We should start this blog off by introducing Jack 'the Giant Slayer' – our 1956 Oval Beetle, who didn't miss a single beat as we tackled the infamous Mille Miglia road rally around Italy in 2017.
Jack is a favourite here at JK HQ, having been a 'pool car' for the JK Team for a while now.
Until recently, he's been decked out in all the stickers and tags he got plastered in so he could take part in the 2017 Mille Miglia, as well as stickers showing off some of the other VW shows and events he's been to since then. I mean, he looks cool. He's a cool car, with a cool history, and it's great to show that off.
The problem is, the windows on an Oval aren't exactly massive. As well as being surprisingly close to the steering wheel (I always hit it when I wave to someone who's let me out at a junction, or who's just waving!), the windscreen is pretty small compared to a modern vehicle, and all those stickers were starting to get in the way.
I know I'm getting older and/or more mature, because I suggested we choose function over form and remove a load of the stickers from Jack. Here's how we got on:
The windscreen had a couple of official Mille Miglia stickers on the nearside: Jack's official race number stuck to the outside, and a verification sticker on the inside. We decided to keep the 'verificato' sticker, since it was pretty small and unassuming, but that the race number would need to come off and be preserved.
We had a plan for what to do with the stickers once we took them off, but we'll come to that later!
There were also a handful of stickers on both sides from the different shows we've taken Jack to since the race, including European Bug-In and the Freddy Files 'Thing Fling'. Again, these would be taken off and carefully preserved for later.
The rear side windows on the nearside and offside both had cool stickers we'd designed and made ourselves, especially for Jack. Rather than leaving one of us next to the Beetle to explain about the race when we park him up at a show, we got some stickers made to explain what the Mille Miglia is, how many miles we covered (well over a thousand) how many hours we drive over three days (just over 46), and some other facts and stats.
That way, people can easily figure out what we did while we go off and enjoy the event ourselves!
We decided to take these off, too, to start to give Jack a bit of a new identity after the race. Amazingly, it's been almost five years since we took part in the Mille Miglia, so it seemed the right time to take some of the decals off.
Taking the stickers off was actually pretty easy, and a lot more fun that I thought it would be.
I was initially terrified that I'd mess up the paint, or scratch the glass, but with some help from JK Founder Mark Reynolds (who drove Jack during the 2017 Mille Miglia), we managed to use a combination of adhesive removal spray, a glass scraper, a binbag and some blue roll to get all the stickers free.
The hardest part was making sure we'd picked up all the letters from the rear window stickers, which fell off like confetti and got blown around by the wind!
We also took off the stickers on the doors, two of which were from the race sponsors - Villa Trasqua and Chopard.
Speaking of Chopard, can you believe they only give each team one fancy watch? They know there's two people in each car! I was very magnanimous and let Mark keep the watch, though.
When we came to the big round decals on the doors and the hood, we paused. They weren't actually in as bad a shape as we thought, they were just really grubby! A thin ring of grime had formed around the edge of each decal, which was pretty easy to clean off.
Once each of them was sparkling again we decided to leave them on - for now.
We'd been thinking of having Jack's race number, 429, sign-written in place of the roundals, with a nice circle painted around each, but now we're on the fence.
Do we keep the big decals on? Forge ahead with our plan of replacing them? We're still not sure!
Until we can cure our indecision, they'll be staying where they are, but we still might carefully peel them off and display them somewhere else.
While we were already making changes, and helping Jack take on a bit of a new appearance now that nearly five years have gone by since he smashed the Mille Miglia, we also removed the Brantz race timer we used during the event.
It works by accurately counting the distance you've travelled since it was switched on, letting you know exactly when you need to make a turn, or when the next fuel stop is, etc. All of the directions and instructions for the race were a number of feet away from the previous direction. This meant that, if we missed one, we'd be in huge trouble. Luckily, we didn't miss any!
It was far easier to remove the Brantz than it was to install and calibrate, but we've kept stashed away in Jack's spares drawer, in case we feel like tackling another massive road rally!
He's looking much tidier now, and it'll be easier to see out the windows, too!
Remember when we said we had a plan for the stickers we took off? We'll update you on what we've done with them soon, once we've got everything tidied away and organised!
If you're up to something cool this weekend with your VW, get in touch! We'd love to share your photos out on our social media pages, or even put together a blog about it to be posted right here on the JK website.