Lynn Pfenning has many special memories with the 1967 Volkswagen Type 3 that his dad, Marvin, bought new. None of them would have happened if it hadn’t have been for a chance collision with a wandering cow. Up until that, his dad was driving a 1965 VW Beetle, which was totaled on a North Dakota road by that blow with the bovine. Still liking the Volkswagen brand, Marvin plunked down $2,200 for that new Type 3.
The car was well cared for with a lot of that polishing elbow grease coming from Lynn’s arms. “Growing up, my job every Saturday was to wash and detail the family car before church,” Lynn said. After years of use, in 1974 Marvin sold the car to a local farmer. He then gifted it to his son – a friend of Lynn’s. The young man motored to and from school in the classic. Shortly after graduation, he rolled it into a barn. There it sat for the next two decades.
Following his career path, Lynn went to a trade school, studying as a construction electrician. From there, he ended up at an automotive plant for twenty years. When he wasn’t on the clock, he’d tinker with his own collection of classic cars.
“Over the years, we may have gone our separate ways, but I always kept track of that car (Marvin’s Type 3) ,” said Lynn. “I would check in every five or some years to see if the owner was willing to sell me it.” Despite the eager interest, Lynn kept getting turned down.
A Change Of Heart
That all changed in 2013. Inspired by a chance sighting of another Type 3 Fastback in St. Paul, Minn., Lynn decided to ring his friend once again. To his surprise, the car was for sale, and he was invited to its resting place in North Dakota to negotiate a price.
With some strategic haggling, his compelling backstory and a small nudge from the owner’s wife, he was able to buy the car at a fraction of the asking price.“Before he had a chance to change his mind, I handed him the cash and away we went,’ said Lynn.
Home On The Range
While the vehicle appeared good in photos, seeing it in person revealed another story. The past owner had used the fastback as a farm vehicle to round up cattle. Those cowboy antics caused damage to both doors and crushed the nose of the car. Being out on the ranch, field repairs were made with several inches of body putty.
Beyond the banged-up body, a mouse had taken up residence in the engine bay. Some mischievous munching on the vehicle’s wiring had caused a fire. Water damage was also an issue, thanks to a windshield gasket that had long dried out. Moisture came in the cabin and rusted through the floor pan and the transmission deck.
“It was like peeling back an onion – once I started pulling back the layers the car told a very different story,” Pfenning said.
Tricking Out The Type 3
Still, Lynn pressed on and four years later completed the build. Along the way, he made some custom modifications to his machine, adding a tweed interior and rebuilding the engine to 1776 cc. He also opted to forego the car’s original Brunswick Blue paint, coating the car in a Candy Brandywine color.
To help fund the laborious project, Lynn worked late shifts, overtime, and covered coworker’s vacations. During the weekends, he’d spend long days putting in the hard work to get the classic back on the road.
“I cut out all the rust and replaced it with new metal. All the nuts and bolts were replaced or refurbished,” said Lynn, who wanted to do as much of the work himself. “I was so far into the project there was no use in cutting corners.”
A Blue Ribbon Reveal
The project was completed in July 2018. Lynn entered it in the North Dakota State Fair, where it received first place for best antique car. To celebrate, he invited his then-83-year-old dad to participate in the parade with him.
“He couldn’t believe it was the same car,” Pfenning said. “He smiled the entire parade – which lasted nearly two hours – yelling, in his distinct German dialect, ‘It’s a Volkswagen, and I bought it brand new!’ He was so excited.”
A Priceless Piece
Lynn has continued to show the vehicle, surprised by the overwhelming reaction. “I won first place for Vintage European car in Minneapolis’ Light the Night event: second place went to a fancy Porsche and third went to a BMW,” Lynn said. “It was pretty fun to see my little Volkswagen beat out over them. Sharing this experience with him (dad) … has made every penny worth it.”