RUN BY Martin Port
OWNED SINCE March 2011
PREVIOUS REPORT May 2017
Some cars just don’t get the love they deserve, and I’m embarrassed to admit that the Beetle is definitely one of them. It has given reliable service for years now and, despite my many promises to carry out major work, I’ve failed to deliver. Even worse, it took the failure of the MoT test to propel me into action, and even then it was at the pace of an anaesthetised sloth.
What did it fail on? Surprisingly, it was really ‘only’ some rust (and a broken anti-roll-bar clamp). I’d seen much worse, but its proximity to the rear suspension mounts meant that it was an immediate ‘x’ in the box. So, the Beetle was back in the garage while I examined the options for repair. Since this coincided with winter’s first dusting of grit on the roads, I deliberately didn’t hurry – though it’s too late to take evasive action, of course.
Eventually, once I’d cut out the rot, my brother-in-law Pat crafted some repair sections and we set to work. Between us we welded in the fix, which was a tricky under-seat corner piece, but while I was inspecting inside the wheelarch I noticed some more rust.
I cleaned up and welded in a couple more off-cuts of steel from Pat’s workshop, and applied seam-sealer to the inner repair. That meant I now had to underseal the inner arch, which I knew desperately needed doing to the entire underside. Fortunately, it’s still in remarkably solid condition.
I’ve used Dinitrol before and found it to be very effective, so opted for the same again this time. Without a compressor rigged up at home currently, I plumped for several 500ml cans of its 4941 aerosol because I knew it would be fairly simple to apply where needed. Getting the Beetle up in the air was easy thanks to my old set of ramps and large axle stands, offering just enough clearance for a good wire-brushing of the underside.
Then it was time to put the Dinitrol to good use and slowly apply it to the underneath of the vehicle and into the wheelarches. An hour later I was very pleased with how the floorpans looked. Compared to using a schutz gun in a confined space, the aerosol allows you to get into all the smaller areas with ease – perfect if you don’t have access to a four-post lift.
With the welding done I sent my spare set of period wheel rims to Berkshire-based company Procoat to be blasted, primed and powdercoated.
A five-minute chat with the owner turned into an hour as his enthusiasm for classics became obvious, having been given the name Aston Martin by a father with a clear sense of humour. It’s little wonder that not only does he now run a company that specialises in blasting and coating car parts, but he also owns several Astons.
Having heard him wax lyrical about what makes a good process and the importance of how many microns of coating you need on a rim, it was nice to see the fruits of his expertise when I collected the finished wheels. The gloss black is fantastic, and the finish almost mirror-like – the colour isn’t standard, but our choice for the Beetle.
We had agreed to help Vintage Tyres out by evaluating some whitewall rubber, so these were fitted, and suddenly the combination of new tyres and shiny rims put the rest of the car to shame.
It might be back on the road, but it looks as if the bodywork and a respray have to be the next steps.
Procoat: 01635 200017; www.professionalcoatings.co.uk
Whitewalls always provoke a ‘Marmite’ response, but even if they stay on just for the summer, they certainly look the part when coupled with the freshly painted rims.