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1965 Volkswagen Convertible

By Vern Parker

A half dozen years ago Jane Sevila was a pre-teenager. That didn't stop her from expressing to her father, “Butch” Sevila, her fondness for some old Volkswagen beetle convertibles she had seen on the roads.

She thought they were cute and her father, like most everyone else in America, agreed. They shopped around for such a car before finding, on Craig's List, a well worn blue 1965 VW beetle 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 convertible top to gain entrance. The top has a glass rear window.

The seller had purchased the VW in what was then West Germany. As an export model it was equipped with a speedometer and odometer calibrated in miles rather than kilometers.

In 2008 the car was purchased and taken to the Sevila home in Great Falls, Va. Once there 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 car was riddled with rust which required the Sevila team to cut away all the rusted material

to get down to the remaining solid metal. At that point the hulk was hauled off to a shop that could weld healthy metal into place.

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.

The original six-volt electrical system has been upgraded to 12 volt. The new 12-volt battery replaced the old 6-volt battery under the rear seat.

Not many optional extras were available in 1965 but this car 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

AM and FM signals.

New for 1965 in beetles were the fold-down rear seat as well as the gasoline gauge which eliminates the need for the reserve gasoline tank. Adjacent to the gasoline gauge on the dashboard is the 90 mph speedometer. Each door has a pocket for road maps.

Between the front bucket seats is the shift lever to operate the four forward synchromesh gears. It is next to the floor-mounted hand brake near the two levers controlling the heater.

Sevila has installed lap seat belts in the 13-foot, 4-inch-long Volkswagen.

He reports that of the 1,090,863 beetles produced by Volkswagen only 10,754 of them were convertibles.

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.

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.

Since the completion of the restoration father and daughter have made several long distance trips in the Volkswagen including one to Ohio.

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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