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Humble October 18th 2012 00:34

Joy... of Building and Driving
So I've gone and got myself a new project car. Not my first choice in year, I was looking for a 75 super, but this was a rescue as much as a purchase. A few weeks ago an older couple came by our BLTN VW club meet looking for a buyer for their 71 super beetle. I jokingly said yes but after giving the bug a quick once over and getting some history I arranged a purchase. Turns out if they couldn't find a buyer, they were going to sell it to the state, to a program that crushes gross polluters and pays up to $1000 for old cars. Glad I happened to be at the right place at the right time.

The older couple were the original owners, and the bug is damn near rust free and looks great in the usual suspect areas. In 41 years, it's never left California, or the SF Bay area, and hasn't had any accidents. It's on it's 3rd engine rebuild and 2nd tranny, and I have all service records going back to 1981. The fenders are a little dinged up from street parking in SF and Oakland but not too terribly.

I've decided to call her Joy, because I can't stop smiling behind the wheel, and that's what this hobby is all about. All the shocks are blown, the springs are tired she's floaty as hell and a sketchy drive at highway speed, but the front ball joints are in surprisingly good condition. I let a couple of friends test drive her as stock, and neither one of them could stop laughing or smiling.

I've already started the modding process, small but it's a start. I replaced the rear view mirror and the visor clips because they had just dry rotted. I also replaced the stock shifter with an empi hurst-style for the time being. I love those shifters and have one in the race bug too.

I'm not sure how extreme I want to build this bug since it's in such good shape. I'm definitely thinking sti power though and just bought the subamount through a group buy.

Suspension will be mendeola rears with a stiffy brace, and the front will be either mendeola double a-arm or race bug hand-me-downs toned down for street use.

Hubs and brakes will be setup for 4x100 and I'm going to piece together a complete wilwood brake setup with 4-pots, 11.75" rotors, aluminum rotor hats and possibly their pedal assembly.

Wheels will be 15x7 or 15x8 to lower the cost of tires, and I plan on running aggressive street rubber or r-comps.

Interior will be minimalist but funtional, racing style buckets, rear seat delete, classic nardi 3 spoke wheel, black head liner (not sure about vinyl or black tweed), simple 911 rs door pulls and probably a hidden stereo.

Exterior color is still undecided. In the running is Ford Grabber Blue (M7210), Porsche Signal Green (2D8), Porsche Orange (8C6), and lastly a Herbie tribute gone german look VW Pearl White (L87) with Herbie stripes and decals. The only reason Herbie tribute is in there is I can't shake the idea of Herbie goes drifting, or Herbie goes to the track and stomps some new cars in style. All colors with get matte black bumpers and trim with a paint matched kamei spoiler.

My list is still coming together but as I find parts and suppliers I'll be adding them here so other folks can do the same. Once I get the brake system sorted out, if there's any interest I might throw some kits together for sale, or post the details so you can build it yourself.

chug_A_bug October 22nd 2012 23:53

Looks like a Fun little project... just have have with Joy and keep the pics Coming.

STI power Sound Great.. maybe AWD too ;)


Humble October 23rd 2012 22:34

I don't think I'll be going AWD, I think it spoils a lot of the driving "sharpness" from rwd cars. My daily is an 07 mazdaspeed 3, still stock if you can believe it, and while I love the power, it lacks the more precise nature that my 04 bmw 330 had. I loved driving my old street bug project Mojo, but I never really dialed in the suspension. I'm going to try and keep things as simple as possible.

I've been re-reading my build threads, dredging up old successes and failures I had forgotten about, but also a lot of dreams and ideas I didn't get around to. Taking lessons from my other cars I think I'm going to start simple then progress through each step, even though certain parts might go through multiple iterations.

I'm going to divide like this:

stock motor - reliability
exterior - new front and rear glass, all new seals, blackout trim, kamei spoiler
brakes & wheels - upgrade to disks and 15" 4x100 wheels
suspension - custom or sourced coilover front, front sway bar, mendeola rear
interior - steering wheel, rear seat delete, seats, stereo and speakers, panels
motor/trans - subaru motor and trans swap, stock wrx or sti to start
brakes & wheels - 4 pot wilwoods and 11.75" slotted rotors, more wheels
suspension - re-evaluate coilovers, rack & pinion swap
paint - a real paint job

Humble April 9th 2013 13:41

Alright, updates are on their way! I've been stock piling parts over the winter and found a bunch I'd forgotten about, so Joy is getting a suspension/brake overhaul this week. She's also getting a new set of wheels and tire but you'll have to wait until the end to see those ;)

Here's what I've accumulated:
disk brake swap
SS braided brake lines
flip-it tie rod conversion
new lower ball joint
new tie rods
new idler arm
new steering damper
new camber+ eccentric adjusters
new 7/8" sway bar
new lowered castor fix sway bar bushings
new control arm sway bar bushings and hardware
new coil over kit and front springs
old kamei front air dam

disk brake swap
SS braided brake lines
new pivot and spring plate bushings
take-off kyb shocks from the race bug
944T torsion bars from the race bug

Also on the horizon is blacking out the trim, handles, and headlight rings, and new window seals and maybe new windows.

I'll already started the work, rear disks are on but calipers aren't mounted yet. Since this bug is a CA car that has never left the SF bay area, everything is coming off so smoothly. I can see why folks want CA cars so badly!

cookvw April 9th 2013 23:00

so whats the plans for the power plant? maybe swap in the race bug motor once you get the sweet wrx motor in and running?

also before i forget, i know its not really for this topic, but what spring rates you got on your race bug?

Humble April 9th 2013 23:58

I'm very tempted to toss in the race motor, trans, fuel system and all... IF I can't find a buyer for it. I want to try and sell the motor and trans to do another subaru swap, most likely an ej20 setup. We'll see if i can be that patient.

On the race bug I'm running 300# up front and 550# in back, but the back is still too soft. I'm going to swap out for a 625#or 650# spring depending on what I can find.

coolrydes April 12th 2013 01:05

We also offer a kit that allows a 5 speed Subaru trans to be installed into a type one pan.....

owdlvr April 12th 2013 15:03


Originally Posted by Humble (Post 86034)
I'm very tempted to toss in the race motor, trans, fuel system and all... IF I can't find a buyer for it. I want to try and sell the motor and trans to do another subaru swap, most likely an ej20 setup. We'll see if i can be that patient.

On the race bug I'm running 300# up front and 550# in back, but the back is still too soft. I'm going to swap out for a 625#or 650# spring depending on what I can find.

Be sure to post up how the new springs out back feel. I too have been considering moving up to a 625-650 range. Maybe I'll let you spend the development money first ;-)


spannermanager April 12th 2013 15:45

Guys, im stunned at the road spring pressures you guys are quoting, lb/ins yes? race trucks run circa 800 front, i prep a few Porsche cup cars, they run 250 fronts, are we talking 2.25 in/dia race springs here? or the popular small dia 1.9 inchers? , as they comparably do need higher rates obviously, whats the handling trait that needs those high rates?, it must be like driving on ice traction wise.

owdlvr April 12th 2013 16:14

I can't speak for humble, but I'm running 2.5" springs, 8" tall. Current setup is 550lbs, and I would switch to a 550-650 progressive if anyone made one in the lengths I need (9" or shorter). You can't compare a long travel softly sprung race truck to a short travel setup.

Handling is quite good on my ride, as is the traction. It handles bumps and road surfaces without feeling like a skateboard, and on a regular "hard run" over the mountains I'm using about 80% of the total available travel. Zero crazy handling traits. On dry pavement it's extremely neutral (almost disappointingly so). On wet pavement when pushing, it will start to exhibit early warnings of oversteer, without actually braking loose. You just feel that you're on the limit and should be careful if pushing harder. Snow and gravel exhibit an extremely comfortable oversteer condition, one can drive the car with the steering wheel or the throttle, depending on preference.

Where I have issues is in sharp compressions. On one of my popular mountain routes, for instance, there is a very slight downhill section into a bridge. The bridge is perfectly level, and at speed it's a hard compression into the bridge. The rear will go through all the travel, onto the bumpstops, and then the rear breaks loose quite unpredictably. Heavy compressions while rallying on gravel have also caused the rear suspension to hit the bumpstops. This is why I'd like a progressive spring vs going with a straight-weight heavier spring.

- 300lb springs (which was determined as "the starting point" in another thread on spring rates) resulted in my car blowing through all the travel to the bumpstops. without engine or glass installed
- 550lb springs require about 10mm of preload for the car to sit at my chosen ride height.


spannermanager April 13th 2013 09:14

Hi Dave, yes, i ran 300 lb rears in a successful rally-cross 1303, i had to run double shocks to control those consistently, it was heavier on the rear than yours would be too, being water cooled and 5 speed 4w/d trans system, it would pick up mud as added weight also, but i see you do plenty of that also lol, maybe your shocks are fading out....
i see your springs are only 8", maybe the suspension range is too short, the secondary behavior on depressions is typical unloading forces, either too slow on high speed re bound damping or, as you suggested, bottoming out and rapid unloading, maybe its going coil bound?. whatever, those spring rates require some careful damper matching, i would try more rebound damping before going up on spring rate, you must be nearing the point of loosing traction to a stiff set up option, mine broke my neck away from the lights with traction, and i had softer springs for the rain, but they became redundant as the added mud dragged the ride height down too much, but they worked well on wet tarmac circuits with no mud. just a few of my thoughts and findings for you, keep up racing it often mate....

Humble April 14th 2013 01:10

coolrydes, I saw that on the STF and I love how you do the front mount. any chance on getting a front mount and shift coupler for some racing r&d? ;)

spannermanager, my setup is pretty much race only, it CAN be driven on the street, but you might not WANT to for very long. I also run 8" tall 2.5" coils on the rear 550# and 300# in front. I race on very wide, sticky, semi-slicks and corner well over 1g lateral. Also, as a circuit/autox car, she sits low so I don't have much travel, maybe 3-4" of compression if I had to guess. When I'm on the throttle coming out of a corner I'm lifting the inside front more than I should be. I've played with damping but I'm still not happy with it. I think the front might be too soft still because the rear end skips on hard engine braking, which makes we think too much weight is going forward.

Humble May 30th 2013 14:21

Joy... has been kind of a pain in my side lately. I forgot what a hassle swapping out the bushings can be. At any rate, bring on the pics!

New discs all around, dual drilled 4x130 and 4x100, this really saved my bacon later.

Best tool ever, and since I never get to use it I had to take a pic

I think we've seen these pics 100 times now, off with the drums, pulling drum hardware, and putting the new discs in place.

I didn't do the rear bushings at the time because I had the idea I was going to finish it in time to hit the usual thursday meet... nope! On to the front!

Pulling the drum, so far everything going like clockwork

Drums off, new caliper brackets on and that's as far as I got that night.

Since I didn't make the meet, the next day I just pulled the whole front out to replace everything.

Again, it's unbelievable how easily everything is coming apart, gotta love Cali cars!

I found these in an unopened box in the garage, receipt said 03/08, didn't think it was that long ago. Not really a freebie, but a nice gift from a past project.

Put it all together as close to the original as possible, to cut down alignment headaches later

Back together with the old shocks and some way-too-soft lower springs, so I can get her on the ground and rolling again.

At this point, even though the rear wasn't lowered I was anxious to get the new wheels and tires on. I got a set of 15x7 flat black rota rb's (et25) with new direzza z2's but when I went to put them on they didn't clear the lower spring seat. I spaced them out to et 10 with spacers and when I lowered the car the lower ball joint scraped on the rim. Got them down to et 5 and the barrels and tape weights would hit the steering balljoint when turning. I wanted to cry. A friend of mine came up, loved the wheels and traded me his with some cash. They are 16x8 et5 with direzza z1's and I think they are the same wheels cookvw is using. At the time all I had was the stock wheels so I went back to those, and had a bit of a laugh the stock steelies with spline drive tuner lugs.

Humble May 30th 2013 16:20

I wad a bit of a work stoppage for a while because the motor on the air compressor died. We got it used many years ago, and it gets regular use at the house. Once I got a new one from amazon, it was clear how bad the old one sounded.

First job for the revitalized air compressor? Clearancing the new coilover sleeves, to fit over the new strut housings from topline parts. Actually, I think most of the suspension parts came from topline, good guys and fast shipping. Anyhow, not much material needed to be removed and I only removed enough to slide the sleeves over the strut bodies.

The new lowering struts use rabbit inserts so I got koni 8641-1048SPORT adjustable struts (same ones in the race bug). They do need a little prep before dropping them in the tubes.

I cut the nub off the end thinking that the struts would center in the bottom of the tubes with the topline centering ring but that was not the case. If I did it again I would leave the nub on the bottom of the strut.

Since the centering ring didn't work, I did it the old school way by wrapping the tube in vinyl tape and test fitting until it was tight. The koni comes with a top collar/centering ring which goes on next on the top of the strut body before you slip it into the tube.

Once I dropped the strut down I realized it was sitting too low. When I spun the retaining nut on it dipped to low and it was hard to tighten. I took the topline centering ring, and dropped it on top as a spacer which was just about perfect.

Here's the finished results, not too shabby!

Humble May 30th 2013 19:12

Still more updates, Joy has been busy!

Now it was finally time to toss the new coilovers on and get the ride height set initially. Which I forgot to take any pics of :P I then started on the back of the car again to swap out all the bushings.

I remembered it being easy doing the last set of rear bushings and now I know why. When you do the first side it's a pain in the ass, it takes forever, and nothing wants to go your way. Then you do the other side, it goes fast because now you know all the tricks to popping the bushings in/out, the order in which parts need to go off/on, and you spend less time wrestling with stuff. That's the part you always remember.

I just wish I had remembered to grab the camera while I was doing the rear bushings. The rear got new urethane pivot and spring plate bushings, as well as new kyb shocks. I also swapped out the torsion bars for 944 23.5mm bars and set the unloaded angle at 14 degrees. That seemed like a good ride height, but I'll have to do some driving to see if that's okay.

So here she is now with the new setup, this was taken before the rear settled so it's a little high. I grabbed some pics of the wheel clearance to show how tight it is.

There's a fair amount of poke and I ordered new 2" wider fenders all around. After these photos were taken I tried pulling the fenders and rolling the lips but its still not even close.

Finally, I swapped steering wheels a while ago but never updated with pics, so here's the new nardi wheel wrapped in suede.

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