Gross isn't actually the word to describe it. There was so much mold inside the Beetle that it was a legitimate biohazard. Which meant both detailers needed full coveralls, gloves, and respirators to get inside and clean it. While that might seem like a lot of work for a 20-year-old beater that's probably worth less than the detail job cost, the moldy Beetle comes with some emotional baggage.
The owner of the Beetle bought it after it sat for several years following the death of its previous owner. That previous owner was proud of his five-speed New Beetle and regularly brought it around to car shows and used it to engage with the community. He was a true enthusiast. When the Beetle deep-sixed its own radiator, it sat for a bit while the owner prepared to have it fixed. However, before he could have it fixed, he broke his hip, which required surgery. Unfortunately, complications with the surgery led to that owner's death. So the car sat for years before its current owner bought it with the hopes of restoring it.
Mechanically, the Beetle seems OK. But sitting for years caused its interior to become a habitat for various microorganisms, which required a ton of work to clean up. Much of the interior just needed to be thrown out and replaced with parts found at a pick-and-pull yard, like the carpet. Some of it was able to be cleaned, though, such as the seats. After shampooing and vacuuming the grime out of the seats, the vacuum ejected so much dark brown water that it looked like a sewage pipe burst. I'm not particularly squeamish, but the thought of sitting on seats with that much grime grossed me out.
The exterior was actually in pretty decent shape, all things considered. Outside of the leaf pile and gunk that built up inside the aftermarket plastic louver on the rear window, there wasn't too much grime. After the louver was thrown out and the car was cleaned up, it looked surprisingly good.
In the end, this VW New Beetle went from being a rolling petri dish to looking almost new. Prior to it sitting for years, it was loved, someone's prized possession. Now, thanks to a little elbow grease, gallons of cleaning products, and some can-do attitude, it has a second chance.
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