GOODBYE TO THE RUSTY WINGS
Run by Martin Port
Owned since March 2011
Total mileage 83,510
Miles since January
Latest costs £230
It’s now over a year since I took delivery of the replacement front wings for the Beetle. They stayed in the box all through last winter because there seemed little point in fitting them while there was salt on the roads, but eventually I dropped them off to Berkshire Bodyshop in Newbury to have them painted.
They also took the fuel flap to use for colour-matching the paint and all was going to plan until the #VW
got rear-ended (DRIVE-MY in January site update), but once that hiccup was sorted it was time to press on with the wing replacement.
When I finally got around to collecting the painted items, they looked great and the freshly applied Iberian Red was a decent match, even when seen alongside the car’s ageing original panels.
So, with the car occupying the #Drive-My
workshop once more, I set about dismantling the front end in preparation for the refit. Now I shan’t lie – there are occasional perks to working for a car magazine and having titles such as Autocar and What Car? as stable mates. In this instance, that meant Volkswagen UK handing me the keys to one of the latest Beetles while ours underwent surgery.
Of course, it would be unfair of me to directly compare the little #Volkswagen
flat-four original to the turbocharged six-speed Sport model of #2015
, but needless to say both are a lot of fun… albeit in different ways and at very different speeds. I was perhaps ever so slightly disappointed by the lack of that typical Beetle hallmark in the new model, though – the faint whiff of exhaust fumes coming through the heater! What I can testify, however, is that Volkswagen build quality appears to be as good as ever – something that I was very glad of as the bolts securing the wings to the body undid without fuss or the need for a grinder. And yes, before Volkswagen starts looking closely at its loan car, I’m back to talking about the old one again.
In fact, I was not only pleased to note that the corrosion on the original wings was restricted to just around the headlights, but the panels to which they bolted showed almost no sign of anything untoward – not bad for a 44-year-old car that gets used in all weather.
I had been a little nervous about the quality of the new wings, because the budget hadn’t quite run to original-equipment parts. Pleas-ingly, however, the fit of the VW Heritage-supplied panels was excellent, and I managed to get both wings loosely positioned in about 20 minutes. Only the bolthole attaching the rear of one wing to the running board needing a bit of minor fettling with the Dremel. Prior to fitting the wings, I’d made a shortlist of parts that I felt needed replacing instead of refitting.
The headlights had always been pitiful so I’d ordered some 60/55w halogen bulbs as an upgrade to the standard 50/45w tungsten ones, as well as a new bumper, plus rubbers for where the mounts pass through the wings. With a little adjustment, the freshly polished headlamp assemblies and wing-top indicators were refitted once I’d fixed a snapped stud by drilling it out and replacing it with a discreet nut and bolt.
I then fixed the new bumper to the mounts and slotted them through the rubber inserts before bolting in place, leaving just one more job to do: thoroughly coating the inside of the new wings with Dinitrol in a bid to keep any future corrosion at bay.
Of course, while the wings now look fantastic, the rest of the body is getting a little tired and so it would be great to have the remaining panels resprayed at some point. In the meantime, though, the next job will be to address the growing hole in the bottom of the driver’s door. The easiest solution will probably be to replace it with a solid secondhand unit that can be repainted.