Girl falls for 1965 Volkswagen Beetle convertible

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Six years ago when Jane Sevila was just a pre-teen, she told her Dad how much she liked the look of the older Volkswagen Beetle convertibles. Sevila thought they were cute and her father, like most everyone else in America, agreed.

Eventually, they shopped around for an older VW model, successfully locating a very worn 1965 convertible. The owner was a European Union employee and the exhausted car was parked on the streets of Washington, D.C.

The owner told Sevila that she left the car unlocked, so criminal elements would not cut the Beetle convertible top to gain entrance. The seller had purchased the Volkswagen in what was then West Germany. As an export model the Beetle was calibrated in miles rather than kilometers on the speedometer.

Butch Sevila purchased the 1965 Volkswagen from the seller and took it home in Great Falls, Va., where the father and daughter duo set about restoring the bedraggled Beetle.

The first thing to come off pleased them. That was the MAACO blue paint which, when stripped off revealed the original red paint. The entire convertible was riddled with rust that required the Sevila team to cut away all of the rusted material to get down to the remaining solid metal. At that point the car was hauled off to a shop that could weld healthy metal into place.

For five years the Sevila team has labored to restore the Volkswagen with both of them doing their fair share of wrench turning.

Light colored running boards and matching fender welts were installed and the entire car covered with red paint to match the original color on the car when it left the factory in Wolfsburg. The chrome bumpers still have the overriders.

Parts to restore the 1,786-pound Beetle were readily available. The original air-cooled engine in the rear of the car delivered 40-horsepower. In order for his daughter to keep up with modern-day traffic a 70-horsepower engine was installed. A new 12-volt battery replaced the old 6-volt battery under the rear seat.

Not many optional extras were available in 1965, but this Beetle is equipped with front and rear floor mats, an under dashboard bamboo tray, as well as an AM radio. Sevila has upgraded the radio to also receive FM signals.

New for 1965 in Beetles were the fold-down rear seat and the gasoline gauge that eliminates the need for the reserve gasoline tank. Adjacent to the gasoline gauge on the dashboard is the 90-mph speedometer. Between the front bucket seats is the shift lever to operate the four forward synchromesh gears, which is next to the floor-mounted handbrake near the two levers controlling the heater. Sevila has installed lap seat belts in the 13-foot, 4-inch-long Volkswagen.

The diminutive convertible is a mere 60.6 inches wide and stands 59.1 inches high. On each side is a mirror to help the driver see around the boot covering the lowered convertible top.

Since the completion of the restoration father and daughter have made several long distance trips in the Volkswagen. The daughter, now in high school, enjoys driving what appears to be a new red convertible while the father is pleased that his daughter has gained hands-on mechanical experience, along with a driving experience that, he says with pride, “makes her one with the car.”

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