Jackson Harrington’s vintage car restoration

Jackson Harrington’s Volkswagen – Pierce Laveran ’24

When arriving at school in the morning, you may have noticed a small bright blue car parked in the neighboring streets. That would be Sixth Former Jackson Harrington’s restored Type 2 Volkswagen Beetle, a vintage car retired by Volkswagen in 1980.

Harrington has been looking for a car to work on. “I had wanted a ‘cool car’ for a while,” Harrington said. In his research, he came across the Volkswagen Beetle.

“With my limited budget, a Beetle became a perfect fit,” Harrington said. “Since it’s the most mass-produced car ever, all parts are cheap and readily available.”

When Harrington saw a Beetle for sale in Camden, New Jersey, on Facebook MarketPlace, he seized the opportunity. 

Due to the car’s age, Harrington had to pass a car inspection before he was allowed to drive it legally. But Harrington considered this when he first planned the restoration.

“I had a checklist of the first things I needed to do in order to make [the car] pass [the inspection],” Harrington said. “Things like working tail lights and hazards, to name a few.”

He devoted his free time during the summer to restoring the car. The project, for Harrington, was a learning experience that required planning and research. 

“I had previously built a few plug-in electric vehicles but had never worked on anything with an engine, so everything was new,” Harrington said. “I did have an outline of my plan and how I wanted to approach the process, but every repair I made required a lot of YouTube.”

Over the summer and into the school year, Harrington made several changes to the car. He replaced the fuse box, headlights, tail lights, front seats, radio, and wheels. He replaced the old engine with a 2076cc Built Dual-Carb Engine, changed the steering wheel, and swapped out the car’s air-ride system, along with the air compressor. He repaired the brakes, pedals, and transmission, added pop-out rear windows, and removed the front and rear bumper.

“Almost every step of the restoration was a challenge since I didn’t know what I was doing.”

Jackson Harrington ’24

Although the car is still a work in progress, Harrington is delighted with it. 

“I am happy with where the car is now,” Harrington said. “Obviously, there are a few problems here and there that need to be fixed, but I am definitely satisfied.” 

Harrington will add a few more modifications. “I’m planning on adding a speaker system, ‘ragtop’ sunroof, big brake kit, and potentially swap the engine out,” Harrington said. “I also want to reupholster the interior.” 

Harrington has a few tips for students who may be interested in automobiles or are thinking about chasing an interest: “Just dive in head first,” Harrington said. “Almost every step of the restoration was a challenge since I didn’t know what I was doing.” 

Harrington believes that all problems can be fixed with persistence. “When problems arise and you’re forced to fix them,” Harrington said, “you’ll be able to figure it out.”