Volkswagen Restores 51-Year Old Daily-Driven Beetle Named "Annie"

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Volkswagen Restores 51-Year Old Daily-Driven Beetle Named

For the past 51 years, “Annie” the 1967 Volkswagen Beetle has been the daily mode of transportation for its owner Kathleen Brooks who bought the car back in December 1966 in Riverside, California. Racking up more than 560,000 km over half a century, Kathleen, now 73, still drives Annie to work. 

After hearing about Kathleen and Annie’s special relationship last year, Volkswagen North America offered to restore Annie at the home of the Beetle at the Puebla factory in Mexico.

Over the past 11 months, a team of some 60 Volkswagen employees and trainees reworked Annie back to factory-quality specs, with several custom touches that celebrate Kathleen’s dedication. 

“We often hear stories of dedicated Volkswagen owners, but there was something special about Kathleen and Annie that we felt we needed to honor,” said Derrick Hatami, Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Volkswagen of America.

“The original Beetle launched our business in the United States. This isn’t just a Beetle, it’s a member of her family, and after all the time our employees have spent with this special vehicle, we feel Annie is a part of our family as well.”

“I’ve said many times she and I are so much alike because she’s old, she’s faded, she’s dinged, she’s dented, she’s rusted, but you know what? She keeps running,” said Brooks with a laugh. “And as long as I take as good care of her as I can, she’s going to continue to run.”

Even with Brooks’ best efforts, Annie had several needs when her restoration began in Puebla early this year, from a floor pan rusted through to the ground in spots, to suspension, transmission and electrical challenges.

Over 11 months, the Puebla team replaced roughly 40 percent of Annie’s parts and restored 357 original pieces, down to recreating the stickers that Brooks had added to the body and windows over the years.

To properly restore her faded red paint, the team matched the original shade from the inside of the glovebox, sandblasted the body, repaired with a mix of period-correct and updated parts, and then reassembled.

Several parts of the vehicle were restored with better than their original factory parts, from the disc brakes that were an upgrade on later Beetles produced in Mexico to the AM/FM/Bluetooth stereo designed to mimic the look and feel of original Beetle radios.

Even the seats received a special touch, with “Kathleen” and “Annie” embroidered in a classic VW font over new leather. And to tie the car to the modern era, the car’s toolkit and jack was painted in deep sea teal metallic, the color of the 2018 Beetle Coast edition.

The goal, says project manager and mechatronics engineer Augusto Zamudio, was not to create a museum quality Beetle, but to bring Annie back to a state where Kathleen could drive and enjoy her for many more years to come.

“When Annie arrived, our team members quickly understood the connection Kathleen had with her car and embraced this project wholeheartedly,” said Steffen Reiche, CEO of Volkswagen of Mexico. “Restoring this car posed a number of challenges, but also provided a demonstration of the dedication we put into every Volkswagen we build.”

When Brooks parted with Annie, she wrote a heartfelt note to the Puebla team members thanking them for their efforts and asking them to take care of her special car. Zamudio says the feeling is mutual – and the team wrote Brooks back a note of their own.

“This was a labor of love for all of us. It was emotional to see Annie go after all the time we have spent working on her, but we are happy Kathleen and her can be reunited.” 



Gokul

Gokul

Writer

He firmly believes that we should listen to Bob Marley more often while driving to make the road a better place.


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