Outstanding bodywork and L51 Bordeaux Red Sikkens paint done by Bob Cook and crew at Cooker’s Restoration & Fabrication, in Williamsport, MD.

'58 Double Door Delight

Mount Joy, Pennsylvania’s Luis Nieves, and his wife Johanna, are delighted first-time Type 2 owners, thanks to Maryland’s Bob Cook, who sold them his Panel, then proceeded to resto-customize it.
By R.K. Smith | July 1, 2016

Photos by R.K. Smith

Family has much to do with your very first car. Mount Joy, Pennsylvania’s Luis Nieves knows this firsthand, because at age 13 his brother bought a Beetle, and that’s what got Luis into the Volkswagen scene. Four years later, Luis purchased his first car, a 1960 Bug. Since then, he has owned a number of Karmann Ghias, as well as a variety of Beetles, but not one Type 2 transporter. Fast forward to 2007, Luis perused the September issue of Hot VWs Magazine, and was impressed by the article that featured Bob Cook’s turbocharged ’50 Split Window sedan, on the streets of Maryland! In 2011, after finally seeing this car in person, he had to have it. Before he knew it, Luis was the proud new owner of Cook’s creation. A year later, however, Nieves sold the Split, wanting to do something different project, as in non-VW. When he talked to Bob about his plan, Luis learned that Cook had bought and brought home two buses from Way Out Salvage in Arkansas, and Bob suggested that the ’58 Double-Door Panel would be a great project. Bob must’ve been a good salesman because Luis went for it, and also requested that Cook handle the renovation.
Lowered stance thanks to Cook-fabbed 4-inch narrowed beam with flipped stock spindles (by Autowerks Suspension), Cooker’s 3-inch narrowed rear/altered spring plates.
At Bob’s shop, Cooker’s Restoration & Fabrication in Williamsport, Maryland, Bob and crew had their hands full, as this panel needed a lot of metal rework. For three weeks non-stop, Cook replaced many metal panels with new green ones (which all came from KlassicFab), that included lower nose sections, in/out lower valances, below split-windshield areas, front floor, doglegs, front wheelwell closeouts, all outriggers, inner and outer rockers, bulkhead, bottoms of A and B pillars, complete cargo floor and belly pans, bottoms of two cargo doors, both battery trays, and rear corners. Luckily, the roof was good, but a new rear apron and decklid were necessary, and Bob added a pair of front Safari windows. When the metal work was done, and the body media blasted, Cooker’s workers, Seth Ahrens and Mike Harmison, tackled the bodywork and prepped all surfaces (inside and out) for paint. Bob sprayed polyester primer, then Seth and Mike spent many hours blocking the metal panels. With the body ready for Bob, he sprayed one coat of sealer, followed immediately with two coats of Sikkens color (Bordeaux Red, which was also used on his ’50 Split), then three coats of clear. 24 hours later, Bob and Seth took care of all the color-sanding with 1,000-grit wet/dry sandpaper, then 2,000, and finally buffing it all to a mirror finish.
1641cc engine, with dual Dellorto 36 carbs, is handiwork of Lafollette’s in High View, WV
To get this Panel closer to the ground, the Cooker’s crew modified the undercarriage’s suspension and brakes. Up front went a Seth Ahrens-fabricated 4-inch-narrowed beam, with “flipped” stock spindles, thanks to Autowerks Suspension in Weber City, Virginia, not to mention Midnight series brakes, and KYB gas shocks. Out back, Bob Cook narrowed the torsion housing 1-1/2-inch per side, and modified the Type 2 spring plates to accommodate a short-short-axled ’68 Bug transaxle (4.12 ring/pinion, welded 3-4 gear hubs, Super-Diff, steel shift forks, etc.) rebuilt by Sean Dowdle at Dowco Enterprises in Centerville, Maryland. For wheels, Cook chose a set of Billet Specialties machined aluminum 15-inch wheels, 3.5 fronts and 7-inch rears, rolling Hoosier tires all around, 5x23s and 9.5x26s, respectively. Engine-wise, it’s a ’72 Bug Type 1 1641cc, which was rebuilt at Lafollette’s in High View, West Virginia. The mill sports a rebuilt stock 69mm crank, 87mm Mahle pistons/cylinders, Engle 110 cam, dual-port 041 heads with solid shafts/swivel-foot stock rockers, Bosch 009 distributor (with Ignitor), Bosch coil, and NGK spark plugs. Carburetion consists of dual Dellorto 36 carbs on tall intakes, and crossbar linkage. Exhaust is a Sidewinder from A-1 in Santa Ana, CA, while the clutch is a Stage 1 Kennedy, along with Daikin disc. A 36-horse style fan shroud, and engine tin were silver vein powdercoated, crank pulley is a degreed unit, and 12-volt battery stays charged thanks to a new alternator.
Wheels all around are Billet Specialties 15s, 3.5 front and 7 rear, rolling Hoosiers, 5.00-23 and 9.50-26, respectively.
The interior here is sparse, mainly because behind the bench seat/sheetmetal divider is open cargo space, what this double-door panel was intended for. So Bob painted all the cargo-side interior metal light gray, and sprayed more Sikkens Bordeaux Red onto the dash, metal above the Safaris, fresh-air roof vent, front doors, and under the bench seat metal. Cooker’s crew installed Commercial Gray door/headliner panels, which came from Clara Williams, based in Olympia, Washington. Hagerstown, Maryland’s Terry’s Auto Upholstery rebuilt the bench seat pads, then covered them in gray vinyl, and also made custom black carpeting, covering the entire rear floor, continuously over the top of the engine compartment and ending at the rear hatch. For that custom performance touch, Bob Cook added an Auto Meter Sport-Comp tachometer under the dash, to the right of a CSP shifter, and bolted-in a 3-gauge (Auto Meter oil pressure, boost, oil temperature) housing to the roof’s air-vent duct. Bob also restored this Transporter’s stock steering wheel.
Now that Luis and his wife Johanna are getting used to and liking to drive their ’58 Double-Door Delight, they also enjoy the many people who give kudos to them for owning such a rare and cool Panel. But like a few projects that call for future upgrades, the Nieves are waiting for the day to see the tach rev much higher, when they eventually get a turbocharged 2-liter motor in the engine compartment!!!

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