1974 VW Beetle, 1,300cc  ONO 359M


Like all cars of its age this lovely Beetle in its original Marina Blue (L54D) has an interesting history. It was bought new in 1975 by its first owner Vivienne, who lived in Worthing. She drove it for 23 years before selling it in 1998. It then changed hands several times before being garaged for 10 years from 2006 until 2016.


The current owner Jayne bought the car through a contact at Volksfling in 2016. After a long journey on a transporter from the south coast in West Sussex to Tyne and Wear an even longer story of the restoration was to follow. This included the car being impounded, while it was in for a respray, by a disgruntled landlord who was owed rent. The Beetle resto was completed in March 2020.


It has a completely rebuilt 1,300cc 52 bhp AR engine that reaches 75mph. At 60mph it gives reasonably thrifty 30mpg. Most of its interior is original including the black basketweave upholstery, door and rear quarter cards and charcoal mottle carpets.


During the restoration it was discovered that it had a 1,200cc engine fitted at some point and this was still hooked up to the 1,300 gearbox. Not the most efficient setup. A replacement 1,300 AR engine was sourced along with an original carburettor and manifold. The stripped chassis, in good condition with only surface rust, was coated with the excellent POR15 restoration paint. New heater channels were fitted along with a full set of Day Mouldings GRP wings (the best on the market). The rest of the bodywork was in pretty good condition. All the original tinware was sand blasted and powder coated in satin black to maintain the original look. New running boards complete the exterior beautifully.


The body shell, wings, doors, engine lid and bonnet were resprayed in the original Marina Blue and new chrome trims fitted followed by a full Waxoyl under seal.


Other modifications include Petronix electronic ignition, 5,5” rear and 4.5” front steel wheels and original VW chrome flat hubcaps (more expensive than the wheels!), 2.5" drop spindles on the front and a new TMI perforated vinyl headliner in off white. All the usual bits and pieces were renewed window, door and body seals, felt channels, replacement original opening quarter lights and the, difficult to source in good condition, original chrome front indicators. Finally a retro spindle mounted DAB+ radio with Bluetooth was fitted for that ‘retro’ look with speakers fitted into the rear quarter panels.


The Beetle drives like new, perhaps better than new, with the wider back and dropped front wheels adding stability when cornering.