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Monday, September 15, 2014
The 6,000 Mile Bug
Beetles - Late
Porsche 356SC Meets VW Superbug L
JR-1835 – My 1970 Beetle
Mid-Engine Power Bug
Junkyard Dog Lives Again
Der Oettinger Okrasa Käfer
German Wasserboxer Beetles
Beetle Still Rolling From Mexican Plant
1993 Mexican Beetles
Mexican and Brazilian Beetles Compared
Mr Watkins In Love
Red Cars Go Faster
Inch by Inch
My 1971 Superbug GHJ-025
Jurgo’s Yellow Beast
Superbug Strut Brace
Struts & Stuff
The Semi-Auto Explained
Käfer Cup 914 Beetle
How a Race Bug Kicks a Porsche
The 6,000 mile Bug
The German Look
Superbug – Supercool?
Have you got a wing for a 1303?
My Turbo Wasserboxer Superbug
VW to end Beetle production this year
Beetle production ends with the Ultima Edition
Porsche 356SC Meets VW Superbug L
From Sports Car World, 1973
It’s funny – whenever we tell anyone we’ve just done a comparison between a 1973 VW Superbug and a 10-year old Porsche 356SC, they assume we’ve done it to discredit one or the other of them. They realise the two cars are now vaguely similar, and assume we’re going to compare them directly and unfeelingly entirely on a costs basis.
VW enthusiasts bristle because they think we’re going to imply that their cars are ten years out of date. Porsche pundits would simply prefer to forget that the other two-door 1600cc, air-cooled, rear-engined, all-independently suspended car exists.
So let’s get it right from the start. Our idea for a comparison grew out of our respect for both cars. The Superbug has an old, old body, but its suspension and brakes are first class and its reliability is legendary.
The Porsche was a brisk but not sensationally fast car in its day. Its main plus features were a fine cruising ability, reliability and the satisfying, accurate way it could be driven. Our test Porsche belonged to a young systems analyst who has carefully righted the wrongs of several previous owners and was maintaining it in mint condition. The Porsche was so good, we found it difficult to believe that it was used in peak-hour traffic every day and raced at club events on weekends.
Its solitary non-standard feature was an Arbarth exhaust system that projected four elegant pipes under the rear bumper, but reduced ground clearance quite a lot. The VW was one of VW Australia’s test fleet – a Superbug with radials. That’s the sportiest Beetle made. The mechanical similarity of the cars is obvious. Their engines are the same size and related, though the Porsche is in a much higher state of tune. Both had the same whirring, muffled mechanical noise coming through the rear panel of the cabin and the whine of the cooling fan as the revs rose.
Here was one of the main dividers between the two cars. The VW’s revs rose, but not too far. It tended to run out of breath well before valve bounce and revving out beyond a certain point became noisy, laborious – and slow. By contrast, the Porsche wasn’t all that strong down low, but it really sang up to its redline of 6000rpm with power all the way.
The gearbox had a similar feel, though the Porsche change was quite sloppy by today’s standards. The synchro was just as quick as ever, though. The VW had, if anything, a worse change than previous models have had. There seemed quite a wide gap between the gear planes and its action seemed a bit ‘loose’ too. Its synchromesh was fine.
The Porsche had far and away the more aristocratic exhaust note – a deep, smooth throb. The VW’s exhaust was almost completely overshadowed by mechanical and fan noise.
Both cars had a robust, unmistakeable ‘Germanness’, though in the ten years between them vehicle builders had graduated from mainly metal appointments to first-quality plastic and leatherette (as used in the Superbug). The same quality was evident in both.
Both cars had floor-pivoting pedals and firm, wide bucket seats with rather upright backrests.
There were similarities in the way the cars handled, too. Both had very little understeer, but this could be converted to mild oversteer by applying the power on exit. The Volkswagen’s graduation to oversteer was much more predictable than the Porsche’s. It gave quite a lot more warning, showing off ten years of suspension application.
The Porsche, of course, had a swing-axle set-up, and this particular one had a camber compensator. Make no mistake about it, the Porsche was a quicker cornering car than the Beetle. Its cornering limits were impressively high, but we weren’t keen to approach them in confined spaces. The VW was much more of a ‘hang the tail and get it back’ machine. But it had more body roll and a softer suspension than the Porsche and tended to lurch a bit through the S-bends. Steering systems felt ‘related’. Both cars had fairly large, slightly offset wheels set close to the dashboard, and they were both quite high-geared and light, as you would expect from rear-engined cars.
The Porsche steering didn’t seem to be ten years old; it was very accurate and transmitted a great deal of road feel. The VW was perhaps a bit rubbery, particularly close to the straight-ahead position, but still very good.
Things were very different under brakes. The VW, with its disc/drum set-up, had much more initial bite than the Porsche. Its whole braking behaviour was strong, stable and fade-free. The Porsche brakes felt rather dead by today’s standards, though they were perfectly safe and progressive. The position wasn’t helped by the poor pedal layout, however.
The Porsche surprised us with its good ride. It wasn’t that level, but it was quiet and the bumps were absorbed in an imperturbable way. Wheel control was fine – no skittering about over bumps, even though the suspension settings were definitely ‘sporting’. And there was an accuracy about the car’s behaviour which we loved. We found out that the Porsche still wasn’t disgraced in today’s company – it had maintained its viability as sporting transport and still had an adequate turn of speed.
The VW proved far better than we thought it might. It was an enjoyable car to drive – even though it has no sporting pretensions – and we liked its overriding strength and robustness. We haven’t any illusions about the body design – it’s about ten years out of date – but we will still regret it when the Bug finally does leave the market because there’ll probably never be such a robust, reliable car again for so little money.
For the Beetle we feel affection; for the Porsche, admiration. Neither feeling affects the other.
JR-1835 – My 1970 Beetle
By John Roberts
My name is John Roberts. I work for Lanock Motors at St Leonards, and this is my first article for the magazine. It’s about a 1970-model Beetle that I have owned for about two and a half years. The car was originally purchased from Provincial Motors in Liverpool by Douglas Taylor on 25 September 1970, and registered BKJ-637.
I bought the car in May 1985 from Miss Jean Syme for $1,200, the only problem being a blown master cylinder. It was still in standard form, apart from extractors.
The car remained in the garage for almost a year, as I did not have a licence to drive. So, I took that opportunity to clean up the car, inspect and repair the body as required. The paint was still in good condition and came up well with a good, hard rub. The first additions were a set of 14 x 6 Globe Bathurst wheels with Dunlop Grand Prix tyres, sports steering wheel, stereo system and Golf GLS seats.
By July 1986 I was driving my Beetle daily and preparing for my first journey to Valla Park. The weekend before I ran into trouble on Tom Ugly’s Bridge and was sandwiched between two cars. The Beetle was written off (insurance-wise) and undriveable, but thanks to Adrian Muller’s then-black ’54 Sunroof, some rope and a bit of 1835 power, we managed to pull the rear apron back far enough to drive it home.
At this point in time, I couldn’t help but wonder: Is it worth all the time and effort getting a car the way you want it, just to have someone run into it, especially when no one will insure it for what it’s worth?
After the Beetle was repaired, the next thing to do was the engine, and by this time I had already gathered a few bits and pieces. Having nothing to build on, I started with a 1600 dual relief case, align-bored and machined to accept 92mm Cima barrels. Next thing was a crank, so I visited Richard Hölzl and came across a welded 69mm VW counterweighted crank, and also walked out with a set of conrods, lightened flywheel, lifters and a special Powertune grind camshaft.
Next were a set of brand-new 041 heads, stainless steel valves, chrome-moly retainers and collets. The combustion chambers were opened up and polished to match the bigger bore. To complete the heads, a four-angle valve seat job was done. An ideal compression ratio of 8.5:1 was achieved.
The engine was fully balanced by Watson Cams. Other items include an offset oil cooler, high-volume oil filter pump, 009 distributor, windage tray and pushrod tubes. Extra cooling is achieved by a 13-row oil cooler mounted beside the transmission, taking oil from a thermostat-controlled takeoff block between the oil filter and pump. The fuel is pumped by a Subaru electric fuel pump.
All the engine needed was carburettors, and on attending Volksday ’87 I picked up a pair of 48IDA Webers sitting on short manifolds with K & N filters and a crossbar linkage.
All this engine work took much longer than first thought, a year and a half to be exact – it’s a bit hard on apprentice mechanic’s wages.
The gearbox was rebuilt, the 1835 installed and run in, all in time for valla park 1987. Then one night two weeks before, I was parked outside a shop waiting in the car, when the idiot in front reversed into me. He buckled the bumper bar, smashed the driving lights and put a couple of dents in the bonnet. Thankfully the Beetle made it through the next two weeks and arrived at Valla.
The new engine performs remarkably well for an 1835. It’s very smooth and free-revving with plenty of power, and oil temperature has not yet climbed over 80°C. Fuel economy is acceptable, and if driven in a sensible manner can be quite surprising.
The bodywork is going to remain relatively standard, but the suspension and interior are next on the list. Unfortunately it all costs money, so I suppose I’d better start saving again.
Mechanics at work always used to say, “Why would you want to build a VW? You’ll never get one of them to go.” But thanks to Adrian Muller, they have all changed their minds.
Mid-Engine Power Bug
By Wolfgang Hornung (1974)
It’s the VW Carrera – a 157 kW, 213 km/h super-Beetle looking for all the world like a series production Wolfsburger. Born in the shadow of the fuel crisis and severe speed limits, production plans hang in the balance.
It takes but a quick glance to realise that the extremely low-slung Beetle with impressive broad mudguards and voluptuous roller tyres offers something more in the engine department than VW stock-issue equipment.
The machine carries the unpretentious label, ‘Autohaus Nordstadt’. No clues there. But when the engine is started you become aware that this is a very unique specimen indeed. The twin exhausts emit the free, crisp, typical sound of a Porsche six-cylinder engine.
A look in the engine bay under the back lid reveals nothing at all. The spot where one normally expects to find the Wolfsburg flat four is, in fact, boot space! The Porsche unit is further forward, set ahead of the rear axle (in the back seat, would you believe?) and hidden beneath a huge black box just astern of the front bucket seats.
The Power Beetle’s aggressive Porsche Carrera engine is the most powerful horizontally opposed six yet produced at Stuttgart. Air-cooled and of 2.7-litres, it gives the silver-grey Autohaus Nordstadt a muscular 157 kW.
The VW Carrera project grew out of a styling study of the Beetle body two years ago, when it was found that Beetles showed remarkable stability, even without a chassis. This gave the director of the Hanover tuning business of Autohaus Nordstadt the idea of building a mid-engined Beetle with self-supporting body. So work started to build the Beetle to put all Beetles and Beetle derivatives in the shade.
The chassis of the VW-Porsche 914 was taken as a basis, running from just under the dashboard to below the back window. The 1303 Super Beetle body was placed on this, with ventilation grilles from the VW 411 station wagon welded in to below the rear quarter windows.
To take the radial tyres on 9-inch racing rims (320FR70VR14), the standard Beetle mudguards were cut lengthwise, and broadened by 50 mm. The rear guards have also been further enlarged by hand-beating to clear the broad axles of the VW-Porsche.
By the time the car was complete, costs were considerable. The Nordstadt people had gone through three VW bodies and two VW-Porsche 914 chassis before coming up with a prototype that satisfied them. But the time and cost had paid off, with the final result looking much like a routine Wolfsburg series production. And the bodywork is spotless with no temporary or compromise detail.
The installation of the power plant called for further modification, and the mid-engine configuration makes the Beetle a true two-seater. Although the engine is boxed in, it is still quite accessible through two shutters.
The Carrera engine is mated to the five-speed gearbox of the 2.2-litre 911S, but the makers say this is an interim measure and ultimately the Power Beetle will have a Carrera gearbox.
The car is indeed a hybrid. The oil-cooling and dry-sump system is from the 2.4-litre 911, with a fabricated oil tank holding an amazing 15 litres; suspension is VW-Porsche 914; and rear axle, with 80 percent lock and block differential, is composed of the diagonal bars of the VW-Porsche 914/6, Porsche 911 S-drive shafts and the disc brakes of a race 914.
The steering, including front axles, was originally destined for the VW-Porsche 914. The passenger compartment, too, abounds with Porsche features. Behind the leather-covered 911 steering wheel is the complete Porsche dashboard of five round instruments.
One finds the real Porsche elements when the key is turned, and the complete power of the engine is mobilised. Despite the relatively high weight over the rear axle, the broad radials find the surge of horses somewhat overtaxing and the Nordstadt Beetle, all fired up, leaves two thick black rubber traces down the road in a blue cloud. It starts off with such gusto that even sports cars in the upper price class need to concentrate all their power not to be left behind.
From start the 100km/h mark comes up in 7.3 seconds, and even in third the redline 7300rpm is reached so quickly you have to be pretty brisk through the gears. Even around 160km/h serious competition for the VW Carrera can only be found among the top Italian sports cars. Acceleration from 0-160km/h takes 18.3 seconds, which equals, more or less, that of the Maserati Indy with a 4-litre eight-cylinder engine.
And a normal Super Beetle? No chance, because by the time the stock 1303 has reached the 100km/h mark, the Nordstadt machine is already above 160km/h.
The Power Beetle from Hanover does the standing kilometre in a remarkable 27.9 seconds, with the needle at 180 km/h. With the relatively bad aerodynamic shape of the Beetle body compared with its Porsche sire, the VW-Carrera’s top speed, even with 157 kW, is 30 km/h below that of the Stuttgart car. Still, for a car with a Beetle body, 213 km/h is not at all bad!
Driving the VW Carrera is a real pleasure. It is fun to approach a large Mercedes at 160 km/h on the Autobahn (they don’t normally move an inch if the driver sees a VW approaching in his mirrors! ), watch the Mercedes accelerate to 180 km/h to try to make a gap, then hurry past him with apparently no effort at all.
The engine mounted just behind the driver is far from annoyingly noisy. In fact it puts out the same agreeable ‘sound of power’ as the normal series Porsche. The engine is extremely flexible and in fifth gear will run from 40 km/h to 100 km/h in 11.5 seconds, and from 40 km/h to 160 km/h in 22.2 seconds.
The central installation of the six-cylinder engine helps reduce the heavy tail that typifies the VW Beetle, and weight is distributed with 500 kg on the front axle and 600 kg at the back.
A big plus for the car is its directional stability, which has been achieved without any aerodynamic tricks. At the very beginning of the project a front spoiler was planned to keep the Beetle from lifting, but extensive and careful tests showed that even at speeds of over 200 km/h the weight on the front axle would be barely reduced. So the designers decided to do without.
In fast bends, the Koni shock absorber-equipped VW Carrera has all the good qualities of a mid-engined car. When the road-holding limit of the fat radials is reached the Power Beetle oversteers slightly but with easy correction.
As expected, the four-wheel, ventilated disc brakes were perfect.
Junkyard Dog Lives Again
By Michael Rochfort
There has been a recent increase in the number of "Yank Tanks" and other strange cars imported from the United States. The cynics will say that America is exporting the contents of its junkyards, perhaps rightfully so! However, wouldn't we all jump at the chance of obtaining a rare VW, such as a Karmann Cabriolet, by this means? For under $5000!
Browsing through "Unique Cars" magazine in January 1988, I spotted an ad for a 1971 convertible at the princely sum of $4650. The car was still available, so I arranged to inspect it that afternoon with the owner, none other than our own Boris Orazem. The car turned out to be a 1972 semi-auto, the Californian model with lots of emission controls. There was about 4 square feet of metal missing from the floorpan, relatively minor damage to the boot lid and front clip, damage to all four mudguards and small amounts of rust in all quarter panels. The top was in need of complete re-trimming, the seats were torn and every piece of rubber in the car had succumbed to Los Angeles ozone. The exterior featured a light coat of surface rust, certainly due to its last known address, Huntington Beach. This car was a fair dinkum "Pile of the Month".
My father-in-law, Ray De Paoli, and I decided to buy the car and restore it, doing whatever we could ourselves. Work started almost immediately, before the car was even moved. Boris and a friend of his, Laurie Scollo of Belmore Smash Repairs, welded in new floor sections and plated the few smaller rust holes, while Ray and I stripped the body to a shell. Over the next few Saturday mornings we stripped off all the paint. The bare metal was treated to remove any remaining surface rust, then etch primed and painted with 2-pack primer.
The car was taken to my home at Toongabbie, where over the next few months of spare time the car was converted to right hand drive. The glove box and instrument panel frames were cut out around their outer edges and replaced with sections cut from a sedan at the wreckers. Ray did the metal cutting with an angle grinder, whilst I enlisted the help of a friend to mig-weld the new dash sections, the steering column support, and plates over the old holes for the fuse box, steering column and wiring holes. Wiring to the newly situated fuse box and steering column was cut and extended from the existing harness. Lindsay Porter's ‘Guide to Purchase & D.I.Y. Restoration of the VW Beetle and Transporter’ was a great help here.
Being a Superbug, the mechanical aspects of the RHD conversion was easy. Six bolts and two ball joints need to be removed, enabling the LHD steering box and idler arm to be replaced with the right hand drive parts. Pedal conversion involved cutting a hole in the right hand side of the centre tunnel to allow the new pedals to thread through to the old mounting point on the left. A hole was cut in the frame head for the master cylinder and a reinforcing plate made for underneath the pedals. Patterns for this plate and mounting bolt positions are stamped in the right hand floorpan.
During the same period, the underside was stripped of old sealer and hand painted after treating any surface rust. Parts were ordered during this time, whilst a great pair of front mudguards were found in the ‘Trading Post’, along with a set of front disc brakes and stub axles to replace the US spec drum brakes.
Laurie Scollo was unavailable to do the final painting, so the car was taken to Auburn Auto Repairs, who were apparently the first in the country to set up for two pack baked enamel. After final blocking back, the car was repainted in the original colour, "Pastel Weiss". Kevin and the guys at Auburn did a great job, and the paint looks showroom authentic.
Back home, re-assembly was undertaken as money and parts availability permitted. All rubber items, top, headliner, padding bag and interior trim were supplied by Vintage VW Supplies. Boris' wealth of experience and good advice made the job of re-assembly and top re-construction much easier.
The existing seats needed recovering, and the door trims were in need of repair, so a change of colour from the original black was now a proposition. Lindsay Porter's book contains an excellent list of paint codes and trim colours for nearly all Beetles. Light beige was chosen for the interior with the standard ‘pepper and salt’ grey carpet.
Mechanically, the car was kept standard, including the auto-stick transmission. Riviera mags were used, as they were a US dealer option in the early 70s on the ‘Formula Vee Bug’ package. The engine was removed to replace a leading seal and to re-paint the tinware.
The car was finally registered on 23 December 1988, after a surprisingly short trip over the pits. No engineers' report was requested.
How goes it? Despite the semi-auto transmission, the performance is surprisingly good. Most non-VW owners (and some people who are) think it's a can opener chop-top, but one gets smug satisfaction from knowing it's the real thing!
Eleven months work and many thousand dollars was all worthwhile. We were overjoyed to receive the "Best Factory Convertible" trophy at the '89 Nationals.
PS: The engine wasn't as good as it sounded, dropping a valve and burning another after about 1,500km. We had the engine re-built and now the car is even better.
Der Oettinger Okrasa Käfer
By Steve Short
The German tuning firm Oettinger will be a familiar name to many readers, as a specialist company that produced the famous Okrasa-engined Beetles of the 1950s and 1960s. However, Oettinger’s association with Beetles did not stop when Volkswagen turned its European factory production over to water-cooled cars; in fact, it continues to the present day.
When the last German-built Beetle rolled off the production line in Volkswagen’s Emden factory in 1978, Volkswagen found themselves compelled to continue Beetle sales in Germany nonetheless.
VW commenced importing Beetles from its Mexican factory to satisfy the domestic market. The Mexican plant at that time was producing 1600cc cars for its home market. These cars were very similar to those produced during the Beetle’s last few years of European production in the late 1970s. They had a torsion bar front suspension and swing axles at the rear (so they weren’t as good as the last Australian Beetles, which had the CV-joint rear in 1976). However the interior had been much improved, using seats and trim similar to the later Mk1 Golfs. Mexico later reverted back to the 1200cc engine.
During 1983 VW decided to increase Beetle sales in Germany by producing a series of limited edition models. One of these such models was called the Black Special Bug. It was a standard Mexican export model Beetle with the 1200cc 34 PS engine. The Special Bug, or S702 as the VW code named it, had a special interior with black-carpeted foot wells, rear parcel shelf, heats with headrests covered in black/gold material. The car was painted a dark metallic charcoal colour. The bumpers were powder coated black, along with gold wheels, black hubcaps, and black powder coated side trims. A set of gold coach lines along the bottom of the doors and waist rail finished off the car.
Oettinger decided this model would make an excellent base for an Okrasa Special Beetle. With Volkswagen approval, they offered a tuned version of what every 1200cc Beetle driver has always needed, a bit more power.
Oettinger replaced the standard 1200cc engine with a 1300cc twin-carb motor developing 38 kW against the standard 25 kW. Oettinger achieved the increase in power by increasing the capacity. They replaced the standard pistons and barrels with a 1300cc set, and fitting Oettinger high-compression cylinder heads with twin carbs. This set up not only gave the much-needed increase in power, but retained the reliability of the engine. These improvements pushed the top speed up from 116km/h to 153km/h.
Oettinger also fitted a 4-spoke sports steering wheel to give the car a sporty feel. The standard 4½J wheels were replaced with a 5½J rim with 175 tyres similar to those fitted to the later 1303S Super Beetles. The front and rear suspension was also lowered by 60mm, and the camber angle on the rear wheels was reset to improve cornering at speed. The standard shock absorbers were replaced with Oettinger sports units to further improve handling.
To finish this special model off, they added a VDO oil temperature gauge, front spoiler and Oettinger side stripes replaced the standard ‘Special Bug’ logo. This very attractive package gave an opportunity to own a German factory-approved tuned Beetle at a very reasonable price.
These Oettinger specials were available to order from any German VAG dealer during 1983-85, when they were discontinued. Today Oettinger concentrates exclusively on VW’s modern water-cooled range.
By Steve Carter
I have never needed much encouragement to talk about VWs or my Wasserboxer Beetle. Most of you probably know my ’72 Superbug and its unusual engine choice, but more about that later. First, some history of the car.
I bought my Beetle when it was about 6 months old through a work mate, Chris Heyer of motor racing fame. The car belonged to a friend of his who was a sales rep. and was given a company car. Chris had actually used my Beetle as a company demo when he worked at the Manly Repair Centre in Sydney, and had sold it to his friend for $2,850. I bought it for $2,600 with 15,000 miles on the clock...a bargain!
The first thing I did to the car was put some 6" x 14" Hotwires and good radials on it in place of the Dunlop B7+'s, then later colour coded the chrome work and fitted a Powertune fibreglass kit and larger wheels, 7" and 8" x 14". The suspension and brakes have been highly developed over the years and the car was used with some success in car club speed events, but it always needed more power.
I had been collecting parts for a 2180cc motor for quite some time but never put it together. I had changes of crankshafts four times, ranging from a 82mm S.P.G. Rollershaft to a 82mm Scat Forged Crank, and carbs from twin 42 DCNF Webers to 46 IDAs, always looking for the best combination. In the end I didn’t use a Beetle engine at all.
So why did I decide to go to a water-cooled Kombi motor? Well, when I worked at Powertune I had the opportunity to see a 1.9 litre water-cooled motor pulled apart. I was impressed with its potential but not its capacity, but when the 2.1 litre motor was released it was a temptation too hard to resist. The motor was bought brand new in a crate and I ordered the 10.5:1 compression ratio rather than the usual 9:1. I think that the VW engineers have been reading some American VW magazines because the motor came with 40mm inlet and 34mm exhaust valves, dual valve springs, big inlet and exhaust ports and 110 bhp standard. You would think this would be enough, but no...I fitted a Gene Berg hydraulic cam, Rhoads lifters, lighter pushrods, Gene Berg 1.4:1 rockers, dual 46 IDA Webers on custom made manifolds, modified Thunderbird extractors with a 2" tailpipe and had the motor balanced along with having the standard crankshaft counterweighted. The transmission has been beefed up with heavy side plates, a super diff and a lower 3rd gear.
So, how does it go? Excellent but once you're bitten by the horsepower bug, what you have is never enough and I would like to extract some more horsepower in the future and shut up those damn Webers!
German Wasserboxer Beetles
By Rod Young
Steve Carter's Wasserboxer-powered Beetle is by no means an oddball, and may even represent what might have been, had the development of that brilliant motor occurred at an earlier stage.
The last intensive factory engine development for the Beetle was carried out in 1985, though we never saw the results, unfortunately. The British firm, Cosworth, was given the job of cutting a 1900cc Wasserboxer engine in half and installing it in the back of a Mexican Beetle. Don't forget that the four-cylinder motor as we know it appeared in the Transporter for the first time in 1983.
Instead of the obvious, but expensive path of installing the radiator in the front of the car, it was mounted over the motor immediately in front of the engine lid. Access to the engine was gained by hinging the radiator to the side. Must have had some pretty fancy swiveling seals to be able to do that. The water-cooled twin had a capacity of 950cc and delivered 25kW to the ends of the swing axles. Hardly enough to satisfy the wishes of most customers, even in those days, so it wasn't a goer.
Next thing they tried in Wolfsburg was to bolt in a complete 1900cc motor into a Beetle. The more capable strut-front-ended and CV-joint rear-ended Superbug was chosen, since the motor was too powerful for the VW 1200, the only Type 1 under construction by that time. The experiment was judged a success, and the Wolfsburg engineers were very enthusiastic about the power developed. However, it had to remain an experiment, as the Superbug (1303S) was long out of production, having last been produced (as a non-Cabrio) in 1975. What sort of Beetle might we have seen, had the higher-developed Superbug still been in production?
But the idea of the Wasserboxer Beetle didn’t die there. You see, Oettinger of Friedrichsdorf, near Frankfurt, builds a very desirable 6-cylinder motor and transplants it into Transporters. Those Transporters previously had 4-cylinder Wasserboxers. At the same time, Beetle owners wanted a quiet, reliable power increase. The obvious thing to do was to make the WBX 4 OKRASA-Käfer available.
The 2.1-litre, Digijet injection-equipped Beetle reaches 100 km/h in 10.6 seconds, and, of course, is preferred for 1302 and 1303 Super Beetles.
I would like one, please.
By Rod Young
After the end of imports into Germany of Beetles from Mexico, the market for high-performance modifications to air-cooled VWs took a plunge. Only a hard core of die-hards continued the faith, not succumbing to the all-too tempting attractions of Golf GTIs and such like.
Even then, many Beetle owners preferred wild, loud and souped-up cars that were about as subtle as a bulldozer. Nowadays, by contrast, the typical customer of a tuning firm has spent 30 000 or 40 000 DM restoring his Beetle or Ghia, for example, and requires a powerful, well behaved, highly developed, even ecologically clean motor.
All these requirements and more are delivered by Germany's best-known name in tuning, Willibald. Heinz Willibald and his five employees have developed some of the most desirable, albeit expensive, packages ever to be bolted into a Type 1.
The first stage is a single central two-barrel carburettor, which lifts 50-hp (DIN) motors to 60 hp. With a few more modifications, such as big-valve heads and a Wasserboxer camshaft, 73 hp is achieved. The top-of-the-line standard-sized Type 1-based motor has K-Jetronic fuel injection and 75 hp. This motor costs 12 800 DM, somewhere in the vicinity of $11,000, and 75 hp is no more than what an old 1600 Golf delivers. Beetle owners certainly have money to spend today.
For those not satisfied with such modest power gains, digging deeper into the pocket will maybe finance something based on the Type 4 motor. They start at 1700 cm3 for swing-axle Beetles and go to a full-house 2.7-litre offering. This motor can be had with carburettors or Bosch Motronic, delivers 170 hp and the prices start at 28 000 DM ($24,000!)
To this must be added the expense of converting the suspension and brakes to a higher standard, which is necessary under German law when motors are above a certain power output.
Willibald can help here, with a complete Porsche disc-brake conversion for the highest-powered conversions; a ventilated front-disc conversion and a front disc kit for five-stud wheels.
Projects in hand are catalytic converter-equipped motors with oxygen sensor, and even a 16-valve Wasserboxer motor! This last most desirable item is planned not only for Type 2s, but Beetles. It uses Bosch Motronic injection, a 3-way cat with oxygen sensor and delivers 200 hp.
The Beetle's time as a daily-driven car is nearly over in Europe. The ownership of Beetles is changing from those who want to drive to work in one, to people who appreciate the classic qualities of the design, want to update the cars to more modern technology and are willing to spend a lot to produce beautiful, interesting vehicles. Heinz Willibald can help these people.
Beetle Still Rolling From Mexico Plant
By John Rice
Well yes, it does look just like last year's model. And no, there aren't any options. You see those bumpers, brake lights and the steering wheel featured in the sales brochure? All standard. You want a radio or hub-cabs? Try down the street.
But it's cheap. The guy on the corner can fix it. And it's state-of-the-art technology, circa 1934.
The Volkswagen Beetle is still rolling off the assembly lines here with no end in sight, 14 years after Volkswagen stopped making it in its German home-land, and seven years after production shut down in Brazil.
In fact, company spokesman Fernando Mendez said Volkswagen hasn't ruled out the idea of exporting the Beetle to the United States again, once engineers here adapt the car to the California-style smog rules Mexico City is imposing by 1993.
“If conditions in the United States don't change, this would obviously open up possibilities for the car,” Mendez said, though he stressed the company has no firm plans to export the car and wasn't sure how well it would sell in the United States.
Volkswagen has made more than 1.1 million Beetles in Mexico since 1955, when a Studebaker plant began assembling them under contract. Now Mexico is the only place where the Beetle is made.
Volkswagen sold about 5 million Beetles in the United States between 1949 and 1977, said Larry Nutson, a spokesman with Volkswagen of America, which is based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. “Sales were trailing off because we introduced new cars, the Dasher (Passat) and Rabbit (Golf),” he said. Nutson said there were no plans to reintroduce the Beetle in the United States, but he said the company still gets queries about it.
The car seemed doomed in Mexico as well in the late 1980s. Production had slipped to 120 cars a day. Then Volkswagen, aided by govern¬ment tax concessions, cut the price by more than 20 percent just as the Mexican economy started to improve. The plant at Puebla, 110 km east of Mexico City, is now producing some 450 Beetles a day, making the model Mexico's best seller.
It’s the favourite of Mexico City taxi drivers, who normally re¬move the front passenger seat to ease access into the rear seat. It's hard to find a taxi driver with much bad to say about the car.
“It's the fifth wonder of the world,” said Roberto Chavez, who drives a 1990 model that replaced his 1976 Beetle after 14 years.
“Of all of the models (in Mexico), it's the most economical,” he said. Parts are easy to find, they're cheap, and they go in quickly.
Price is another major selling point in a country where the minimum wage is less than $5 a day and factory workers com¬monly earn about $500 to $600 a month. A new Beetle costs a little less than $7,000 - about $3,000 cheaper than most other econo¬my cars.
The Mexico City government recently signed an agreement with Volkswagen to buy 10,000 Beetles as part of an anti-pollu¬tion drive. It's selling the new cars, which use lead-free petrol, to taxi drivers at low prices in hopes of getting older, smoke-belching cars off the streets. Mexico City has some of the worst air pollution in the world.
But some things never change. The 1992 Beetle looks pretty much like the first ones that rolled off the German assembly lines nearly 21 million cars ago. The windscreen still stands a few inches from the driver's face. The heater still doesn't work well.
Mendez said the Mexican versions have a device that adjusts the carburettor automatically to compensate for altitude changes. A drive from sea-lev¬el Veracruz over the 2,900-metre pass into Mexico City is not uncommon here.
They also have stiffer suspen¬sions needed to cope with potholes and the mountainous speed bumps that seem to be Mexico's most popular munici¬pal art form.
And as always with the Beetle, there's been a change here, a tweak there for the new model year: a catalytic converter, elec¬tronic ignition, a dual braking system.
But as Mendez said: “Basically, its the same vehicle.”
1993 Mexican Beetles
From VW Scene
Though some people may prefer not to admit it, the demand for new Beetles appears to continue unabated. Factory fresh Beetles from Mexico are time and again finding their way back to their old homeland via the most varied and circuitous routes. An example of the latest special edition has now arrived in the Wolfsburg area.
The new edition is known as the ‘Beach’, just like a special edition of the Polo which was however made available here in Germany. Indeed the Beach family has yet another member hardly anyone is aware of - the Beach Bus. This special model, produced in Mexico and based on the T2, is not available in the German market. Understandable in view of the fact that the T4 hardly needs a competitor from its own stable.
The Beach Beetle on the other hand should not cause anyone any pain, except on environmental grounds. The reason for this is that it still has a catalytic converter of identical construction to the ‘smoking cat’ exposed by VW Scene. Peter Wurm, however, wanted to take delivery of the car in ‘regulated’ form without further delay.
The special edition Beach model differs from its competitors mainly by attracting Beetle buyers with a special decal set affixed to both sides of the car, as well as with a factory-fitted folding sunroof.
Unfortunately, in offering the first sunroof Beetle for 15 years, Volkswagen has not used the original folding roof from the dim and distant past. In terms of type and design, the Beach sunroof is much closer to the Britax folding roof. In the eyes of a great many Beetle fans it thus sits too far back in the roof skin and somewhat restricts a clear view of the heavens. Guide rails and attachment points are located in the flat roof skin, which does not appear to differ from the corresponding body panel of a standard Beetle.
The few who come to own a Beach Beetle will certainly delight in the completely white exterior cover of the folding roof, which forms a perfect match with the car' s paintwork. It has been a real problem in this country to obtain a retrofit folding roof in any other colour other than black. On the other hand, the white interior roof covering gives little cause for rejoicing, as new Mexican head-linings are produced in a greyish-brown colour.
The Beach is otherwise a Beetle like any other. The 1600cc engine delivers 46-hp, the dashboard is adorned by Golf-style controls, a few ‘plastic nuts’ replace the hubcaps, whilst the average Mexican continues to have little regard for the heated rear window. For the '93 model year, Volkswagen de Mexico has announced a modification also important for cars destined for Germany. All Beetles will leave the production line fitted with fuel injection and a regulated catalytic converter, which means that the car should be able to satisfy even the most stringent exhaust emission requirements. Small wonder that such clear efforts are being made to re-commence distribution of the Beetle. Amongst others, VW specialist Ubel is endeavouring to build up a serious and reliable Beetle dealership network.
It would indeed be nice if one day the dreams of new Beetle availability at all times were to become a reality. Not least this would also bring the supply of spare parts, which has to some extent become critical, well under control once again. For the moment however, the motto has to be ‘wait and see’.
Mexican and Brazilian Beetles Compared
By Phill Lander
Beetle production in Mexico has been continuous since it was begun back in 1964. From the heydays of the 1960s, every other factory killed off the Beetle and replaced it with the Golf - Australia in 1976, South Africa in 1977, Germany in 1978 and most recently Brazil in 1986. The factory in Puebla, just outside Mexico City, merely added the Golf to the range and kept on with Beetle. After 1986, when Brazil killed it off, Mexico remained as the only factory in the world to still make the venerable Type 1.
The big news for 1993 was, of course, that Brazil brought back the Beetle! In an unbelievable turnaround, on 7th February 1993 the Brazilian government signed a document to enable the state-funded carmaker, Autolatina, to fund the reintroduction of the Fusca (as the Beetle is called in Brazil) at a cost of $30 million. Autolatina is a co-operation between Ford and Volkswagen.
Why would this happen, after a hiatus of seven years? It was an acknowledgment of the fact that few Brazilians could afford to buy a new car. Those that did would buy a cheap Japanese car, thus crippling Brazil's already crook balance of payments. By offering to reduce certain taxes on new cars, the government ensured that the Fusca would be a bargain with universal appeal.
So let’s have a good look at the Brazilian Beetle (Fusca), and follow it up with a similar look at the other 1994 Beetle, the Mexican Beetle (Sedan 1600i).
The most obvious feature of the new Fusca is the continuing use of the old, pre-1965 European body shell, with small windows (Pre-'68 in Australia). This is the same body shell used before 1986 and continuously from 1957, in fact. There have been only minor modifications made to it to bring it into the 1990s.
For example, the rear valance no longer has cutouts for the exhaust tailpipes, as the exhaust on the new cars is positioned to exit at the bottom of the left rear mudguard. A round VW logo has been added to the engine cover, in the centre between the four sets of cooling slots. The bumpers are as before, except that they can now be colour-coded to the car. Sometimes a bumper with a wider black strip will appear. The chrome body side trims have also been replaced with a contrasting double paint stripe.
The new Fuscas are powered by a twin-Solex 1584 cc with a whopping 11:1 compression ratio, in order for it to run on the domestic alcohol fuel. The motor produces 37 kW at 4300 rpm, with a torque maximum of 117 Nm at 2800 rpm. The exhaust system features a catalytic converter located under the rear valance (where the old muffler used to be), leading to the main silencer under the left rear mudguard.
The transaxle is the traditional four-speed VW unit, together with proven swing-axles, torsion bars and drum rear brakes. A Z-bar, like European Beetles made after 1967, is also fitted. At the front, the familiar ball-joint front suspension is used with disc brakes.
Inside, the Fusca is equipped with a plastic-padded dashboard of traditional design but sporting square instruments that look dreadful. To the left of the square speedo is space for a clock, while the fuel gauge sits to the right. The speedo reads to 160 km/h but does not have a trip-meter.
The interior features Mk1 Golf-style velour cloth seats with head restraints, and footwell carpets. Seat mountings are improved but still look like those used in the early 1960s.
Factory performance figures are interesting: 0-100 km/h in 14.5 seconds, with a standing 400 metres covered in 19.8 seconds. Maximum speed is 140 km/h, while the average fuel consumption works out at 10.6 litres per 100 km - using alcohol, don't forget. A version capable of running on petrol and alcohol is due to go on sale later this year. A drag coefficient of 0.48 is quoted, which is quite ordinary by today's standards.
Two option packages are offered. The first consists of a clock, foam steering wheel, dual horns, door map pockets, carpeted strips on the door panels, plush carpets, rubber bumper strips and a passenger door mirror. The second package also offers a heated rear window, green tinted windows, pop-out side rear windows, smoked rear light lenses and a digital AM/FM radio with TWO speakers!
Colours available are white, beige or blue, with black or red being special orders. Three metallic finishes are also available: silver, green and beige (!)
VW SEDAN 1600i (Mexico)
By comparison, the Mexican Beetle (or, to be more correct, the Sedan 1600i) uses the large-window late-model body shell as featured by the last of the European and Australian Beetles. It therefore looks newer than the Brazilian equivalent, and less of a cocktail of parts from various years.
Some changes have been made from the last German Beetles. The bonnet and decklid rubbers are attached to the panels, rather than to the body. Chrome trim to the sides has been retained, but deleted from the front bonnet along with the VW badge. The engine lid looks just like the last German ones with four evenly spaced cooling slot groups, and even features a trouble light! A single ‘1600i’ sticker (not a badge!) is the only giveaway to what is under the decklid. There is no chrome around the windscreen or rear window rubbers, but the rear quarter windows still have it. An externally keyed alarm keeps the unfriendlies away. Chrome bumpers with inbuilt front indicators are a feature of the Mexican cars; Brasilian cars have the front indicators mounted on top of the mudguards.
The Mexican Sedan 1600i is powered by a 1584 cc engine, fitted with Digifant multi-point fuel injection and electronic ignition. As it runs only unleaded petrol and the compression ratio is just 6.6:1, it produces 34 kW at 4000 rpm. The new engine case features a spin-on type oil filter and hydraulic valve lifters are fitted. The exhaust features a regulated 3-way catalytic converter with lambda probe and a single tailpipe exits through the rear valance. The intake manifold is similar to a carburetted Beetle, with a single throttle body taking the place of the carburettor. A plastic air filter housing contains a rectangular Golf-style filter element.
A four speed transaxle and rear swing axles with Z-bar is fitted as per the Brasilian Fusca. The braking system is similar as well, featuring front disc and rear drum brakes. 4.5Jx15 20-slot wheels are fitted with 155 SR15 radial tyres. As on the Brazilian car, black plastic caps cover the wheel nuts and centre hubs.
Inside, the dashboard is more traditional than the Brazilian car, with a round 160 km/h speedo featuring a fuel gauge. The dashboard is padded and a brake pressure warning lamp is fitted to the right of the speedo. A Polo steering column and Golf 2 steering wheel and switchgear have been raided from the VW parts bin. The Golf-style cloth covered seats have rotary knob adjustment for the backrests. Adjustable headrests are also fitted, similar to the Fusca. Door trims however, are still vinyl. The day/night rear view mirror is now stuck to the inside of the windscreen, rather than mounted between the sun visors as on earlier Beetles.
Fuel consumption for the injected Beetle is factory quoted as 6.8L/100km. Options for the car include a radio and a right (passenger) side exterior mirror.
Mr. Watkins In Love
By Frank Watkins
Well I suppose the German - Australian love affair in the Watkins household started early in 1965, the year I was to be married. I was driving a Peugeot 203 at the time, which had been in about six Redex Trials and was getting decidedly tired. The good wife-to-be said, "Francis, that French car won't get us to Forster; it has to go!" So I sold the Pug to a bloke who dealt in these French cars (I think he snaked me too!) and the search was on for a replacement vehicle.
Now, at the time I was working Saturdays, Sundays etc. to get a 'quid together, so good wife-to-be said, "I'll look for a car." So into her Austin A30 she jumped and started looking (I don't think I've ever been in a worse car than this Dirty Thirty of hers, and I believe if Winston Churchill had commissioned Lord Nuffield to produce those cars in the late 1930s, and exported them to Germany, the war would have been over in a blink of a eye.)
Anyway, one Saturday afternoon after work I ventured around to fiancée’s place and there, parked on the front lawn, was a 1959 Alabaster colour Beetle! So into the house and sweetheart said, “How do you like our new car?” I thought it was the ugliest car I'd ever set eyes on, but let's have a drive and see what it goes like.
We get out the front and I start looking at this ugly-duckling with the engine in the wrong place and the reputation of upending in a strong cross-wind, but then I thought the paint's pretty and the trim is half OK, but only two doors.
So, anyhow I dropped into the driver's seat (with strict instructions not to belt this German car), and started it up. It fired up no worries, and I thought how anyone could go to sleep behind the wheel of one of these things is beyond me - the noise was something fearful. In with the clutch, into first, and away we went. Ten miles down the road, I thought this isn't a bad little car.
We had this car for three years and I grew to love it. The reason I sold it was because we had a family on the way and we bought a pram at Bankstown. l wheeled it out to the Beetle, and - you guessed it - it wouldn't fit into the boot.
So onto the back seat the pram went and I said to wifey, where's the baby going? Her reply was: "We need a bigger car." And so we and the VW parted. I got 400 'quid for the Beetle and bought one of Australia's own; without a doubt the worst bloody car I've ever owned - but that's another story.
Red Cars Go Faster
By Philip Lord
Sebastian Semos has a 2-litre four-cylinder sedan. So what, you say, my grandmother's automatic Toyota Corona is a 2-litre four-cylinder sedan, and that's not going to break records, except for all-time most boring car.
The difference here is that Sebastian's 2-litre engine is tucked under the lid of a '69 Beetle - and therein lies the difference.
When Sebastian bought his Bug two years ago he thought it was a 1835cc motor in it - that was, after all, what the seller informed him.
The engine developed a slight miss - and so when putting in a helicoil, with the engine apart, Sebastian found that the crank was a 78 mm - the bore was 90.5 - all up swept volume made for 2007cc.
The engine has an Engle-110 cam, dual valve springs, 044 ported heads and twin 45 ml match-ported Dellorto carburettors. The distributor is the favourite 009, which Sebastian plans to make an electronic set up. A deep sump and external oil-cooler are fitted to keep cool the lubrication side of things, and Beg 1 5/8-inch header and 2 1/2 whiplash and tailpipe with a Turbo muffler handle the exhaust gases. The flywheel has been lightened, and a 1,700 Ib pressure plate mated up to a standard clutch drives the standard four-speed gearbox.
The interior features Commodore trim on Corolla high-back bucket seats, while instrument upgrades include oil pressure and temperature and tacho.
Sebastian's Beetle's suspension is standard except that it has been lowered. The wheels are Hotwires - with 185/60/14 tyres at the front and 195/70/14 at the rear.
Sebastian rebuilt the engine of the car himself, saying that it wasn't that hard to do; it in fact was good fun. The result of his efforts is a car that is flexible, easy to drive, returns a regular 10.8 L/100 km city driving (about the same as a standard twin-port 1600 Beetle) and yet is fast - a 9.4 second best time at the Drags (plus winning 'Best Presented VW') bears witness to the get up and go of this Beetle.
Like most performance car enthusiasts, Sebastian hasn't finished his Beetle yet. He plans to stiffen the suspension and perhaps fit a K-8 cam and roller rocker to improve performance.
Inch By Inch
By Jeff Unwin
It had been two and a half years since we had turned a wheel in anger in the mighty little Beetle, and I was itching to get back into hillclimbing. The CAMS newsletter had just arrived in the mail and there was an item on the upcoming Australian Hillclimb Championships at Grafton in six and a half weeks. Not being one to procrastinate, the decision was made then and there to go for it. The only problem being that companion Jo Smith’s car had sustained a huge prang at Bathurst back in 1990 and desperately needed some attention. On that occasion, the fan had exploded at 8000 revs, taken out the accelerator cable tube and jammed the Dellortos flat out as she was approaching the Dipper.
Well, what can I say, fate was really kind not to roll her over (the car that is), so there was no body damage but three corners of the suspension were badly bent and the right hand front shock tower had put a 50mm deep dent into the inner guard.
The car had then been retired to a relative's farm at Binnaway, and suffered the indignity of sitting in a barn there and accumulating a solid layer of bird poo while it sat forlornly in the farm shed. I took a quick trip to Binnaway one day and loaded the very bent Bug onto a trailer and then took it home the next day - all without incident. I was very lucky to have three untiring helpers in the form of James McKinnon, Grant Camper and Shimo.
Previously we had raced the ‘Bug out of Hell’ in the Road Registered class and later as a Sport Sedan. Times had changed however, and now there was the introduction of the Group 2E Silhouette Class - 60 series tyres, no fibreglass guards and a maximum seven-inch rim size for cars up to 3000cc.
This formula posed a couple of problems. Firstly our old gearing was too tall (the 3.88 diff, 3.4 1st, 2.21 2nd, 1.48 3rd and 1.125 top were nowhere near close enough) and secondly, we had no 60-series tyres because back in the '80s we used 50-series.
As it turned out we had bought an old drag race gearbox earlier in the year so we had a few extra ratios to choose from. This included 4.375 ring and pinion and 3.8, 2.06, 1.58 and 1.21 gears). In the end we came up with a great little close ratio 'box using the 4.375:1 diff gears and the 3.4, 2.21, 1.58:1 and 1.21 gear ratios, which worked in really well with the 205/60-15 tyres.
There was a huge list of chores to complete before we headed to Grafton. This included stealing the front end out of the old race car, replacing wheel bearings, tie rod ends, ball joints and control arms, recondition the callipers and fit new metal pads. Other tasks undertaken included replacing steering box and damper, fitting a race seat, harness and half cage.
Next we rebuilt the entire rear end including arms, bushes and brakes and then stripped down several gearboxes to salvage the required parts to make up one good unit.
The 1904cc motor was stripped and freshened up ready to be raced. We then went over to East Coast Suspension for a four-wheel alignment and then back home to fit the sway bars (20mm front and 22mm rear).
We then packed all the spares and headed off for Grafton, a day before practice started, while Jamo and Grant drove up and met me there on Thursday morning. Grafton's track had been lengthened, resurfaced and was lot tighter than what I could remember from five years earlier, so I returned to the track and had the car scrutineered early to be one of the first cars out on the track.
Even though the track was a bit green (leaves and branches littered the track and no rubber had yet been laid down), I was still quite happy with how good the borrowed rubber was gripping. I was only about three seconds off the old record.
A quick check of the tyre pressures and off I went again, this time really getting the feel back again and throwing the car around like a Formula I car when suddenly the oil light came on. I turned her straight off and coasted down the return road. When we pulled the Oberg filter apart there were parts of a big end bearing staring at me. It appeared that we should have put the oil surge gates back in from our old Hellbug motor as now the sticky tyres were generating the same g-forces as the soft slicks I ran before.
There was a fair bit of disappointment in the camp. In fact, Grant and Jamo were shattered. I ended up driving to Kempsey, taking a 1916cc motor out of a buggy and fitting up our exhaust and Webers. But alas the off-road motor had an inappropriate cam and didn't really go. We managed a last-in-class finish and the distinction of being the only vehicle unable to spin the wheels off the line. At this stage, I must thank Mark and Luke Pell for their help with all our problems over that weekend. It was their motor that was so generously lent to me.
Back to the old drawing board.
Not to be put off by such small hassles I had the motor rebuilt in two weeks, this time with all the baffling in the sump. We competed in the show and climb at Canberra winning the class, being 2nd outright and the fastest Group 2E Bug. Now we were cooking and then competed in five more 'climbs before Christmas, managing class wins in each of. So the poor little motor was owed a bit of work by the time the year's racing was complete.
Upon disassembly some very interesting observations were made. 1: The tunnel of the case had worn out, allowing the centre main bearing to move and the crankshaft to flex. 2: Some evidence of oil starvation was still present in rod bearings #1 and #4. And three, the breather system had not been adequate because the 2.0-litre catch-tank was always filling with oil at the end of each day's racing.
After a meeting with Shimo and Peter Gonad, a complete revamp of the breathing and oil system commenced. This was a two-pronged attack to ensure I had adequate breathing as well as adequate oil in the pick-up area (deep sump centre).
I had purchased a really late-model AS21 fuel injection case (with the huge oil galleries throughout) from Gene Berg in 1989 as a backup for the 2213cc motor. This already had all the machining done; decked, bored for 90.5mm barrels, fully flowed, eight millimetre case stud nut lands, spot-face for the 15mm head nut conversion and die ground to fit a Washington Antishocker.
To increase the breathing of the internals, a 32 mm hole was machined where the fuel pump hole should have been (FI case, remember!). I then fabricated a baffled breather tube and fitted a motorcycle air cleaner to stop dust getting in.
The rocker cover breathers were increased from 10 to 20 mm and a small baffle plate brazed over the breather outlet hole on the cover. This then necessitated enlarging the breather pipes on the Berg breather box-cum-oil filter to take the larger hose. Another motorcycle air filter was used on top of the Berg breather to stop any restriction in the system.
As far as the oiling went this was somewhat more perplexing and a lot of testing and rethinking was needed before the final tolerances was initiated. A deep sump already had a quadrangle set-up with flapper valves so that the oil in the sump could only find its way from the four outer corners into the central pick-up area. The only thing that could possibly stuff this up would be if the oil wasn't returning to the sump fast enough.
The oil pressure had always been adequate (when the oil was there to suck up) at 700 kPa at 7000 rpm with a 30 mm Berg pump. When fitting a larger oil pump you not only get a higher pressure but also a much larger volume. Therefore, if we cut down the volume being pumped then it will take longer to drain the 3.5 litres in the sump giving us a few extra seconds of supply before we run dry. A 26 mm oil pump was fitted as a result of this logic.
How to get more oil into the deep sump? Once again a two-pronged attack was required. A new oil pick up was bent with open flowing bands so that there was no added weld-on parts that picked up the oil in the sump. The hood that normally went over the oil strainer area was also not used so that the oil in the engine sump had a much larger area to fall through.
As I always ran the oil level at the top mark on the dipstick, and already used windage pushrod tubes, the premise was that a fair bit of oil was sitting in the rocker cover area (because we could not stop the oil from running up the push rods on very hard cornering). A quick look at Col Mathews' Porsche to see what ‘Big Brother’ was using gave us the answer. Two 19 mm oil returns were fabricated on the bottom of each rocker cover, going straight down into the top of each of the deep sump's four corners. Viola!
As it turned out this system has worked perfectly with the main bearings and the cam bearings being changed only annually and the rod bearings at half yearly intervals.
Now that the engine reliability problems had been solved we went about a full revamp of the steering and suspension set-ups. It's funny how the fickle finger of fate changes from the ‘you beaut’ thumbs-up of success to the heavenly pointed middle finger of despair in a matter of seconds.
Friday night's trip to the first round of the Hillclimb Championships at Bathurst was miserable; lousy weather, rain, sleet, fog - everything you'd expect going to Bathurst. When we got to the top of River Lett Hill doing about 80 clicks around an 80-rated corner while flat-towing the Bug on an A-frame behind the T3 Kombi Ute, I felt the tail of the Ute come out. After a big correction I thought I'd saved it only to then pirouette 360 degrees followed by a 180-degree turnaround and finish up against an embankment. In the Olympics that stunt would have gained me a series of 9.5s from the judges as it was all we achieved was some battered suspension and sheetmetal.
The left-hand front wheel from Joe's car had come around and hit the left-hand rear wheel of the ute. I had to disconnect the buckled A-frame and flat tow the Beetle into Bathurst with a wire sling. By ten the next morning we had a wheel alignment done, tyres changed over to some non-buckled wheels and a trip to the panel beater to have the bumper and damaged guard knocked out so that I could race.
Meanwhile, the right-hand rear trailing arm was still bent with 2.5-degrees positive camber instead of 1.5 negative, but we still managed to take the class win and set a new record on the day.
This last little adventure was probably the main turning point that helped me change the handling set-up of the car forever. As the beam was bent a tad I did the first of our camber restorations on the top arms and dialled in a two-degree negative per side and the car loved it.
I then got to thinking, How much negative camber can a Beetle take before it gets totally out of hand?
They say nothing improves the breed like racing and after one full year of hillclimbing I now have all the formulas for setting up and making a car handle straight out of the box. By ‘handle’, I mean being able to take on just about any street car on the road today and wave goodbye to them when you come to corners. We started off the year 35th outright at Bathurst and peaked at 10th outright at Huntley in 1993 and to say the team is having a ball is an understatement.
Once the handling and braking had been taken care off you can then concentrate on more engine development. The motor now sports 44 x 37.5 Berg race heads and extensively modified (by Henry Spicak) 48mm Webers. The big change for 1994 had been the fitting of a GB 315 (FK87) camshaft as opposed to the old GB 311 (K10) on 112 lobe centres, which were set-up retarded. This one change took 0.6-second off our eighth mile drag racing times (8.9 to 8.3-see) and added 9 km/h to the terminal speed.
This yarn is being written just before the Parkes Hillclimb championship round, so the motor is once again apart but more for a freshen up and re cam to a GB 316 (FK89).
All these changes have made the Bridgestone 610s unable to cope so a change to gumball Dunlop 781s should help us to stick. And it will keep on going like this, trying to screw that extra little bit out of the Bug. Because one day it would be nice to go to South Australia to run the class at the Australian Hillclimb Championships and then blow all those twin cam Datsuns away.