechanic to properly maintain older German technology including regular tune-up, valve adjustment, and brake adjustment. None of these tasks are required on modern vehicles.

Sunbugs have a distinguishing logo on their rear. The one pictured is a reproduction which we purchased at a VW gathering in Tennessee.

When our VW was inspected for 2006-7 the inspector told Jim this was the last year he would approve it in its current condition. According to the state inspector, there was too much rust on the fenders that could cause injury to pedestrians if hit. That is pretty good motivation to finally work on it.

Rust began forming around fender mounting bolts where newly applied paint cracked when the fenders were reattached.

The image shows some bolt nuts were completely rusted away.

This hole is small compared to holes in the fenders.

The outline shows where the patch with nut is to be attached by welding.

To repair the problem, a piece of sheet metal large enough to cover the rusted area was cut out and taped to the fender and outlined with a magic marker. The piece was taped in place. A new replacement fender was held in place and a mark placed on the patch indicating where the nut should be. The fender was removed and a nut welded onto the patch and the patch welded in place on the fender.

This image shows the nut welded on the patch and the patch welded onto the fender using our new Lincoln MIG welder.

We considered selling the VW on E-bay several years ago but when Elizabeth's son remarked that if it were his, he would be buried in it rather than sell it, we chose to keep it for a while. It didn't venture out of the garage during 2008 and 2009.

Note that three nuts had to be replaced on the left rear quarter panel.

Body preparation was accomplished in our driveway.

Following our welding patches over the rust holes and ground down a bit, body filler was applied to the areas and sanded until all panels were smooth and paint ready. Grey primer was applied to patched areas using spray cans.

We trailered our bug to the paint department of Smith Superstore (the local GM dealership) in Gallipolis, Ohio. We were satisfied with work they had previously accomplished on three of our other vehicles. The car was in their care a bit longer than we expected but delays were encountered in finding a front windshield seal that would fit and lifting the convertible top from the rear.

Some panels were removed were ground down to bare metal removing all previous layers of paint.

We trailered the bug home where we reinstalled the fenders with new welting, lights, running boards, and "chrome" trim. We installed new tailpipes, radio antenna, front and rear plastic light lens.

Tires were removed from the wheels that were repainted using Dupli-Color High Performance Wheel Coating. It matches the original color very well.


Our Restored Sunbug