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Claire Nelson, sophomore, restores a 1974 Super Beetle with her family

Emmegale East, Connect Editor

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In suit with something the Xavier community as a whole loves to do, this is an article celebrating one of our fellow gators for her remarkable, innovative achievement in the world of STEAM.

Claire Nelson, a current sophomore, has used her interest in technical engineering and the STEAM community to embark on a long journey of restoring a 1974 Volkswagen Super Beetle. With the help of their father, Claire and her twin brother Liam have decided to revamp this car to– hopefully better than– its original condition, with the ambitious deadline of their 16th birthday. Recording their process on a website for bloggers of innovative and creative pursuits, MakerShare, Claire has documented the renovation of the engine and exterior of the vehicle as the project has developed.

Clare Nelson '20

Photos taken by subject, Claire Nelson, of the progress of their 1974 yellow Volkswagen Super Beetle, featuring her father and the Bug’s current home: their driveway.

According to her blog, this is Claire’s first time restoring a car, and she has learned that even the smallest details are important. This project has taught her about “doing things right the first time [because] you don’t want to redo all [your] hard work.”

The bright yellow Volkswagen has, essentially, become a part of the family as it has seen hours of attention from Claire, her brother and their father, all in the efforts of a transformative makeover. Lovingly naming the car “Ophelia,” Claire and her family have poured that love, as well as many hours of hard work, into their precious Beetle.

The entire idea was prompted by family, specifically, Claire’s dad, who she describes as “a genius [who] loves cars and passed his passion for cars onto his kids… our dad is such a great mentor and resource for us because it may not look like it, but we have no idea what we are doing.” She goes on to compare her father to Yoda, “if Yoda complained about how you weren’t sanding paint smooth enough.”

While the process itself has been remarkable in its innovative, driven pursuits, the renovation has also been a learning-process. Nelson says that the most significant part of the project, so far, has been “learning how to do a lot of things I have never done before and learning to do them well,” not to mention the “sanding, so much sanding.”

To any family, friends, classmates or peers who are looking to embark on a similar adventure, Claire recommends finding “someone who knows what they are doing,” not being “afraid of the hard stuff,” and lastly, to “document everything.” Recounting her own experience with using her father as a mechanical Yoda, she says “most people are willing to help you, so just ask. Forums are great… because they have a lot of people with very specific skill sets… [and] Google is your best friend.”  

Hopefully, in similar ways, many more Xavier girls and young individuals will be inspired to embrace engineering and other areas of STEAM, just like Claire. And hopefully her story will inspire others to share their ambitions. As Claire believes, “lots of people are probably really interested in seeing what you have made, it doesn’t matter if it is a dumb tiny website or an ambitious project like a car restoration… maybe you show it to your friends, put it on Instagram or make a MakerShare project like I did… but I would highly recommend it.”

While hard work and dedication are always said to be the defining factors of any success story, Claire Nelson and her family have proved such a theory in their mechanical efforts. Sparked from a love for engineering and design, Claire has brought life back into something “retro” and unique, making her a truly inspiring version of what it means to be innovative in our Xavier community.

 

Read Claire’s progress on MakerShare! Link: https://makershare.com/projects/restoration-1974-super-beetle

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Claire Nelson, sophomore, restores a 1974 Super Beetle with her family