Background

There are subtle differences between New Beetle models over the 1998-2010 production span. In terms of the Ute conversion, the major impact is on the re-use of backup and side marker lights.

For 1998-2005 models there is the option to use the original circular backup lights as well as the oval side markers. Post-2005 models incorporate the backup light into the horizontal bumper assembly, and the rectangular side markers are more difficult to incorporate into the curvy Ute body shell.

Fender preparation

Whatever the model, the plastic rear fenders and bumper need preparation to “harvest” the harness and some parts.

1. Rear combo lights

Pry out combo light from the inside edge

Combo light harness

The distinctive large oval rear turn/brake/parking lights — not part of the Ute modification — can be resold (on eBay for example offering prices are in the $40-75 range for each combo assembly).

To remove them without damage, unfasten the plastic knob on either side of the luggage compartment rear, and then carefully pry the light assembly out starting from the inside edge (the edge closest to the lid surround).

Remove the two harness connectors by pressing up the locking tab and then pulling out. The two-wire connector is the turn signal. The three-wire connector is for the dual brake/parking light bulb.

Post-2005 models will also have a backup light harness. Label the harness for later identification. Although the light fixture isn’t reusable, the harness will be re-purposed.

2. Rear fender liner

Rear fender liner

Safely jack up the rear and remove the rear wheels. The rear fender liner is attached with torx screws. The clips on the fender underside that affix the liner will be reused so avoid damage. Remove the liner carefully and wash off the road grime. RETAIN THE LINERS.

3. Side marker light

When the fender liner is removed, access the side marker light housing on the inside of the fender, and pop it out from the bumper. Label the harness connector. RETAIN THE SIDE MARKER LIGHTS (optional).

4. Fender edge cut

Fender edge cut markup

A strip of the fender edge together with its inside clips will, when bonded to the fiberglass, mate the body shell to the fender liner. It is easier to make this circular cut with the parts still on the car. Measure 2.75″ up from the edge all around and draw a cut line.

On the passenger side (right), take precautions to avoid the pollution control plumbing fitted up in the trailing part of the fender.

Fender-bumper join seam

Side marker light cutout

The join seam between the fender and bumper requires extra attention. First, the plastic materials vary somewhat so a saw or cutoff wheel may pass through the materials differently. Second, there is a bracket that holds the seam together and this should be carefully preserved; refitting the two pieces back if taken apart adds unnecessary complexity.

After passing the fender-bumper seam, the rim cut should follow the top edge of the marker light oval indent. When the rim cut is complete, go back and finish cutting around the entire marker mount oval if you plan to keep the marker light. This piece will help re-purpose the marker light on the fiberglass body.

5. Fuel lid removal

On the passenger side, special care is required to remove the gas filler lid assembly.

Pry out filler L-clip

Pull out filler lip actuator cable

First, carefully pry out the metal L-clip that holds the actuator lid release cable. Then gently pull out the actuator cable and label it. Next, from the underside of the fender, press in the small plastic edge catches until the entire filler lid assembly is separated from the fender; take care to lift up the rubber surround over the filler pipe. RETAIN THE FILLER LID ASSEMBLY.

Fuel filler lid assembly with L-clip taped in place

6. Fender removal

Unfasten all the torx screws holding the fenders to the chassis. Carefully pull off the side fenders. It may be easier to cut along the fender/bumper seam with a cutoff wheel than to unfasten rusted holding clips. After removing the edge strips, the remaining fender pieces are now scrap. Pull off the large styrofoam fillers on the left and right side.

Left fender removed

Right fender removed exposing emissions system and blue vacuum reservoir

Rear bumper preparation

Pop out the license plate lights and disconnect the harness. Label the wires. The small rectangular plate lights are surplus.

Unfasten any remaining torx screws securing the bumper to the chassis. For pre-2006 models, pull the fender forward and tilt it so that the backup light harness connectors can be detached. Label the backup light wires.

Depending on the model, the backup lights are either in a separate bumper fixture (Turbo S), embedded into the main bumper (most 1998-2005 models), or incorporated into the main lamp fixture (most post-2005 models).

Turbo S bumper spoiler with circular backup lights

If you plan to reuse the circular backup lights, carefully remove them along with their surrounding mounts to aid placement on the fiberglass Ute bumper. The Turbo S bumper spoiler can be removed as a single assembly.

After removal, the fenders and bumper plastic pieces are ready for the dumpster. RETAIN TORX SCREWS, HARDWARE BITS, BACKUP LIGHTS (optional).