My Beetle Restoration

July 2012 Update, Donor Front Firewall & Napoleon Hat

by on Jul.07, 2012, under Body Work

I just purchased a couple of key replacement parts for my Beetle. I purchased a donor front firewall and a donor Napoleon Hat (sometimes called a front chassis support panel). Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, there are people in California that cut up perfectly good cars for parts. In my case, it’s a good thing as it makes it possible to replace some hard-to-find parts and panels that either 3rd party suppliers don’t supply at all or the parts they do supply are for newer models that neither look the same nor fit the same as the originals. As far as I can tell with an initial inspection, these two parts are very close to the original parts on my car. The front firewall is labeled as being from a 1966 model which appears to be correct. It doesn’t have the holes in it for the choke cable or fuel tap lever, but has the stampings in it where the holes used to be punched out. I can just drill these out to the proper size and it should match the original panel. All the other stampings and dimensions appear to be the same as the original. The Napoleon hat appears to be a very close match to the original as well and a trial fit to the donor front firewall showed a very close fit. I won’t know for sure just how close a match they are until the extraneous pieces and panel remnants are removed and I can put them up next to the originals and also until I can take some comparative measurements.

Note: These donor parts do cost a little more than the currently available replacement panels, but are, in my opinion, superior in design, fit, and quality. A new Napoleon hat is available for around $30 and the donor part cost me $75. Likewise, a new front firewall is available for around $50 and the donor part was $100. I think the extra cost will be easily justified once they are in place. These two parts are important to the mating of the body and chassis and will provide a good reference point for the heater channels on the front end of the car. Currently, these parts on my car are rusted away on their outer ends and provide no reference points with panels mating to them like the heater channels.

Along with the front firewall and Napoleon hat, I purchased a pedal cluster, 1 horn (he threw in an extra), 3 back seat bolts with washers, and 7 long 17mm bolts. All of the items together cost me $200 including shipping via Greyhound Package Express. As you can see, protective packaging is not my supplier’s forté. However, providing hard-to-find original parts with very little rust is. He wrapped the firewall and Napoleon hat together with stretch wrap as well as wrapping the horns together. They were all placed in a floor jack box with the pedal cluster and the bag of bolts. They seemed to make the journey here with little or no damage. Thanks Mike!


I’ve recently become very motivated to get started working on the restoration again, even if it is just little things here and there. I did some website work for one of the absolute best, if not the absolute best, classic VW restoration shops in the country and after looking at many years’ worth of their fantastic, top-notch work, it reminded me that I need to make progress, no matter how little it may be — every day, week, month, and year. I may not have the funds to buy all the replacement panels I need right away, but I can do something productive on it on a regular basis until I can. I’ve made a commitment to myself to get going and keep going.


:, ,

2 Comments for this entry

  • Matthew Vandenbelt

    hi, i have been reading ur journey with this restoration project for two nights now….. i am really hoping that you start working on it again as i really want to know how its going….. this car is worth the time and the money (and also the hard work/effort)

    🙂 hope it all goes well and please give me an update

    thank you for sharing your restoration

Leave a Reply

Before submitting, please answer: *

Looking for something?

Type in keywords below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for?
Contact me to see if I can help!