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Speedster jobs list
Ok, first off, forgive the long post! There’s a lot to discuss, and the more info I give out, the more help and experience I get back, so I welcome all comments (useful, sarcastic or otherwise!)

So, having checked most of the car over since I got it home the other week (and had a major oil leak to deal with), here is a start of a long list of jobs for the winter, in order of priority to:
1. make it safe
2. make it reliable
3. make it desirable

First off, the leaking oil cooler hose was fixed on Friday after picking up new hoses (thanks to Hyphose in Portsmouth for copying the old hoses). I’ve added more P-clips to better route the pipes more securely to avoid hitting the exhaust. I’ve also re-used some heat shield wrap as well for key areas.

Before I discuss other tasks, it’s funny how you often find one problem leads to another, because one shortcut for an old fix created a knock-on effect by fixing one problem only to create another.. I must admit I’ve been guilty of that in the past, either through lack of money, or time or just laziness! I’ve learnt the hard way that, at least for classic cars, do it once and do it right - its so much easier and cheaper in the long run.

Second main task is steering/suspension. Currently it’s far too stiff AND vague, so it’s a bit like a novice steering a barge down a canal, or ten pin bowling with the bumpers up.. Steering is nothing, nothing, over-correct left, nothing, nothing, over-correct right!

The steering box is covered in oil/grease, so whilst it’ll be ok for the very short term, I would like to fix this with new seals if possible, before filling with fresh grease. Is this possible? Is the steering box OEM? It looks like it to me.


Even a quick adjustment over the weekend has made for a vast improvement in reducing play. I took the steering damper off whilst checking this so that didn’t affect the tests.

Another problem is the steering column - the shaft itself is slightly bent so rubs on the column/tube once every rotation. So I need to straighten the steering shaft. I may also have to widen the hole in the bulkhead because I think it was cut slightly askew.

I’ve now relearnt a lesson I’d forgotten from my early Beetle ownership 30 years ago - removing the fuel tank makes life a LOT easier for any front end work! Last night I managed to straighten the steering shaft by literally putting the boot in - climbing inside and putting some weight on the high part of the shaft (I call it the shaft because it’s the inside part of the steering ‘column’, which I think of as the outside tube the shaft resides in). I then replaced the old urethane rag joint/ steering coupler with a rubber OEM version - much better!


Finally , I managed to properly locate the rubber grommet between the bulkhead and steering column - this was previously a bit bodged. I think I’ll still have to bore out the bulkhead hole, but that’s something to do in the depths of winter.

This brings me on to another problem - the last owner was 6’4” (I’m 5’7”) and he had the steering column shortened to cope with his long arms. This puts the steering lock/ignition key back inside the dash, which has had to be cut out to accommodate this.


This makes starting the car a real pain, needing a cack-handed way of holding the key to turn it. And even if I extend the steering column or buy an original column, I’ve then got a large hole in the dash to disguise.. I’d like to take the ignition switch and move it to the dash, but that would lose me the steering lock. Ahh, decisions, decisions! Perhaps keep the ignition switch and simply have a starter button on the dash? That would remove the need to twist the key past the ‘on’ position. This is low priority for now, though. I can put up with the occasional finger twiddling to get her started (ooh matron!)

I’m pretty sure the car has drop spindles - see pic below - running on 15” x 5.5 chromed Fuchs and the lower ball joint is almost touching the rim. If be grateful if anyone can confirm this from the pictures alone.


It’s also got torsion bar adjusters (the less easy ‘Avis’ option, of course). It all looks in good condition, I just need to get a spanner and enough brute force on the adjusters to get the nuts undone to lower the front. The limited access due to the body shell will make this more tricky, but it’s still achievable. I would like to drop the car another inch to get rid of the tyre/wheel arch gap and to level up the car compared to the currently nose up attitude.

Can I say a great thank you to this site in general and to all contributors in particular? Thanks for all your postings to date on this site - it’s a great source of experience and expertise, and I've learnt a lot in a very short time. Having a decent search function makes a HUGE difference - so thanks to all admins and devs behind the scenes.

I’ll make sure I get everything with a grease nipple suitably greased up, and I’ll try and check the ball joints - although the car is on axle stands and so the front end is unweighted, the ball joints look decidedly skewed. I’ll check this once the car is back on the ground again. It'll probably be ok, I'm just used to OEM, unmodified Beetles.

I think there’s a problem with scrub radius as well - but that’s down to the drop spindles and disc brake conversion, plus the wider tyres - 195/55/15 tyres placed further away from the steering axis means that, even with a perfectly smooth and frictionless steering wheel to track rod end movement, there will be increased friction. So, narrower tyres should help (185/60/15?), as will higher tyre pressures, but I think I can only do so much, if I want to keep lowered suspension with disc brakes and a Fuchs alloys.. Which I do!

I know I’m probably teaching most of you to suck eggs here, but I found this website  which has a clear ‘Plain English’ calculator to compare changes, but for now I’ve no clear measurements on what extra offset I have due to discs, hub, wheels etc - to be honest I don’t care as long as the steering is bearable and not placing undue strain on the whole setup.

I’ve got a friendly manager of a local tyre/ exhaust fitting franchise who I will sweeten up with a few beers to see if he can help me with the no doubt multiple attempts to get the geometry right. Or at least get me a good deal on 4 narrower tyres - to my mind, 195-wide tyres are overkill for a Speedster, even a hotted up one (I fully expect to be shot down for this attitude - each to their own). I don’t want the car to ‘corner on rails’ - that’s part of the fun of driving old cars - you have narrower tyres and the limit is (hopefull) more manageable once reached :-)

Anyway, enough of geometry, steering and tyres.

As you can see from these pics, the larger diameter exhaust is rubbing away the fibreglass (fiberglass) - this is tricky because I can’t move the engine in relation the body and vice versa. I think I’ll have to throw this problem to the local exhaust specialists I will be seeing about the improved muffler/silencer, and see what they suggest.


Also, back at the front end, the fuel filter looks clogged with dirt/rust. The fuel filter in the engine bay was also dirty - a consequence of the car being used very little over the last couple of years. This sediment is no doubt contributing to the rough running of the twin 40 Dellorto DRLAs. So I presume I will need to clean the tank and fuel filters as well as blow the fuel lines through. I will probably replace all fuel hoses because the high ethanol content in petrol is not good for hoses that may well be 22 years old.


I’ll try and redesign the path of the fuel hose underneath the tank - the shut off valve from the tank is good so I can access the fuel filter more easily, but the filter location is low so all the fuel will drain towards it, and I feel it’s kind of aligned the wrong way, increasing the amount of fuel lost when things are disconnected. I can see it’s got a Facet electric fuel pump. Given Dellorto DRLAs apparently are susceptible to fuel pressure, will it make sense to fit a pressure regulator?

Gearbox - looks very oily!


It’s an AH (4.125 final drive ratio) and with a 1914cc engine I’d like to get some better cruising speed, so will look for a 3.88 R&P and maybe a .89 4th gear, as per @edsnova and @Gordon Nichols advice on that (thanks). I’ll get it cleaned off shortly and see where any further leaks come from.

So, the initial to-do list is:

Engine/ drivetrain

  • Quieten exhaust system - important so I don’t become the noisy neighbour that everyone hates
  • Better heat insulation between exhaust and oil cooler pipes/engine bay
  • Check valve clearances
  • Compression test
  • Clean out fuel lines, filters and Dellorto DRLA 40 carbs (they’re filthy!)
  • Add fuel pressure regulator?
  • Clean/renovate fuel tank
  • Replace all fuel hoses (they’re most likely 22 years old)
  • Oil filler cap and top tube - replace filler top because the current one is holed and leaking (looks like a Type 2 version to fit the Porsche fan conversion setup)
  • Replace pushrod tubes (lot of oil leaking from these)
  • Upgrade distributor (hopefully get better spark/timing for the stroker engine)
  • Fix tinware and seals to reduce gaps (it’s a bit of a mishmash in the engine bay, to be honest)
  • Renovate/respray fibreglass fan shroud (it’s got black over red paint, both of which are nasty)
  • Clean gearbox of oil and check for leaks
  • Get gearbox renovated with higher gearing for easier cruising

Suspension/ steering/ brakes

  • Raise rear suspension around an inch (luckily the IRS has adjustable rear spring plates!)
  • Lower front suspension about an inch, to give level or slight nose down attitude (using the Avis adjusters)
  • Check/replace brake pipes and hoses - they’re old
  • Fix leaking steering box
  • Straighten steering shaft - it chafes on the column
  • Replace urethane steering coupling with oem rubber - done
  • Brake hoses rubbing on tyres when on full lock - yikes!
  • Get tracking sorted - once car lowered and steering etc sorted
  • Possibly replace 195/55/15 tyres with 185/60/15, or even 175??


  • Re-upholster seats to repair split in drive seat and sort messy carpet backs
  • Add heated pads to seats and wire in to electrics
  • Add usb charger socket under dash for phone/TomTom charging
  • Add immobiliser (fob?) for security
  • Remove all carpets/flooring, check for floor pan rust
  • Add sound insulation where appropriate
  • Change carpet from red deep pile to light grey/beige square weave
  • Add rubber step mats to door sills
  • Replace fixed seatbelts with inertia reel belts
  • Fix dash brow and dash covering - it’s messily done and looks shabby
  • Replace side window rubbers where the windows sit on the doors


  • Replace knackered horn with air horn - will have to add a relay for this
  • Most of wiring loom looks messy, some is poorly crimped (wires pulling out of connectors) , most wires appear too thin (need to check this) - don’t want a fire risk for the sake of some slightly thicker wire, so will look at upgrading wire and soldering all connections over time

So, not too much to do over winter! I’ll update here as I work through the list with anything interesting. Any thoughts appreciated as always. Thanks for reading if you've persevered this far!




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Original Post

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Weekend update:

Fuel filter - took it apart this afternoon. What a mess!


Whilst I was there I blew out the fuel line to the back and cleaned the rear filter too.

Suspension - I managed to drop the front end more easily than expected, although I only dropped the lower beam a notch, which was enough. I also raised the back end a fraction. Luckily, because it had adjustable spring plates, it was a simple matter of spraying the screw adjuster with some penetrating oil, a bit of a tap with the hammer to free it up and then use a 7mm allen key to wind the screw to adjust the height.


Seeing as I didn't have a 7mm allen key, I remembered the spindle of screwdriver bits are 7mm, so I used one of these that fits sockets, and used a spanner to get the necessary leverage.


So, in between rainstorms, I took the car out for 5 minutes and the steering was much better, as was the engine with no dirt in the carbs! THe only problem I had was a temp gauge that immediately went to the max as soon as I turned on the ignition. After searching on this site, it became clear it was a bad earth, so I fiddled with the wires and managed to sort that too. Happy days!


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"I think there’s a problem with scrub radius as well - but that’s down to the drop spindles and disc brake conversion, plus the wider tyres - 195/55/15 tyres placed further away from the steering axis means that, even with a perfectly smooth and frictionless steering wheel to track rod end movement, there will be increased friction. So, narrower tyres should help (185/60/15?), as will higher tyre pressures, but I think I can only do so much, if I want to keep lowered suspension with disc brakes and a Fuchs alloys.. Which I do!"@South Coast Martin (UK)

I have the fake Fuchs  15" x 5.5 (5x130 bolt pattern) and front drop spindles. As for tires, I am running 185 x 60 x15. The 55 series tire is too low of a sidewall and will be such a rough ride. I run the 185 x 60 tires with front pressure at 20psi and rear tire pressure at  22psi. It provides a smoother ride without rattling teeth out of your head.


I like the more aggressive stance the drop spindles and 185x60 tires give. However, the geometry combination of the drop spindle (which widens your track by 5/8" on each side) and 4.5" wheel offset does give the car a wider turning radius as well as noticeable understeer . Hope this info is helpful! 

Look forward to following your upgrade projects! 


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Looks like you have a good handle on things. It is fun working on old cars. It feels good when your cruising around, knowing that you've had your hands on every nut and bolt.

BTW, when you straighten your steering shaft, inspect it very very carefully. That crush cage has a tendency to fatigue and fail. During the Tour De Smo, yesterday, one of the gang had his completely fail in the parking lot of the hotel, just after some very spirited driving on some tight and twisty mountain roads. He got very lucky.

@Alan Merklin makes some very good points concerning this item.

Yes carefully inspect the column crush cage they tend to break welds from upward pressure dur to incorrect mounting to dash  ( you column up into the dash may be a major issue)   Red steering rag joint get rid of it and use a German OEM black rubber one .Fuel filter use a " Gold / NAPA metal filter (no glass or plastic) Steering box , I would just replace it with a new unit.  The exhaust needs to be wrapped or very soon the fiberglass will catch fire and you list will become invalid .   Seriously your list looks good ...carry on !

Good list and a good car. You've got an independent rear suspension so the car should handle very well once it's tuned up.

I think you said you want to get rid of those headers but if you don't—or if the next set of pipes also gets close to the body parts—get you some of that stick-on heat insulation and apply it to the fiberglass. I bought a roll almost a decade ago and affixed it to the rear splash pan of my MG TD replica, just above the muffler, which was burning the glass. Never a problem since.

I got some more recently for my Spyder's aluminum underpan project. Not strictly required there but the originals had something like it so why not. 

Thanks guys for all your tips. Regarding the steering wheel, I may well look for a 'normal sized' standard column. My understanding is the previous owner got a garage to 'cut and shut' the shaft to shorten the whole thing by a few inches. Fine if done well, scary if not. I don't mind the current steering position - for some reason it suits my 5'7" frame quite nicely. I'll check over the crush cage closely for any sign of cracking etc.

@edsnova - I was thinking along the same lines as you regarding heat insulation foil/shielding. For now I've wedged some old heat cloth between the exhaust and body and have ordered some new stuff to do similar to what you've done to your Spyder.

@MusbJim - thanks for the vote on 185/65/15 tyres. I know my Toyo Proxes are almost brand new but I'll sell them on because it's not worth being unhappy with the car for the sake of a new set of tyres (v cheap compared to the overall cost of the car!). And not for one minute was I claiming my wheels are original Fuchs - I thought on a replicar site, it's implicit that they're 'fake Fuchs'! I originally thought I'd prefer steel wheels and dome caps, but the alloys are growing on me every day - the chrome goes well with the black body.

@Alan Merklin I see what you mean about no glass/plastic fuel filter! I'll look for a metal Napa equivalent in the UK.

And here are some pics of the front brake hoses. Not sure when they were fitted but whoever did it obviously didn't bother to check safety! On the right side (shown) when the steering is turned full to the right the braided hose rubs on the tyre. And ditto for the left tyre when turned full left.

I presume a better way would be to have a copper hose from the brake caliper to somewehere near the pivot point, then a flexi hose to the chassis, reducing the range of flex needed? Can anyone post some pictures of a safer setup for reference, please?


So much for our MOT certificate (roadworthiness) - I'd have failed this, ditto for the oil coller pipes resting on the hot exhaust..


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  • tigermoth66_brakehose1: Right wheel, steering full left
  • tigermoth66_brakehose2: Right wheel, steering centered
  • tigermoth66_brakehose3: Right wheel, steering full right

Carlos mentioned this earlier and with some of the previous discussion earlier on steering I would like to add. If you have one of these crush baskets incorporated in your steering column...GET RID OF IT.

I drove the SMO with are small band of eager curve seekers for two days and on the second day I turned into the parking lot the steering wheel spun like a roulette wheel in my hand. It's Monday AM and I have since then relived the what if's of every mile driven, me going over a cliff but more discerning is me injuring someone else.

The steering on my car was checked by me before our departure from home and everything was tight,straight and aligned. I believe what happened is that with all the hard driving this column (coupling) was working very hard and was heated and it finally broke.

I've attached some photos and the maps were done by Carlos and the run was like a well catalogued play list. Thanks Carlos.

Anyway I'm walking and talking and will be able to celebrate another Birthday and perhaps see everyone in Carlisle.IMG_7299IMG_7300IMG_7301IMG_7302


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Thanks for that warning Mike. I guess it goes hand in hand with the increased fatigue of (typically) increased scrub radius overloading the 50 year old steering components, and driving the car in a way an old standard Beetle would rarely be driven. You were indeed a lucky guy that day. As per my original list at the top, No. 1 priority is to make the car safe. So this has just moved to the top of the list alongside the chafing brake hoses.

More electrical gremlins today. I’ve lost my dash lights. Looks like a bad earth similar to the oil temp gauge so I’m working my way through the dash and all instruments to check the wiring.


One question, if I may. How do I disconnect the Speedo cable from the speedo unit? It's not like any connection I’ve seen before. It has a white plastic latch sleeve kind of thing, which I’ve managed to undo, but cable won’t pull out after that, and there doesn’t look to be any kind of thread. 

Is more brute required, or some kind of ninja technique that I haven’t got? I’ve googled speedo cable disconnect but can’t find what I need. Many thanks in advance!


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AFAIK it just pulls straight out. Every speedo I've ever seen is just a square cable into a square hole. Make sure you're pulling it straight out and it should come out with little effort.

Looking at your pic again, that galvanized sleeve may have a little corrosion underneath it. A smal blast of some PBlaster or Seaform DeepCreep (or whatever anti-corrosion agent you have) may be in order. VDO gauges have a threaded cap that holds the cable in place. Once you unscrew that, the cable just slips right out of the speedo. 

Last edited by dlearl476

Well, the dash lights problem turned out to simply be an old dodgy light switch, so I cleaned up the contacts using contact cleaner and compressed air, and that was that. Sorted.

As for the oil temp gauge reading maximum as soon as I turned on the ignition.. Well, this is embarrassing, but the car has a dipstick temp sensor, and I’d obviously disconnected and reconnected the feed and earth the wrong way round on the dipstick! Problem solved. :-)

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