Sam's son, Nate, gets his first car. See them get started building a 1972 Baja Bug.


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Watch as Sam and Nate get started on this new project.

As we mentioned in a couple of prior videos, Sam and his son, Nathan have been thinking about a Baja Beetle project to build for Nate's first car. Sam and Nathan had picked out a car from the 8 that JBugs had bought up earlier this year, but the cars aren't for sale at this point. So Sam located another suitable project in the Phoenix area, and deal was struck with it's owner. Nathan and Sam loaded the car up, towed it home and got to work on it immediately!

Video Transcript

I'm 12 and I just bought my first car.

What are we going to do with this thing?


Baja is that like a joke, like “bahaha, that's funny”, or ?

Baja Bug.

Baja bug, okay.

Nathan, this is your first car, buddy, with your own money. Go check it out.

Like you said, it's perfect for a Baja.

That it is.

That's what we're going to do. Although at this point, the older I get, the more and more I hate cutting up old cars. All right, Nate, we're all loaded up, ready to go home with your first car. Are you ready?


You excited? Yeah.

What are you doing, Nate?

Taking out the seats. Came with some Can-Am seats, comfortable. Let's see, what we can't figure out. Seeing is the biggest issue right now. Is that door won't open; the pull rod's been pulled out, and we got all this junk in the way. We're going to get some of this stuff cleaned out, figure out what's going on.

If you have the stock seat springs and whatnot. Oh, this is an original blue basket weave car. So there's this little tension spring right here that has to be pushed down that holds the seat from sliding all the way forward. Once it's past that, we can beat the seat out.

All right, since this door hasn't opened as long as this guy has owned this car, which he said it's been 30 years. I can't get this door open. So right now, I'm trying to get as much stuff out of the way so I can access this lock mechanism and hopefully figure out what the heck happened. But as it sits right now, this door is just stuck closed. Not fun. Hopefully, I can figure it out without totally completely destroying the door.

Try to get the seat out so we can have a little bit more room to work on the door. And this seat is just like the passenger seat; it's got the little spring clip at the bottom. But it's clean on the inside of the tunnel in this one.

What'd you do, Nathan?

I opened the door.

How'd you do it?

By pushing this jib screwdriver up into the lunch, and it popped out.

I tried doing the same thing for a good 10 minutes, and I couldn't get it to budge, but my son does it in like 30 seconds.

Two seats out, a little bit of dirt to clean out, and then we can work on maybe getting rid of some of this headliner that is really, really sagged. And then we'll pull out the rear seats and work on cleaning this thing up. Put him to work on his own car, right?

Old cap, some bottle cap, yep. So get all this junk out of there. Pick it up and throw it away. Time to bolt it.

All right, jump in the back and grab those. While you're at it, you want to grab those too?

Hey, it's a lighter; I wonder if it still works.

Sometimes you got to get the big dog, there we go.

Oh, it's a double wide too. Sweet, I remember that.

Ah, I just dropped that bolt back in the tunnel. All right.

What's all this trash doing in my bug? I don't know.

And then I got to work on the steering column cause currently, we don't have a key, so the steering column is locked. So they just unbolted it from the body, so you could just twist the entire column, which works but is not ideal. So we'll get all that back in place, we'll pull out the lock cylinder and that way we can disconnect the steering lock assembly. Yeah, it's just a little bit of dirt, that's the second bucket.

Speaker, well, I see a speaker back there too. Oh, there's a speaker there, huh, well, that's cool cause Jet spotted that. I'm like, no, it's the speedometer. And then I looked at it closer, like, oh, it's a speedo.

You driving, dude?

Yeah, all right, you say so.

I mean, it should be sitting like up here, but.

You know, whatever. We'll get there.

Don't need that; it's kind of crunchy, but still have the original, some of the original insulation up against the roof. And this is going to be kind of, I'm thinking for the headliner eventually, but we'll get there. Basically just do it in speaker belt, that way it looks finished, but you still get some sound deadening if you just do it in speaker belt. So that's probably what we'll do for a headliner.

What do you think, Nate?

Yeah, just something simple and more clean than this, for sure.

Yeah, yeah.

All right. Nathan, to make sure we can steer this thing and we ain't got a key and the steering column is locked, we've got to pull off the steering wheel.

You get it?


All right. Now the fun part is trying to pull off the steering wheel. Sometimes it's easier said than done.

Just wiggle it off.

All right, tap on the backside, not on my hands.

I want you to hop on the other side to get the...

No, yeah, we're getting there. All right, rock it off, buddy.

Gosh, I was not expecting that.

That's why you got to be careful.


Don't play around, throw it in there, get you a magnetic tray, where'd it go.

Thank you.

All right. Grab a hold of the wiper switch and the turn signal switch, rock them both out. Note that all the wiring at the bottoms are already disconnected. Rock them about just the switches, rock them.

Oh, like that.

Gently. Okay, the turn signal switch is out, there you go.

There you go.

Take those four screws, screw them back into the column. Oh, yeah, what about this trash? Easiest way to not lose things is to put them back where they belong.

Yeah, that's a good point. Why is it up there? There we go.

Screw them in so they don't stick out past the end so we don't bump into them and bend them.

And then I'm guessing you can take out those two bigger screws.

What's up?

Don't dent my roof, please.

Don't dent the roof. Oh no.

Pull that cover off. Yep, so if we look inside this assembly, there's a teeny tiny hole right there, we press that hole to release the spring and that pulls out our lock cylinder just like so. Nathan, you want to grab the new one?

Okay, we going to blow that out or something. Looks a little bit dirty in there.

It's fine, dude, we're just trying to get the steering column unlocked, not to restore the car today.

We'll compare our new switch to our old switch. Hopefully, everything is close enough. We've got this groove here, that lock set there, that lines up. Looks like we should be good to go. All right, we're making sure our spring is lined up.

Hey, that's it, we got a key. Now we have a key for my bug, yep.

Where's the steering wheel? We need the other one, though it's broken. I don't care about it.

There we go, now we can turn our steering wheel without turning the entire column.

Are we just going to put it back in?

Well, we know our turn signal switch doesn't work, it looks like it may have been replaced at some point anyway. But we will keep the wiper switch for now. Just throw them in the bin; we'll use them when that time comes. All right, put that cover plate back on, even though it's broken.

Looks like somebody came at it with a hammer or something. Yep, somebody tried to steal this car at some point.

That's sad, don't hammer Volkswagen; that's not kind.

Might use the backside of the magnet. Oh yeah, it's pointy. There you go, you got it.

Should be good enough.

All right, grab your steering wheel and your washer and your nut.

You can tighten those nuts underneath the steering column too, but.

Just gotta make sure that's centered too.

You can't do that till you start it. Cuz right now, you're turning to the left. Oh, just put it on and turn it, you're not going to be able to turn it without, so put it on, turn it right, keep turning right, keep going, keep going. There you go, back to the left a little bit, right there, right, pull it off, that's the other way. Turn it around, straighten her up, slide it back in, washer, and then put the nut on loosely. It's fine, just put the washer on; we ain't going for a drive tomorrow.

That's true, the engine might not even start tomorrow.

The engine ain't even going to probably turn freely tomorrow.

Are we going to try to put some stuff in it tonight or?

Could do. Don't worry about tightening it, just get it hand-started. I can't really hand-start it. So you can try that, but it's probably not going to work, probably not sticking out far enough, you got it. He shows you what I know. Obviously, you can get a door open quicker than I can, it's fine, doesn't have to be tight, dude. Okay, just tighten the nuts underneath the steering column though, the ones you found earlier today, all right.

Don't think it moved at all. Now I can turn my bug now, yeah.

I wonder if they dented the steering column or something; that's why it's scraping. But whatever, one thing at a time. All right, now our wheels can turn without turning the entire steering column. That's better.

Yeah, and we also got the key.

Just leave it in there; no point in taking it out. All right, where's the flashlight? Want to show everybody what we're going to be dealing with.

See, that's what we're looking at as far as the condition of this engine. I can't even see the head nuts hardly, and there's so much carbon buildup in there; it's absolutely ridiculous. There's no rocker assemblies, there's no push rods, and well, actually, I don't know if you guys can see in there as well, but I'll try and give you a shot down the lifter bars. But that's the one-two cylinder head. Looks like they tried to take the heater boxes off at some point; the exhaust is still kind of bolted on. Do I have hopes that this engine's going to unlock and spin? I mean, I hope, but I ain't going to bet on it.

No carburetor.

Here's our engine; it's an engine at least at some point when they pulled the carburetor off, they put a plastic bag over the intake manifold. Not that I have any hope that they actually kept water out; they took the fuel pump.

Looks a little bit dirty under there. Oh yeah, that looks nasty in there; there's a whole ton of junk in there.

Is there? Yeah, oh goodness gracious me. Yep, oh look at that; they got an oil temp dipstick. Oh yeah, that's pretty fancy, a VDO oil tech dipstick; you don't see these very often.

Wait, is there actually oil in there?

Something in there, but I don't know what it is.

Yeah, that's not spinning at least right now, it isn't.

Go grab an, um, does it even have spark plugs in it? No spark plugs, no spark plug; that's not good, no spark plug. I've got no hope, no hope, yeah. I have little to no hope that this thing's actually going to free up, but honestly, I think we're just better off pulling the engine, tearing it down to the case, and seeing what we can do, seeing what we can do because, yeah, these pistons and cylinders are probably locked in place with all that junk in the intake manifold. There is just, even if we did get the engine freed up, we'd still have to pull off the intake manifold, still have to pull off the cylinder heads, most likely pull off the pistons and cylinders, yeah. So this is going to be an interesting teardown on this engine, but we'll see how it goes.

Hopefully, we can get something in there. I want to see this engine run again.

This engine's going to need a new top end, bare minimum, and maybe a complete rebuild at the maximum. But time will tell; this cylinder head is no different. There's no spark plugs in this side. Is there any spark plugs in this side? Uh, no, there's some rat's nest of some sort. Yeah, I think tomorrow.

Can we pull the engine?

I don't know if I have a big enough jack here. Grandpa's got a bigger jack, right?

Yeah, I think so, like three tons, I think.

Well, I just need something to lift super high.

After taking a quick look at the engine, we're going to have to drop it; there's no point in even trying to get it freed up. I was hoping that if there was at least spark plugs in the heads to keep water and moisture out of the cylinders, we would have been able to possibly get the cylinders broken free and hopefully get the engine spinning, but at this point, there's no point. The intake manifolds full of a bunch of debris and junk. The spark plugs are out of the heads; the engine's just locked up solid. So if we have a chance tomorrow, December 17th, we're going to go through and drop the engine, and then we'll, if we have time and it's not too cold, we're going to roll the car out and give it its first bath probably in 30 years. Sound good?


Today, we are going to be taking out the engine.

Yeah, it's Sunday, December 17th. Now that we've got the car cleaned out, we're going to get to converting this thing into a Baja. The first thing in the way and the first issue we're going to have to deal with is this engine's locked up, so we're going to pull it out and start disassembling it to see if we can free it up. While the engine is out, we'll clean up the car with a pressure washer and give it a good bath. And then we're going to get to work cutting off the back end to give us some more room to uh Baja um and since we're going to go with a Baja Bug one of the first things we're going to do is pull off rear deck, rear deck lid doesn't need to be here so we're going to pull this off, get it out of the way and we're going to get to it.

There we go and bring her on out, that rock don't need that, weight reduction, weight reduction. Now that we got the rear deck lid out we can get to the starter bolt, yeah right there, and then we can jack up the car and get to the back stuff.

You see it, there's a 17 mm nut inside there.

Right here, this one?

There's only one 17 mm in there so yeah.

Well that means that it's working cuz it fits.

Looks like they bolt unbolted that already.

There we go, got it.

Got it, nice. All right, so now we got to jack up the back end, put it up on jack stand so, all right so we've got to get or you've got to get that one there and that one there and then the fun one is the one that's up there but start with those two.

Good job.

All right and onto the second one. I might potentially be able to get it with ratchet now, potentially maybe no, see got it.

Awesome, now we got to get the one up top.

Oh gosh that's warm.

That's what you got to get off.

Okay now you hold the flashlight for once. I think that's good.

All right that's that, sometimes dad has to do it.

Yeah my arms are too short to reach up there.

All right well that was fun wasn't it.

Yeah really fun.

All right well this is what happens when you hit photo instead of video, you miss your son pulling off his bumper. We've got everything pulled out, cleaned up, I don't know when my camera overheated on during the time lapse but now that we're all done cleaning the car inside and out, all of the interior all pressure washed out, everything's drained down to the floors under the dash, everything else.

Yeah we've got most of it stripped out, cleaned out, we have a lot of padding and insulation and everything else to finish scraping but we'll get there.

How you like it?

It's looking a lot cleaner now that's for sure.

You like that wheel?

It looks pretty darn cool but but we got a cool one from Kyle.

Let this thing dry out inside the trunk, all cleaned out.

We gonna swap out the fenders today or?

Um I guess we can start removing fenders yeah. You got the tool, start unbolting them fenders buddy.

Nathan what do you got?

A fender.

All right sweet, go throw it in the backyard for Kyle.

At this point I guess we can unbolt the front fenders and we can pull off the hood. Might as well, it's four bolts it's easy to get to.

Here you go.

All right I'm going to put the camera down while I pull this out of the way.

All right that was a pretty good day of work Nathan.

Plled the engine, removed front and rear fenders, put the front fenders back there, washed the car, got rid of the hood and the deck lid yeah deck lid.

I'd say about seven steps closer to becoming, obviously this front end has a lot a lot of damage from basically here forward oddly enough similar to the 74, you can't see it because it's not rusted but there is a nice big crease right here as well. Could it be pulled out, yeah but guess what Baja well we're probably going to leave most of this in place. I want to, I don't want to cut anything up front until we have the one piece front end so at which point then we'll figure out what we're going to cut out. On the rear I know exactly where I'm going to cut it, I just have to grab all my cordless tools from work and bring those back home cuz I don't like using power tools with wires and air hoses attached, it's so much easier that they've got cordless stuff.

You don't understand how easy you have it now buddy yeah cuz I didn't have no power tools when I was your age working on Volkswagens, I did it all with hand tools. What are you doing now?

Taking off the hose, that one step closer.

All right weight reduction. You missed. Because weight reduction.

We're going to continue tearing down everything out of the front of the car, all the wiring. You know we're just going to get rid of all this stuff up here just so that we can go through and do a better job of cleaning, better than we did today. Pull out all the defrost hoses , we'll rinse out the heater channels, disconnect the heater ducts underneath the rear seat and flush those things out from inside out. This car is going to get a thorough bath of Corroseal to take care of any of the surface rust etc. The biggest thing I'm waiting on right now is a one piece front end. The front fenders, believe it or not, you can turn them around and you can take this front right and put it on the rear left and trim that down into the shape of a Baja Bug Fender. And that'll be next week probably starting on his birthday if he wants to work on the Baja Bug for his birthday. That's his choice, but it's his birthday so we'll figure out what he wants to do from there. But yeah, we've got a lot of work to do, but Nathan how do you feel about your first car?

It's going pretty darn good so far.

Anything you do different at this point or what are you thinking?

Yeah it's all gone pretty darn well, not really anything wrong with it.

With that we're going to wrap it up. Stay tuned for the next video. I'm going to try to keep these things coming out relatively regularly as both time and budget allow. Oh also, we're going to get this engine up on a stand and start tearing it down and see what's wrong with that see if that thing's even feasible to get it running in its current state or if it's got to be fully disassembled and gone through and rebuilt. At which point we'll probably do it into something a little bit more stout than a 1600.

Yeah like a 2180. High Five.

So on that note we'll catch in the next video and life's full of good people if you can't find one..

be one.

Later guys.

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