What is the first place to begin when restoring this car? The inside is good but it has not run in 15 years. It clearly needs tires, but if I cannot do it, who in the Phoenix area would be good to help?
You should first do a Google search for a VW club near you because this could be very expensive . Just having the engine brought back to life could be up to a thousand dollars . Everything on this is going to need refurbished , suspension and brakes , Also this should be done because you want to and you will never sell it for what you spend on it.
How can the inside be “good” on a 45 year old Phoenix based car?
First off, there is “restoring” and there is “preserving.” Restoring means you take it all apart, make it new again and put it all back together. I doubt you want to do this. Preserving the car is fixing what needs fixing to make it drive properly again. I’d say that’s what you’d like to do, right?
At a minimum, the fuel tank needs to come out and cleaned. The fuel pump and all the fuel lines replaced and the carburetor rebuilt. While the carb is off the car, a full mechanical check of the engine is needed. Does it turn? Does the starter crank the engine (with a new battery, of course) and is there any compression? New spark plugs, new points, a thorough check of the wiring a brake system flush and inspection and repair. Check all the driveline bearings, bushings springs, axles ect. All of it. It won’t be cheap. Figure a few thousand at least depending on what is found.
Look for a VW specialty shop. Preferably one with gray haired men or women old enough to know what a carburetor IS and have actually worked on one of these cars.
If you think this is will be a daily driver, put that out of your mind right now. In Phoenix area traffic, the car will literally be the death of you. Beetles are slow, overheating, tin-cans compared to a modern car. It is a show car whether preserved or restored.
Make sure you have a $20,000 or so line of credit or cash in the bank.
My nephew tried to do this some years back but gave up 1/4 of the way through because his limited resources were exhausted.
stock motor is 1600cc. we built up a 2110cc motor using new cyls/pistons and crank. used to be cheap. 100 for cyls/pistons and 200 for crank. put on some dual carbs and woohoo. going from 75hp to 125hp was nice. well, we did get new heads, cam, exhaust and a bunch of other stuff. than we figured out a vw was not meant for driving fast
Like @VOLVO_V70 said, find a nearby VW club and join. And if you want to get your hands dirty right now remove the spark plugs, pour a few ounces of 5W20 oil into each cylinder and use a wrench on the generator pulley nut and attempt to turn it which should turn the crankshaft. If it turns and there is oil in the engine use the starter to crank the engine with the plugs out and watch for the oil pressure warning light to go out. If that light goes out while cranking and there are no strange noises the engine might run when"good" gasoline gets to the carburetor.
Having owned a 59, the first thing you do is get it up on a lift and check underneath for rust. Gotta deal with that first. Need a restoration shop. The good news is that its a manual transmission so don’t have to worry much about that. But I really wouldn’t do much more that changing fluids, cleaning the gas lines and tank, and get it running (the new battery goes under the seat). Then you can see where you want to go with it as far as replacing upholstery, new paint, etc. Get a copy of Hemmings and take a look.
What I would do is raise the rear deck lid. Then grasp the crankshaft pulley firmly. Try to shove the pulley/crankshaft back and forth as hard as you can.
If you hear a noticeable thunk then it will be engine rebuild time and on an air-cooled VW this usually means almost everything is replaced except the heads and engine block; and sometimes even the block depending upon how beat out the main bearing saddles are.
You also need to assume 20 grand as Docnick said if you’re planning on a full restoration; assuming the car is not rust eaten as Bing mentions. Rust can be an expensive project killer.
Twenty grand later you will have a VW valued at 8 grand. Maybe.
What @ok4450 and others have said. By “shove the pulley/crankshaft back and forth”, he means pushing towards the front of the car and pulling towards the rear of the car.
If you keep this car, you’ll want a copy of this:
You might talk to wedge vee dub which does restoration work. Looks to work on a fair number of bugs and vans. Located in Phoenix
That is a great book.