Like father, like son

It’s time to introduce the third generation of Knight to the joys of classic VW motoring. Lesson 1: how to break into and hot wire your own car…

Around five years ago, a friend of a friend mentioned a Beetle that had been locked away for 20-odd years. Of course I said I’m interested, but that was that. The car had come up in conversation a few times since, but I was still surprised to finally get the call to go and check it out, just before Christmas last year. The story was it had been driven into the garage in 1997 and hadn’t moved since, until it was rolled out onto the drive in my honour. The keys had been lost in the meantime, and I wasn’t surprised to find the brakes were shot. Similarly, the engine turned over by hand, but would need a good service at the very least.

It was cold and wet on the day, but a quick glance underneath revealed solid floorpans and no glaring horrors. I wasn’t looking for a car at the time, but was aware than when you are looking for a cheap project, cars like this are hard to find. Especially locally.

The clincher in this case was my son, Oscar, who has been bugging me to teach him how to work on an old VW, and is forever banging on about wanting an air-cooled car when he passes his test. In short, while I’d love to throw him the keys to the Notch one day, I’d rather he was practicising (both working on, and his driving skills) on a cheap Beetle than my beloved Notchback!

So, the car was okay and the price was right, but moving it without keys was going to require some assistance. Enter our old friend, Dan Chappell, who was on the scene before I’d finished pumping the tyres up and made swift work of transporting it to my house. It’s worth mentioning here that Dan is willing to transport cars from and to pretty much anywhere, including recovery from overseas when Campers break down, so is a very useful guy to know.

We have ignition: Being a ’68 model, this car doesn’t have a steering lock (thank god!) and a new ignition switch cost less than £25. Result.

As for the future? Well, I’d like to lose some of the ugly, but it’s going to be more a case of preservation than restoration with this project. I’ll be trying to keep it cheap and cheerful, and keep it rolling. This is going to be some father and son tinkering on a peanut’s budget. If we can put together a reliable daily for a couple of grand, I’ll be really happy.

Hey, I’ve promised the wife we won’t go nuts, but I will have to sort the stance, fit some rims and perhaps do something about those white sides for starters…  

Click the thumbnails below for further details…

Words & Photos: Paul Knight
(As featured in the September ’20 issue)

Recovery: Dan Chappell @ Precious Metal Transport Ltd.  Tel. 07971 557480