Monday, September 15, 2014

At least one example of the Optima Edicion Beetle was shipped to Australia

We work on the theory that the harder you work the luckier you get. When Gene Berg was on a recent visit to Australia he took a ride in the car that he had also driven back in 1988 on its first campaign. So impressed was he with the car's performance that he faxed the following note to us: “Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to drive your car in competition during my 1993 trip to Australia. One thing that was extremely impressive about the advances from 1988 (the only other time I did this type of racing) to now was the handling. The car has progressed from being manageable to being magnificent. Having a vehicle go in the direction you point it allowed me to concentrate on engine rpm, proper shifting and the road ahead rather than how to keep it on the track when going around corners. Your suspension improvements are incredible. For me to get into a car (with right hand drive, no less) and not only be competitive, but to go faster than most of the best cars in attendance can only be attributed to suspension that works properly. Thanks again for making me look like a professional driver the first time out. I had a great time. Gene Berg.” Top My 1971 Superbug GHJ-025 By Frank Watkins May 1995 I got a job in Queanbeyan in 1971. It's not the end of the Earth, but you can see it from there! We had an FC Holden and a Standard 10. The weather there is winter 9 months of the year, and I decided an air-cooled car would be the go. So over to Canberra to Greg Cusack’s VW dealership in Braddon, and a 1971 demo Superbug was purchased for $2,100. I got $175 trade in for the Standard. Now this Superbug was probably the best VW I ever owned. It only had a generator replaced in the 4 years I had it. It rode better than the early cars, stopped heaps better, but had a bit of a thirst for petrol. All up the '71 Superbug was a great touring car. It did a lot of Sydney to Canberra fast runs with no drama. In 1975 I was back in Campbelltown and was filling the Superbug at BP Campbelltown (which was also a VW workshop), and the proprietor fronted me and said, “Do you want to sell the VW?” Just joking, I said, “You can have the car for $2,100.” He said he'd come back to me. Home to wifey and I told her the story, to which she laughingly replied, “You won't get that price!” and I said, “well, he won't get the car, that's easy.” Two days later BP Campbelltown rang up, and the car left me for $2,100. Next two cars I owned were a 1966 Fastback TS and a 1975 Ford Fairlane, which I drove for probably 4 years. Well the rust finally defeated the Fairlane, so I thought another Beetle would be the go. I had a wild goose chase for a 1975 L Bug. The bloke who put me on to the car didn't actually own it; the car apparently belonged to this bloke's sister's second husband's cousin, and she didn't know if she wanted to sell the car! Being of a very tolerant nature myself, I walked away from this hillbilly shaking my head; just couldn't believe it. On the way home through Narellan I spotted in a car yard GHJ-025, an Antarctica white 1971 Superbug, $1,499 cash price: my old Beetle! Hotfooting it back to the yard I got the VW keys off the bloke with the white shoes on, and took GHJ-025 for a run. Well, it wasn't the car I sold 4 years prior, but it still had some life left in it. Back to the yard and being a bloke who likes a deal, I offered ‘white shoes’ a grand for the VW. You would have thought someone died in this bloke’s family, I thought he was going to cry. “The car owes us $1,000,” he told me in between tears, so I offered $1,100, which he accepted, and I owned GHJ-025 once again. At this time I had a 1960 Beetle, a 1972 Superbug and a 1971 Superbug. I had GHJ-025 for a further 3 years and intended restoring it, but when we lifted the body from the pan, the rust that came to light was unbelievable. So I wrecked the car, keeping the good mechanical bits and took the chassis and body to the dump. It was a sad end for that car. Top Jurgo's Yellow Beast By Bob Jurgensons September 1996 This project started a long time ago, when my old 1971 S Bug was beyond the point of no return. It was decided that terminal cancer had killed this body shell. Not knowing what to do next, a lot of time was spent thinking about the options; will I build another one, or will I just buy a Holden or a Ford? NO WAY! With VW blood bred into me (thanks Dad), a close inspection of the chassis gave the green light that this piece of German engineering was going to live again. So, a search for another Superbug body shell kicked off. Little did I realise that a good shell of that era was nearly impossible to find. Then somebody (thanks, Birchall!) said to me, "Why don't you use your existing chassis, chop off the bulkhead and stick on a 1500 body?" Good idea. So the homework started, factory measurements, legal hassles, etc. With all that bullshit out of the way it was time for the gas axe and MIG welder, and then came the hunt for a good front end. With the help of Vintage Veedub Supplies one suddenly appeared. Then came a complete disassembly of the chassis and a trip to the bead blasters, followed by the powder coaters (hence the factory look). While all of this was happening, a body shell came my way. Bingo! A basically rust-free '68 body shell was mine. We carefully checked the shell panel by panel, and then came the difficult problem - what colour? Being a painter and decorator by trade, a vast knowledge of colours that reflect on sizes and shapes etc. was readily at hand. After sussing out nearly every make and model for paint codes, Hyundai's Vivid Yellow came out the winner. The body then went to Campsie Smash Repairs, where the poopy brown stuff and slight hail damage was slowly massaged away. With the purchase of the aero guards from Boris and the boys, the body then went to Swaverlys Smash Repairs where the two-pack enamel was applied. With the bank balance subsequently looking a little flat, the whole project spent a while on the back burner. Assembly finally commenced with every moving part being replaced with new genuine items to make sure that this Bug would live as long as I will. Confused? I was, because while all of these stages of the project were happening, the power plant was also being considered. Reliability and grunt for a reasonable price were the main objectives, so after a few sample drives in Berg-equipped Beetles the configuration of 2007cc was chosen. Probably by now many of you who know me will be familiar with the herbs and spices that went into this donk, but for those who don't here's the rundown. Bugpack 78mm crankshaft, Berg 310 cam with 1.4:1 rockers, Berg shot peened and relieved conrods, Berg lifters, oil pump and stock valve heads. The fuel system consists of a Facet electric pump pushing the petrol through an OMC (boat) water trap/filter, up to the dual 45mm Dellortos. At the other end of the equation the gases pass through a Berg extractor with J-pipes inside die heater boxes and out the Genie Turbo mufflers. The transmission in the mongrel of a car is basically stock; the only difference being a 4.37 ring and pinion. The interior consists of Aerotech seats and a complete custom re-trim by Scotts Trimming Services at Silverwater. A full compliment of VDO gauges fill the custom dash panel, painstakingly wired up with the help of Darryl Donald. Many of you might gloat about how you single-handedly built ‘your car’, but this little package would not have been possible without the help of Vintage Veedub Supplies, Hellbug Engineering, Muller and Muller Volkswagen, Thad Nakao, and Ma and Pa for putting up with the temper tantrums at home in the garage. Top Superbug Strut Brace By Lance Plahn February 1998 Superbugs, 1971-75, had a MacPherson strut front-end and there is much debate over which is the better, strut or torsion bar front-end. When pushed hard or driven over rough roads, the strut towers do flex and, in some cases, can bend inwards. This does have a detrimental effect on the handling. I've dealt with Superbugs that have had towers bent inwards up to 4 cm over stock. As a result, you are unable to adjust the camber to factory specifications. The welds on the camber adjuster brackets have to be unpicked or ground away and the brackets moved inwards towards the centre of the car. The amount of movement depends upon the maximum camber adjustment actually available, but is usually around 12 mm. The brackets are re-welded to the floorpan and the hole elongated. Then I make and fit a strut tower support bar, which you have no doubt seen on rally or race cars. When fitted to Superbugs, it does make a difference for the better and its well worth the effort involved. The procedure is as follows: undo the bolts that hold the strut to the body and allow the strut leg to come down. Then place the cardboard or paper over the hole left inside the boot and trace the hole underneath. Do this to make a template, which fits on top of the strut tower body inside the boot. Trace the template twice onto a 12 mm-thick steel plate, around 15 x 40 cm in size, and cut out a pair of shapes (Oxy-acetylene makes it easy). Fit in to each side and refit each strut leg to the body. I use 25 x 50 mm thick-wall steel RHS to go between the two towers, cut to length and welded into place (onto the plates just made and fitted.) Consider the location of the brace, as it can be located in a forward position, the bar acting as a stop for articles in the boot. There will be many different ways to perform this task, but I hope this gives the general idea. EDITORS NOTE. I did a similar thing on my Super Bug, only instead of flame cutting the end pieces I just bolted a piece of 1 inch x 1/4 inch angle iron onto the two rear mounting holes. I had to cut the angle so that the ends angled up to meet the body work, I then welded up the cuts I had made. Steve Top Struts & Stuff By Steve Carter July 1998 I have owned my 1972 Superbug S since it was about 6 months old, and it has had numerous modifications over the years. I have a strong belief that the McPherson strut suspension used in the Superbug S, and the later Superbug L (curve windscreen), is the ultimate for handling and comfort. They also allow a much tighter turning circle, which also allows more lock to be applied in a tail-out slide. This statement will bring howls of protest from owners of beam suspension Beetle owners. But the runs are already on the board for the use of McPherson struts, in all forms of competition, in VW/Audis and other makes. As far as durability goes, my Beetle has travelled in excess of 450,000 km. I have only replaced the steering box once, and up until the rack and pinion was fitted I had never replaced the tie rod ends. The lower ball joints did give some trouble in the past and I replaced them twice. I believe the early ones were faulty, judging by the superseded part numbers on these items. That brings me to very comforting fact about VW, they keep upgrading the quality of the replacement parts long after the model has ceased production. I have tried many combinations of front suspension set up. Setup 1: Compressed standard coil springs, 19-mm adjustable caster sway bar and Koni Sports shock absorbers. Setup 2: Relocated lower spring seats with standard length coil springs, also with the 19 mm adjustable caster sway bar and Koni special D shock absorbers. Setup 3: Struts that had been shortened 4 inches and also had the lower spring seats relocated and used standard coil springs, adjustable caster sway bar and Koni Sports shock absorbers from an early Mazda RX7. Setup 4: The above set up with a ’75 L-Bug rack and pinion and a new adjustable caster sway bar from Vintage Veedub Supplies. Setup 5: I now feel I have the ultimate set up, I had Vintage Veedub Supplies install my Mazda Koni Sports shock absorbers into a set of struts that have an adjustable lower spring seat, and use a smaller diameter spring. The beauty of these units is the adjustability, and also the ability to easily change the spring rate. I believe the standard VW spring is rated about 40 kg and the Vintage Veedub Supplies ones that I have chosen are rated at 70 kg. Various rates are available on request. Vintage usually supply KYB shock absorbers for these units. Versions 1 and 2 were an improvement over standard, but suffered from bottoming out on potholes and were not as low as I wanted. Version 3 was low enough; actually too low, and suffered from the dreaded tie rod crash on the chassis rail. This was fixed by fitting the tie rods upside down on the sub axle. In Version 4 the L-Bug rack was a pain to fit but the results are spectacular. The steering is so light and direct I felt I had to learn to drive the car again. The new sway bar replaced a tired old one and really tightened things up. Vintage Veedub also supplied Teflon lower control arm bushes. I was still trying to get rid of some bump steer that occurred with version 3. The new sway bar helped in that area as it had more caster adjustment, and the rack could be moved around to change its relationship to the suspension and help alleviate bump steer. Some of the bump steer was also caused by the way the struts in version 3 had been machined crooked. I also found another problem with 4; the steering scrub radius had been altered causing the tyres to screech going around corners at high speed. The fitting of the new sway bar with extra provision for caster allowed this undesirable consequence to be eliminated. Version 5 what can I say, I’m delighted and so is my long-suffering wheel alignment man, Grant from Solomons Steering in Mortdale. The car is an absolute delight to drive. The braking is greatly improved, as the car does not nosedive under hard braking. And as for going around corners I’m overjoyed, the car has never handled so well. I was at first fearful that the heavy springs would upset the balance of the lightweight Beetle, but my fears were allayed after my first test drive. I’m also able to fit my 8 x 17 inch Porsche alloys without having to use spacers to clear the springs. Top The Semi Auto explained By Steve Carter October 1998 In place of the four forward speeds of the standard manual transmission with clutch pedal, the Semi-Auto allows the driver to work the gearstick lever without a clutch pedal. In each drive range you have available a wider range of speed than any single gear in the manual transmission would provide. Since only occasional changes from one range to another are required, driving a Semi-Auto Beetle is a very relaxing experience. With the Semi-Auto you operate the hand lever only about a tenth as often as you would have to shift gears in a car with a manual transmission. A 3-speed gearbox of conventional design, it is essentially a 4 speed Beetle gearbox with 1st gear deleted, a clutch of conventional design and a torque converter all married together. Gears are changed by a conventional gear lever. The gear lever, however, is electrically connected to the clutch in such a way that as soon as the lever is moved longitudinally (ie in gear selection direction) the clutch disengages. The torque converter operates to transmit power when the engine is turning above idling speed and so therefore acts as a moving off clutch. It also acts as a form of ‘slip’ between engine and gear. In other words when engine load is higher - such as when moving from rest or uphill - the engine speed can increase to impart more power even though the vehicle remains in the same gear at the same speed. This enables the use of the same second, third and top as a conventional 4 speed manual gearbox. If the torque converter is called upon to ‘slip’ too much - for example when driving up a long hill in top gear, the oil will overheat. When this occurs, a temperature sensitive warning light on the dashboard lights up and indicates that a lower gear should be selected. Lowest gear is adequate for all normal conditions and no warning light for the low range is installed. The operation of the clutch is pneumatic via a control valve and servo. Vacuum is drawn from the engine intake manifold and there is also a vacuum tank. The control valve is fitted on the left side of the engine compartment and the vacuum tank under the left rear mudguard. The vacuum control valve is actuated by a solenoid switch and in turn is actuated by a special switch incorporated in the gear lever base. As soon as the gear lever is moved forward or backwards the switch contacts close, and the solenoid operates. In addition there is a second switch. This acts as a starter inhibitor that avoids the engine being started with a gear engaged. It also prevents the clutch from engaging again during the brief period of lateral movement of the lever from one range to another through neutral. The control valve also incorporates a device to regulate the speed with which the clutch engages. In accelerating circumstances (throttle open) the operation of the servo is quicker than would be possible with a foot pedal change. In decelerating conditions (throttle closed) the control valve controls the servo to operate less quickly. This enables the clutch to re-engage smoothly and without snatch. Oil for the torque converter is circulated by a pump, from the converter and through a reservoir tank, which is mounted under the right rear mudguard. The pump is fitted on the end of the engine oil pump shaft. This oil circulation serves to cool the oil as well as maintain a constant pressure (by means of a restriction in the return line). A relief valve is incorporated in the pump to limit maximum pressure. For starting the engine you must have the selector level in Neutral. When you move from Neutral to a drive range, the engine should be at idle speed. If the engine is cold the car can start to move in Neutral unless you apply the foot brake. Low gear is selected if a heavy load is load is to be put on the engine. If you are moving off on a steep hill with your mum in the backseat, or driving over very rough terrain low gear should be selected. It is placed in the same bottom left of the ‘H’ position as second gear is on the manual car. 1st ‘range’ is selected for normal traffic use and rapid (?) acceleration. It is on the top right of the ‘H’, where third is located on the manual car. 2nd ‘range’ is the range for highway driving, and accelerating at medium and high speed. It is in the bottom right of the ‘H’, where fourth gear is on the manual car. You have to depress the selector lever slightly to select Reverse, just like you would on a manual Beetle. When you put the hand on the selector level and move it, you will close the circuit to the solenoid in the servo mechanism that operates the Semi-Auto clutch. To select a drive range: A: Release the accelerator pedal B: Push selector lever to the position you want. C: Take your hand off selector lever. D: Accelerate and drive away. Other things you should think about when the engine is pulling hard: the temperature of the Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) in the torque converter can rise above normal. This overheating calls for a change in driving range. If this happens a red light in the speedometer will light up. If the light comes on you should select the next lower drive range so the torque converter ATF cools down, and of course you should not over-rev the engine. Another tip is when the car is standing still and you select a drive range, keep your foot on the brake pedal as you would with a conventional automatic. Without the brakes the car can creep forward (or backward in Reverse). And when parking the vehicle you must use the handbrake. The car can begin to roll otherwise, as the gears are not locked to the engine like a manual car. There is no locked ‘P’ position as there is on a full automatic. The torque converter and the oil tank are filled with 5 litre of ATF type A oil. The oil level must be between the two marks on the dipstick. Add oil only when the level drops below the lower mark. If the oil level drops rapidly without any sign of leakage externally, check the oil level in the engine in order to ascertain if oil transfer is taking place inside the oil pumps. To carry out the oil change you must firstly detach the hose at oil tank outlet and drain the old fluid into container. Reattach the hose. Then detach the return hose at oil filler neck of the oil tank, and route into drain container. Start the engine and run it at fast idle speed. While torque converter is being emptied, pour approximately 5 litres of ATF into the oil tank. When oil level in drain container has reaches 5 litres, turn engine off and reattach hose. The ATF temperature warning light can be checked with a stall speed test. Secure vehicle with both the hand and foot brakes, engage top gear and give full throttle. After about 2 minutes the fluid temperature should reach 125 degrees C and the lamp should light up. If not, the lamp or cable could be faulty, or the temperature switch could be defective. Replace lamp, repair cable, or replace defective switch. Top Käfer Cup 914 Beetle From Gute Fahrt March 1999 Many high-tech Porsche-powered VWs are running in the German Käfer Cup racing series. In the Type-4 class (‘King Class’), this is how Kurt Haßmann is engineering to end up with victories. Basis - top sport, is it amateur or pro? The borders have smudged occasionally. However there is a point at which, for an ambitious athlete he will got go back again. Compromises signify then. At such a change point was Kurt Haßmann, the Käfer Cup champion of 1990, already twelve months past his triumphs. The season of 1991 was sad story of losses, thanks to motor and mechanical problems. The division of W4 in the Käfer Cup means Beetles powered with Type 4 engines out of the VW-Porsche 914, which was for the street originally; however the brave will race them on the speedway. At this point the nice Käfer-master out of the Bavarian town of Lenggries decided, during the winter pause and the first races the season of 1992, he would organise an uncompromising new Cup Beetle. As a basis, an Automatik 1303S Beetle of 1973 would serve, Haßmann having already bought it in 1990 in original-condition. Unnecessary ballast, from the roof-lining to the big series-N-dashboard, from the ground up to the roof, was dismantled. Inside the stripped body was smoothed and sprayed with a fine lacquer stratum in black. That is not even comfortable, but essentially easier. The same is valid for the Recaro race seats covered with plastic-peel; the term upholstery this designation hardly earns. The specific four-point belts hold the drivers at his spartan job, that is completed through a sport-steering wheel, the adapted foot pedals and a tiny aluminium dashboard. The tachometer, oil pressure and oil temperature gauges monitor the health-condition of the engine. The original speedometer is retained because of the integrated tank-gauge at his ancestral place. For the electrical system, out of security reasons he has affixed a battery main-counter specified for racing use to the intermission of the complete circuits. The roll-cage comes of the Cup outfitter Heigo. The system is made out of steel tubes and allows the expansion of the pure cell, and a diagonal-cross into the trunk. The price for the Noble cage: approximately 3700 DM. These sort of specs are however in the division of W4 almost never neglected, because whoever is into the group of the leading Beetles might play too, for undercarriage, large brakes, mechanisms and especially the motor you must dig deeper into the money bag. It will cost approximately 40,000 DM to build oneself a motor such as Kurt Haßmann has done for his motor racing. The block is the 2.0 litre machine from the VW-Porsche 914. The capacity was widened to 2866 cubic centimetres by increasing the bore and stroke, and Haßmann got a result of 103 by 86 millimetres. The special crankshaft comes out of the USA and came complete with the flywheel and clutch unit. In addition, the cylinders and pistons come from the Porsche 912 and Mahle/Kolben, the additional with cooling oil jets are provided. The cylinder heads are ported out and have been modified by Haßmann to have a six-point mounting with extra studs. That is also meaningful, because the compression climbs to 12.0:1. The combustion chambers originate to Haßmann's own calculations, and the valves have become oversized. Intake valves have 46mm diameter, and the exhaust valves are sodium cooled and 39mm diameter. These are currently favourable. A Schleicher sports camshaft with 332° cam angle guarantees extreme control times. The valve guides are incidentally still original parts. Light-machine and fan-wheel are Porsche items, and the fan shrouding comes from Beetle Tuning master Willibald. A transistor distributor delivers the necessary electrical tension, and the mixture comes from two mighty 48IDA Weber carburettors that breathe through K&N filters over a so-called Catchtank. Super-plus gas is provided. An approximately thirteen-litre synthetic dry sump oil tank, motor and oil cooler that is placed, for the purpose of better ventilation behind the perforated front-apron, completes the lubrication system. The five-speed gearbox with limited-slip differential comes out of the Porsche Carrera, as well as the puck clutch with Alu-Sinter linings. A rank-solid power-end is also an urgent requisite, because the boxer motor delivers a performance of 162 kW at 7200rpm. That enables the powerful Bug to reach 100 km/h from a standing start in approximately five seconds. The maximum speed is 230 km/h. A huge performance needs, of course, also a world-dimension braking system. Again Porsche delivers the matching system. The Carrera brakes use mighty ventilated disks at the front axles, disks at the rear axles and four-piston light metal callipers all around. Also, the undercarriage had to have of course extensive alterations all over itself. At the front axles, suspension struts come from the Golf GTI Rally, the crosswise stability came to the reception of an additional stabiliser from the Porsche 911 Turbo, reinforced and adapted. At the rear we find cross-location bars from the Porsche 944 Turbo, as well as two additional equalizers and heavy-duty dampers. The power finally comes to the outside through truly huge wheels all round. The front-axles stand on rims of 8.5Jx17 with Pirelli race slicks of size of 245/35R17. At the rear the wheels are an even larger 10Jx17 with tyres of 265/35 R17 installed. However already Kurt Haßmann has constituted a new object of lust: Magnesium rims. So that he could somewhat reduce the high racing weight of his Bug of at present 920 kilograms to approximately 870 kilo, lighter wheels could do it. He was again at the finish for the season of 1993 a piece nearer to his objective. "I might do this year again heavy, to be different, to win." (Translated from German by IBM 6790 computer) Top How a race Bug kicks a race Porsche By Chris Fortune May 1999 When it comes to performance, the name that comes to mind is Porsche, not Volkswagen. The racers in the German Käfer-Cup have taken this otherwise normal reaction to the limits. Dr. Josef Gerold, in conjunction with racecar builder Rolf Holzapfel, has taken this notion over the edge and built the most awesome race Bug ever to hit Germany's racetracks. Even though this Bug breaks the norm of even a W4 Käfer-Cup racer, what is of interest here is its performance in comparison to a well-known performance car - the Porsche Carrera RS in race trim! So, which one is better, a Bug on steroids or a Porsche-Cup racer? Dr. Gerold loves air-cooled machines. He is also the proud owner of a race-prepared Porsche Carrera RS with the Porsche-Cup race package. This machine features a gutted interior with only a roll-cage and race seat. The suspension is set up for competing in Porsche-Cup races. Power comes from a 194 kW 3.6-litre flat six. Its combat weight comes in at 1,210 kilograms, resulting in a weight-to-power ratio of 6.24 kg per kW. By now, Porsche lovers are smiling at an anticipated Porsche victory. Dr. Gerold, prior to the head-to-head shoot out, was convinced that the Bug would definitely compete with the Porsche (laughter from the Porsche corner). So, let's meet Dr. Gerold's Bug. The Type 1 started its life as a '71 Super Beetle. Rolf Holzapfel installed suspension components from a Porsche 944, and a 911 5-speed tranny. Holzapfel opted for a very solid 2.9-litre Type IV engine, producing 169 kW at 6,500 rpm to propel this machine to warp speeds. Internally vented and cross-drilled brake rotors from a 911 and large four-piston Brembo callipers are in charge of scrubbing off excess speed. In full combat set-up, this Bug tips the scales at a scant 805 kg. That comes to 4.76 kg per kW. So, what are our Porsche friends saying now? The battle of the boxers took place at the Motodrom of the Hockenheim-ring. The Porsche took to the acceleration test first. Using slicks, it accelerated to 100 km/h in exactly five seconds. Can you hear the Porsche fans gritting their teeth? Both racers were running nose to nose at 140 km/h. The Porsche's better aerodynamics took over beyond 160 km/h. The true test of a racecar is not only how fast it accelerates, but also how fast it can run the track. The Porsche was the first on the track, taking it in a somewhat civilised manner. The slicks help the car's stability when it's driven to the edge. After several laps around the short track at Hockenheim, the Porsche laid down a best lap time of 1 minute 9.48 seconds. The race Bug is a pure racecar and behaves that way. Once the engine hits 4,000 rpm, the Bug takes off like a missile. The awesome brakes (designed for a the much heavier Porsche) allow the much lighter Bug to brake 30 to 40 metres later into a corner than its Zuffenhausen cousin. Dr. Gerold says that the Bug's road manner is comparable to a go-cart. Even though the slicks allow tremendous curve speeds, smooth driving is required. Jerky movements are immediately punished by four-wheel drifts, which lead to violent fishtailing. But enough suspense. After running a few lead-foot laps around the course, Dr. Gerold recorded a time of 1 minute 8.70 seconds. The Porsche corner is screaming in disbelief. Then again, Dr. Gerold does have the best race Bug money can buy. Top The 6,000 Mile Bug By Bill Barton (Australian Motor Manual, 1973) November 2000 I'm beginning to feel a little bit left out of things, While the Government criticises car makers for sloppy products and manufacturers react desperately by introducing generous warranty coverage in an effort to woo back disgruntled owners, here I am, out (apparently) on a limb with a near-perfect motor car. I say near-perfect because of the alarming fault which came to my notice after driving Elsie (I call her Elsie) for a few weeks. Evidently the man at the Clayton factory who bolts on the front bumper bars had overindulged in the hops, grape or whatever the night before LCV-005 passed through his department. As a result, the bumper was a full inch lower on the right hand side. Boy, was I mad! But, although mechanical faults were absent from the Beetle, there were small bodywork blemishes which would not have been found on the Volkswagen of ten years ago. Quality control is not as stringent as it used to be, and panels which would have been rejected at one time are now allowed past the once hypercritical VW examiners. My bonnet showed slight dents that were obviously present before the car was painted. Panels were well fitted, but joints tended to be daggy and putty had been used freely. Paint quality and finish is fine on the exposed panels, but around door sills and other partially hidden areas the quality feels way below standard. There was even a cigarette butt encased in paint under the engine lid! But all this merely reflects the universal trend towards carelessness. And that is the worst fault that developed in the car (or introduced during construction) after 6,000 miles of motoring. Needless to say I am extremely pleased with this result, and it completely fulfils my high expectations for the world's most produced and proven motor vehicle. During our testing program we covered widely differing terrain, from dirt roads snaking through the Snowy Mountains to congested, stop-start city commuting. Sustained high-speed cruising and long-distance country motoring all helped to give a clear picture of the Super Beetle's abilities and its versatility. The car was also subjected to five months' storage while I frolicked on a Barrier Reef island. The battery was disconnected but left in the car. Upon my return the battery was reconnected and called upon to start the car -which it did without a trace of resentment at such prolonged neglect. After 6,000 miles the Beetle is as tight as the day I collected it. Nothing has loosened, fatigued or fallen off. Every light globe is original, the instruments still function perfectly, the brake pads and linings are barely marked and, touch wood, I haven't even had a puncture. This is exactly the way it should be. Although Elsie has been treated with respect, she has not received any attention outside the normal Volkswagen pre-delivery, 3000 miles and 6000 miles services. She has not been exceptionally pampered, but has also never been thrashed. This reasonable treatment, combined with a religious attendance at the required services, has no doubt contributed to the health of the car. Any new car buyer should expect a similar performance, provided he uses his car intelligently and follows factory service procedure. Service is one of the cornerstones of the Beetle's success. It is a strong, reliable little motor car - solidly backed by a generally enthusiastic and concerned network of dealers who, in the main, provide friendly, helpful service. At Elsie's 3000 mile service, we selected an inner city VW dealer located in one of the more fashionable suburbs. It was here that I asked for the bumper to be straightened. I was told that it would have to go to the body shop and would necessitate the service running into a second day. When I collected the car two days later, the bumper had not been corrected because “the body shop was too busy”. So I paid my $3.80 for the service (it was more expensive than usual because they replaced an oil gasket set), took the car home and devoted five minutes to readjusting the bumper. Perhaps my manner was wrong, or they were annoyed at me complaining about such a triviality, but that dealer managed to convey an impression that my custom was only tolerated, not welcomed. For the 6,000 mile service we chose an outer suburban dealer, long established in the area. Here we discovered what Volkswagen service is all about. Cheerfulness, a ready ear for the smallest complaint, consideration given to malcontents like me, and a genuine enthusiasm for the patient - in fact, all the ingredients usually missing from the family doctor. This service cost $10.80 including $6.00 for the labour, $1.60 for new oil and $2.50 for the inevitable oil gasket set. The free computer diagnosis showed that Elsie was completely healthy, with compression pressure at 100 psi or over. A one-half degree variation in front wheel camber was corrected free of charge. Disregarding petrol costs, Elsie has cost $14.60 for over 6,000 miles motoring. She has never required oil between services and has averaged 28.7 mpg for the period. But mere economy, reliability and durability are not enough. To be satisfied with a car, one must enjoy driving it. I have found that my enjoyment increases as time passes. I become more and more confident in the Beetle's faultless road behaviour with each passing mile. She is comfortable (if a trifle noisy) and is equally at home in town or country. All the old VW eccentricities (wandering in the wind, oversteering incredibly) are gone (well, almost), to be replaced by stability and a leech-like ability for sticking to the road. The tendency is to slightly understeer but this can be modified by juggling tyre pressures. McPherson struts at the front caused me a little anxiety initially. I had visions of them performing badly, as they have on some other cars, causing low speed wobble and an uncomfortable 'walking' sensation. But VW has organised them correctly and they are an excellent complement to the double-jointed trailing arm rear suspension. I'm enthusiastic about the VW's handling. The Pirelli radials match the car's characteristics extremely well. Layout of controls is excellent. Everything is in easy reach and the two steering column stalks are ideally placed for full control without moving the hands from the steering wheel. The AWA radio gives excellent tone and powerful long-distance reception. By balancing forthright engineering with sensible design, VW has created the ideal vehicle for my particular needs. I enjoy driving it more than most other cars. It has served me reliably and costs peanuts to run. What more can I ask? Top The German Look By Stephan Szantai August 2001 The California Look doesn't need introduction to most of our readers, as it’s still all the rage more than 25 years after appearing on the streets of Orange County, California. Today, countries as far and away as Belgium, Japan, Australia and Indonesia are part of the Cal Look phenomenon. The development of this style in the U.S. makes sense, since hot-rodding and drag racing play an important role in American car culture. With their wide and straight avenues covered with traffic lights, cities like Los Angeles are the perfect test bed for street VWs equipped with high-performance engines, short-geared transmissions and the typical ‘big-n-little’ tyre combo. Sure, this doesn't make them too prone to high speed freeway driving, but Cal Lookers don't seem to care. Besides, how far can you drive at 160 km/h before being pulled over by the local black & whites? The situation is quite different in Europe though, where watching rallies and road races on twisty tracks is enjoyed by a huge number of car enthusiasts. There is a popular circuit-racing formula called ‘Käfer Cup’, featuring very high powered Beetles on fast, twisty circuits. Furthermore, Germany still has thousands of miles of Autobahn with no speed limit, and in other neighbouring countries, cops are seen less often enforcing speed limits than in the U.S. On the other hand, illegal racing may be more difficult in these foreign cities, where narrow and windy streets are a common occurrence. These various reasons explain the emergence of ‘German Look’ air-cooled Volkswagens, built to drive steadily and safely at 200 km/h on the freeway, and handle on twisty roads like the best rally cars! It is noteworthy to say that overall, German Look cars benefit from the experience gained on road race tracks. As mentioned, the German Käfer Cup, the French Super VW Cup, and even the UK Beetle Race series are popular racing categories, proving that the good ol' Beetle can be (almost) as fast and agile as the respected Porsche 911. Many German Look VWs are built on Super Beetles: they bare the name 1302 or 1303 in Europe, depending on if they have the flat or curved windscreens. In Australia, these were sold as the Superbug S (1971-72) and Superbug L (1973-75). Sure, in the US they are considered less glamorous than the older Bugs (did we hear 'ugly duck'?) by most Volkswagen enthusiasts, but their more sophisticated McPherson strut front suspension gives much better handling and is appreciated but the German Look followers. This doesn't mean that other VWs won't be used as project cars; but models equipped with a link pin front end, especially, are definitely less common. The Porsche-style double joint rear suspension seems to be the norm too, because of its superior road handling capabilities compared to the earlier swing axle suspension. Note that the double-joint CV rear is sometimes called the ‘IRS’ (Independent Rear Suspension), but that is actually a misnomer. ALL Beetles actually have ‘IRS’. Even the ancient swing axle is fully independent. Low profile tyres on late Porsche-style 17 in. or 18 in. rims are very common, in order to glue the car to the asphalt. Really wheels and wide low profile tyres only work properly with the McPherson strut front and double-joint rear. Safety is certainly not overlooked. In many European countries, vehicles have to pass a stringent inspection (TÜV in Germany, 'MOT' in England, etc.), usually once a year. In Germany for example, not only do the brakes have to be in perfect working order, they also need to be upgraded to a high-performance system when a powerful engine is being used. Companies like Kerscher offer high quality bolt on brake kits, but Porsche 944 components are also widely utilized. Did you know that 944 rear trailing arms can be installed quite easily on a Bug? A very popular set up in Europe. As far as the engine is concerned, German Lookers often take a route that might be considered as exotic by many American enthusiasts: the Type 4 namely. In the US, Cal Look cars inevitably rely on Type 1 power for various reasons: many parts are available at a fairly low cost, specialists abound - and many consider using something different than a Type 1 motor in a Bug as a sin! Don't even mention a Type 4 engine to the Cal Lookers, since most consider it as heavy (weight is the enemy of high performance), expensive to built, and their heads aren't as efficient as their Type 1 counterparts. Besides, Type 4 specialists are rare in the United States. European Motorworks nevertheless comes in mind, as well as FAT Performance; a company specialized mainly in off reading, and who interestingly enough was credited with developing the first Cal Look VW! In fact, the truth is that Type 4 engines aren't bad at all. They are strong, reliable when built properly, and can be upgraded to a very large capacity. 2.6 or 2.9-litre, built by reputable European companies, aren't atypical in the German Look world! Most use the very efficient Porsche-type upright fan shroud, that is now available on this soil though CSP, California Import Parts or Bernie Bergmann. Such an engine matched with a five-speed Porsche transmission can be furiously fast on the freeway! Speaking of Porsches, the influence of the 911 is apparent when looking at the overall styling of these Bugs. About twenty years ago, German Look meant using a Carrera-style whale tail, a front spoiler, or other ungraceful accessories. Not any more. Today's cars are very simple in their appearance, with the latest 17 in. Porsche Cup wheels (genuine or copies) or other aftermarket large diameter models. The paint colour is more often than not from the Porsche line also, and covers a body that has either been fully de-chromed or had its trim painted. Carbon fibre, a very light material used widely on road race cars, is welcomed on a German Look street fighter. Bumpers, running boards and gravel guards are only samples of the pricey products available on the European market. The cockpit is also inspired by the same European road racers, with more carbon fibre parts, a couple of lightweight bucket seats, two harnesses and a complete set of gauges, usually borrowed from a Porsche. To reinforce that race car feel, the rear bench is usually gone and often times the carpet too! A hefty rollbar proves however that safety is still on the owner's agenda. Well, there you have it, the mighty German Look. Building such a car hi the US may take a toll on your wallet, but not as much as some of the drag race Volkswagens we have featured in the past. After all, playing with Porsches and other sports cars has its price... Top Superbug - Supercool? By Wayne Cantell From Modern Motor, June 1973 For a car which has been around the Australian Market for the past 20 years, the Volkswagen Beetle continues to occupy a small but steady sector of the buying market. In fact in 1972 Volkswagen claimed a total overall share of about three percent - half of which was accounted for by the Beetle, the rest by everything else in the range, and that includes the Type 3s, Kombis, commercial vehicles and campervans. But the Beetle is without a doubt the most popular car that VW markets in Australia. And of the two Beetle models available, the Superbug is way out front. Last year it accounted for 85 percent of all Beetle sales, and indications so far this year show that it will probably increase this share during the next 12 months. The cars are assembled by the Motor Producers group in Melbourne, with a local content that varies slightly from time to time but generally stabilises around 60 percent. The Beetles are rolling off the production line at the rate of between 40 and 70 units a day. One of the most important and innovate ideas introduced by VW in the past five years was the vehicle diagnosis service which they introduced with the first of the Superbugs in 1970/71. This allowed the cars to be plugged into a complete maintenance and diagnosis service, which is connected to the appropriate equipment in the dealer's service department. This diagnosis service has now been introduced throughout Australia and is a compulsory part of any dealer's workshop equipment. Overseas, the diagnosis service has been improved already to utilise proper computer analysis of performance and engine conditions, and it's anticipated that this extension of the diagnosis will be introduced to Australia in about two years. With a release date set for mid-April 1973, we were able to grab the vary first new model Superbug ‘L’ off the production line for a snap photography session - and later followed this up with a full test. It's still a Beetle - but a Beetle with modern, civilised, up-to-date trimmings. You're not going to believe it—but it's true! Volkswagenwerk AG has finally designed a Beetle with a curved windscreen. Amazing, you might say - but whatever your reaction is, this simple affective change has transformed interior of the VW Superbug from a claustrophobic suitcase, to an open ‘spacious’ small sedan! In fact the new windscreen is 42 percent bigger than the old flat style. The curved screen has in one simple move increased forward visibility, increased headroom in the passenger compartment, and removed that hangover from the 1930s, the flat windscreen. The new curved windscreen - in the non-laminated form - will retail as a replacement part for $29.75, an increase in price over the slightly curved model on post-1971 models that sold for $18.00. The early model flat screens could be replaced for about $12.00 – or even cheaper if you found a friendly glass shop which would cut one out of a piece of safety glass. But VWA sees no problem in having small wayside garages stocking the new curved screens. They claim the slightly curved version met with no resistance and there's little likelihood of this new model generating any. But only time will tell! With stone damage a major problem in Australia, small wayside repair shops are not going to want to spend hours replacing the tricky curved screens, and may not bother to stock them. If this turns out to be the case than VW may have to look at fitting laminated screens as standard fittings. It's not because VW screens are more likely to break, or are more difficult to fit than other makes, but the car is a low volume seller in Australia and small turn over/small-profit organisations don't like to have $30 worth of replacement screen sitting about just in case it is needed some day. The 1973 Superbug L - released about a fortnight ago - also has several other subtle interior changes aimed at civilising the somewhat clinical, Teutonic interior finish of the Beetles of years past. To complement the windscreen, there's a real dashboard with a proper steering wheel! Safety rocker switches replace the familiar old knob-types and there is a proper glovebox, which is even split in two levels with handy little compartments for the storage of small objects. The interior of the glovebox, is padded, but lacks a courtesy light. The dash even has through-flow ventilation outlets with tiny face-level outlets at either end of the dash, and a central panel of adjustable louvre outlets. The heater demister unit features a two-speed fan and demister outlets, which run the full width of the new windscreen. The heater controls have not changed and heat is still supplied to the interior by adjusting the twin levers located on either side of the handbrake. The circulation of air through the various dash outlets is varied by twisting two small knobs on the dash. Unfortunately these knobs have a very low profile and are a nightmare to the woman with long, immaculately kept fingernails. In fact as nail-breakers they rate second only to the door handles on the TC Cortina! Outwardly the new Beetle has few changes to set it apart from the early Superbugs. The mudguards have been restyled slightly, the windscreen of course is an obvious change, the bumper bars have been lifted slightly to meet safety regulations, and at the rear, the bumper has been taken back further to give a little more protection to the twin tailpipes. But the most obvious outward changes can be split clearly into two categories - to the front, the windscreen; to the rear, the taillight cluster. We've already dealt with the screen, but the taillights have to be seen to be believed! And seen they are. One of the most interesting exercises of the test was to zip in front of an obvious die-hard VW-owner, then blip the stoplights and watch the rear vision mirror. Behind you a remarkable change in scenery would take place: STAGE ONE: A quick down-change a few extra revs, on with the blinkers, pull out, pass, change blinkers, pull back in, slow down, ‘blip’ the brakes. STAGE TWO: (in other Beetle) Sneer - so you've got a nice shiny new Beetle - well it's no different to mine! (Meanwhile dropping back slightly to a safe travelling distance.) STAGE THREE: (As brake lights are flicked on) Shock, disbelief, wild pointing and gesticulating (if others are in the car), a mad burst of acceleration - bumpers almost touch, relief, acceptance and the now disheartened Beetle (old) driver moves back to his position in the traffic. That's it—the whole scene, not just once but a hundred times over. Even the new curved windscreen – which made a number of other Beetle owners stall at the lights after the shock of realising that alongside them was a Beetle of no ordinary standing - didn't create the same interest as the tail-lights. They are huge! They could double as billy-cans, soup plates, crash helmets or hatboxes. But they do serve a very useful purpose. They can at least be seen easily in any kind of weather. The one unit houses the indicator tail, brake and backing lights and is fixed to the guard by four simple screws which seal the plastic cover on a rubber mounting strip. They are high on the guard and well protected by the bumper (a good thing because the replacement assembly retails for around $21.00). Mechanically the 1973 model does not vary much from the earlier models. A more durable (?) clutch has bean fitted, clutch pedal pressure has been reduced and softer gearbox mountings have been used to reduce the transfer of transmission noise. The new Superbug L is at the top of the three-model range and will sell for $2629 in the basic form. The soon-to-be-discontinued Superbug S ($2539) and the 1300 Beetle ($2409) also get a new dash layout but otherwise continue unchanged. Even with this latest price increase, value-for-money the Volkswagen still comes out well ahead of many of its competitors. This value doesn't necessarily relate to size or performance, but more particularly to honest-to goodness quality. And whether or not you like the ride, looks or performance of the car you cannot deny the quality of the workmanship. Everything is finished off nicely, even to the smallest detail - such as a soft rubber cover on the flip catch for the bonnet release. The paintwork is superb, without blemishes or patches that have been missed in production, and without over-spray on any unrelated parts. The upholstery is strong and attractive, the seats are well finished {even though lacking a little in support), the seat belts are neat and easily adjustable and the interior is well planned and functional. To the uninitiated, driving a Beetle for the first time can be a frightening experience. Slipping onto the extra-firm seats with the steeply sloping nose tapering away very quickly in front of you, you feel very high off the ground and very vulnerable. This feeling is heightened while driving. The seats are flat and to an average-to-lightweight occupant provide very little support at all. As a result, even with the seat belt done-up tight, you slip from side-to-side when cornering. The relatively high centre of gravity adds to this situation and gives a feeling that the whole car is about to tip over when cornering hard. This in fact was a problem which plagued the early Beetles - hard cornering, a high centre of gravity and the swing-axles were a dangerous combination in the VW and many Beetles were found laying on their backs with their ‘legs’ waving helplessly in the air. Thankfully the development and introduction of the Porsche-type suspension and double-jointed axles has made the roll-factor in VW Beetles a thing of the past. The ride is harsh, but not uncomfortable. Road and engine noise is reduced to a minimum and in the test car (with carpets fitted) was almost negligible. The steering is still relatively heavy for a car with all the weight over the rear wheels. Weight distribution is 49 percent front, 51 percent rear. At cruising speeds the steering is extremely precise and direct, and this can result in rear-seat passengers being flicked violently if a sudden change is made while cornering. At low to medium speeds the Beetle tends to understeer quite heavily but will break into tail swinging oversteer with any over exuberant pedal pushing, or a sudden lifting of the foot. But the breakaway is predictable (once you have become used to the rear-engine rear-wheel drive characteristics) and with the new double-jointed swing-axles gives little rise to terror. The soft torsion bar/trailing arm combination at the rear gives a good hold on any surface, but the front coil/strut system misses out badly on adhesion when it comes to corrugated or pot-holed surfaces. If it were not for the steering damper, road shock transfer through the steering wheel would be quite severe. The low revving, flat-four motor is definitely not a rubber-burning off-the-line power plant, but still ensures that the VW owner is no sluggard off the lights. First runs to a noisy 47 km/h - but for optimum performance reaching for second at around 30-40 km/h gives you access to a long-legged second gear which runs rapidly to 85 km/h. Third gear is a normal drive ratio and once out of the traffic, top provides that easygoing overdrive ratio which allows the Beetle to cruise effortlessly at 110-115 km/h for literally days on end. The gearchange still features that now familiar Volkswagen chunkiness which allows the selection of forward gears with absolutely no doubt as to where they are in the shift pattern. The ratios are widely spaced and rely on the use of maximum revs in each gear to ensure that speed is maintained. Despite what the experts claim - top gear in a Volkswagen is really nothing more than a cruising, or overdrive gear! Fuel consumption runs right in line with performance, and under normal driving conditions there is no way the car could return less than 11 L/100 km. Normal running is more likely to produce between 10.5 and 9.5 litres - with sustained periods of cruising at 100 km/h (in the open without stops and starts) producing startling consumption figures. For instance during one 150-km run at an almost constant 100 km/h the 1600 cc motor happily consumed fuel at the rate of 8.5 L/100 km! And with petrol costs and shortages the way they are at present, such economy is most welcome. While economy and performance go hand-in-hand, the braking on the Superbug could be suited to a far more powerful car. The disc/drum combination pulled the Beetle up from 100 km/h in times ranging between 3.6 and 4.3 seconds. The car pulled up in a perfectly straight line on every occasion with a minimum of tyre squeal and no sign of lock-up. The only indication of hard braking was a faint smell that became noticeable only after the eighth stop. Inside the car the effects of the crash stops were negligible! The stops were all smooth and progressive, and easing off the pedal slightly just before reaching a standstill stopped the final lurch as a complete stop was reached. This easing off had no affect on stopping times, and increased stopping distances by an average of only five centimetres or so. The brakes did fade slightly over the eight stops, but this was reflected in the computer analysis figures as only a 0.7 seconds difference in stopping times and a g-force reduction of only 0.7 percent. Obviously during normal driving— even under peak-hour stop/start conditions—there would be no fade. The interior of the Superbug is pleasant and intelligently set out. The instruments are all housed in a single hooded binnacle in front of the driver. The face of the speedo includes the fuel gauge and the mileage meter, and warning lights for the indicators, high beam, oil pressure and ignition. But the overall appearance of the interior is greatly enhanced by the new dash treatment. To the left of the steering wheel are the small central outlets for the through-flow ventilation fresh-air system. These are housed under the lower edge of the dash recess. Small face outlets are housed at either end of the dash. Immediately below them is the radio, and below that again a second recess which houses the ashtray, airflow controls, two blank switch panels and the emergency flasher switch. (The blank switches are utilised on the European models for fittings not available in Australia.) On the right of the steering wheel is the headlight switch and a rheostat control for the dash lights. All the switch gear - or should I perhaps say both switches - are the new safety-rocker kind, and replace the push/pull switches which have been a feature of VW cars since their introduction to Australia in 1954. The only other fitting to utilise the space on the right edge of the dash is the speaker for the radio. This is housed behind a neat perforated panel in the lower edge of the dash facia. The steering wheel is also worthy of a mention. It's the Porsche 914-type wheel with the wide central horn/safety panel that was introduced to the Type-3 range about two years ago, and first made its debut in the Beetle last year. On the right of the steering column is a stalk controlling the two-speed wipers and the pressurised washer system. On the left a second stalk operates the indicators/high-low beam and headlight flasher. As is usual European practice, the blinkers are on the left, like all VWs sold previously in Australia. This won’t be a problem for current VW owners as they are already used to it. But believe me, to find the indicator at your left-hand fingertips is quite confusing to start with, but it's something to which you adjust to very quickly and can't shake quite as easily. In front of the passenger is the glovebox, Volkswagen's first real attempt at making provision for those little bits-and-pieces that everyone wants to put out of the way. The lockable door flips down to reveal a spacious partitioned storage space. The lower shelf is split in two sections, with the upper area providing a full-width shelf. For the maps and larger items, which won't fit in the glove box there, are handy map pockets in the door trim panels. As I remarked earlier, the seats are over-firm for the average person but this is not a problem restricted to Volkswagen. Mercedes suffer from it, and so does the BMW so it must be a German thing. The seat belts slip easily into the catch mechanism, which is mounted on the centre tunnel between the two front seats. Adequate adjustment is provided, although the process can become quite messy at times because of the excessive amount of extra belt provided. The front seat backs fold forward to allow access to the rear and are released by a simple knob in the outside edge of each seat back. The rake can be adjusted by turning a small metal knob at the base of the seat squab. However, these do not provide enough adjustment to suit all drivers. The almost infinitely adjustable system as on Type 3 models would present a far better proposition. With the front seats forward there is a good deal of legroom, but with the seat back to suit the long-legged driver or front seat passenger, legroom in the back is reduced to a bare minimum. The rear seat-back can be folded down to increase the rear luggage space in a ‘wagon’ format. Luggage space is quite remarkable for the size of the vehicle, and accepts two medium-sized cases and a large quantity of soft luggage without problems. It carries enough luggage for two people - and at a pinch would probably hold enough for two adults and two children. The Superbug is reliable, it's strong, It's well finished it handles reasonably well and above all is economical. In two words, it's good value. Top Have you got a Wing for a 1303? By Leigh Harris October 2001 Belinda had bought her dream car, a factory red 1974 Super Beetle that had been imported from England by its previous elderly one owner. A return trip to England was to be made by the English businessman but a return journey for the Beetle meant another lot of import duties and tariffs so the decision was made to sell the car. In the few months that Belinda had owned the car she had come very attached to the car she called ‘Elmo’ due to its colour comparison to that of the Sesame Street character who is also bright red! It wasn't until the car was taken to see Boris of Vintage Vee Dub Supplies that the true extent of the rust was uncovered. What was to be a routine mechanical service at Vintage had turned into a nightmare. Unbeknown to Belinda was the fact that the car had some very serious rust lying in the lower sill areas and lower mudguard areas of the body. What was originally seen as a very shiny bright red Beetle, that looked to be in mint condition was overlooked for the horrible truth. This Beetle although it presented well, was in fact a rusted out hulk that had obviously spent many days on England's snow covered and salt infested roads. Boris gave Belinda the bad news, and the decision was then to be made to restore or scrap the entire car. Belinda couldn't bear to scrap the car, which although had only been in her possession for only a few weeks, she had grown very attached to. Belinda gave the thumbs up for a restoration so Boris immediately organised for a donor recipient body whilst the car was stripped and separated from its floorpan. The body was to be donated to scrap, but I later heard some crazy man had picked it up having ambitions of building a racecar. He certainly had a great starting point for a racecar! With all the rust and such it would be very lightweight. Belinda and her family (and friends) began paint stripping the entire guttered donor body of its Martini Olive paint colour, back to bare metal. The rest of their time was spent painting several coats of black bituminous paint on the floorpan, which had escaped the harsh climate of England's salt infested roads. By now I was involved in the project, which lay in pieces from one end of the workshop to another. After collecting the pieces and throwing them into a pile I sat back and looked at what had to be done. A half-stripped body shell and a large mass of car parts (which consisted of now two guttered cars) and duplicate parts. The first instruction I was given was, “It has to be stock, no modifications,” which by my account was simply a waste. After looking up ‘stock’ in a dictionary and consulting Belinda I was informed no 2-litre motor, no hyped up gearbox and diff, no performance modifications and certainly no turbo. By now I thought this girl to be on drugs! The body was sanded, stripped and filed back to bare metal along with all body panels whist the bonnet and one door were given the flick due to small panel damage and other panels hung for fitment and alignment. Whilst the motor and gearbox were out both were cleaned and tidied up to be reinstalled at the end of the project. After spending several late afternoons completely stripping the last few nuts and bolts, the left over wiring loom and a few other accessories the car was prep and ready for painting. The body shell was sprayed inside and out by Pioneer Smash repairs in lovely stock Volkswagen Bauster Red 2-pack Paint. A quick peek inside the spray booth one Saturday morning revealed what Bauster Red looked like straight from the gun - RED! Dave Birchall and myself looked at each other from across the booth and burst into laughter! This was to be the brightest red bug we had ever seen. After baking had taken place I loaded the car onto my rolling trolley which consisted of a square frame with 4 shopping trolley wheels for the trip back to next door for assembly in Vintage Vee Dub's workshop. Boris was kind enough to donate enough room for assembly so I set about to completely assemble the car over the next 8 weeks. Anyone who visited Vintage during the next few months saw that progress was slow with all work being completed after work or on weekends. Customers and car club members often came to visit me in the workshop to check on my weekly progress or stand around and have laugh as I assembled an otherwise stock Volkswagen from the ground up. After the wiring loom was cleaned, it was installed along with the original crack free dash. The floorpan's braking system was overhauled with all new components, and the two halves of the car were mated back together one Saturday morning. From there the car quickly progressed with the doors, guards, bonnet & decklid hung onto the body shell. The doors were reassembled before the motor & gearbox were reinstalled for a quick pass up and down past the workshop to ensure all was in order. From there the Beetle was taken to one of my mates’ places for a new headliner to be installed with a newly stitched carpet kit front to back. On returning to the workshop the newly chromed bumper bars were bolted onto the car along with the original glass being reinstalled with new chrome window surround for the all-important original stock look. The only minor change I was able to convince Belinda to do was install slightly wider stock chrome wheels on the car. The front wheels are now shod in Michelin and the rear with Falcon rubber for a safer handling and better stopping car. An interesting fact about this car is it's English factory options. Even though the body is a 1303 (L Bug) body, it comes with factory 4 wheel drum brakes although its Australian Superbug cousins came with factory front disk brakes. The front struts are an unusual 2 bolt pattern and it's interior consists of factory low-back seats covered in factory black velour. Such is life comparing a German-made UK spec VW with one made in Melbourne. I was lucky enough to complete the car with 1 day to go before a blue slip was required, with just a few minor tasks carried out later to complete the car to a standard I was happy with. So far Belinda has completed many miles of trouble free motoring, (except for a faulty starter motor which I have replaced, but only after being push started by members of Club VeeDub on several occasions). It's always the things you don't replace that come back to bite you on the bum at a later date! That's why the motor is next on my rebuild list, a complete rebuild with freshly painted black tinware and a new exhaust should finish the car off just nicely. I've tried to convince Belinda of how trick a fully worked two litre would look under the decklid complete with 45 mm quad throttle bodies and injection. Just imagine this stock looking Beetle cutting a Japanese turbo off the lights in the first few gears. Well I guess we’ll both have to keep dreaming, because she isn't having anything to do with it. Either way the car always attracts admirers from all angles. I've got to admit a nice neat stock looking cruiser is always fun to drive on a Sunday afternoon in summer. And what next? Well I managed to convince another member of Belinda's family to get a Volkswagen, a Kombi to be precise. And like most Kombis it was a bit of a dog. So I'm in the midst of its completion. And guess what! It too is stock; well almost - did I mention how nice a turbo would look in that engine bay! (This article was written without Belinda's knowledge so if Leigh happens to be sporting a few bruises next time you see him you will understand why. Ed) Top My Turbo Wasserboxer Superbug By Steve Carter January 2002 I purchased my 1972 Superbug S when it was only 6 months old in 1973. Some factory options have been fitted; pop-out 3/4 windows, intermittent windscreen wipers, night and day interior rear view mirror and heated rear windscreen. In 1998 the car underwent a full restoration. An Aerolook kit supplied by Vintage VeeDub Supplies has been fitted to give the car that German Look/Kafer Cup look. Kurt Martienson from Precious Metal in Helensburgh (02 4294 2455) who is well known in Hot Rodding circles has given the bug its new lease of life. Kurt was very impressed with the lack of rust in the body and also the fact that it had never been involved in a serious accident despite having travelled in excess of 420,000 kilometres. Kurt took the car back to bare metal and file finished the whole car; that's enthusiasm for you. Kurt is club member Keith Hausler's cousin and is the grandson of the proprietor of one of the original Sutherland Shire VW specialists. Blue Pacific Motors. With a little creative engineering this Beetle houses a 2.1 litre water-cooled Kombi motor, purchased new in 1988. My 2109 cc water-cooled Transporter engine is the top-spec DJ engine number type for the European market, not sold in Australian-spec Kombis. It has 10.5:1 compression and develops 82 kW (112-bhp) at 4800 rpm and 174 Nm at 2800 rpm. By comparison, Aussie-spec 2.1 engines had 9.0:1 compression and made only 70 kW and 160 Nm. I originally fitted in 1988 and ran it with 46 IDA Webers and a Gene Berg Hydraulic 110 cam. In preparation for a turbo the motor has been now been decompressed to 8.0:1, and the cam changed back to standard. The 1.4 rockers have been retained. I also did away with the water-cooled oil cooler and fitted a front mounted air-cooled oil cooler with a Setrab thermo block. The standard crankshaft has been counterweighted and Pauter conrods are used. The heads have been reworked by Henry Spicak and have heavier dual springs and use 1.4:1 Gene Berg ratio rockers. Inlet manifold is standard Kombi with a Nissan Skyline throttle body and 410 cc VW Type 3 TLE injectors, which have proven to be too small so I'm going to fit some 450 Mercedes ones soon. A Bosch blow off valve from a Saab turbo is also fitted. A Carter lift pump supplies fuel to a swirl pot and a VL turbo fuel pump supplies the motor with Shell Optimax. The Autronic SMC programmable EFI system is used and is running superbly thanks to club member Leigh Harris and Quick Fit Motorsport in Hornsby. The exhaust was made by me and is a 4 into 1 extractor, 1.5-inch primary pipes and a 3-inch system all the way from the turbo to the tailpipe. It was ceramic coated by Competition Coatings in Guilford. The muffler is a Hooker Headers Aero chamber and is reasonably quiet. The turbo is an IHI RHB6 supplied by Iain Hall. We are currently experimenting with different turbo housings and some significant improvements in performance have already been made. A water to air intercooler is used and was made by Dave Stocker from LMS Engineering. A Grooco agricultural pump moves the cooling water for the intercooler to a heater core in front of the radiator, and then to a motorbike radiator under the left rear mudguard behind the wheel. This radiator also retains its cooling fan and gets airflow from the rear wheel. In fitting the cooling system all of the standard Kombi cooling parts were squeezed into the rear of the car and the water pumped to the front via stainless steel tubes mounted under the floor pan. A modified Ford Transit van radiator and V8 Davies Craig thermo fan take care of cooling the water at the nose of the vehicle. Cool air is brought into the radiator through a louvered front apron (originally used on air- conditioned Beetles) and allows airflow into the radiator. A modified Mercedes thermostat controls the water flow, which cuts in at 85 deg C. Original heater channels were retained and warm air is directed through them from a Toyota Troop Carrier heater core under the rear seat to the interior in conjunction with an early Audi 100 inboard brake-cooling fan. The gearbox is 3.88 ratio from a 1976 Beetle with Albins ratio gears - 3.55 1st (taller), 2.00 2nd (taller), 1.30 3rd (lower) and 4th is also an Albins gear but is the standard 0.93 ratio. A Quaife LSD is also used. Locating the gearbox are original trans mounts, a fabricated front mount and a custom tramp bar. Additional rigidity is also achieved via a brace connecting to the chassis forks and rear luggage area. The 215 mm flywheel is from a 1800 cc Kombi and has a 1275 kg (2800 lb) clutch built by RaceClutch in Brisbane and is surprisingly light to use. Suspension is lowered with McPherson struts up front that have been shortened 10 cm by Vintage VeeDub Supplies, to allow the fitting of Mazda RX7 Koni Sports shocks. The front struts also feature adjustable lower spring platforms; smaller diameter 70-kg springs allow the front wheels to have sufficient clearance for the Porsche alloys. Type 3 wagon torsion bars (23.5 mm) are at the rear, together also with Koni Sports shock absorbers. Rack and pinion steering from 1975 Superbug L has been fitted. Whiteline sway bars are used all round, the front having adjustable caster and rear adjustable stiffness. The wheels are 17 inch 3 piece replica Porsche GT2 alloy wheels, shod with 215/40x17 and 235/40 x 17 Falkon GRB 2 tyres. Brakes are 4-wheel disc, Porsche Brembo 4 spots from the rear of a 996 Porsche on the front with 911 ventilated rotors, and 914 Porsche rotors at the rear with Golf rear callipers. I will soon be fitting some ventilated Porsche 944 brakes on the rear along with the 944 adjustable trailing arms. The interior houses Recaro Concord front seats and a matching re-trimmed rear seat. A Bond half roll cage and sports steering wheel is fitted. Stewart Warner and some VDO instruments are used. I would like to thank Kurt Martienson from Precious Metal who recently lost part of his business in the recent bushfire; Boris & Michael from Vintage VeeDub Supplies, Dave Stocker from LMS Lngineering for his help in turning my ideas into reality, Leigh Harris for his help and enthusiasm, Richard Holzl from V Force for his help and guidance, Iain Hall, Dave Becker, Shimo and Chris Frazer (for forging the way with turbo VWs in ‘80s), and Automate muffler shop in Mortdale for his help with some tricky welding. Top VW to end Beetle production this year By Steve Carter June 2003 Volkswagen said this week it will stop making the original rear-engine Beetle later this year, bringing the curtain down on the nearly 70-year history of the classic “Beetle.” Production of the last old Beetles at the VW plant in Puebla, Mexico, “will end this summer,” spokesman Fred Baerbock said, adding that an exact date was not yet set. He said there had been sinking demand for the original model, manufactured only in the Americas since South African production ended in 1979. Brazilian production ended in 1996, leaving Mexico as the last remaining Beetle factory. The first version of what would become known as the Beetle was released in 1938 under the guidance of Adolf Hitler, who wanted to build a ‘people's car’ - or in German, a ‘Volkswagen’. Military versions served with distinction during the war, but the civilian Beetle first entered mass production under British Army control in the years immediately after World War II. The Germans, under the brilliant Heinz Nordhoff, took back ownership of the Volkswagenwerk in 1948 and sales began increasing inexorably. Over the decades, the VW became a favourite around the world. It was made in Germany and Belgium; South Africa and Nigeria; Australia and New Zealand; and Mexico and Brazil, the first ‘world’ car. Over 1.2 million were made in 1971, its peak year, before more modern European and Japanese cars began taking sales. The modern Golf replaced the Beetle at its Wolfsburg home in 1974, and Emden in 1978. The last Australian Beetle was in 1976; in South Africa, 1979. Brazil ended the Beetle in 1986, but it returned in 1993 and ended again in 1996, leaving Mexico as the last Beetle factory. Volkswagen sold more than 21 million of the cars over the decades, but says it produced less than 30,000 at Puebla last year. Puebla will continue to produce the New Beetle sedan, a modernized successor to the cult car, as well as Jettas and Golfs for the North American market. The New Beetle hit the market in 1998 and has a chassis based on the VW Golf. Top Beetle Production Ends with the Optima Edition By Steve Carter September 2003 Puebla/Wolfsburg, 30 July 2003. It ran and ran. Altogether over 21.6 million examples were built of the Volkswagen Beetle. Now its production has finished at its final location. On 30 July 2003, Volkswagen Mexico finally stopped the production of the original, legendary Beetle. In the end it was a special edition called ‘Optima Edicion.’ With it a nearly 70-year history comes to an end, an automobile of legend, which remained almost unchanged in its form. The birth of the Beetle was 1934, as Ferdinand Porsche was assigned with the construction of the ‘people's car’ project. The first prototype was developed in 1935, and the launch party and Wolfsburg cornerstone ceremony was in May 1938. The citizens of Berlin celebrated the Beetle's premiere at the Automobile Salon 1939. The Second World War prevented any production; to 1945 a mere 630 Beetles were manufactured, all of them going to members of the Nazi party. In September 1945, under British Army control, small volumes of the vehicle begin to roll, mostly from hoarded spare parts and some new pressings made under great difficulties and shortages. But on October 1946 the 10,000th Volkswagen was produced. By 1948 the total was already up to 25,000, and the British caretakers handed the factory back to the Germans. Heinz Nordhoff took control and it was a new beginning. On 8 January 1949 the 50,000th Beetle left the factory, while another 46,000 were built that year. The Beetle Cabriolet was first presented, made both by Karmann, and Hebmuller, but only the Karmann Cabriolet survived. The giant factory was repaired, rebuilt and greatly expanded, and production increased several-fold but could not keep up with demand. 81,900 made in 1950; 114,300 in 1952 and 151,300 in 1953, when the split-window became an oval. It might have looked on the outside, but this was only one of thousands of continual improvements. 202,100 Beetles in 1954 and 280,000 in 1955, the year that the one-millionth Beetle left the production line. Already the Beetle was also being made in Brazil, and South Africa, and Australia too with a VW factory built in the Melbourne suburb of Clayton. The Wolfsburg factory kept growing and production kept increasing. 333,100 in 1956; 451,500 in 1958 and 796,800 in 1960. The five millionth Volkswagen left the works in 1960, when the Beetle’s engine was redesigned to produce 40-bhp DIN. Volkswagen was the largest car company in Europe, behind only the US giants, while the Wolfsburg factory was the biggest car factory in the world. The ten-millionth in 1965 was celebrated, the first year that German annual production was more than one million units. Australian sales peaked in 1964 (25,000 Beetles), and the US in 1968 (525,000), but world sales continued to increase until 1971, when 1,291,000 were made across the world. It might have been the ‘Kafer’ to the Germans, and lots of interesting foreign language names in other countries, but it was the ‘Beetle’ to buyers in the US, the UK and Australia, even if not always officially. In 1971 a modern Super Beetle with MacPherson struts appeared, the most modern Beetle yet, and one that met all the US safety laws. In 1972 sales began to decline, but a significant milestone was passed with the 15,007,034th Beetle produced, breaking the all-time one-model record set by the Ford Model T. Ford later revised their total to 16.5 million, but Volkswagen passed that total as well in 1973. The end was near in 1973, when the modern Passat joined the VW range. The following year, in June 1974, the Beetle came to an end at Wolfsburg, when the new Golf replaced it on the production lines. The Beetle lived on at the Emden plant in north Germany that supplied the US market, as well as other factories around the world. However the Beetle ended in Australia in July 1976, also replaced by the Golf. On 19 January 1978 the last German-built Beetle sedan came off the line at the Emden works, and on 10 January 1980 the last German Beetle of any kind, a Cabriolet Super Beetle from Karmann. Altogether 16,255,500 Beetles were built in Germany, and 330,281 Cabriolets. Soon the Beetle also came to an end in South Africa (1979), and then in Brazil (1986); the Golf had taken over. Government assistance allowed the Beetle to restart in Brazil in 1993, but it didn't last long and ended again - this time for good - in 1996. In 2002 the Golf passed the Beetle’s production total, and passed 25,000,000 in 2007 – the most popular Volkswagen ever. But in Mexico the original Beetle continued, where over 1,000 of the popular small cars were still produced every day in the 1980s, many still being shipped to Germany and Europe for sale. However their national laws for safety, pollution and fuel efficiency were always getting tougher. Mexico celebrated their 100,000th export in 1984, but in 1985 official exports of Mexican Beetles to Europe came to an end, with the last ship carrying Mexican Beetles arriving at Emden. Since then, cars fresh from the factory could only sourced from independent importers, which caused warranty difficulties. Sales gradually decreased through the 1990s to less than 100 per day, and VW realised that time and costs had finally caught up with the Beetle. Death rumours were regularly heard through the 1990s, especially when the Mexican factory also began production of the Golf-based 'New' Beetle from 1998. But generous Mexican tax concessions allowed the Beetle to continue on until 2003. Now, it is over. Altogether in Mexico 1.7 million Beetles were built, and a grand total of 21,529,464 - the most produced 'single design' model in history (the Golf and Passat, Toyota Corolla, Ford F-series and others have all been redesigned numerous times). 3,000 examples of the final Optima Edicion were built, in the colours Aquarius Blue and Harvest Moon Beige. The last Beetles were built with the faithful 1.6-litre petrol motor producing an output of 34 kW (46 DIN hp). Additionally, the special model offered chromium-plated trim and chrome attachments such as bumpers, wheel covers and mirrors. Rims painted in car colour with white wall tires, hat rack, radio with CD-player and four loudspeakers complete the offer. The vehicles were predominantly intended for the Mexican market, but could be ordered in Germany through free importers. At least one example of the Optima Edicion Beetle was shipped to Australia, with an Aquarius Blue example owned by Gary Collis in Melbourne. Many other examples were purchsed by American and European collectors. The very last car was shipped to Wolfsburg, for preservation in the Volkswagen Auto Museum. Top

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