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The Chronicles of VDUBAYA
The Roadrunner, The Hitch, and the Locomotive

By Loren R. Knapp

Please allow me to meander through 33 years of Bug boo boo's. It usually goes something like this…..CRASH! Then….."Oh ^%@*!" My very first Bug-boo-boo wasn't with a VW Bug that I owned. As a matter of fact, at this point in time, I had never even given those little cars one iota of consideration. I remember that our church pastor Reverend Orr had one, and I considered it a novelty more than anything else with its Singer sewing machine-sounding engine.

My first car was a 57 Chevy Bel Aire Sport coupe. I was in the USAF and purchased the turquoise car for $225. The freeze plugs all blew out on the drive home and…... hold on here, I'm getting off track. Okay…back to the Bug boo boo story. Two girls in a tan 1960 Bug broad sided my 57 Chev. It messed up my left quarter panel and the front end of the Bug. No one was hurt, but I was not enthralled with Hitler's concept of a little car for the people. During my four years in the military I met and fell in love with a beautiful redhead Diane and along the way we ended up with a collie and a 1965 Bug. I sold the 57 for $750…… a serious mistake that I have always regretted. We didn't have much of anything else mind you, but times were good and we managed. We didn't have that Bug long and to be honest I don't recall why. Let's rack that up to an old age memory problem and move on.

In 1973 we purchased a new Texas yellow Super Beetle. I was driving to work one morning minding my P's and Q's, and entering an intersection on a green light, when a guy runs the light and plows into the left front fender. This was my first trip to the body shop. Once, while the little yellow Bug was parked in front of our house, a lady was driving her daughter to school and looking at her homework papers at the same time, and you guessed it….CRASH! Right into the left rear fender - trip number two to ye 'ole body shop. It was a beautiful spring day for a yard sale at my parent's house with tons of high quality junk to sell including the kitchen sink, believe it or not. I parked the Bug down the block out of harm's way, or so I thought. It seems my sister had the same plan, so I parked behind her. During the course of the day a vehicle parked in front of my sister's truck causing her to have to back up when she left to go get us all something to eat. CRASH! Their truck had a trailer hitch with one of those ball hookup deals on the end. They make one heck of a hole in your trunk lid. Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho off to the body shop we go.

I was trying to get to a computer store to pick up a special cable for my son's computer before they closed, when I turned left out of a parking lot onto a main thoroughfare. Yes, I looked both ways first. Unfortunately, this woman was doing the same thing directly across the street, and we turned into each other…..CRASH number 3. Can you say, "Back to the body shop?" I knew you could. It was just another day at the grocery store pushing the cart to the car wondering how we spent nearly a hundred dollars on four small bags of groceries, when we see "it," but didn't hear "it"……"it" being CRASH! Some inconsiderate son-of-a-beach-comber obliviously backed into our right rear fender and continued on his merry way. Off we go to the body shop.

Some of you out there may have had this experience. Hopefully, if not, you never will. I was minding my own business traveling down the road in a residential area, which reminds me of a Richard Pryor bit I heard years ago. He said there was an old drunk neighbor that would stand in the street yelling at passing cars, "Slow down! This is a neighborhood not some damn residential area!" Okay...Lord I apologize for that. Where was I? Oh yeah…Anyway, all of a sudden you see a blur across your windshield and in a split second realize that's the side of a car! Slam on the brakes…screech….CRASH! This guy just blew off the stop sign and cruised right through. I t-boned him pretty much dead center….100 point bonus! No one was hurt, and I think we can all agree a good thing, although not very good for the Bug this time. Enter the insurance adjuster from hell. She was determined to declare the car "totaled," keep the car and give us $800. I tried to explain to her that this wasn't your run-of-the-mill puttsy VW Bug shimmying down the road with four fenders falling off belching black smoke as it goes. I even showed her pictures of the Bug and classified ads showing the cost of comparable Bugs. She wasn't going to budge, and neither was I. I asked to see her supervisor and started the whole process again, but this time while rubbing my neck and adding "my neck hurts." They excused themselves and left the room. A short while later they came back in with a medical waiver for me to sign and gave us a check and the car. We had it fixed for less than what they gave us. As they say "the squeaky wheel gets the oil."

I taught both my kids how to drive a stick shift in our Bug. If they were embarrassed to drive it, they never said so. My son Travis was working late nights at a restaurant, and that son-of-beach-comber guy we mentioned earlier must have eaten there, because sure enough he nailed the same fender in the parking lot! Here we go loop-dee-loo…here we go loop-dee-lie…back to the you-know-what. Not wanting to be outdone in this tale, my wife gave me a surprise birthday present one year. We left at the same time very early in the morning for work. Our other car must have been at the shop. I drive a company vehicle, which was parked on the street. She got in the Bug, and I watched her back out of the garage from the company van. Did I mention it was my birthday? The neighbor directly across the street had a trailer parked in front of his house. I'm thinking….she sees the trailer right? Wrong….CRASH! Deck lid smashed in. Happy birthday to me, and no birthday cake at the body shop either!

I have saved the best for last. My daughter Stacey was on her way to work, while at a railroad crossing she, too, encountered that son-of-a-beach-comber guy, who proceeded to whip around her at the tracks and clipped the fender pushing her onto the tracks. Yet another CRASH. He, of course, decided stopping wasn't on his agenda. The fender was pushed hard up against the tire making moving the car impossible. Insert sound effect…….CLANG, CLANG, CLANG! The large crossing gates lowered, and lo and behold a locomotive was coming. My daughter's first thought was, "dad will kill me if I leave the Bug here." She jumps out, grabs the fender, and with Herculean strength wrenches it off the tire. (No one bothered to help her by the way.) She gets back in the Bug and turns the key. You know what happens next in the story this being a VW Bug and all……… won't start. So, she jumps out and pushes it off the tracks all by herself. I was happy to have my daughter in one piece and told her I loved her more than the Bug. But, it was body shop time again.

I have never received a traffic ticket from the police…knock on wood. The above mentioned Bug boo-boos have transpired over the course of 33 years and over 300,000 miles. Oh there's been a few other nicks and dings and broken windshields… one from a suicide-prone roadrunner, but all-in-all "The Blues" has been a reliable car and still turns a few heads as we drive around. Come to think of it, so does my wife. I'm one lucky man.

Road Trip
By Loren R. Knapp

I had too much vacation time on the books so the boss said get out of here. So with 10 days to kill I decide to jump in "The Blues" and head for Lincoln, New Mexico. I have a friend there who is writing a book about the life and times of Billy the Kid and works at the Billy the Kid Museum in Lincoln
Before you set out on such a trek it is wise to make sure the old Pierce Arrow is up for the trip. First stop, Brake Masters just to have the pedal adjusted. Before I can say "yipes" they've got all four wheels off. I eventually leave only to discover the brake pedal is lower than when I got there! So, back I go. They fix it and I leave again. Once I hit 35 the front of the car starts to shimmy.

Oh Great! Now I'm back to a problem I was having last year. The way it was fixed last time was by having the wheels balanced on the car. They must have not put the front wheels back exactly like they were. Now I head for the Auto Boutique o to have them redo the wheel balancing. No can do. The only guy who knew how to run the machine quit. They sent me around the corner to Maxwell's wheel balancing and alignment shop. He says the tires have to be rotated on the rims and they don't do that there. Off to Discount Tire then back to Maxwell's. Thirty dollars later no shimmy. Next it's over to see my ace VW mechanic Keith Ernst for a look- see at everything. He discovers the timing is off and makes correction.

Bright and early next morning it's me and the open road. I decide to take the scenic route through Globe Arizona and down through Salt River Canyon. Quite a climb at times, but I drop her down into third and she accommodates with no hesitation. A big Road Runner decides to commit suicide on my windshield. Scares the you know what out of me! To make a long story short in 7 hours I arrive in Carrizozo, New Mexico, and spend the night at the "Roach Palace Motel. I find my friend next day and we reminisce about how I taught him to drive in a 1965 V-Dub that he bought not knowing how to dive any car let alone a stick shift Bug.

Round trip I drove over 850 miles. I kept track of the miles per gallon between fill ups. Down hill and with one heck of a tail wind I got 35 mpg. The other end of the spectrum was 25 mpg. The over all mpg average was 31. Not to shabby considering all the climbing and the use of the AC. I shut it off only on the steep climbs. Across the desert flatlands with the temperature at 112 plus degrees it was a pleasant 70 - 72 degrees in the car. It's fun to drive a car that people give you the thumbs up and OK sign. "The Blues" did great for a '73 Super Beetle with over 240,000 mile on her. Keep on Buggin!

Originally published in the Tucson Bug Club Newsletter in 1995 and "The Blues", shown above, is still rollin' along but with many more miles under her belt
Loren R

VW Cliff Hanger
By Loren R. Knapp

Our first bug was a tan color, 1965 that we bought back in 1970. It was a kick to drive and I remember filling the gas tank with $2.25. My boss rode with me one day to  watch me make sales presentations for KIKX radio here in Tucson. It was raining and the windshield wipers stuck so I figured a little tap would remedy the problem. I'll never forget the look on his face when I shattered the windshield by tapping with my fist. That was the only problem I ever had with my first Bug. It was a great little car and I wish I had kept it.

Our next VW almost started WW III at my house. I decided I needed something with lots of room to haul my two children, collie, and wife around. The first mistake and the thing that caused the big blowout was that "I decided."  With a loan from my mother (the second boo-boo), I purchased a 1973 two tone red and white VW bus complete with walnut paneling, curtains, 8-track tape deck, and shag carpeting. As you may have figured by now, my wife was less than pleased with my lone decision. As a matter of fact she was so upset she took the kids and left. Fortunately, my daughter threw-up and she came back.

I figured I'd show her what a great purchase I'd made by taking the family on a picnic. We packed up the kids, the collie, and some grub, and headed for Madera Canyon. Everything went fairly well until we started climbing. Soon fourth gear went to third. Then third to second and to my surprise down into first just to keep crawling up the mountain. I quickly became aware that the strain on the engine was probably not a good idea. Of course neither was the strain on the marriage, but that's yet another story. Anyway, being a somewhat bright fellow I decided that it might be a good plan to let gravity work in our favor and head down the mountain. I attempted to turn around on the narrow mountain road. Let me state right here that you haven't lived until you've backed the end of your VW bus over the edge of a cliff. As you can imagine, I was not racking up a lot of brownie points with my children's mother on this day. Oh, the kids were having a ball and thought it was a great adventure, the dog was barking up a storm, and sending the tension level sky rocketing! The back wheel that supplies the moving traction was spinning freely in the open air and the other wheel was barely stable on the edge of the cliff. After safely evacuating the dog, kids, and wife. . . not necessarily in that order, I bailed out. The Bus just sat there teetering, as if to say" OK, now what?"  A car came along with six Hispanic gentlemen who could not speak English. I have enough trouble with English and can't speak Spanish I could only point and sheepishly grin. They summed up the problem, simply walked over to the Bus and positioned themselves, three on each side, and picked the back end up, swung it over, and set it down on the road.  I thanked them profusely and they went on their way. When I took the Bus into my VW mechanic, Keith Ernst, he quickly discovered that the dwell angle was off by 25 percent.

I eventually was released from the dog house by my wife and can honestly say that the bus gave us plenty of good years.  My next and current VW is a '73 Super Beetle, which was purchased new from Pima Volkswagen on April 10, 1973. I remember that the air conditioning was an extra $410.00. The total price was $3,295.00. After all the haggling was done, I sat down at the salesman's desk and wrote a check for $3,200.00 I handed it to him and he said, "Sir you've made a mistake. The check is $95 short. " I said, no that's what I'll give you. The salesman claimed they couldn't do that. I said, "No problem" got up and walked out. Needless to say, he caught up with us before we reached the parking lot. The car is still with us and for approximately 8 years, I used it for my job with the Arizona State Lottery delivering Lottery tickets and supplies to 150 retailers. I was averaging 450 to 500 miles each week. It's longevity is thanks to Keith who has overhauled it twice and kept it running all these years. And yes, it still has AC.

Both my kids learned to drive "The Blues" which is now 33 years old and has over 300,000 miles. My daughter almost watched it be demolished at a railroad crossing with a train bearing down, but that's another story for another time.

Thanks for another great story Loren! Loren Knapp is an avid contributor in our forum and has covered some local VW shows that you can read about in the Event section.

10 Top Clues That The Love Bug Story Is Disney Fiction:

1.  In "Fully Loaded", Lindsey Lohan's character only pays $75 for a functional, rust-free '63 Beetle rag top.

2.  No matter how old, how rusted, how beat up Herbie gets in the movies, his pans always look brand new.

3.  Where, in "Herbie Goes Bananas", did they get the paint and body work re-done before they got back on the ship, and headed to the big race?

4.  Where can I get a set of chrome eyebrows that wink, blink and remote?

5.  In "Fully Loaded", where did "Team Payton" get all the VW parts for Herbie in the middle of the night, when the crew for had originally set out to fix up the team's stock car?

6.  Why is it Herbie could:  Skip across the lake in "The Love Bug"; float and even surf in the Pacific in "Rides Again"; swim relatively well into the Panama Canal in "Herbie goes Bananas" but sinks like a rock to the bottom of a lake in "Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo"?

7.  People in the earlier films, like Michelle Lee and Stephanie Powers, are actually able to slide from one front seat into the other as though there was no tall stick shifter in the middle?  Ya gotta say... they did it with grace, and they did it in skirts with heels.

8.  Herbie's rag top sunroof never seems to age or to wear out.

9.  In an engine which only requires nearly 2 1/2 quarts of oil, Herbie sure does squirt a lot of it on villains and those who insult him, without any engine damage or over-heating.

10.  Herbie lives in California, so we never see any owners complain about Herbie's anemic heating system.

Daniel Mosher- Cartoonist

Hey Guys, 

I posed this question on the forum and haven’t gotten an answer.  Believe me it’s a legitimate question. I want to purchase a Super Beetle and wonder what year is the best too purchase.  Bear in mind I’m more interested in a carb vs fuel injection. I’m sure there is a year when VW put out it’s best Super Beetle. I’m just looking for some recommendations, thanks.

Robin Wallace


As the Super Beetle got older it got better. I have fuel injection in my '75 Super and have never (knock on wood) had a problem with it. The 71-72 Super Beetle has some of the traits for both the Standard and Super Beetle and in some peoples eyes, looks more like a Beetle should. I would say that the most collectible would be the 1971 1302 Super Beetle. The carb is probably more dependable, cheaper and easier to work on so you might want to base your decision on that.

Hello Wayne

My name is Colin. I'm from Belleville ON, own a 1973 Super and a 1974 Standard Beetle and would consider myself a true veedub nut. The purpose of this e-mail is bring to the VW community's attention the closing of Minaker Auto Parts, a vintage only wrecking yard located in Milford ON. Milford is in the south east of Prince Edward County (P.E.C. is the large island like projection in eastern Lake Ontario. You can't miss it!)

Minaker's is well known among the classic car community and since the fall of 2005 I've been their numerous times collecting parts for my 1946 GMC truck (another hobby). Unfortunately Minaker plans to clear their yard this spring and CRUSH ALL of their 2500 plus vintage vehicles. If you like muscle cars, 50's fins or need a 1930-40s shell for your next hotrod project plan to make the trip to Minaker's immediately! These cars will be gone before you know it! Also in the yard are a number of Oval window beetles, and a bunch of 60s and 70s bugs. I have also seen a couple early split screen buses and a Chevy van full of early VW engine cases and parts (25-36 hp maybe?)

I'd love to buy the VWs myself but presently can't! I'd rather see other enthusiasts acquire them then see them crushed so consider this your heads up! I was told complete cars are vary in price from $200 to $800 depending on condition (don't quote me though, it might be more).

Stay cool,


I would buy every last one of those Beetles if I had the room. Every Beetle crushed is one more that is gone forever. You should try posting this information in our forum and at www.the to see if you can rally the VW community to rescue these Beetles.

BTW, heres the phone number and email to Minakers - Web: Tel. : (613) 476-4547 E-mail :

Hello SB

Been into Bugs for years. Had a 65,2-67s,74sb,a notch, and a Ghia and now I just picked up a 72SB. I just installed a rb stock 1600dp (Gex) longblock. I rebuilt carb,new fuel pump, 009 dist.(new), degree pulley (stock size), gt exhaust. Now the prob. when I first take off there seems to be a flat spot. Hit gas again and it goes. I also think its a little doggy (as far as power)

valves adjusted to .006 intake/exhaust
points .016, dwell 47
timing 10 btdc
accelerator pump adjusted to full throw.
I have checked for air leaks (a little starting fluid) around all intake at heads, couplings, carb base. No idle change
I have checked vacuum 15 in steady.
I am stumped as to where do I go from here? could it be the way curve was set up in dist?

any help would be great.


Hi Don,
I think you nailed it yourself. The 009 distributor is a good all around inexpensive, easy to maintain distributor. It's one big drawback is the lag time of the advance. This gives a notorious flat spot on acceleration. The combination vac and centrifugal advance distributors are the answer.
I have talked to Jake Raby about this before and it seems to me that he said he could get rid of most of it but I don't remember if we went on to discuss it further. You might give him an inquiry at


Ryan Ballou,

I just finished reading your article on mocking up the lower end of an engine. I though it was very informative. I do, however, think you forgot a couple of very important steps. First, when checking to make sure the crank spins freely, you MUST tighten the two nuts on the nose of the crank. I have built hundreds of engines and while this isn't a problem that occurs all the time, it is more common on rebuilt cases where the align bore isn't correct. I have only seen it a handful of times with a new case. Second, what about checking to make sure the cam spins freely? Of course, this problem also occurs more frequently with rebuilt cases, but I have seen it on new cases as well. If this isn't done and you put the engine together and there is a problem with the cam bore, the engine will be tight and you'll be left scratching your head. I don't mean to nit pick your article because it is very good, I just thought these tips should be included as well.

Thank you for your time,

Head Engine Builder
Mofoco Enterprises


Yes I did forget to mention the two bolts on the nose of the crank since they are indeed main bolts, however the cam fit was not mentioned because the next article covers cam setup. Thanks for your email, I've made the changes to the article.


Dear SuperBeetles,

My son is looking at an orange 1973 SuperBeetle in Greenville SC. It has a rebuilt engine with 1500 miles. It is rather beat up and has some rust. The tires look pretty good. The seller is asking $2000 OBO. This price seems somewhat high. I have been unable to find a value listing for 1973 on line and thought you could help me out. My son likes the car, but I am concerned because he is not mechanically oriented.

Thank you,

Coby D.

Hi Mom,

$2,000 for a beat up Bug is steep if the rust is a problem. Rust can cost you thousands in repairs if it is too extensive. Take a look at the floors, heater channels, and under the rear seat to see what's going on there. I'd get the car safety checked to make sure that there is nothing else wrong with it as well. Check to get an idea of what this car should go for.

Good luck,



I have researching why the Super Beetle came into production. Most people think that it was part of the "evolution" of the Beetle, it turns out that VW had very different reasons for launching the 1302 and 1303 Super Beetle.

It was the mid 50s and the Volkswagen Beetle had become the number one selling import in America. Auto manufacturers were going out of business (Studebaker, Hudson, Packard, DeSoto, etc.) left and right. In an effort to compete, the big three decided to build smaller models of their own. Hence the Falcon, Valiant and Corvair were introduced in 1960. Along comes Ralph Nader with his criticism on the Corvair and his book "Unsafe at any speed" which managed to destroy this great little car, (GM dropped it in 1979). Nader also wrote a book attacking the VW Beetle called "Small--on safety: The designed-in dangers of the Volkswagen". The result of all this were efforts by the auto makers working with lobbyists and lawmakers to outlaw the Bug. Legislation got passed (1967 to go into effect in 1977) by the D.O.T. and E.P.A. which stated any car sold in the U.S. must be able to crash head-on into a wall at 35 mph with the driver walking away.

When VW learned what was happening they immediately started work on a remedy. Enter the 1302 Super Beetle (1971) which was completely different from the windshield forward. Additional beefing up took place in the 1303 Super Beetle with the curved windshield (1973) and the energy absorbing bumpers (1974), but it wasn't going to happen. Realizing the end was coming, VW bought Audi and introduced the Rabbit (1974). VW dropped the Super Beetle in 1975 and as dictated by the U.S. Government, and the Standard Bug was dropped in 1977. The Government gave the convertible (which was a Super Beetle since 1971) a two year additional grace period (1979).

Additional info and details can be obtained by contacting John at

Thanks for clearing up misconceptions that a lot of people have about the origins of the Super Beetle. Sure it was part of the evolution of the Beetle but it seems like Volkswagen was desperately trying the remain in the market and it just didn't happen.



I simply wanted to make a few remarks regarding the first question in the forum. A young person who had previously written in was confused about Volkswagen's previous tendency to make fun of their own cars in their ads.

In truth, it was the best piece of advertising genius for VW to be self depreciating in their ads. Nothing more, nothing less! They could not deny that the Beetle (and subsequent spin-offs) were unusual, funny-looking when compared to other automobiles, technologically set apart from the run-of-the-mill sleds that were rolling around the streets of the world. Therefore, they fully acknowledged, even laughed at themselves, the things that set the Volkswagen apart from the competitors by deliberately drawing attention to the car's unique features. The whole point to an ad is to simply draw attention to itself and to make you notice it. If an automotive manufacturer shows you an ad for their car, and they are seeming to poke fun at their own product, then the reader / viewer will be compelled to follow through and pay attention to the whole of the message. A great example is the old ad from the early Seventies that advertises new varieties in paint color for the Volkswagen for that year. In the photo, almost always done with a car on white background, there are a couple of rows of Beetles that are painted in various brilliant colors. The hook line is, "Now there is some truth to the rumor that Volkswagens are the loudest cars on the road". The double entendre, of course, being the acknowledgment that air-cooled engines are louder than water-cooled and the fact that VW's would that year come in vibrant new colors.

Volkswagen has, recently, given a nod to this old technique of theirs for advertising new car lines, etc. Example: In an ad released to promote their new Sports Utility, they first show a comical picture of a New Beetle hitched to a recreational trailer. The Newbee has its nose up in the air, front tires off of the ground, because it's obviously too small to pull the large mobile home. On the next page is a picture of a new Toureg, obvious by the depiction in the photo to be the suitable vehicle for such heavy towing. Along with a few clever commercials they had previously aired to advertise the New Beetle, riding more on the Newbee's cuteness, power and "glam factor" than anything else, there have been one-or-two outstanding bits of ad copy from the people at VW... but not like their used to be.

Daniel M. Michigan

Well written. I am a hug fan of the DDB ads that really put VW back on the map again. We have a section of them in the Vintage Ads section.



I'm a young Super Beetle enthusiast, and since I don't really know as much as I'd like about them, I thought that I'd ask you. In most of the vintage ads VW seems to be making fun of their cars. I realize that by today's standards a beetle is a piece of crap. But I was just wondering, in general, if Super Beetles (specifically '73 Supers) were decent cars to own and operate. I know that supers didn't come with a/c (most of them, anyway) and I know a place that sells a/c units for them. I was wondering how much this would drain the horsepower if I were to install one. Do the speedometers have backlights for driving at night? I'm pretty sure that they do, but I'm not positive. And lastly, (this is probably a stupid question, but) can '73s use unleaded gas?

Thanks for the help, and I apologize if I asked overly idiotic questions.


First of all there are no stupid questions around here. I'm more than happy to help anyone get into the sport of "Beetling"..

1 - The Super Beetle was as good as any car in it's day. I work for a major automobile manufacturer and always drive a brand new car. But I love to drive my Super Beetle more than any of them, and I drive it anywhere and everywhere. The Beetle is cheap to operate, easy to work on and the parts are available and inexpensive too.

2 - Since the Super Beetle has a 1600cc - 60hp engine, running it with A/C won't be a problem. Of course it will drain the power slightly but not enough to affect you cruising around in it. I.C.E. Air Conditioning in CA can help you out with any parts or questions you might have about A/C units and the Beetle.

3 - Yes, the speedo is backlit and the dash lights have a dimmer switch in the 1303 Super Beetle.

4 - The Super Beetle was designed to run on unleaded gas of 92 octane.

Good luck with your Super Beetle!



Actually I need an article about VW speedometer restoration, I know that there was within the Restoration Corner but know I cannot find it. Can You help me?

Veselin from Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro

Jeff Hamilton stopped writing for us about a year ago to pursue other projects. Recently he contacted us and claimed the Restoration Corner as his "intellectual property" and asked us to take it down. We complied with his wishes so his articles are no longer available at SuperBeetles.Com. Jeff can be contacted at and we wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.

On another note we have Rick Higgins writing Tech Talk with Rick, and the new kid in town, Ryan, penning High Performance 101. Both of these interesting sections are located in the Tech section of the site.


Hi SuperBeetles.Com,

I wanted to thank you for your newsletter. I read it, find it very interesting. I am a former Super Beetle owner. I want to buy another beetle again, a weekend fun car. Give to my son to be a daily driver when he gets older (he is now 13), needs a car of his own. So I am doing the research now, to select a beetle later (probably in November, December this year; need to payoff our car loan first), fix it up, prepare for the "big day" when he can drive a car. Also, I believe a beetle will help us break the "every 5-year" circle we are presently in; that is, every 5 years we buy another car... Get another car, 5-year loan, the car starts to break down, at the end of 5 years, get rid of the repair-mobile, and start over again...

I have been doing this for as long as I remember... I would like to ask your opinion on something. How about buying a used - newer - Mexican bug as sold by BTLMEX, Inc.? The logic behind this is; you start out with a decent used car, and then spend money on upgrades, Vs taking apart a really used car, rebuilding it, and THEN adding the upgrades. The truth is, we do not have the time, or the patience/expertise to take apart a car, and rebuild it. Any work we will have to pay a VW shop to do. If we can spend less money on repair, and more on accessories, then the car will become more of an affordable reality. This may be the wrong direction to go, so I am always looking for advice from everyone now, before I buy, later.

Again, thanks for the great articles.

David Dickeson


Personally I would love to buy a newer Mexican Beetle. I was in touch with VW of Mexico when the last ones rolled off the production line but found out that there was no way to legally import them to North America. You even see some of them for sale on eBay that say titled in Mexico, which means it's your problem to get it titled up here. Good luck with that one! I've heard good things about Btlmex and they way that they make you a new Beetle by basicly rebuilding an old one with parts from a brand new classic Beetle. I've recently come across another company ( that takes a similar approach by completely rebuilding a US Beetle for you.

Either way a Beetle is a great choice as they are dependable, cheap to maintain and by getting one for you son you'll be helping to keep the air cooled spirit alive for another generation.



I am working on fixing up a 1973 Super I got for $800.00 I recently put disks on all 4's. I used the EMPI kits from I would just like to put in a plug for these guy's. They have reasonable prices although sometimes not the absolute cheapest you can find but their service in WAY above normal. The first thing I ever ordered from them was a 2 tip EMPI extractor exhaust. It arrived at my house about the next day without paying for special shipping! That's California to Texas in one day, not too bad.

Anyway my question is this I put the front and rear EMPI disk kits on and also installed a new stock master cylinder. The car stops good but there is still a lot of pedal play. The pedal goes halfway to the floor before it starts stopping. It had the same free play with the drums I replaced which were in decent shape. I even took it to a brake shop and had them bleed the brakes again just to be sure but I still have the same pedal "slack". Is this normal? If not how do I get rid of it? My last VW was a "71 Squareback about 5 years ago and I don't remember it having this much play.


I've heard good things about Action Import, and I'll make sure that I spread the word about the good service that you got. As far as your brakes go, I've never driven a Bug that has had the disc conversion done. Although that pedal does seem low and it looks as though you've checked the common problem areas. Did the kit you got have a master cylinder that was specific to disc brakes included or was it designed to work with a stock master cylinder? I have heard of defective new master cylinders in the past before too. I've also heard that most suppliers recommend changes the rubber flex lines to stainless if you have the old original ones on there. If these suggestions don't help you might try asking the same question in our forum.



I enjoyed your story online, and have been looking for a little advice from somebody who knows their way around a Super Beetle. In this case, a 1979 convertible. My girlfriend's lease on her New Beetle recently ended and she is in the market for a vintage Super Beetle Convertible. I am going to look at a '79 on Saturday and my understanding is that the engine and possibly the transmission have been remanufactured/restored. The Beetle supposedly has new paint, all new upholstery, a new convertible top, new wheels and a number of other elements. However, there was a bit of a language barrier and I'm not sure whether the engine was actually remanufactured... or if certain parts have just been replaced. Unfortunately I know very little about engines and have been trying to do a quick study. Can you tell me what I should be looking for? Or more specifically, how will I know at a glance if an engine has been rebuilt? If receipts are available, what are the wearing parts on a Super Beetle engine that should have been replaced? Are there any other "problem" areas on a Super Beetle that I should be looking at before I decide to buy?

Any advice you can give us would be wonderful,

Mike Daniels

There is no real way to restore a transmission or engine. That term is used mostly with regards to restoring an entire vehicle, to make it as new again. The engine and transmission would either have been rebuilt or replaced with new or remanufactured units. "Rebuilt" in most cases would mean that a shop would disassemble them, and then replace defective or worn parts. "Remanufactured" means that a company that specializes in rebuilding VW engines and transmissions has rebuilt them to factory specification. In most cases when a remanufactured unit is installed the old ones are removed and returned to be rebuilt for the next purchaser. Look for the engine and transmission to be very clean, perhaps painted or sandblasted with no oil leaks. Super Beetle engines are like other engines and the obvious things to wear would be the piston rings, cylinders, bearings, etc. Remember If an engine is maintained properly you shouldn't have to worry these items for a long time.

As far as what to look for in a purchase, we have a page in the Tech section about buying a used Beetle. Click "Tech" then "Restoration Corner" and select number 9.

Good luck!


I have a 74 Super Beetle and I am in the process of restoring it. The only thing about this Beetle is that I can not get the shimmy out of the front end. I notice by putting bigger tires, it helped a little bit. But I like the low profile tires on the front. I have heard that this is a common occurrence with Super Beetles. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Derek E.
San Antonio, TX

The 'Super Beetle Shimmy' is quite common. My 1975 Super Beetle also suffered from this problem. I contacted Topline Parts ( and ordered their urethane bushing kit for my car. After the installation the shimmy that occurs between 45-55 mph was gone. You can read my review of their product in the Reviews section of the site Note: While installing the bushing kit, have a good look around to make sure that all other suspension parts are in good shape and not worn.


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