1963 VW Beetle Sunroof

Jason Patrick

The adventures of Herb and I began back in June or so of 2005. I was a young Warrant Officer in the U.S. Army stationed down near Dothan, Alabama. I managed to locate a '63 fabric sunroof Beetle on eBay Motors that was located in the northern part of South Carolina. It still wore its original factory L380 turquoise paint and original interior and was still running the original 1200 40 horse, though it had been converted to 12v. As the Fates would have it, I managed to squeak in the winning bid only moments before the auction expired.

I put in for leave back home in Virginia and picked Herb up on my way back to Alabama and decided to try and make the journey back with Herb under his own power. That 1200 motor hummed right along the whole way without so much as a sputter.

For a few weeks I putted around base and the local area and got acquainted with the local VW club in the area. Then on a longer run a good bit outside the local area I almost swallowed a valve on the No.1 cylinder and had to have it towed to a nearby storage yard until I could go pick it up with a tow bar and my other vehicle. On the way home I got into an accident totaling the Cherokee I was towing the bug with and as I would find out, Herb as well. Once I got everything home and the insurance money and the money I got from I selling a previous VW I had that I only drove when I was visiting my parents back home while on leave and a 1964 Mercury Comet I had, I spent the summer out in my car port after work and all day on the weekends tearing Herb down and putting him back together. My oldest daughter who was a toddler at the time and still sorting out the finer points of walking would come out and "help daddy".

I grew up watching The Love Bug and always wanted to build one so I decided to go ahead and do just that. I researched the proper paint codes and sourced a graphics kit made using scans of the numbers and stripes from an original screen used car, did the body work and prep and had a local shop shoot the L87 Pearlweiss. I laid the graphics myself and then put Herb back together. New interior, new seals and trim, and installed a 1600cc single port with dual Solex carbs, doghouse cooler and shroud and 12v alternator and all that and by early October of 2005 I was cruising with the club, going to shows and turning heads and getting smiles when going through the fundraiser car washes at the Warrant Officer Candidate Course the Candidates would put on to raise money for local charity programs and class related things.

Over the course of the next fourteen years and change Herb would become more and more a family fixture. Cruises with my oldest turned into cruises with her and her sister. As the Army took me to new locations, Herb followed and would faithfully carry me from Alabama to Missouri and back and then to up state New York with a couple of trips to Virginia and back to New York before and after deployments where I would store Herb with my parents. Trailered him out to Missouri because of logistical reasons and then from Missouri to North Dakota where I now reside.

I've done a few things here and there over the years now, disc brakes on all four corners, a new radio, did a top end rebuild and punched out to just about 1700ccs, still kept him a single port though, just can't give up that nice steady torque curve I guess. While Herb is now more of a weekend cruiser (let's face it, he's earned the right to relax a bit) we still cruise with the girls when they come out to visit and even as teenagers they are still happy to see ol' Herb, there, in the garage, just waiting to head out to the drive-in or go to cruise nights or grab some malts and just hang out.