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A Match Made In VW Heaven

Kenneth Corey

Twenty-six years ago, I met a very attractive, articulate, outspoken lady named Leah with beautiful curly red hair. Those were all certainly admirable attributes, but the icing on the cake was the fact that she loved old Volkswagens! Yup – I married her! Since then, we have had well over 30 different VWs of every possible flavor – all air cooled. Each time, Leah is in on the purchase; she is up to her elbows in grease during the “rehabilitation phase;” she drives them; and, when the time rolls around, is in on the sale.

We are both retired nurses. When we retired 9 years ago, we each started our own business. Leah creates stunning jewelry and sculpture from very tiny glass beads and I restore (or customize) Air-Cooled VWs. I am the lucky one, because I cannot help in her studio, but she continues to help me in my shop!

To provide an example of a typical collaboration between my sweetie and me, we have chosen a true barn find – a 1965 Beetle. We pulled it out of a barn about a month before Funfest for Air-Cooled VW 4 years ago. The car had been put in that barn in the late 1980s with what was surmised to be a broken clutch cable. Of course, there was old gas (black slime) in the tank and mouse nests everywhere – including the heater boxes – and a patina of bird droppings! The theme of Funfest that year was VWs of the 60's, so we decided to see if we could get the old girl in good enough condition to take to the show!

It took 2 full days to clean stuff off of and out of that tired old car! The gas tank was a real treat! No time to procure a new one or even a good used one, so I filled it with water and cut out the bottom. Luckily we found a place that would take 9 gallons of a mixture of old gas and water! We cleaned out the inside of the tank and I welded the bottom back on…and it didn't leak!

Leah discovered that the car had a new clutch cable and it had just slipped off of the lever at the end of the pedal. Easy fix! The oil in the engine was as black as the sludge that had been in the gas tank. We drained it and cleaned out a bunch of goo with a tool I fabricated. The carb was full of assorted little crusty things and was rebuilt.

Then: new plugs, wires, points, condenser, rotor, and oil in the air cleaner, plus a new 6 volt battery! The little 40 horse started and ran strong! We had the dry-rotted tires removed and then while I de-rusted and painted the wheels, Leah buffed the chrome bumpers back to a relatively acceptable shine!

That took about 3 weeks and we still had a few days to spare, so we decided to stencil the car and give it a “Hippy” look. I even made a stencil of the Mid America Motorworks M Curve logo, thinking it might catch Mike Yager's eye when he was wandering the show field with his Mylar balloons!

We made it under the wire and took the Beetle! Not being totally nuts, we tailored it from Upstate New York to Effingham! It ended up having an issue with the clutch a few miles into the Fun Run, but double-clutching got us wherever we needed to go for the weekend! We did win a Celebrity Choice Award, but the real fun was hearing all of the stories from folks who were inspired by our little nostalgia mobile.

Because...everybody has a VW story. Everybody!

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