1972 Volkswagen Convertible
By Vern Parker
In the spring of 1982 Karl Widmayer was stationed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia and found himself in need of a small commuter car.
He commenced shopping for a good used car, preferably a convertible. He promptly found what he was seeking that was located only a few miles south of his home.
The ten year old 1972 Volkswagen Super Beetle convertible was painted Texas Yellow, an unlikely name for the color of the paint on a German car. Like all Volkswagen convertibles in that era it had a padded convertible top. Widmayer purchased the car without hesitation and drove it home never thinking that he would still be driving it 33 years later.
A few months after buying the 13-foot, 4.5-inch-long VW Widmayer and his wife, Susan, motored in what proved to be the trusty Volkswagen across the continent to California.
In the coming years the VW was put in storage a few times whenever Widmayer was posted in Japan or Europe. The thought of selling the car never occurred to Widmayer for by that time the car had become part of the family.
Later,Widmayer's daughters, Kristina and Nicole, both learned to drive on the VW with its four-speed manual transmission.
He says the speedometer in the painted dashboard tops out at 100 miles per hour but factory records report a top speed of 78 miles per hour and that is with the air-cooled four-cylinder, 60-horsepower engine in the rear straining.
Eventually Widmayer's globe trotting days came to an end and he retired to Oakton, Virginia in 2010. With new found time on his hands he soon thereafter retreived his relatively rust-free VW from storage and began an ambitious restoration project.
Many years and many miles before he had rebuilt the 1,5-liter engine but once more its' condition required that he do it again.
The single barrel carburetor feeds fuel to the miserly engine from the 11-gallon gasoline tank located in the nose of the car. The hood covering the engine between the taillights is perforated with 26 louvers to assist the engine's breathing.
The bulbous hood at the front of the car conceals the gasoline tank and the horizontally positioned spare tire.
All of the trim and bright work was carefully removed prior to repainting the car in the original Texas Yellow. It was during this process that Widmayer discovered that the left front fender had previously been replaced.
The nimble VW rides on black wall 15-inch tires supporting a 95.75-inch wheelbase. Coil springs and struts are on the front while torsion bars are in the rear.
Braking chores on the 2,028-pound VW are handled front and rear by drum brakes.
Between the front bucket seats is the hand brake lever as well as two smaller levers that control the heater and defroster. The back of the back seat can be folded down to provide a flat platform. A handy strap can be used to cinch the rear floor down securely.
As the restoration progressed Widmayer found that the left running board required replacing.
Widmayer reports that the convertible “L” package includes backup lights, rubber bumper inserts, padded dashboard, two-speed fan, dual circuit brake warning, right sun visor mirror, non-dazzle rear view mirror, two rear ashtrays and a lockable glove compartment.
Securing the glove compartment also secures the release levers hidden therein that open the gasoline filler door and the front luggage compartment.
The owner was amazed that the trim and original bumpers needed only to be polished before being reinstalled. In the spring of 2015, 33 years after purchasing his small commuter car, Widmayer declared the restoration of his VW complete.