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May 17, 2016
6 minutes read

Found in a barn in Acton, Mass., in 1991, where the owner was selling it because the wood floors of the barn it was stored in were rotting out from underneath the car, John Henry paid $2,000 for this 1957 Oval.

John Henry is a certified VW nut. He lives in Massachusetts, a state not exactly known for being a hotbed of Vintage VW activity, unless you count a small number of die-hards who are in the Der Kafer Fahrer (DKF), a group of VW crazies who insist on driving their antique VWs, with the 25- or 36-hp engines, a minimum of 1,500 miles per year. Henry is one of the newest members, and his Diamond Green (L-412) 1957 Hardtop is testament to his dedication to the hobby.

Found in a barn in Acton, Mass., in 1991, where the owner was selling it because the wood floors of the barn it was stored in were rotting out from underneath the car, Henry paid $2,000 for this Oval. Henry brought the car home to Marlboro, Mass., and proceeded to take every last nut, bolt, fastener, clip, gidget and widget apart.

The car was in pretty good shape, considering the age of the car and its locale, with a perfect interior upholstery, and flawless dashboard paint. The 8-year long restoration was an on-again, off-again affair, as the daily pressures of being a husband and father of two children took precedence. Henry’s family has come to accept his VW addiction, however. As a matter of fact, his 8-year-old child can now tell an Oval from a Split and knows what a carburetor and a generator do. Nevertheless, Henry persevered, and the results are stunning.

Henry has kept a log of everything done to this car since day one as well as a Web site on this restoration. This site has 23 pages, complete with “in progress” photographs, explaining the trials and tribulations of bringing an antique back from the dead and has more information than we can fit into this issue. Rather than explaining what Henry has explained on his “Bug Shop” Web site, go to a computer that has internet access, and point the browser to www.geocities.com/MotorCity/4000/ and read the rebuilding process there.

Henry tells every one exactly how much this operation has cost and what it has taken to get the car re-registered in his home state.

For those of you who don’t have Internet access, I will provide a quick run-down of the car. To begin with, Henry has been fascinated with VWs since his mom suggested that he get a “Beetle to tinker with” (What a mom!) So Henry got his first Beetle in 1980, right out of high school and has been hooked ever since. This Oval was purchased and driven by the original owner until 1963, when the car was wrecked, and more or less repaired, but never put back on the road because the owner had lost interest in the car.

Henry found it, brought it home, upon further examination, found that the repairs were not done to the standards he would have liked. He wanted “undetectable” repairs. And there really wasn’t rust throughout the car, just some minor perforation in the front bulkhead and rear bumper mounting brackets on the inner quarter panels. Henry did most of the restoration work himself and has made many ingenious contraptions to help move the car around in his garage when the body was off the pan.

John’s friend, Tom Whiting at Whiting’s Auto Body in Maynard, Mass. did the paint. Also, the folks at Wolfsburg West have provided many parts and moral support.

Henry has managed a seemingly impossible task at home, in his own garage, with tools commonly found in the average VW aficionado’s garage. It proves that a Vintage VW can be restored without spending megabucks. Now that the car is done, John doesn’t hesitate to drive it. He has managed to log these wins: VVWCA Northeast Classic in Norwalk, Conn.: third place, Class B (’54-’57), The New Hampshire club’s summer show in Hopkinton, N.H.: first place, Class A/B (’46-’57); Best of Show overall, “Time Machines,” Durham, Conn.: first place, all VW class and the Connecticut VW association’s summer show in Terryville, Conn.: second place, class B (’54-’57).

Henry would like to thank all the people who helped with this restoration. Tom at Whiting’s Auto Body, Kevin at Kraft Tire in Marlboro, Mass., Tony Moore and his gang at Wolfsburg West, Dave and Eric at Prep-Rite, John Willis for digging up a door part that threatened to stop the restoration in it’s tracks in the final months and all the VW fanatics on the internet newsgroup RAMVA for his ramblings throughout the restoration. He would especially like to thank, Mrs. John Henry and the little Henry’s for putting up with the project.

Article Source: www.vwtrendsweb.com


Aircooled Magazine is the premier online magazine dedicated to Volkswagen Cars, News, Reviews, Tech, Tutorials, and more. Our publication is completely free to use and is brought to you by VW owners and enthusiast with a passion for the Volkswagen brand. We offer the latest news and reviews of models as well as information about the car world in general.

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