By on November 1, 2013

09 - 1974 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe air-cooled Volkswagen was so rust-prone that it managed to get serious cancer in the normally rust-free San Francisco Bay Area, but quite a few have managed to hang on to life in that region. This last-year-of-production Karmann Ghia coupe showed up at the same Oakland wrecking yard that gave us the beachfront rust victim ’84 Toyota MasterAce and the gory Integra Halloween display last week. Its rust isn’t quite in the same league as the van’s, but then it probably lived further from the ocean.
10 - 1974 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt rains a lot during Northern California winters (in fact, it only rains during the winter there), so bad weatherstripping leads to this sort of thing around Volkswagen windows.
16 - 1974 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHere’s a San Francisco residential parking ticket from 1983, when the car was just 9 years old.
13 - 1974 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe engine is still intact, and will probably add some crunchiness for The Crusher‘s enjoyment.
14 - 1974 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou see, nobody wants an EGR-equipped VW Type 1 smog motor, for good reason.
11 - 1974 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHere’s something you often see on these cars: rust where the paint burned off during a minor engine fire. Looks like concentric rust circles, probably from multiple engine fires. That’s life with an air-cooled VW!
03 - 1974 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinStill plenty of interior bits left.
04 - 1974 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe clock/gas gauge/idiot-light panel looked pretty good, so I bought it. Normally, I wouldn’t buy a car clock for my collection without testing it first, but Bosch quartz clocks usually function just fine. When I got it home and hooked it up to 12 volts, it worked perfectly. Score!

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50 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1974 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Coupe...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    The very definition of all used up.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    Murilee – that specimen has been ultra weathered. Even the fan shroud looks to be eaten away by the tin worm.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Yikes! Notice the timing spec is 4 degrees after TDC. Ever driven an engine with static timing after TDC? Almost undriveably sluggish. Standard spec for that engine not de-smogged was static timing at TDC.

    I kinda doubt the paint is from engine fires. To my knowledge, this engine was not fire-prone in any of its applications. More likely just excessive heat. One thing I learned with my Karmann Ghia is that the ventilation for the engine is inadequat. I found that out when I installed oil temperature and pressure gauges. Before I installed an external oil cooler, typical oil temperatures in the summer were 270 – 300 degrees. I also fitted scoops over additional holes I cut in the engine cover to increase the airflow into the engine, which helped some.

    The installation in the Beetle was better ventilated and did not seem to have that problem. The transporter did have that problem which is why it was common to see scoops installed on the side air intakes to get some ram air effect at speed. VW later designed in scoops of the air intakes of the transporter.

    By contrast, the Porsche 356 had a much bigger air intake.

    • 0 avatar
      i4adodge

      The engine itself was not fire prone, but owners’ habits were. It’s very common in ACVWs to see a fuel filter installed by the owner between the fuel pump and the carb. The owners often failed to install hose clamps. Vibration caused the hoses to loosen on the filter hose barbs, and voilá, fuel leak and engine fire. The rust spots are in the area I would expect to see them if this scenario happened.

      • 0 avatar
        VoltOwner

        Just from the pic of the tube from the air filter, I’d say the original melted when it back fired. Had that happen to my ’74 Bug ‘Vert when the timing slipped…

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      I figured I wasn’t the only one who looked closely at that picture–4 degrees ATDC–or cringed after reading it!

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Anyone who tried to restore one of these will soon appreciate the VW Beetles seperate body panels, or really any car with different bolt on panels.

    Ghia bodies were all built from one piece so fixing a dent or serious rust requires a bit of welding.

    • 0 avatar
      i4adodge

      They were built from separate pieces with leaded seams. You can remove and replace a fender if need be, without welding.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        The front fenders yea, how would I re-attach one though?

        Also, the “lead” bit sorta worries me.

        • 0 avatar
          VoltOwner

          Only the early ones actually have lead in place of bondo. By the ’60′s plastic filler was used at the factory.

          Reattaching a fender is a lot of work, mostly cutting the replacement exactly enough to leave only a mm or less gap when it is properly aligned. Then it’s clamp it on, and proceed to “spot” weld it with a MIG. Trick is to never let any one place get hot, that’s why it’s called “spot”. Tack a tiny bead, maybe 1/8″, then move at least 6 inches away and put another. Go down the entire length of the seam before going back and spotting in the middle of the previous tacks, and then between those, ad infinitum. DO NOT EVER try to weld more than a few seconds in any one spot, you will regret it…

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            Thank you for the advice, my father has a ’67 Ghia he’s thinking about patching up so I’ll relay him the information, it needs quite a bit of patching up in a few areas.

      • 0 avatar
        VoltOwner

        This is actually almost right. The lead, yep, it was the body filler.

        Not welded? Nope. Under the lead are welds.

        Gas welded at the factory, those guys had a lot of practice!

        Repairs are MIG welded these days, much less heat that might warp a panel. I started out gas welding the floors on mine, ended up with a nice 240V MIG when doing similar fender replacement surgery on a Porsche.

  • avatar
    ChiefPontiaxe

    When I was a wee lad in the early 70′s, my dad and uncle each had a white Karmann Ghia (one with black interior, one with red interior). I can almost smell the horse hair from looking at the interior shots. Thanks for the memories.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    Peter was just making ends meet.

    The VW had sputtered, and died at the light. “Come onnnn.”, said Peter, cranking the air cooled mill. He tried pumping the pedal, and various throttle positions. The Tahoe behind him sounded a long honk. Peter stuck his arm out of the car and waved him past furiously, then got back on the key for more cranking. “Piece of shet!” The Tahoe buzzed it’s horn once again, this time, it’s driver did it in a way to suggest panic. Peter glanced in the rear view mirror. On the other side of the orange flames licking the back window, the Tahoe driver was pointing and yelling something unintelligible. His mind quickly filled in the blanks of what was said. “YOU’RE ON FIRE!”

    The businessman and Peter stared at the aftermath. The scene reeked of fuel. The half-charred grey sweatshirt was still jammed in the offending area. Peter’s previous experience in these matters told him it was best to just leave that there for awhile. “It’s a good thing you put that out so fast.”, said the driver of the Tahoe. “Yeah, I’ve kinda done this before.”, laughed Peter, “It took me awhile to figure it out the first time.” The man laughed in uneasy acknowledgement, climbed back into the Chevy, and continued his journey home from work.

    After the engine cooled a bit, Peter pulled the fuel-soaked sweatshirt away, tossing it to the median. “Fuuuuuuu” The source of the problem was obvious. The cheapo plastic fuel filter had popped off the hose to the carb again. The filter was now a bit melty, but it’s inexplicably un-swaged barb could still be shoved into the semi-charred fuel hose. No tools required. He had gotten off light this time. The other components had handled the flames really well. Peter wiped the fuel from his hands on a dry area of the sweatshirt, then left it there for good. The crack in the seat pinched his right buttock when he sat in it. He shifted over to cease the discomfort. After a few more moments of cranking, the engine came alive again. Peter went back to one-and-a-half check for engine fire, then closed the hood.

    The Karmann Ghia did it’s characteristically air-cooled Volkswagen squeaky exhaust buzz up the hill. Peter reveled in the sound, it’s charm. You had to. Instead of going straight up the hill into the neighborhood, he turned right. This route was a short detour to make the trip more manageable. The grade was less severe this way. The VW was parked on the street among the other party-goers’. A white E30 caught his eye. “Whose beemer is that?”, he asked as soon as he was inside. Apparently, his friend Dan had come up, ditching his battered Datsun 210 for the BMW. “You should get one dude. They’re so cheap now.”

    “I wonder if he meant to do that.”, said Dan, in regards to the spectacle of Krist Novoselic smashing his face with his own guitar. The dome light of the 325i illuminated, showing a non ass-pinching german interior. “Probably.”, said Peter, slightly distracted by the new-used beemer. “See you guys later.” Peter lit up as Dan and his new girlfriend drove off. The Ghia was dimly backlit by a streetlight. It’s face could still be made out in the shadows, punched in where he had rear-ended the semi trailer after the brakes failed that first time. Peter climbed in with an ass pinch. “Ugh.” Then, he fired up the flat four. While buzzing back to Redwood Heights, he smelled the familiar stench of fuel again. Peter pulled to the curb to check. The fuel line was still on. He couldn’t tell where gas was leaking in the dark, but he did see the blue arc of a leaking ignition wire. “Grreaat.”

    Peter spent that Saturday afternoon sourcing new tune up parts, fuel filter, wires, ignition cap, and rotor. He also splurged on a length of new fuel hose, and some clamps to make the connections extra tight. He set to work in his driveway to resolve “Hitler’s revenge”, diligently replacing the fuel components. The ignition parts were installed, and he was ready to check his work. The engine warmed, and ran smoothly. As he sat there in the seat, he shook his head, not understanding why this was worth the effort. He played with the old rotor bug, inspecting it curiously. It was tossed on the passenger seat, when the reek of fuel presented itself once again.

    The fuel was not coming from the filter this time. It was slowly streaming from the brass fitting in the carburetor. “I’m done.” Peter took off the new ignition parts, and cleaned them for return to the parts store. He pushed the deceased VW further back into the corner of the driveway.

    “Piece of shet.”

    • 0 avatar
      VoltOwner

      Most people would have bought a new fuel pump at that point, us cheap bastards would take that brass tube and knurl it with a coarse file and JB it back in, pretty much permanently. A few center punch marks around it and it was better than new.

      Of course it was mostly the replacement fuel pumps from Brazil that had the loose tube problem, I even found one new in the box that pulled out before I put it on the car. Not that I put it on, it went back to the store for another, that one got center punched before install…

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Was a 325i anything resembling “cheap” in 1993? A diving board eta maybe, but the i would have been at most 5-6 years old at the time.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Did you happen to catch my interpretation of your work CS?

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/junkyard-find-1985-dodge-600-turbo/#comment-2344129

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Let me contribute a piece of fiction for this thing:

    The year was 1986, a money-short Frederic Stamp had just graduated from college. During those years he had dreamed of owning one of the Porsches that he would find in the parking lot, performance need not matter, it was the heritage and the rear-engined layout that he wished for.

    Knowing that VWs were loosely related to Porsches, Fred scouted the used car ads like crazy hoping to find something, he couldn’t get a project car and he’d be embarrassed to be seen in a “Herbie”, finally he found his ideal “Porsche placebo”, a 1974 VW Ghia with some light parking damage.

    Fred took it for a spin and wasted no time dropping cash down to the dealer, after that he took the car out to local twisty roads to try out this “Legendary handling” that he had assumed made its way from Porsches to VWs.

    Fred went into the first few corners nice and steady, but as he came up on a bit of a doozy he felt the back end of the Ghia become a pendulum of sorts as the car spun around, facing the wrong way. Fred, shaken and stirred, drove the car home with the most pale look on him he’s ever had.

    As he drove home the engine decided to catch fire as a consequence of Freds hooning about, but before he could get help a local sprayed it out with a garden hose and yelled at Fred “Get that piece of Germy crap outta here before we all burn up!”, Fred simply sat in silence, ignoring the angry neighbor.

    In the middle of 1987 Fred had decided to start a family, and his first step was to get rid of the danger-prone Ghia he had once admired. At this point the car had been in a second fire, stalled numerous times, the electrics were bugging out, and had one mis-matching tire. At this point Fred had purchased a used near mint Renault Dauphine, excusing such a purchase with “It has 4-doors! See?”.

    The Ghia was purchased by a younger VW fanatic named Jeff who patched it up and used it as a weekend commuter, it served him well up util 2012 when it was in dire need of rust repair amongst numerous other issues.

    Jeff tried desperately to get help from the internet but it was no use, parts were expensive and forum users had no interest in helping an “inferior stock ’74 VW”, so Jeff, facing tickets for having a rust bucket of a car on his property, scrapped what was left of the Ghia.

    Note: I typed this up just as Crabspririts was typing up their contribution, plenty of reading for everyone here!

  • avatar
    VoltOwner

    My KG story is a little long, almost 30 years in fact.

    Back in ’86 I traded a digital tape recorder for a beat up, rusted Karmann Ghia Cabriolet. At the time the DAT deck was worth a lot more than the Ghia, let’s just say that times have changed…

    I began patching the rusty floors, installing the 1500 SP engine that was part of the deal, and learning how to spot bondo in the fenders, there was a _lot_ of it. I met my wife-to-be while working on that car, in fact I told her not to go out with the guy that had a running Ghia, as mine would be running in “six months”. She has yet to even ride in it, much less learn manual in it like we planned.

    Well, 30 years later, it does run, (I can put gas in it and a battery and it will crank right up). The fender with all that bondo has been replaced with a straight one, from a car sitting in the junk yard that was in much better shape that the one here. Still have not gotten it painted, or registered, but I did find the ultra rare convertible top frame in a junk yard, and purchased the hardwood bows and the bushings to make it work right, the glass rear window took a lot longer to find; it was one of my first computers that gave me access to USENET that finally solved that problem. RAMVA! I met up with a guy from all the way across the state to do the deal, we each drove about 200 miles…

    Now it’s a running joke, it’ll be ready to go in six months, if we wanted it to. Most of that would be waiting on a paint shop…

    Meanwhile, I started at least 6 Porsche restorations, and finished them, while all the time thinking that the Ghia would be up “soon”. I learned how to cut and weld fenders on a Porsche, before attempting the repair on the Ghia, the experience paid off, as did the work on the Porsche, when I sold it.

    Just 2 Porsches left before I start finishing the Ghia, I swear.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I always kind of wanted a Karmann Ghia…but owning an old VW seems like a lot of hassle for little enjoyment.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      As someone who’s first car was a ’75 Beetle you’re 100% correct, the most enjoyable thing about that car was watching all of the neighborhood kids yell “Herbie!!” (even though my car was blue), otherwise it was a bit of a pain.

      But I’d still take it over a new Golf-based Beetle.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        A terrible part of me still wants a Squareback or Notchback Type 3 though.

        Any Type 3 would do, they seem more practical and spacious than the Beetle.

        • 0 avatar
          VoltOwner

          You can always dream about the Type 3 Karmann Ghia…

          And do not look into the Type 4 wagon or notch, much roomier, and the Type 4 engine is much more robust. Stay away from any of the auto trans versions of course.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Type 4? VW made a Type 4?

            *looks it up*

            Oh right! THIS is what I want, not the Type 3! But it might be even less common than the Type 3 already is…

          • 0 avatar
            VoltOwner

            “the Type 4 is what I lust after despite all sense, not the Type 3″

            I eventually ended up with a VW-Porsche Type 47. (That’s what it says on the weight info plate.) Says 914 on the back. Handles better than any Type 1, 3 or 4 VW, and it is pretty roomy for a 2-seater, the weight plate says it’s a 2+1 (with the optional center pad and seat-belt).

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          Ex-Type 3 Fastback owner here too, hated the thing.

          Build quality was fine but the car itself was very rust-prone, parts were expensive and rare (VW fan sites were NO help), the automatic was a temperamental joke, electrics were toast, and working on the engine was next to impossible with the opening above being very small.

          Buy a Volvo 120 wagon instead, they’re cheaper and all around better.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          Type 4s still have that engine compartment issue, you also want to weight the front suspension down to assist handling.

          I highly suggest a Porsche 914 instead, more engine space and they’re often had for similar money.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      @NoGoYo

      Have you ever driven a nice air-cooled VW? They are really charming cars. Bags of character, and while certainly not fast they have this willingness and unbreakable feel that is really rather nice.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        I’ve never driven one because, well, they’re not all that common any more…if I knew someone who had one, I probably would ask if I could drive it, just once.

        But man have I heard stories about inability to climb hills and the heater filling the car with gasoline fumes and other such troubles…

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Well, old poorly maintained cars do that sort of thing. They didn’t do those things when they were new, nor do properly maintained or restored ones now. There is a reason VW managed to sell 500K+ a year of the air-cooled cars back in their heyday – they were darned good cars! But they certainly needed more careful maintenance than a typical American boat anchor, so many rapidly declined.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Well the hill climbing thing was due to the low powered engines, not any kind of design flaw…especially in the Type 2s, which weighed more than a Beetle but used the same engines.

        • 0 avatar
          VoltOwner

          “especially in the Type 2s, which weighed more than a Beetle but used the same engines.”

          Type 2 had much lower gears to compensate for the extra weight. Top speed was less, though. Early transporters had a reduction gear at the end of the axels, so the transaxel could use the same gearset as the type 1 and 3. (If you swapped transaxels from a bug to a bus, you got 4 gears in reverse, unless you had the ring gear flipped…)
          Later they got the type 4 engine, tuned for torque and a beefier trans so they were able to get rid of the reduction gears.

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    Kharmann ghias are in that range in my mind where they’re cheap enough I don’t feel bad altering to make it drivable for my size. Still they’re painfully slow but look great. I may end up with one some day…or just buy a used Cayman in a few years and have a fast competent convertible….choices!

  • avatar
    slow kills

    Am I missing something regarding why a reference to Bosch gauges accompanies a pic reading VDO?

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    “Normally, I wouldn’t buy a car clock for my collection without testing it first, but Bosch quartz clocks usually function just fine. When I got it home and hooked it up to 12 volts, it worked perfectly.”

    (I’m with Slow Kills – that’s not a Bosch, it’s a VDO.)

    The VDO in my W115 was DOA from age stripping gears, but admittedly the replacement pull from a same-age car was still working when I sold the thing after having it over a decade, and at nearly 40 years old.

    So even if you were wonky on the brand, it’s still a good clock.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    That’s the ad I asked dearly departed Bertel about, but he said the Karmann ads were a different agency. If only that gorgeous Ghia body could fit on a Golf TDI chassis!

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    I had a Type 3 Squareback , not that bad of a car tho I was always scraping my knuckles doing any kind of maintenance . Don’t remember any problems with electrical or fuel injection and it was a 4 speed – the automatics weren’t so good . No rust at all but I was living in Texas . Wouldn’t recommend a Type 4 – a buddy had a 1974 412 wagon that was a pretty lousy car tho maybe 20 % larger and more comfortable than my Squareback .Parts for the 412 were expensive and hard to get even when it was new , and eventually it caught fire and burned up completely . Back in the seventies had 4 buddies who had Karmann Ghias – all early or mid-sixties models , one in silver and the other three white with red interiors . They seemed way cooler tho likely slower than the later ones . back in the day they would be totalled out by insurance companies because of the coachbuilt bodies . Similar damage would be easily fixed in a Type l or Type 3 with junkyard , bolt-on parts . I recall thinking one of the buddies was crazy when he traded in a nice 1965 Ghia coupe for a similar vintage Bus – now I think the Type 2s , particularly the ones with all the windows , sell for more than the Ghias . The cool , unusual Ghia would be the Type 3 Ghias , never officially imported when new and the first production car with an optional electric sunroof . Very rarely seen anywhere , as they were a sales flop in Europe . When I was young recall seeing them mostly in junkyards .

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    @VoltOwner: The Type 4 may not be as sporty as the 914, but from 1969 onward they apparently shared the same engine…wonder how well 40+ year old fuel injection works.

    • 0 avatar
      VoltOwner

      It works great, just awfully expensive to repair if you don’t do everything yourself. Earliest ones were D-Jet, manifold pressure controlled, those seem to have the best power, especially when combined with the Porsche version of the Type 4 engine, the 2.0. It’s been stroked, bored and has redesigned heads with bigger valves for better flow.(This was eventually put into busses in a de-tuned form, minus the special heads and lightened connecting rods.)
      ’74 and ’75 had L-Jet, air flow controlled, on the 1.8l base model, while the 2.0 kept the D-Jet through ’76. Most of the parts can be found still, but prices have not gone anywhere but up.

      These days, it’s easier, and cheaper to build your own fuel injection system, that’s what I’m doing. Putting in a crank-fire ignition system and a MegaSquirt EFI that can be had for less than the original D-Jet pressure sensor costs these days. Fully programmable too, and designed to work with modern O2 sensors for a closed loop system. The original systems only worked with the engine they were designed for, in open loop.* Any changes like a cam, or big-bore kit would throw it out of whack, and there were no methods of tuning them to work.

      *The L-Jet system being airflow controlled could compensate for a larger displacement, working on bored out 2.0 for example, but still could not compensate for any sort of radical cam. (Later air-cooled busses had L-Jet with an O2 sensor, but that was after the 914 was gone.)

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    I have to give VW credit for equipping what then was a middle-class car with electronic fuel injection ( IIRC the fuel-injection Type 3 came out in 1968 or 1969 ) so early . I am unsure of the differences between the Type 3 injection system and that of the Type 4 , later Type 2 , and 914 version . On my 1970 Squareback , the only issue I remember with the F.I. system was that periodically the screws on the connectors to the injectors would loosen , which was immediately obvious because they would start leaking gas , and the smell was noticable . Easily fixed in seconds , even once at a stoplight that I remember , with a Phillips screwdriver . I guess a clueless or lazy owner could ignore it until the engine caught fire . Also back then independent VW shop mechanics would blame everything on the fuel -injection system because they either didn’t like working on it or didn’t understand it and many Type 3 owners converted to the older , dual carb system .

  • avatar

    “The engine is still intact, and will probably add some crunchiness for The Crusher‘s enjoyment.”

    Air cooled VW engines have magnesium crankcases and aluminum heads. It’s simple to pull the engines, just four bolts. I’d imagine that the value of the non-ferrous metal would make it worthwhile to take the engine out before this makes it to the crusher.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Front bumper looks awfully like Mom’s 71 beetle – was it? I remember seeing these around but Leyland MGB’s seemed to sell more… VW back then was pigeon-holed as slow & noisy but well built.

    After Remembrance has passed can we get something timely on the Kennedy Lincoln?

  • avatar
    -Nate

    So many factual errors here I’m amazed .

    VW’s like all older German Vehicles , were high maintenance but if you kept after then they never , _EVER_ caught fire .

    The base pre smog timing was 10° static BTDC and afforded good power @ 53 HP because the cars were light (and therefore deadly in crashes) along with an honest 35 MPG even when run flat out all the time .

    The EGR was dead simple to disable or , if you cared about emissions , change the hose routing to it only opened under power and thereby didn’t affect driveability one bit .

    The slush box tranny fitted to the TYP III , IV and millions upon millions of Audis and nearly ALL Japanese cars in that era , was the world beating Borg Warner model 35 built under license and almost unkillable as long as you changed the fluid & filter every 40,000 miles and resisted playing with it .

    Ditto the bloody crude Bosh D-jetronic F.I. ~ change the fuel filter and hoses every 12 months and it never ever failed , started up easily in sub zero or 125° temps and gave better power & fuel economy than the carbys did or could.

    Sadly , owners & ‘ enthusiasts ‘ (idiots) always had to touch things that were fine , this invariably led to problems .

    VW only added it to the 1968 > TYP III to make it pass emissions .

    The L-Jetronic F.I. was air flow controlled and so was easily adjusted to increase power and it didn’t care how big a cam was in it either .

    ‘Khias were terribly vented heat and fresh air wise , I had several and hated them all for this reason alone .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    Now that you mention it , I don’t recall any of the people I knew who had air-cooled VWs equipped with the Automatic Stickshift ( a GF had one so equipped and so did a guy I knew ) or another friend’s 1971 automatic Fastback or the friend’s 1974 412 auto who actually had the transmission fail . Meanwhile the 4-speed on my Squareback did go out , recall buying a replacement at a junkyard in the late seventies for maybe fifty dollars . The guy who had the automatic bug switched it to a 4-speed but this may have been because back in the seventies an automatic was considered uncool or maybe unmanly . Drove the GF’s automatic equipped 1971 Bug and actually didn’t find it especially slow but back in the day there were complaints of that .I did find the buddy’s automatic Fastback and the other buddy’s 412 feeling quite sluggish with the automatic .He was a drive -it – til -it drops dead type and was bad about maintenance which may be why his caught fire .

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      The Beetles had an odd three speed manual box with a vacuum operated clutch , those were actually _faster_ than the four speeds Beetles but slush boxes are just so hated no kid will ever admit it .

      About 1/2 of the ” Auto – Stick ” Beetles were made on four speed pans and so had the clutch cable tube already welded in making the conversion a snap once you bought your neighbor’s $200 wreck .

      The ATDC Ign. Timing thing was to reduce NOX emissions and it worked but just killed the performance and the engine too in sort order .

      Before the advent of Gas Station NOX testing , we’d time then to 10° BTDC and add a # 130 main jet ~ they’d haul @$$ and easily pass the tail pipe emissions test of under 400 PPM HC and 2.0 % CO , easily as they were designed to run clean and cheaply too .

      As you mentioned ,the amount of mtce. required killed most of them IMO ~ that and the stupid kiddies always leaving out sheet metal parts and seals essential for cooling ” oh , that’s not important , it runs the same without it , see ? ” .

      Fools , all of them . they same typ of fools who install fart cans now and think/insist the car is faster .

      -Nate


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