VW Beetle Wizard Roadster - Part 5
Building a VW Beetle Wizard Roadster
This is part 5 of my project to build a VW Beetle based Wizard Roadster. If you have any interest in Beetles, this will certainly interest you. There are loads of photos of the build. In this part, final blending in of the windscreen surround and rear body work take place, along with starting on the flip front and hidden door hinges.
Other Wizard Lenses
If you have already seen this page or are looking for the previous page chronicling this project you may want to check out this link:
Great Wizards on YouTube - See a Wizard on the road.
If you have not seen a VW Beetle Wizard on the road before take a look at these videos of some great Wizard Roadsters.
New Windscreen Surround - Blend it in for a smooth look.
The windscreen surround was fitted in one of the previous installments on this project. It now has to be blended in to the rest of the bodywork. The new windscreen surround is made from fibreglass and actually sits over the lower part of the windscreen pillars. This means that on the scuttle area it is sitting proud of the surrounding metal. When it was fitted it was bonded on to the metal work with a special bonding agent.
I filled the area around the base of the new windscreen surround with a good quality flexible car body filler. This then has to be sanded and refilled and sanded again until you have a result that you are happy with. It is well worth spending a bit of time getting this perfect before moving on to other things. Any imperfections in this area will certainly show up when the car is sprayed.
In this picture you can see the almost finished job. Spraying with a coat of paint will highlight any imperfections which can then be rectified. It is also worth fitting the bonnet at this time to ensure that the fit looks good.
Blend In The Rear Bodywork - Obtain a smooth rear end!
Once the windscreen surround is sorted it is time to move on to the rear end bodywork. Here you have a couple of choices to make. Some people leave the rear wings separate as on a standard Beetle and then use the standard Beetle piping to finish off the joint.
I was fitting wider fibreglass rears wings so decided to go for the totally smooth look and blend it all in by filling the joint between the panels. It is important if you are doing this to ensure that there will be no movement between the bodywork and the rear wing. If there is it will be sure to crack as soon as you put the car on the road. As I was fitting fibreglass rear wings these were bonded, and screwed on the the body work and then the joint was fibreglassed both inside and outside.
Once I was happy that the wing and bodywork were joined fully I could then start on smoothing it out. Again a good quality flexible filler was used to finish off the join and allow final smoothing out.
Other Fibreglassing - Close off the engine compartment
Whilst most of the rear steel bulkhead is left in place, it is important that the gap between this and the new rear deck is closed off. This will also add strength to the rear deck so that damage is less likely if some clown decides to sit on it! I used a piece of 12mm plywood and bonded it on place. The picture shows the initial bonding, this was then fully glassed in on both sides once it was secure.
Also whilst working in this area I used expanding foam to fill the gap inside the old inner wings. This will make this area stronger and will also help with sound deadening as it adds stiffness to the panel. Fibreglass was then laid over this between the new upper deck and the side panels. One word of caution here is that the resin used in the fibreglassing process can dissolve the expanding foam so you need to use just enough to wet the fibreglass matting to get it to cure. One way around this is to use a barrier between the two. This can be brown tape, or a better option is varnish. This should only be applied to the area that you don't want the resin to contact as it will also prevent a bond between the resin and the metal or fibreglass that you want to bond.
Do It Yourself - Learn how, before you start.
How many unfinished projects do you hear about? A lot of these are due to people not realising what they are taking on. It all looks so easy when you look at other peoples projects. The best thing to do is find out before you begin. This book goes through restoration work and will give you the basics. From there you can then learn how to do modifications and all the other things that you want to do.
Hidden Door Hinges - An even smoother look.
I was also fitting fibreglass doors to this Wizard and decided I would like to have the door hinges hidden away. As the fibreglass doors are so much lighter than the normal steel doors, I was able to use a lighter duty hinge. The ones in the picture below came from an automotive coachfitter. The original door hinge panel was cut away and a length of steel box section was welded in instead. The original steel had to be cut as this would impact the doors when they are opened if left in place. I had the advantage that due to the extensive bodywork modifications being done there was plenty of scope to do things differently.
In this picture you can also see the start of the tubular steel framework that is going to replace all the front end steelwork and support the fibreglass flip front.
Drivers Side Hidden Hinge
On this internal view you can see that the original steel has been cut back. This will all need to be refinished with new door shuts incorporating door seals. The way these were done is a lot of work and should not be taken on if you don't have any basic metal working skills or fibreglassing skills.
Passenger Side Hidden Hinge
You can see that similar work will be required on the passenger side of the car.
Drivers Door - Get the alignment right.
When doing this type of work it is critical that you get the door to line up correctly. The only datum points I had to work to were the rear side panel and the windscreen pillar. One tip if you buy fibreglass doors is to check how true they are. Mine had a slight twist in them which made fitting them very difficult and resulted in me taking a lot of time to straighten them.
Fibreglass doors can twist for a number of reasons.
- The mould may not be true. It will only be as good as the pattern that was used to make the mould.
- The door could be pulled from the mould too soon, before it has fully cured, allowing it to take up a 'shape' before it is fully cured.
- The door may not be stored correctly. This can also result in a twist being introduced into the door.
Also in this picture you can see that the top part of the door window frame is removed and will have to be finished off at the rear of the door.
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