CAR / #VW-Beetle
Run by Martin Port
Owned since March 2011
Total mileage 89,144
Miles since May
Latest costs £8.50
The Port family with the ‘back-up’ classic and its new friend at Bicester Scramble. Inset: snapped window regulator arm.
A FAMILY OUTING ON DRIVE IT DAY
Yet again, without realising it, the Beetle adopted the role of ‘back-up’ classic when the Landie suffered its catastrophic hub-bearing failure.
With a visit to Bicester Heritage long planned for the April Sunday Scramble, there was always going to be only one vehicle for the job. But, with the IIA suddenly stranded on the driveway, we squeezed into the hastily polished VW for the trip up the A34 to the former RAF base.
Although the Beetle was sold as family transport, there are limitations once you’ve fitted a child seat in the rear and wedged a lanky teenager into the front. Certainly Mrs P, whose selfless attitude dictated that she sat in the back, suffered from a lack of legroom once I’d made myself comfortable! That said, the relatively short hop north to Bicester was uneventful and we pulled onto the field next to a slightly later Beetle before proceeding to extricate the family from the Volkswagen.
A good day was had by all and, with a chilly wind blowing, it was quite pleasant to make our way home with a little warmth passing over our feet thanks to the stuck flap on one of the heat exchangers. As nice as that was, though, it served as a reminder that I needed to sort it out. With temperatures on the rise, said heat was becoming a bit much – particularly when Mrs P transports guinea pigs in the footwell (that’s not a euphemism and is a story for another time).
Giving the lever and spring beneath the vehicle a good dousing with WD40 got things moving once again, although I noted just how corroded the exchangers are becoming so they will need to be replaced before winter for sure.
The seat runners had also been on the ‘to do’ list for a while. Moving the driver’s chair was becoming increasingly difficult and it was also rocking on the fittings.
Investigation revealed that one of the packing strips that sit between the runner and seat base had split and come adrift. Clearly the other one was heading the same way, too.
A fresh set arrived in the post and I took advantage of a spare lunch hour to remove the seat, fit the new strips and then give them a coat of lubricant. I also refitted the main tensioning spring, which had come adrift and had been jamming the sliding mechanism.
The seat now moves nicely, but there was another one of those little jobs nearby. Tightening the loose window winder became irrelevant because the arm snapped, leaving the glass in the down position at the most inconvenient moment: just prior to the school run and Mrs P’s commute to work. She managed to wrestle it closed with determination, and I had a rummage in my spares drawer to dig out a replacement that I’d put somewhere.
Undoubtedly more important than making sure that the Beetle works though, is having a fully functioning stereo. After the windscreen washer had doused the RetroSound item, the tuner had become even more temperamental than usual. With several spare FM head units in the garage, I pulled out a Clarion system that had previously been in my Scimitar GTE.
Adapting the wiring from the old to the new stereo was straightforward, although I didn’t want to have a modern set-up in the dash so I hid it in the glovebox. This was complicated slightly by the shallow dimensions and because the bonnet release is also in there, but I didn’t mind cutting the scrappy liner so that the head unit could protrude into the underbonnet area.
A replacement glassfibre liner made to house a radio is available but apparently the fit is poor. While I give that aspect some further thought, I have made a temporary fascia from plywood and mounted it within the liner at an angle so as not to obstruct the bonnet release.
I was then finally able to refit the original factory blanking plate that I had safely tucked away when we fitted the RetroSound unit. The dash now has a cleaner appearance and the reception is better with the Clarion, plus the sound is clearer and its built-in USB slot means that we can keep iPhones charged while on the move. This will eventually be upgraded to a DAB unit as installed in the Land-Rover, but it’s a more than adequate solution for now.
Front seat simply slides forward and out. Fresh packing strips are slightly shorter. Plywood fascia for ‘new’ hi-fi in glovebox. Rear of liner had to be cut to allow fitting. Blanking plate restores the original look.