For me, patience isn't a virtue I practice on a regular basis. When I want something, I want it right away and I want it just right; it has to be a vision of perfection in order to make me happy. Although perfection is stamped all over this '66, Tom Enriquez of Hacienda Heights, Calif., has that one thing that makes it easy to come by: a willingness to take it all in stride. He wouldn't even consider this project as finished, saying "I'm still working on it."
All the interior was retrimmed...
All the interior was retrimmed by E&J Upholstery and is now covered in a gray velour. Don't you just want to caress it?
Enriquez's family grew up VW, and in the spirit of tradition, he bought a Bug the moment he got his driver's license. The ideal 1966 with a factory sliding sunroof found its way into Tom's daily grind, being used as a daily driver for the next four years. The changes made to the car weren't few, but were spaced out over a good amount of time, and the first thing he changed was the electrics, converting it to a 12-volt system with the assistance of Daniel Junes, an member of the Original German Folks.
Enriquez was inspired by the cars the German Folks owned and restored, and he was determined to emulate their distinct style. Choosing a color can be one of the more difficult tasks when restoring a vehicle, but Enriquez knew he wanted a dark pearl metallic cobalt blue when he saw a 1991 Honda with the very same paint color. We think it's a definite improvement on the stock pearl white. The painting responsibility fell on Puente Paints of California, and if a picture paints thousand words, then we have nothing left to say.
Enriquez replaced the stock...
Enriquez replaced the stock 1300cc with a 1641 and added an Engle 110 camshaft, twin 40mm Kadron carbs and a BUGPACK header as well as a few other mods.
The body was kept totally stock and there wasn't any dechroming of any kind. There is actually more trim on the Bug now than when it left the factory. Gravel guards were added to the front and rear fenders, EMPI-style bumper bars and Wolfsburg crest was placed above the hood's handle. Swing around the backside of this beauty and you'll see an oval country plate for Germany mounted to the rear bumper. Enriquez added air intake vent trims below the rear window, and the rear window itself has the German Folks insignia branded across it. Up top there is a vintage-style roof rack from Flat-4, and a single-mount mirror on the front passenger side is kept company by a pair of pop-out windows.
In German Folks fashion, the nose of the '66 was dropped low to the ground on a four-inch narrow-than-stock front beam and fitted with Sway-A-Way adjusters and C.B. Performance dropped spindles. Turning to the back once again, the rear end has been turned one spline and has some KYB gas shocks, however, there aren't any shocks on the front.
When it comes to stopping power, Enriquez stripped the entire package and restored the backing plates and hubs and then refitted them using only OEM parts. Covering up these brakes are 15-inch, EMPI-style, five-spoke alloys, but these aren't just aftermarket wheels. These received special attention; they were taken to Anaheim Plating of Anaheim, Calif., and they left plated completely in shiny chrome. Wrapped around these chromed feet are complimentary tires; 135/15 Nankang radials in front and Merit 205/65R15 low profiles in the rear.
The paint may look like a...
The paint may look like a deep pearl black but it's actually a very dark pearl metallic cobalt blue; the very same color Enriquez saw on a 1991 Honda.
Now let's get down to business with what's pushing this Bug around town. Built to cruise, Enriquez's VW was beefed only slightly with a 1641cc unit based around a 1972 dual-relief crankcase. Other mods include a Bugpack header, single quiet-pack exhaust muffler, an Engle 110 camshaft and twin 40mm Kadron carbs and it's all bolted up to a rebuilt 1967 Beetle swing-axle gearbox by Small Car Connections in Hesperia, Calif. The fan housing, crank casing and all other tinware were powdercoated in light blue, for aesthetics, of course. Chrome once again makes an appearance in the engine bay with the centerpiece of the Kadron linkage and the top of the fuel pump coated in the shiny goodness.
This blue Beetle has been...
This blue Beetle has been in Tom Enriquez's possession since 1988. He took his time to restore it, using all the goodies you see here. He even says he's not yet finished.
For the upholstery Enriquez went with a full re-trim at Garza Upholstery, who stripped out the old headliner and used it for a pattern for the new, frost gray velour one. Enriquez kept the original VW low back seats and they were retrimmed with the same frost gray and cloud gray velour, except for a few choice sections that received the vinyl treatment because of wear. The original square-weave carpets were replaced with a mid-gray set. And even after all that work, which was lovely, time passed and Enriquez took the car to Julio at E&J Upholstery. The entire upholstery was redone in vinyl.
There is a Bendix Sapphire I radio located in the dash but there is also a premium aftermarket stereo tucked away in the car for a more cruise-worthy volume. Other features include a Sperwolf locking stock shifter, a Lecarra four-spoke sports sterring wheel and a Karmann-style glovebox lock. In case all that stuff should spontaneously combust from being just so darn cool, there are matching fire extinguishers mounted in each footwell.
With all that work and more yet to come, Enriquez proved patience can be a blessing. I may just have to re-evaluate how I do things.