Tim McEntee was at a Volkswagen car show in Omaha with his 1973 Volkswagen Super Beetle when a person came up to him and asked about the car’s restoration job.
It was an easy assumption to make. The shiny orange paint hardly looked like something that was done at the factory more than 40 years ago when the car was originally built.
The person viewing McEntee’s ’73 Super Beetle was in the process of restoring his Super Beetle.
“He was looking mine over really well,” said McEntee, who lives near Gladstone. “He looked inside at the headliner and asked me who did the headliner on the car. I said the factory did. His mouth dropped open. He couldn’t believe that was the original headliner. It has never been replaced.”
As much as McEntee and his wife, Shirley, enjoy driving to cruises in Kansas City and car shows from Omaha to Springfield, Wichita and Iowa, they love telling the story behind the car.
Other than the regular maintenance of replacing the brakes, the only major change McEntee has made is the new tires he bought for it after the car returned to his possession in 2012.
“When I did get the car back, I put steel-belted radials on it because the tires on it were about 25 years old,” McEntee said. “They were very hard. It rode like a rock, so we got steel-belted radials. I found three-quarter inch white walls that were originally on the car. I was able to duplicate that.”
From the factory-installed sunroof to the eight-track player, everything else is the same as when McEntee and his twin brother, Tom, bought the car new when they were 19 years old.
They drove it to college and to work, listening to music on the radio and the eight-track player. McEntee said they could have bought one with a cassette player.
“I thought eight track would last,” McEntee said. “Technology changed. It was the wrong choice.”
Still, McEntee loved everything about the car. McEntee and his brother drove it for five years.
One interesting thing about their Super Beetle was that it was an automatic.
“I couldn’t drive a stick so my only option was to get the automatic stick shift,” McEntee said. “It drives just like a stick. It is a three speed automatic. You shift just like a clutch would except it has no clutch.
“The actual clutch is in the gear shift. As soon as you touch it, it is pressure sensitive and takes it out of gear and allows you to shift to the next gear. You take your hands off of it, it puts it back in gear. You put your foot on the gas and go.”
And they drove it all over Iowa. But in 1978, McEntee and his brother decided to put their Super Beetle in storage. They bought other cars.
“We thought we would get rid of it at some point, and it just kept getting parked and stored,” McEntee said.
Over the next couple of decades, the car sat in various storage places throughout Des Moines. Other than getting an occasional drive once or twice a year and an oil change, the car was in storage and out of the nasty winter weather in Iowa.
It was one reason why the car remained in such pristine condition.
In 2007, the car moved to his father-in-law’s barn in Rising Sun, Iowa. Shirley McEntee said her father loved Volkswagens. In fact, the only new car he ever bought was a Volkswagen in 1968.
Shirley said her father enjoyed working on the car and getting it in running condition.
“The ’73 was his pride and joy,” Shirley said. “He took it out. It was a church car. He did take it to a show and got an award for it.”
Shirley’s father passed away in 2012. McEntee decided to bring the ’73 Super Beetle to Kansas City.
“In June of 2012, out of curiosity, we wanted to see if there was a Volkswagen Club in town, and there was and we joined,” McEntee said. “I thought it was a neat idea to show it because it was in such good shape.”
McEntee said they have a lot fun driving the car and being part of the Volkswagen club. Many times, it is Shirley in the passenger seat, telling the story to people who pull up to them and ask about the car.
“We get tons of looks,” McEntee said. “When we are driving, people will pull up when we are slowing down and ask about the car when there isn’t any traffic around us.
“Everybody thinks it has been restored. The first thing they say it is a great restoration. We tell them it is all original. They are amazed when they look at it.”
Do you have a car, truck or motorcycle or other vehicle you would like see featured in Make It Yours? If you do, email your idea to David Boyce at Drive@kcstar.com