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
Wasserboxer Beetle
German Wasserboxer Beetles
Willibald Tuning
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
June 1987

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VW enthusiasts bristle because they think we’re going to imply that their cars are ten years out of date.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
September 1987

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)
July 1988

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
June 1989

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
June 1989

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.



Wasserboxer Beetle

By Steve Carter
September 1989

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
November 1989

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.



Willibald Tuning

By Rod Young
November 1990

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
September 1992

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
June 1993

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
March 1994

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).

FUSCA (Brazil)

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
April 1994

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
May 1994

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
February 1995

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.

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.”



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.



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.



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



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.



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.



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)



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.



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?



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...



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.



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)



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.



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.



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.


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