A Florida father-son mechanic duo restores vintage Volkswagens

Gregg and Dalton Ammerman in their garage in Ocala, Fla.

Gregg Ammerman has loved vintage Volkswagens ever since he purchased his very first car, a watermelon green Super Beetle, in 1982. His passion for the brand has grown over time, and now the former Army mechanic shares his love for car restoration with his youngest son, Dalton Ammerman.

The father-and-son duo began restoring cars over five years ago, starting with a yellow 1978 Karmann Convertible Super Beetle in 2015. Together, the Ammermans worked on the car for months, with Gregg leading the mechanical efforts and Dalton, then just an eighth-grader, recording their progress and posting videos on the family’s social media channels.

“That was the car that made me fall in love with Volkswagens,” said Dalton. “I would come home from school, help out with the convertible and listen to music with my mom and dad.” When it was finally completed, they showed off the masterpiece at over fifty car shows before selling it.

“After that… I had to get one for myself,” said Dalton. He worked nights and weekends to save up for his first car, an old 1972 Beetle, that he bought nearby in central Florida. “I knew it would be a lot of work to fix it up, but that was part of the fun,” he said.

Dalton Ammerman worked nights and weekends to save up for his first car, a 1972 Beetle. After its successful restoration, it was totaled after its first drive.

Dalton and his father spent a full year restoring the Beetle together, including replacing the engine, adding a handmade shifter, re-painting the car black, red and light yellow, and adding brand-new brakes, tires and a stereo system.

Once it was as good as new, Gregg and Dalton took the restored Beetle out for its maiden voyage. With Gregg behind the wheel, both Ammermans enjoyed their work of art – but it didn’t last long. After about 25 minutes, another vehicle driving the wrong way down a one-way street collided with the newly restored Beetle. It was totaled after its first drive.

“The most important thing was that we were both safe,” said Gregg. “We got knocked around and were pretty scared, but we were okay.”

The father-and-son team were heartbroken and shaken, but they knew the accident would not discourage their love of restoration. In fact, Gregg doubled down on his hobby and began restoring Volkswagens full-time. Dalton began investing in more video equipment to record the family’s vehicle restoration efforts for social media.

The Ammermans pose with one of their restoration projects in their garage in Ocala, Fla.

“Although Dalton is mechanically inclined, his true talent is with recording the restoration process and editing the footage,” said Gregg. “I’m glad he’s found his own path, and I’m glad that we’ve been able to take both our talents and become invested in something together.”

With Gregg’s mechanical skills and Dalton’s videography, their social media channels have since attracted hundreds of followers and created a community of Volkswagen enthusiasts.

“We love to connect with other families who are working on restoration projects,” Dalton said. “Without social media, we never would have known there were so many bug-lovers like us around Florida.”

The father-and-son duo at work on a restoration project in Ocala, Fla.

Nearly two years since the accident, the father-and-son duo is busier than ever. Gregg sometimes must turn away restoration projects because there is too much work for the two-person team.

“This work has been the love of my life,” said Gregg. “There’s nothing like the nostalgia of a Volkswagen Beetle, and I love being able to take drivers back to the feeling of when the car was new. It’s a blessing to share these projects with my son.”

Dalton plans to continue helping his dad while he attends college just thirty minutes away from home next year. “This is something we’ll do together for as long as we can,” he said.