Billo - the name given to our 1960, L 380 turquoise beetle, by my children arrived with us to Canada when we moved here in 2007. Billo is a left hand drive car and therefore was more suited for driving in North America where she lived several decades ago before being exported to Pakistan. I decided in favour of Billo from amongst my four beetles to accompany us and it is like coming back full circle for this survivor car. I went for a full restoration knowing fully well the exorbitant cost of the job here in Canada and that such a task here would leave me and my family eating just Kraft Macaroni and cheese for a few years.
Billo was in pretty good nick and needed very little attention but i took no chances. The body wasn't rusted but the fenders were dented so I replaced the fronts with a super clean pair found in my stash. Arshad - my trusted panel beater (Arshad denter as he is popularly known) repaired and restored the rear fenders as well as the rear halves of the floor pan. The body was not separated from the chassis as the front floor halves, the heater channels and the bulk head was in immaculate condition. Billo's interior condition was 8/10 so it was decided to just go for re-covering the seats and a new headliner.
As an after thought I removed the threadbare original carpets and using them as templates cut carpets out of local synthetic matting material. The side panels were yellowed with age but otherwise spotless so only the backing board was changed and new hardware used to put them back on. In my opinion they add character to the overall feel of the interior. All the paint inside the car is still original and a gentle cleaning with 3M scotch brite and a dishwashing liquid solution followed by a turtle wax polish round got it all nice and shiny. The tiny nicks around the ignition switch left by years of missing-the-mark key insertion were left alone as were the edges of the glove box door from where the paint had rubbed off. The ashtray is still in pristine condition having never been used in 50 plus years of the cars life.
The exterior was re-sprayed in the original shade of turkis and amazingly there is zero filler on the doors, hood, roof, deck lid front fenders and 75% of the quarter panels.I debated for as long time if I should drop the idea of painting the body shell and tackle just the fenders but the car had been re-sprayed a wrong shade of turkis in the past so it was best to go for a complete exterior re-spray. A new set of seals for all windows were imported from the US and installed. The original chrome trim (with the exception of the front) was in immaculate shape and re-used. Half of the original front trim was retained while a second half was donated by Arshad from his stash to complete the trim.
Khalid, a veteran VW mechanic built (NOT rebuilt) the engine that powers Billo today. A NOS engine casing surfaced at Moqeem Autos and was quickly grabbed for the asking price, NOS heads, a NOS crank and rods plus all other bits and pieces were used in building a single port 1600cc engine. I would have liked to source NOS cylinders and pistons too but time was running out so I settled for a good used set sourced by Khalid Sb. A NOS exhaust and NOS heater boxes completed the picture and Billo got her new power plant that propels her today at sustained speeds of 120 km an hour on the North American highways.
New brake drums and brake cylinders were imported from the US while a NOS master cylinder was found locally to ensure Billo stopped when needed. Another ace VW technician in Islamabad - Khalid (a different Khalid) electrician restored the electrics using the original wiring loom and running new wires from the fuse box on to the headlights to support the 90/100w. halogen lamps. A set of fog lights were mounted on the bumper and he reversed the alteration done in the past on the indicator switching mechanism. He wired a NOS indicator assembly that controls the brake and blinker function in the NOS set of snowflake lights. As an added safety measure he rigged up a pair of Hella reverse lights from a 67 bug to function as blinkers parallel to the snowflakes. A Hella Matrix high mounted third brake light was also wired to let the awestruck drivers of other cars notice that the brakes have been applied.
Billo's rolling gear was a concern as they had withstood years of abuse on Pakistan roads so leaving the inner plates alone the outer rings were attended to and painted white. (it seemed like a good idea at the time) A pair of TOYO 165 80 R15 tyres were brought in by Emma from England while a pair of Nexen was bought locally. The spare is still the original that came with the car and while it holds air, I doubt if I'll ever dare use it on road.
Billo was taken on a few long drives including a 3 1/2 hr run to Lahore via the motorway and performed like a star.