Saturday, January 30, 2010
Forget it! This car is best considered a donor for a re-shell as far as the DIY restorer is concerned. Heavy frontal or rear collision can alter the positions of the sturdy chassis components which hold the suspension components. Unless you have a jig to ensure 100 per cent accurate rebuilding, a DIY restoration of such a car will probably be unroadworthy.
A good quality professional Beetle restoration will generally cost the owner more than the resultant value of the car. A full and conscientious DIY restoration not only costs a lot of money, it usually involves thousands of hours of work – not all of it pleasurable. It is little wonder that many would-be Beetle owners seek a ready-restored car, nor that the vendors of good restored cars very often set high prices.
The first fact to face is that you will not be able to buy a good restored car cheaply. If a restored car is offered at a low price then this in itself should arouse suspicion regarding the quality of workmanship and/or the extent of the restoration work – not to mention the possibility that the car could be stolen. Apart from the vendor's natural desire to recoup as much of the financial outlay involved in the restoration as possible, a genuinely good restored car will usually attract other potential purchasers, one of whom may want the car badly enough to try and outbid you.
22You should also face the fact that a high price is no guarantee of quality, and that a number of `budged' cars will inevitably come to the market place dressed-up as restorations and priced accordingly.
Both with professional and amateur restorers it is now almost universal practice to keep a full photographic record of the work in progress, and it is recommended that you do not buy a `restored' car unless you can see such a record (and satisfy yourself that the car pictured is the car you are buying).
Because there is usually so much money at stake when you are buying a restored car, it may be worth commissioning a Motor Engineer's survey before parting with your money. Alternatively, take along a knowledgeable friend when you view cars – if you don't have a knowledgeable friend then join the nearest Beetle owner's club and quickly make friends with the most knowledgeable person you meet there!
In addition to the points made in this chapter about assessing cars, there are a few extra checks to be made in the case of restored cars. A restoration basically comprises two parts; the bodywork and the mechanical elements. It is common for people commissioning a professional restoration to have the body restoration work carried out professionally, but to undertake the mechanical build-up themselves. It is vital that you attend to small details when examining the mechanical components and, more particularly, their fastenings. Look at the screw slots, the nuts and bolt heads. If the screw slots are distorted, if nuts and bolt heads are rounded, then the person who carried out the rebuild obviously did not possess a very good set of tools, and the state of the fastenings could well be reflected in more important, hidden areas.
Irrespective of whether the body shell restoration was carried out professionally or at home, it goes without saying that your inspection should be thorough. Rather than try to assess the body inch by inch, concentrate on the areas where repair panels (as opposed to full body panels) are commonly used. There is nothing wrong with the use of repair panels, but some people will try to weld them to existing metal which has thinned through rusting (and which will therefore be weak and/or will rust completely through in the fullness of time) instead of replacing the entire affected panel. Where you do find welded joints, assess them, and look for pores, poor penetration and the usual welded joint faults. (See Chapter Five).
Welded joints on external panels are usually well finished and should be invisible, so whenever possible, try to get a look at the inside of the seam. If you find rust there, then expect all repaired welded seams on the car to rust out before too long.
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