Article by Werner Alker
When I got Herbie in ’93, I thought he would not live longer than three months. Actually, his fate was already determined – Spare parts!
My ’69 was stripped and ‘in’ for revamping at the time and should have been done within 3 months. Little did I know that it would take 12 years to get the sprayed body back. In the meantime Herbie did all the work. He even got a re-spray and interior revamp so that I could also park him outside and be seen at club outings and shows. And as time went on I liked him more and more. He had the pleasure (and pressure) to do a few laps at Zwartkop Race Track on an open day. But the best he showed was when I entered in the 1999 African Beetle Marathon, an endurance run over 7500 km around Southern Africa. Herbie did it in style, no breakdown, no punctures and WON. So, there is no way that he would become spares for others. All he needed really, was some pampering, t.l.c etc.
In 2007 Jan Pretorius of Centurion Lada offered to give him a respray and dent removal. It was a quick decision and carried out soon.
Some people do it in one shot, others in stages. Either way you have to have a plan of action.
Prepare a space, set a time frame, seek outside help if necessary and find all necessary parts. Also not to have transport for a while or rather to have alternative transport.
I decided to do it in stages. I stripped almost everything except for the engine, tank and battery and drove Herbie to Jan’s shop. Now Jan took over and gave him a beautiful 2K respray. What a difference, Herbie looked like new – Herbie looks great again! Thank you Jan, for your input. If Herbie was our child, Louise would make you his Godfather!
It took a while for me to refit doors, locks, windows and plenty of other small items. The Link and Kingpins were last done in 1997, so it was time to fit new ones. I still had a new set of ‘Nakatas’ – which is a good make from Brazil.
The brake drums also showed ovality after many wheel changes over the years and were cut in-house on the new Chinese drum-skimming machine.
2 Years ago, I fitted an experimental 1600 12 V twin port engine onto the 1300 gearbox. For a while I kept this combination, but realized that this ratio is only ideal for slower speeds, bundu bashing and towing, not for long runs. So I fitted a 1600 box with a kombi’s 4th gear (with Ferdi Radel’s help) but also left the big 205/15 bakkie tyres.
Now a new problem arose: the engine was too weak for the high gear ratio. 3rd Gear could go easily to 70 miles an hour and 4th up to about 80 – but no power for pulling a trailor or so. I was at least hoping for good petrol consumption but had to be content with 11 km/liter on the long run. We recently went to Die Hell (Gamkaskloof), Knysna, Hermanus and travelled at about 130 km/h at 11 km/l. But a new engine is in progress – more about that in time.