Old School Fahrvergnugen!

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Well, the ’72 Beetle is almost road-ready.

The mechanicals mostly are.

The Yeti-abused intake manifold has been repaired; new, non-leaking boots – the correct Solex carburetor installed and adjusted. Some shady electrical connections remedied. She lives!

And has heat! A little PB Blaster on corroded cables and some cleaning got the Beetle’s ductwork viable again.

Now it’s on to the brakes/suspension – which may not need much work; will have to pull wheels and have a look. We shall see.

One nugget of info to pass on to those of you out there who might be interested in fiddling with an old Beetle yourselves. This one – a ’72 – came with an alternator. Not from the factory, though. It was added by the previous owner.

Originally, the car had a generator.

Now, this is an important point. If you want full throttle.

Or the right carburetor.

Here’s the problem: The alternator’s case is wider diameter than the factory gennie’s is. This creates clearance issues with the Solex 34 Pict 3 carburetor. Specifically, with the accelerator pump linkage. It rubs up against the case; the throttle is impeded from opening more than about half way.

The rigged “fix” – what the previous owner did – was to install an offset adapter plate (and use the wrong – smaller – 28 Pict carb). This genius being the same genius who used a hammer to smash off the EGR port on the intake manifold, creating a massive vacuum leak he fixed with an old bolt daubed with RTV.

Sexual chocolate!

Anyhow, the right fix is easy. Just reverse the accelerator pump cam/linkage, then readjust to get the proper geometry. With that done, you get a full stroke without clearance issues – and without mauling the carburetor or the alternator (some geniuses try to obtain clearance by beating on the alternator case).

The car runs great now. Amazingly great.

It starts immediately, despite the absence of a computer and notwithstanding the fact that it’s carbureted. Pulls strong  – well, for a Beetle. Strong enough to be daily-drivable. It maybe could use richer main jetting to account for the ethanol-adulterated “gas” we’re forced to feed it. But that is easily – and cheaply – dealt with.

That is the magnificence of these old jalopies. A teenage kid with teenaged kid resources can deal with one. A new main jet is $5, maybe. A screwdriver and some gumption are all that’s necessary to install it.

This is true of pretty much everything – every system – that makes the Beetle go. Need a new fuel pump? It’s two 13 mm bolts to take out – and the pump costs $20. It is not located in the gas tank. Does not cost $450 for an “assembly” (as is true of the “fuel pump assembly” in my ’02 Nissan Frontier).

One belt. Shim the thing to adjust.

Three quarts of oil – no filter.

Its owner – my apprentice – will have to learn to deal without ABS and traction control, but this will build character as well as driving skills. He will learn all about following distances and skid control. A year from now, he will be a better shoe than probably 90 percent of his classmates – the future Eloi who will passively accept “transportation as a service.”

This makes me happy.

My work is done.

The magnets are in!

I apologize for the delay. Last month I got hit with an overflowing septic tank and had to put off ordering a new batch. But they are here and though not queer are ready for you! All who send in a $20 donation get one.


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  1. 1. I wouldn’t rejet the carb until you get the correct air filter housing on it.
    That chrome housing is causing the carb to run lean, there’s a stand-off space which is supposed to be right above the carb air inlet. That housing sits too low and will lean the carb out. stock air filter housings have the correct stand-off spacing.
    No, a stock housing will not choke out a stock engine excessively.
    Use simple green or any of same type cleaners to soak and clean the horse-hair filter element. Std 30w engine oil works fine.
    `72 may actually be a paper element but I don’t recall for certain.
    Also those carbs are jetted somewhat lean to begin with, thanks to smog law BS. That air filter housing that’s on there now will make it worse.
    2. no need to rejet due to todays fuels, my `70 beetle has no complaints or jetting issues with todays gas. It runs just fine on 87 ethanol. (1600 single-port. PICT 30-1 carb)
    3. get rid of that rubber hose you’re using for vacuum to the vacuum advance on the dist. It’ll allow fuel vapors to collect & condense in the vacuum advance can and eventually destroy the diaphram.
    No, there are NOT reproduction diaphrams available, take care of the one you have.
    A simple fix, get some copper tubing to match the vacuum fitting dia, use a tubing bender and make a full loop in the tubing at the TOP of the tubing where it connects to the carb. That’ll form a water trap and hold any vapor condensation.
    4. DO NOT use the cloth-covered fuel lines that’re currently available for the beetle, they are NOT the same quality as years ago.
    use the std fuel lines such as for your T/A, with good hose clamps.
    If you don’t know how old it is, change it, as in NOW. And get used to changing it every other year, regardless of it’s condition.
    5. that dist appears to be a reproduction version of the early style ‘large can’ vacuum advance distributor. It may not be correct for the PICT 34, which would likely have what’s called the ‘push-pull’ type vacuum advance. This would be a vacuum advance with two hose fittings on it.
    check the L / H intake casting and see if there’s a vacuum fitting on the top corner towards the cylinder head. If so, that’s an indication of what the car originally had and if that carb is correct for the car, you’d need the carb body ID number to find out what actual distributor number would be correct for that carb.
    It is surprising how many different dist- carb combinations there are for air-cooled VW, and it is critical, especially for those engines to survive in the summer heat.
    Whats on that car now is correct for a carb like mine, but it may not be correct for a PICT -34.

  2. “some geniuses try to obtain clearance by beating on the alternator case”
    I’ve dealt with the aftermath of said genius more than once, gotta love those ‘wtf’ moments when fixing cars.
    The driver’s seat in my roadmaster was so broken I had difficulty comprehending how it could be done without wrecking the vehicle. All four floor mount brackets were cracked, the cross brace (behind the shoulders) was bent close to 90 deg., headrest was fubar, the seat track was loose, and the hinge pin for the recline was sheared off. Wondering if a couple of 300+ pounders were making sweet love in there lol.

  3. As a former VW mechanic, it’s good to see hose clamps on the fuel lines – so many fires started without.

    With the brakes, it will be a wonder if everything from the backing plates outward are not in need of replacement. Yet, be of good cheer, all that stuff is real cheap, and builds character. Especially fitting new brake lines to replace the rusted!

    And, always a good idea to replace the windshield washer tubing – all of it – before it pees on your pants while you’re going to work.

  4. Love it! I see a Beetle (not sure what year) parked in the parking lot here at work quite often. I’d love to have an early 70’s daily driver of some sort. I plan to do just that when my 15 year old daughter takes my 05 Stratus (still going strong). I have a 71 Charger, but it’s a fully restored numbers matching show car, so I really only drive it on the nicest days.

    • Hi Aljer,


      VW apparently made the switch in late ’72, so this car was one of the last of them. Somewhere along the line, an owner upgraded it – but instead of properly making accommodations for the carb/linkage, just mauled the the thing like a possum chewing a half-dead rat!

      • eric, I hope they’re simpler than my new lawnmower. When I bought it I wondered outloud how long that “feature” of switching the key back to a position causing a light to come on indicating you could now reverse it…..with the blades engaged would last. I found out this spring when the alternator had to run so hard it burned the contacts out of the amp gauge. Evidently that had something to do with the “magic” switch. I haven’t bothered to figure it out so I just turn off the blades and back up.

        I’m actually a good lawnmower mechanic to the extent I’ll do what it takes to make it work. As I get older and lawnmowers get more complex, what it often involves is using my aluminum ramps to load that fucker in the pickup and drop it off. The next time I see it I have a bill, sometimes a hefty one, but it works.
        When the switchkey has multiple positions and indicator lights after you go through the proper sequence that sucks. The wife never figured this out and has suspicions I’m involved in its new inability to reverse with the blades turned on. I am in that I don’t care enough to take it in to be fixed. What do I know about magic switches with lighted “soft” buttons? But it had a Kohler non-Ca. emissions engines and a good hefty deck and a seemingly good hydrostatic transmission that operates from a lever and not the damn foot pedals. I’ve already done more work on it that I did in the life of our John Deere with a Kawasaki single cylinder 19 hp engine for decades that was stolen…..and I’d kill the a=hole who stole it if I could find him….and I know who he is…..but he has “cop” protection. That’s about right.
        I’ve had the self-righteous tell me I should get a good pushmower. No shit, and I can tie them to it and let them pull or push, their choice, that fucker over 12.7 acres of sand and bull nettle and cactus and mesquite trees. If I could afford a Kubota I’d find out who has my shredder and use it on the yard too. Neither feat seems doable these days.

        • BTW, that reverse feature was “for the chilluns”. Oh, and I forgot, 3/4 of an acre is water. I’ll just tie a rope on them and the mower and drag it all across. I’m in a bloody mood tonight I guess but it goes along with the near death experience at work today…..pissed me off deluxe. Stupid grader operator……grrrrrrr


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