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Strut assembly order

What is MacPherson Strut Suspension?

The MacPherson strut, commonly found in the front suspension of modern vehicles, utilizes the top of a telescopic damper as the upper steering pivot. This type of automotive suspension system was created by American automotive engineer Earle S. MacPherson. In 1945, Earle S. MacPherson became the chief engineer for Chevrolet's Light Car project, aiming to create a new compact car for the postwar market, resulting in the Chevrolet Cadet. The Chevrolet Cadet was set to introduce innovative features, including a pioneering independent suspension system with a MacPherson strut, showcased in the three prototypes developed by 1946. Despite its potential, the Cadet project was terminated in 1947 before reaching commercial production, mainly due to General Motors' apprehensions regarding the projected profitability of the vehicle.

1302 and 1303 strut difference

The French 1949 Ford Vedette is commonly mis-attributed as the first production car to utilize MacPherson struts, but it actually featured an independent front suspension with wishbones and an upper coil spring prior to MacPherson's design. It wasn't until 1954, following Simca's acquisition of the Vedette factory, that the updated Simca Vedette adopted front struts. The MacPherson strut utilizes a wishbone or a compression link, along with a secondary link, to stabilize and provide a mounting point for the wheel's hub carrier or axle. This system allows for both lateral and longitudinal positioning of the wheel. The upper part of the hub carrier is firmly attached to the bottom of the outer part of the strut, which slides up and down the inner part.

Front strut differences

The inner part extends directly upwards and is mounted in the vehicle's body shell. The steering axis inclination is determined by the line connecting the top mount of the strut to the bottom ball joint on the control arm. To ensure clearance for the tire, the strut's axis may be angled inward from the steering axis at the bottom, causing the bottom to follow an arc when steering. The introduction of unibody construction greatly benefited the MacPherson strut due to its need for vertical space and a strong top mount, both of which are provided by unibody construction. Additionally, unibody construction helps distribute suspension stresses. The MacPherson strut typically carries both the coil spring and the shock absorber, which is often in the form of a cartridge mounted within the strut. It can also have the steering arm integrated into its lower outer portion.

Super Beetle suspension components

This entire assembly is simple and can be pre-assembled as a unit. Removing the upper control arm allows for more engine compartment width, which is advantageous for smaller cars, especially those with transverse-mounted engines commonly found in front-wheel drive vehicles. If necessary, the assembly can be further simplified by substituting an anti-roll bar for the radius arm. These factors have made the MacPherson strut popular among low-cost manufacturers and it also provides an easy way to set suspension geometry. While Standard Beetles were designed to use torsion bars, all Super Beetles were upgraded to the Macpherson strut and coil spring setup. This big change increased the driving quality and improved the Volkswagen Beetle's poor turning radius. The accuracy of the steering and this smoother ride can easily be detected by taking both Beetles for a road test. All images courtesy of Top Line Parts, your Super Beetle suspension specialist.


July Blog

Welcome back to SuperBeetles.com, the World's #1 Super Beetle website. Just Google "Super Beetle" to see which website comes up first... it's us, and we're Super proud of it. We've been online for 25 years and we're not slowing down. I absolutely love this months featured Super Beetle. I love the fact that the owner bought it back in 1992, drove it into the ground, and years later brought it back to life. This is another must-read feature. To follow up on the "What Makes a Super Beetle a Super Beetle" article from last month, there's a new one explaining "What is MacPherson Strut Suspension? If you don't already know, this is one of the main differences between a Standard and a Super Beetle and gives the 1302 and 1303 Beetle its super ride. As always, I've added more pictures from the factory assembly line and a bunch of Super Beetle ads and other stuff.

Super Beetle 1303BTW: We just got back from visiting Hungary, Austria and Germany on a Viking Danube river cruise. During the two weeks we were traveling I was on the lookout for Super Beetles or any other vintage Volkswagen for that matter. I was about about to give up when my wife snapped this picture of a 1303 Super Beetle convertible in Munich Germany from the tour bus.

Red Super Beetle

What Makes a Super Beetle a Super Beetle?

The Super Beetle stood apart from the standard Beetle due to several key differences. One of the main differentiating factors was the MacPherson strut independent front suspension, which Volkswagen specifically engineered for this model. While Volkswagen never officially disclosed the exact reasons behind introduction of the 1302 and then the 1303 Super Beetle, it is widely believed that safety considerations played a significant role. To accommodate the new front suspension, Volkswagen had to make certain modifications. They lengthened the wheelbase by approximately 0.8 inches and extended the hood and front sheet metal by around 3.2 inches.

Super Beetle

These changes may not be immediately noticeable from a side profile view, but if you examine the frunk (front trunk, hood or bonnet), you'll notice that it is broader and flatter at the leading edge compared to the standard Beetles V-shaped leading edges. Additionally, Super Beetles featured a slotted front apron under the front bumper, while all sedans, both regular and Super, received narrow crescent-moon-shaped vents just behind the rear windows in 1971. The increased space provided by the MacPherson strut IFS allowed for a larger trunk and a lay-flat spare tire, as opposed to the more upright spare tire found in Standard Beetles.

1302 Super Beetle

It's worth noting that the Super Beetle name was exclusively used for North American models equipped with the MacPherson-strut IFS. European models underwent the same changes but were sold under the 1302/1303 model names. Further changes occurred on an almost yearly basis. In 1972, the Super Beetle received a taller rear window. In 1973, all Beetles were equipped with a curved windshield, a deeper dashboard, "elephant's foot" tail lamps, and an alternator instead of a generator. By 1975, all Beetles were fitted with electronic fuel injection and rack-and-pinion steering.

Lowered Beetle

Throughout the Super Beetle's production, numerous minor changes were implemented, ranging from redesigned front seats to the addition of fender beading. The Super Beetle sedan was produced from 1971 to 1975 with the Super Beetle convertible continuing on until 1979, while the standard Beetle sedan remained in production until 1977.


June Blog

It's June 2024 and the second month of the all-new SuperBeetles.com. I'd like to start off by thanking our loyal Instagram, X and Facebook Group friends for all of the positive feedback about the new website. I wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't for you and your comments keep me inspired. I've said it before and Ill say it again, "Volkswagen enthusiasts are the nicest Volks Folks in the world" and I truly mean that. I've had people reach out to me about providing content for the website, and I have to say that every little bit helps. So if you're going to a VW event, installing some disc brakes on your 1302, rebuilding the engine or lowering your 1303, reach out to me. We can work together and share your VW experience right here in the News section.

There's a cool Triple Black Super Beetle as the June feature and I'd like to make a comment about the monthly features at the website. I'm not always going to feature a mint-condition Super Beetle, I feel that every 1302 and 1303 Super Beetle is unique in it's own way and I want to showcase them all. That's not to say that I don't appreciate a like-new, mint condition, showroom looking Volkswagen, I actually love them. In fact my Super Beetle, which you can see on the About page, is as about as stock and in perfect condition as you can get. It's just that some people don't have the funds, the time or the resources to do this. Or maybe just like to have a VW as unique as they are. So if that all sounds good to you, and you would like to have your Super Beetle featured, lets talk. Until next month, keep it Super!
Top Line Parts

Interview with Jon Chabot, owner of Top Line Parts


SB: When did you originally get into Volkswagens?
Jon: My father bought his first VW in 1958. He had to wait for the delivery from one of those little dealerships that they had at that time. When they called him on the phone they said: "We have two cars available, a black one and a blue one." Dad chose the blue one! Years later when Dad upgraded to a '66 1300 model, I sold my MG Midget and got the beetle from Dad.

SB: Do you own or have you owned a vintage Volkswagen?
Jon: Well, I drove that '58 to college for a few years, then upgraded to the '66 1300cc. I hot-rodded it a little bit with the help on a nice German man named Karl at Don Burns dealership. It had a Revmaster 22 cam, a header, and a Bosch 010 distributor. We've had a lot of VWs in the family, but currently I only have a '67 Baja Bug, and a '72 Super Beetle at the body shop.

Jon Chabot SB: What's your oldest Volkswagen memory?
Jon: I think abound 1960 or so, my family planned a camping trip to Doheny Beach. Dad had a large roof rack (previously on his 1950 Ford), and we filled that up with all our camping gear. So my Dad, Mom, my Sister and myself piled into the bug for a week long beach camp out. I remember it being really a lot of fun. We met some surfers there and tried to surf a little!

SB: When did Top Line Parts open and where are you located?
Jon: Top Line Parts opened in 1979, but previous to that I had a little retail store in Anaheim, Calif. called Street Scene. Top Line has been at the same general location from our opening to current times. We've been in pretty much every unit in the building complex, but now we've downsized and are in with a company Called 928 International. They sell Porsche parts for the 928 model. Previous to this we had a fairly busy service shop in the front of the building. Our current address is 2900 E. Miraloma Ave, Unit D, Anaheim, Calif. 92806.

Super Beetle Suspension SB:Why did you decide to specialize in Super Beetle suspension?
Jon: I think it was around 1979 or so, when I still had my Street Scene store, and Top Line Parts was just starting up. My good friend John Dean came into the shop to discuss how to lower his '73 Super. We came up with a plan to use the strut inserts from the '74 and later Super, because they were shorter. The strut bodies had to be double sectioned to make them fit the inserts. John's brother Gearhardt did the fabricating. The spring holder was lowered three inches, and the top side adjusted to fit the shorter insert. That '73 Super show car went on to be the first Super Beetle ever to win best of show at a VW event! The paint color was an outrageous Porsche Raspberry. It was at the Sacramento Bugorama. My 62 Standard Beetle Cal-Look also got a trophy!

SB: What was the first suspension product that you came up with?
Jon: That would be the Super Beetle lowering strut. We had been modifying customers struts for some time by cutting and welding. We got tired of that, and decided to make a strut tube from all new materials. The amount of drop was fixed. We had two inch, three inch, and four inch models. It wasn't until a few years later that we started making the snap ring adjustable models.

Lowering your Super Beetle SB:What is your current best seller?
Jon: Well, that depends on if you are talking about the number of items sold, or the dollar volume. Believe it or not, my current best seller (number-wise) is the Power Pedal gas pedal. We have three different models now! If you are talking dollar amounts, that would be the MaXX lowering struts. That's the one with the small diameter spring. It allows big "German Look" wide rims to be installed. The Super Low Pro kit is a good seller too.

SB: What would you say is the coolest or most unique product that you have introduced?
Jon: That would have to be the Camber+ kit for the Super. It allows extra camber adjustment for lowered and modified cars. It also includes black heavy duty urethane bushings to improve the steering. I had been trying to think up some device to do the job for several years. One morning, as I was waking up, the idea for how to make it came to me. That's actually when I get many of my ideas.

Super Beetle Struts SB:Are you working on something new for the Super Beetle?
Jon: There's always something in the back of my head, but nothing Super specific is coming up soon. I did recently introduce laser cut cylinder base spacers for bigger engines. Now that the folks that used to make them aren't around anymore, there's a need for them. I'm currently expanding the sizes and thickness of the spacers so that in most cases the they don't have to be custom ground.

SB: How many people work with you?
Jon: Well, when I downsized a couple of years ago, we closed the service portion of the business. Now that it's mostly mail order, I don't need much help. It's myself, my son, and my wife. I still take all of the phone calls, so when someone answers, it will be me!

Super Beetle Parts SB:Where is the farthest place you've ever shipped your products?
Jon: I'd have to get out my world atlas to be sure, but I'm pretty sure that would be Australia. Australians got the Super Beetle models just like we did in the USA. I just shipped an order to South Africa. How far is that?

SB: What are your future plans for Top Line Parts?
Jon: I'm seventy seven years old now, so it may be time to think about retirement soon. I'd really like someone to take the helm and keep making my products to their current quality level. That would make me happy.

May Blog

It's been a busy past four weeks... but the New SuperBeetles.com website is good to go. I've been working on it pretty much none stop, turning the over 20 year old website into one that can be viewed on all devices. The big issue for me was using software that was designed in 2000 that doesn't know what a 'responsive design' website even is. A responsive website adapts for the best viewing by resizing and moving pictures and text around, so if you're visiting us on a desktop/laptop, mobile phone or tablet, it looks good and is easy to read and enjoy. Interesting little fact: In North America 49.68% of website views come from desktop/laptop, 47.48% from mobile devices and only 2.84% from tablets. That being said, SuperBeetles.com can potentially reach 47.48% more Super Beetle enthusiasts that were unable to view the website properly before, so that's a good thing. I'm going to be updating the website every month going forward, with new features, the latest news articles, event listings/coverage, more factory pictures and whatever else I can come up with, so please come back for a visit. "Content is king" online, so if you'd like to contribute VW event coverage or have your Super Beetle featured, please reach out to me. I hope you like the new SuperBeetles.com and would love to hear your comments. Thanks for helping to keep the air-cooled VW spirit alive!