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Old 01-04-2017, 04:43 PM   #1
theastronaut
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1963 VW Convertible Build

I found a '63 vert body on craigslist almost three years ago. It's super solid and straight but it was missing the frame, vin tag, and title. The story was that the owner's brother built a trike from the frame and running gear and stored the body in his shop for the last 30 years. The brother passed away so it was moved out to a farm shed, then listed on craigslist for only $700 bucks. I jumped on it as soon it was posted and luckily was able bring it home later that day. It was in pieces so I reassembled it, stuck it on a spare rolling frame, and put it away in the barn as a future project.

About a year and a half ago a friend was selling his blue '63 vert with a title that was mostly complete and matching numbers but very rough. I'll use the best parts from the two cars to make a solid driver.

At this point I'm not sure if I'll paint the car or not. I may just paint the one fender and shoot satin clear over it all. My other thought is to repaint the car in my favorite original VW color, "Anthracite Grey", which is also correct for a '63. Either way the frame/suspension/drivetrain will be completely rebuilt/restored, and it'll have all new interior.


The first one I bought, just a body.

As found:






Back home and reassembled. Check out those fenderwells!!












Tucked away in the barn, waiting its turn alongside my first car, a '66 sedan.




The blue donor car. It's extremely rough and not worth restoring. I'll use it for the frame, running gear, and title.



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Old 01-04-2017, 05:17 PM   #2
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Re: 1963 VW Convertible Build

Congratulations on finding that red convertible body in that beautiful condition. I'm glad you got it as I know it will be restored to better than new condition. I hope you will post some pics as you work on it.

What is it about Volkswagens that makes you want to get one and "fix it up"? I had a light blue 70 and a maroon 69 and they are really primitive vehicles yet seeing that 63 convertible body made me want another one.

Just day dreaming, but I wonder if a later chassis, 68 and newer, would fit that 63 convertible body. I don't like the ones where the rear wheels roll under and that was changed with the 67(?) models.

Last edited by Russell Ashley; 01-04-2017 at 05:25 PM. Reason: added a comment.
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Old 01-05-2017, 01:26 AM   #3
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Re: 1963 VW Convertible Build

My first car was a 70, dark blue. I drove the beejeebus out of that thing and it kept asking for more. Would like to get one again, there's something about their spartan functionality that's cool.
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Old 01-05-2017, 03:23 PM   #4
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Re: 1963 VW Convertible Build

Quote:
Originally Posted by Russell Ashley View Post
Congratulations on finding that red convertible body in that beautiful condition. I'm glad you got it as I know it will be restored to better than new condition. I hope you will post some pics as you work on it.

What is it about Volkswagens that makes you want to get one and "fix it up"? I had a light blue 70 and a maroon 69 and they are really primitive vehicles yet seeing that 63 convertible body made me want another one.

Just day dreaming, but I wonder if a later chassis, 68 and newer, would fit that 63 convertible body. I don't like the ones where the rear wheels roll under and that was changed with the 67(?) models.
Mom and Dad had a red '68 vert when I was a kid so I think that's what started it all for me. I was super excited to find the red body, it needs almost nothing to be perfect.

A later pan with the IRS style double pivot rear suspension will fit under an early body but I'm wanting to keep this one matching numbers. The early swingaxle suspension isn't an issue if it's set up properly to keep the camber change under control. I'm eventually going to set up my '64 sunroof for autocross, and I'll use progressive rate bump stops, limiting straps, and sway bars to keep it under control.


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My first car was a 70, dark blue. I drove the beejeebus out of that thing and it kept asking for more. Would like to get one again, there's something about their spartan functionality that's cool.
My first was a '66 sedan, never got it finished though so my "real" first car was a matching numbers/original paint '64 sunroof. I put about 80k miles on it before I ever bought a second car, so it was a true daily driver and was super reliable even with me beating on it constantly. I had put in a dual carb'd 1679cc engine that made about 90 hp so it was fun to cruise around picking on the import kids in their ricers.



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Old 01-06-2017, 08:09 PM   #5
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Re: 1963 VW Convertible Build

Cool beans. I am going to ride on this one.
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Old 01-07-2017, 02:25 PM   #6
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Re: 1963 VW Convertible Build

I've got to stop reading this thread because I'm actually beginning to want another Beetle, LOL. Here is a pic of my 70. It had a lot of good upgrades, like flared fenders, widened original wheels, dual port heads with 88mm cylinders, a Hurst shifter, a high pressure oil pump with a spin-on filter, a Karmin Ghia front suspension with disk brakes, a Scat exhaust that gave it a good sound but not loud, and most anything else I could get for it. Was my wife's car and she drove it every day. We kept it ten years.

Please post some upgrades to the 39 Packard convertible to get my attention away from VW's before I do something crazy, LOL.
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Last edited by Russell Ashley; 01-07-2017 at 02:28 PM. Reason: added comment.
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Old 01-07-2017, 02:52 PM   #7
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Re: 1963 VW Convertible Build

Quote:
Originally Posted by Russell Ashley View Post
I've got to stop reading this thread because I'm actually beginning to want another Beetle, LOL. Here is a pic of my 70. It had a lot of good upgrades, like flared fenders, widened original wheels, dual port heads with 88mm cylinders, a Hurst shifter, a high pressure oil pump with a spin-on filter, a Karmin Ghia front suspension with disk brakes, a Scat exhaust that gave it a good sound but not loud, and most anything else I could get for it. Was my wife's car and she drove it every day. We kept it ten years.

Please post some upgrades to the 39 Packard convertible to get my attention away from VW's before I do something crazy, LOL.

Very nice! There will be an update on the Packard soon.
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Old 01-07-2017, 02:56 PM   #8
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Re: 1963 VW Convertible Build

I got the body off the frame this week, cut the old floor pans out, then started getting the flange ready for the new pans. Once I have the frame fully stripped I'll pull it outside and sandblast the flange to get it 100% clean. The new pans are suppose to be here Monday so I want to have them welded in and the frame/suspension parts sent to the powdercoat shop by the end of the week.











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Old 01-07-2017, 11:36 PM   #9
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Re: 1963 VW Convertible Build

I pretty much finished taking the frame apart today.

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Old 01-10-2017, 09:57 PM   #10
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Re: 1963 VW Convertible Build

The first batch of parts came in on Monday. The floor pans are from Wolfsburg West and are the same thickness and quality as the original pans.




Yesterday after work I blasted the spot where the rear cross braces weld to, and the flange that the floor pans weld to finish cleaning up the rust. Also mopped on a coat of epoxy.








I found more rust in the edges of the pan head so I cut that open for repairs.




Formed a piece out of 16 gauge and welded it in. I've ordered the top half of the pan head brace instead of trying to make those pieces myself, it should be in by Thursday.





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Old 01-10-2017, 10:00 PM   #11
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Re: 1963 VW Convertible Build

I nailed down a color and wheel choice. It'll be painted Anthracite Grey with Brick Red interior and chromed/detailed Porsche Fuchs wheels. It'll sit a little lower than this car.



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Old 01-11-2017, 12:21 PM   #12
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Re: 1963 VW Convertible Build

You oughtta put independent suspension under it. My childhood friend Kevin makes the best out there.
http://www.coolrydescustoms.com/t-1-...uspension.html
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Old 01-11-2017, 12:37 PM   #13
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Re: 1963 VW Convertible Build

Nice project John!
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Old 01-11-2017, 02:02 PM   #14
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Re: 1963 VW Convertible Build

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You oughtta put independent suspension under it. My childhood friend Kevin makes the best out there.
http://www.coolrydescustoms.com/t-1-...uspension.html
I'm familiar with that setup and it would be nice but I'm not going for anything that crazy with this one. This one will just be a cruiser. I already have the Festiva that handles extremely well for when I go autocrossing. I need to start a build thread for it too...


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Nice project John!
Thanks Robert!
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Old 01-11-2017, 10:01 PM   #15
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Re: 1963 VW Convertible Build

Following this as well!!
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Old 01-12-2017, 09:50 AM   #16
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Re: 1963 VW Convertible Build

Definitely following along. I followed your other Beetle on thesamba when I had a beetle, but I haven't been over there much lately now that I sold it for a C10. I love your plan for it. Can't go wrong with Anthracite and Fuchs.
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Old 01-24-2017, 11:54 PM   #17
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Re: 1963 VW Convertible Build

Got sick and didn't get to make any progress for awhile but I'm back at it now. Finished welding the pans in tonight. I'll get the other car loaded up tomorrow so I can bring it to the shop and start taking it apart. I need to get the front beam out from under it since the one in this car was bent. I'll narrow it 3" to tuck the tires under the fenders for more clearance.

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Old 01-25-2017, 08:28 AM   #18
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Re: 1963 VW Convertible Build

Im in for another one .
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Old 01-26-2017, 01:52 PM   #19
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Re: 1963 VW Convertible Build

Pulled the donor body out of the barn last night. I've got a birthday party tonight but I'll try to get the front beam removed so I can start narrowing it this weekend.



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Old 01-29-2017, 10:14 PM   #20
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Re: 1963 VW Convertible Build

Pulled the beam out, cut it in half, cleaned the grease out in the parts washer, and started adding the adjusters.




The adjusters come as a 2" wide tube. I don't like having two welded joints, plus the tube they use is thinner than the original beam. So I cut the "cage" off and modify the beam itself.








The outer surface of the inner piece is rough so I smoothed it with a flap wheel. I also smoothed the inside of the tubes so the parts can rotate freely.






Everything assembled on the beam, ready for welding.



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Old 01-31-2017, 06:17 PM   #21
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Re: 1963 VW Convertible Build

never had a VW. almost bought one in 1967. looks like a cool build. good luck
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Old 02-03-2017, 03:27 PM   #23
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Re: 1963 VW Convertible Build

i got a 71 super but always wanted a earlier model convertable. Maybe i will get one once this 68 shortbed is done
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Old 02-04-2017, 12:39 AM   #24
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Re: 1963 VW Convertible Build

I bought a meyers manx clone 20 years ago, needed floor pans, etc, and got every part needed from a fantastic supplier in michigan called "Appletree automotive" in mears michigan. I believe they go back to the early 70's selling parts. One phone call, one person to deal with, one shipment, great prices, can't get any better.
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Old 02-04-2017, 10:55 PM   #25
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Re: 1963 VW Convertible Build

Got the beam nearly finished, just need to weld the two halves together, smooth the welds/grinding marks, weld on a couple of shock mounts, and cut off the other bump stop arm. I'll try to get it finished up tomorrow.

I cut off the inner half of the shock towers to make more clearance between the towers and the body, and also leaned them out 1.5" each to make more room. I used .5" x 1.5" C-channel to brace the towers.



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