I had been looking for some kind of low cost, better shape source for my project car since Spring of 2018 after I discovered how bad the 74 was and likely would be as I dug deeper.
I knew I wanted another Super sedan, and looked around Central Ohio and neighboring states for any 1302s, 1973 1303s, or even 1975 1303s, the latter of which is almost impossible to find in any kind of adequate shape around here.
One 71 1302 I looked at might have worked, but the seller wanted way too much for the car in that condition. It had rotted floor pans and other assorted rust.
Some 74 1303s came up, and I could have got them cheap, but they only solved the chassis issues of my yellow 74 and not the serious body rust issues I’d uncovered over the months.
I then oddly saw a 72 1302 at a small car dealership about 30 minutes south of here.
He was by no means perfect. He had a lot of age on him and some obvious rust, but his chassis appeared rust free and solid, especially the frame head.
The car’s suspension and steering were tired, but someone had replaced a lot of the bushings within the past 5 or so years. He definitely needed new ball joints and tie rod ends, since while they may not have been the originals, they were getting ragged.
His dash was pretty cracked, however everything other than the fresh air blower worked. There was unfortunately an early 2000’s era stereo in the dash making it look pretty ugly.
Front seats were good but the rear had a vinyl I wasn’t familiar with and it was sun cracked.
The engine was solid appearing, but obviously rebuilt with multiple aftermarket parts on it and a cheap generic Chinese carb.
Thankfully it had the original oil bath air cleaner.
The only major obvious cancerous rust was discovered under the car along the passenger side. I poked and prodded and it only really appeared to be the heater channel bottom plate that was rusted out. What I could see of the heater channels themselves did not seem to be rusted out.
The paint on the rear panels under the moon vents was bubbling, but I honestly couldn’t tell if it was from cancerous rust or the surface rust often seen on really bad paint jobs.
See. I discovered the darker red was not what the color the car rolled off the assembly line in but was actually 54D Marina Blue.
One area, the rear driver side area, I fully expect to be an old repair with bondo that is now cracking and hopefully that’s just it. Nothing more.
So the dealer pulled the car out and I could tell by the sound that something was wrong. I wasn’t sure if he just couldn’t drive a stick but he certainly couldn’t put it into reverse no matter how I tried to tell him it worked.
The car lurched and sounded like it was not getting fuel and sometimes misfiring.
I drove it around but I couldn’t get it over 20MPH, and I could never really get it into 3rd gear since I could not get the RPMs up.
It would kind of idle ok, but when I asked the dealer about the carb, he said they had bought if off Amazon and just put it on there.
Now I’ve read the horror stories of people trying to get the cheap Chinese generic 34 Pict 3 aftermarket carbs dialed in so I figured that given how it drove, it just wan’t getting enough fuel or air.
I had come prepared with my tools so I set about adjusting it.
It still ran horrible, the engine shaking and misfiring.
My problem was that I got so focused on the cheap carb that I didn’t do my due diligence and go over everything. (Not that I really should have, given that it was not my car.)
Ultimately, it was discovered the the spark plug wires were messed up from the coil, and had been so since the car was bought at auction in North Carolina.
It had apparently never really driven that well.
Once the leads issue was resolved, all cylinders were firing and the carb, while not ideal, was doing what it should.
I test drove the car and it ran well, steered, stopped, etc. It would definitely need some brake adjustments but I had brand new things at home for that.
I went back the next day and made an offer. It wasn’t as low as I wanted to go but it wasn’t expensive in the grand scheme of my auto expenses. I got him down a little lower to cover the taxes and title fees too.
My son followed me home in his GTI and was spotting me to see how the car handled, steered, tires, etc.
In fact, I did almost 75MPH for a good chunk of the ride home with no issues. The transaxle felt like it had a better transmission in it even.
I had found what I hope will be the new source for my dream Beetle.