We’re stoked to bring you Lew’s 1963 ragtop Beetle. Sticks and stones may break your bones, but names can never hurt you? You sure about that? Names can be deceiving. What about if you were to come up against somebody with hearty passion, real dedication and a huge commitment that is second to none called Mr. Savage?
You’d start to worry right? No need kids. Lewis Savage is really an old hippy at heart.
Savage, 28 and hailing from the long cruise-control roads of Northampton has an unquestionable enthusiasm and zest for air cooled perfection. You could say it’s in his blood; his love for all things Volkswagen goes back to his early childhood with his folks responsible for a variety of Campers and Beetles and ‘being picked up by mum in a bright orange jeans and a Beetle’ which he actually considered normal.
Its obviously in the jeans. Ahem. Genes.
Lewis has been a regular punter and is a recognisable character, frequently attended VW shows for the last 20 years or so, accompanied by his folks when he wasn’t old enough to drive into the ground himself. ‘We used to go to all the shows when I was a kid, we were members of the So Cool Air Cooled Club from Northampton which is unfortunately no longer running.’
It was at this club that Lewis and his dad first crossed paths with this 1963 Ragtop Beetle which had been imported into the UK from Germany around 1991. With an keen eye for a beauty, Lewis’ dad had enquired there and then about buying it to no avail.
It was only after years of persistence and following the disbanding of S.C.A.C.C. that Savage Senior was to receive a call enquiring if he still had the bug for this bug, even though at that point it had been off the road for sometime, he couldn’t get his wallet out fast enough.
‘The Ragtop had sat in our garage for the first few years and my dad managed to have it on, then off the road for the next ten years or so. Mainly off I guess’ admits Lewis. ‘In this time, I’d managed to restore my first Beetle, a 1972 1300cc to be exact but she had to go in 2003 following my apprenticeship as an electrician as having a bug was no longer practical. I then decided to buy a MK3 Golf and tinkering with Beetles took the back seat for a while.’
It wasn’t too long and Lewis was straight back into restoring Beetles so he bought a peppermint green 1967.
But there was an itch, something nagging at him, burning him up. It was sitting in his dad’s garage! Now was time for the prodigal son to start badgering the old man to ‘sell the 1963 to me which he did after coming around to the idea with only one stipulation. If I ever sold the bug, I could only sell it back to him!’
In 2011 Lewis finally managed to get his paws on ‘Miss D as I refer to her, she was in need of some welding and was stuck looking tatty and in need of some love.’ And like with any good woman, love means money. Something that Lewis didn’t have enough of to bestow a fancy paint job on her body, so thankfully he chose to go down the ‘tatty rat look’ route much to Mr Savage’s displeasure.
Alongside this unique finish, Miss D swapped to a narrowed adjustable 2” beam and had her rear taken down 2 splines. ‘It was important that the car looks rusty, that it was solid, so I had a mate help me out with the welding, some new doors, rear quarter, front quarter inner wings all around, heater channels, door pillars. I concentrated on getting the paint off to create an old look then lacquered the rust to stop it from getting any worse.’
It was important that the car looks rusty, that it was solid, so I had a mate help me out with the welding, some new doors, rear quarter, front quarter inner wings all around, heater channels, door pillars. I concentrated on getting the paint off to create an old look then lacquered the rust to stop it from getting any worse.
What about the wheels?
‘I think the choice of wheels is always an important one and after housing some 15” polished Raiders for a while, I decided to get some 17” Randars which were a tricky fit. With some super low profile tyres, spacers on the rear and a pathetic turning circle I managed to pull it off!’
‘Yeah, the engine in Miss D is a stock 1200cc and gets me about nicely. She is fitted with a single glass pack exhaust that is alright too. Probably because it’s falling off!’
Looking at these photographs, you’ll agree that this was some project to say the least, one that takes a lot of patience and dedication, and Savage has pulled it off.
He managed to store and restore (but not the original paint) at his dad’s next door neighbour Paul’s place as not only did he have a lot of work to contend with, but there were a lot of spare tools and parts already there, and lucky for Lewis the guy is a Volkswagen genius! Handy.
We thought this would be the perfect setting for the photoshoot, as Paul was such an integral part
of the rebirth of Miss D. Savage is now a member of the SC Outlawz, an ‘awesome bunch who attend as many shows as possible,’ and have an anything goes attitude when it comes to Volkswagen’s. ‘From Ovals to Rat- Rods and even Watercooled, we make sure we have a good presence at all the big shows. Living close to Santa Pod is a big bonus, in fact that’s where I first met Jason Cooper of Rothfink.’
Ah, don’t get too sentimental.
So Lewis, whats the plans for 2014 and beyond?
‘I’m definitely already planning on going to the next European Bug in June 2015 when it’ll be my 30th birthday. Obviously biggest plan would be to keep the car for many many years, then probably restoring it back to stock with a mint paint job to do my dad proud.’ Must be your conscience kicking in! Any shout outs? ‘Big thanks to my girlfriend Sadie for being the model in the shoot, my dad for all his help – I think I may have already mentioned that?!
And to you, Rothfink Industries for the shots.’
Originally published in UltraVW, February 2014
Art direction / Alex Mills (RFI) / Jason Cooper (RFI)
Photos / Alex Mills (RFI)
Model / Sadee
Ride courtesy / Lew Savage