Classic Volkswagen Beetles have made a long trip from once being considered quirky underpowered vehicles to their present status as collectible pieces of history. Perhaps this is why pristine examples of the classic version of the so-called “people’s car” are now worth so much to those who continue to drive them many years after they rolled off of the assembly line.
It’s certainly one of the reasons that the Vallone family decided to start Classic VW Bugs in Congers, New York. More than likely it’s the only garage anywhere in the world outside of Germany that’s dedicated to restoring nothing but classic VW Beetles.
According to the owners of Classic VW Bugs, restoring an older Beetle takes time and effort but is worth it to many drivers who have a strong sense of nostalgia when it comes to the unusual small automobiles. Some models, like those with split back windows, can go for over $70,000 after restoration because people want to experience the memories they once had in these cars all over again.
So many people want to restore classic VW Beetles that the Vallones have started offering tips in the hopes that those who’d like to breathe new life into their older cars can find the parts they’d need. Some repair jobs can be quite a challenge.
For instance, the shop detailed how it repaired a 1970 VW Beetle that suffered from metal rot and rust. All of the corroded metal had to be cut away before new material could be grafted onto the shell. Portions of the exterior had to be held up with door braces while the work was done. Considering that fiberglass wasn’t in wide use during the era that Volkswagen produced the classic Beetle, this kind of work has become common among those who seek to restore the old insectoid rides.
For many, though, it’s completely worth it. Volkswagen recently announced that they have no plans to replace the A5 series of Beetles once production of the current generation winds down. Certain drivers of newer Beetles have even gone so far as to say that the current cars don’t match the charm of the originals they’re based on.
VW’s sudden announcement is sure to invite more attention to the historical versions of the ride that Ferdinand Porsche designed before he left to make the car that carries his name to his day. It’s also sure to encourage those who currently have classic VW Beetles rotting away in the garage to take them out and see if they can’t spruce them up.
Classic VW Bugs bought a 1954 convertible from the original owner in Connecticut a few years back. Apparently, the car got sold but the next owner couldn’t care for the auto, so it ended right back up in the Vallone family’s hands.
It’s experiences like these that prove just how hard finding all of the right parts can be. The shop has had to find everything from a crankshaft sleeve for a Beetle Ghia Transporter to vintage white wall tires that have to be restored to their original color. Fabric that matches the original upholstery is becoming scarce because of massive changes in design ethos since the last classic model rolled off the production line. At some point, restoring these old VW rides turns into more of a labor of love than anything else.
This unique challenge is part of the appeal when it comes to restoring older Volkswagen cars. Whatever might attract drivers to these vintage German automobiles, however, it looks like Classic VW Bugs will continue to have business for many years after Volkswagen discontinues the venerable Beetle.
Executive Director, Hillside Imports
Krista Rodriguez is a Portland native working in the automotive industry for the past 18 years. An active member of the community, Krista volunteers within Tigard Tualatin School District and serves as the Treasurer for the Foundation for Tigard Tualatin Schools.