Pandemic allows hobbyists the time to return to restoration projects

Rob Dibble with his 1969 Volkswagen Dune Buggy.

With time to spare and nowhere to go during the COVID-19 lockdown, many classic-car owners have seized the opportunity to finally make progress on a restoration project—or two.

Rob Dibble saw the overabundance of time at home as an opportunity to pursue his passion for car restoration. A corporate development entrepreneur, Dibble has been working remotely and his flexible schedule allowed him to focus on the restoration of his 1969 Volkswagen dune buggy.

He purchased the classic open-air vehicle in August 2019, but did not have the opportunity to work on it until recent stay-at-home orders freed up much of his time.

“I wanted to do something more productive than bingeing TV shows,” said Dibble. “I’ve re-discovered my love for restoration over the past few months.”

The buggy is not Dibble’s first restoration project. He has restored three motorcycles and two former ambulances that he converted into tailgating buses. However, the Dune Buggy is his first vintage vehicle.

The car had been abandoned on a beach and was totally rusted and in bad shape. Over the course of three months, Dibble installed a new carburetor, exhaust system, wheels, brakes and headlights.

He also re-painted the exterior, transforming it from all-yellow to a flat grey with a light-yellow racing stripe.

He also made changes to the interior, including new seats, a new dashboard with a GPS speedometer, new carpeting and a new stereo.

When Dibble encounters a mechanical challenge, he spends time “tinkering” to see if he can solve the issue.

“That’s the most fun part for me. I love trying out different solutions and seeing what I can figure out for myself,” he said.

If Dibble needs additional support, he turns to the online community of Volkswagen enthusiasts.

Dibble has enjoyed seeing the creative ways others have solved for mechanical problems.

“Everyone is concerned about money right now, which makes it difficult to purchase expensive car parts or get restoration work done for them,” he said. “Because of the pandemic, people are taking on the work themselves and being resourceful. For me, it’s been one way to have fun and focus on something I love.”

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