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Hello everyone.  I bought a 2017  speedster with only 3 thousand miles but is been in the shop more time than my garage.  From the starter,brakes,oil lines leaks,and coolant leaks.  Ive spent over $3,000 so far in repair work. I thought these VW engine were supposed to be reliable . Has anyone experienced issues like this?

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I think a big part of a 60 year old VW air cooled Speedster Madness hobby is self-maintaining them.  Unlike a real Porsche it uses simple, inexpensive parts - the labor can be a killer as is finding a competent shop. There are several good DIY books and it doesn't take many tools -- if you have time and desire.

Old VW joke is "if it isn't leaking oil and marking its trail, it must be out of oil". 

Ouality of parts is a big issue - and is driving many to more modern engines like the Subaru water cooled engines which are water cooled, computer managed, EFI and low maintenance/high longevity. 

See related image detail

Newish VW motor - if the old beetle is air cooled that would still be a 1976 weak HP smogged (Cat converter) FI engine.  1.8/2.0 VW/Audi water cooled engines were used.  The Subaru is a flat engine boxer much like the air cooled vw engine so not great issues with height.

Electric conversions are increasing in use too.

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While the quality of parts is declining, the prices are continuing to climb. I do my best to avoid mainland Chinese sourced parts and most anything by EMPI.

I no longer just order parts online without calling the vendor and asking them to identify the maker and the country of origin if it isn't made clear in the listing.

I use the internet just to identify a source and price. then I call.

The other killer is shipping costs. Often as much or more than small parts.

The hobby is not exactly cheap.

No it is not cheap. A plain Jane single carb Vw type 1 engine that is a stock 1600cc engine and built correctly with craftmanship and quality parts will cost over $5k ,$6-7k for lightly modified engines and the sky is the limit for highly modified and don't even ask about type 4 engines. This is why it is now a sane option to have our Speedsters converted over to  Subaru engines. I have owned them both ways I have even owned a Mazda rotary powered Speedster and the Suby engine is the best by leaps and bounds if you are going to really drive your Speedster or want something that is turnkey and almost completely dependable. Please note this IMHO based on my own experience.

Beautiful car there, Carlos!   I'm sorry that you're experiencing issues with it.

There's a lot more to it than just dropping a Subaru engine into a Speedster.  The largest issue with the Subaru conversion is cooling the engine.  These cars were not designed to locate and effectively manage a water-based cooling system so whomever does the conversion has to know what they're doing.  Beck (Special Edition) in Indiana have it figured out.  From what we've seen/read on here, JPS (John Steele) seems to have it figured out, too, to some degree.  

By the time you're done doing a Subaru conversion on a Speedster it will cost somewhere between $8K and $10K+ and the build leadtime right now looks to be around two to three years.

Alternatively, you might ask around in your area for another experienced VW shop so you'll have two quote/data points from people who could work on your car.  Find a local aircooled VW club, attend one of their events and ask around for competent shops.  

Most of the shops around me (central Massachusetts ) have technicians who not only have never seen an aircooled VW, they weren't even born when the last of the VW Beetles hit the streets!  I just recently discovered another shop nearby that is a bunch of kids who adore VW Buses and learned on those and have made a business out of fixing them, along with Beetles.  I've also lost two shops last year to guys just retiring.  The knowledge base is shrinking by the month.  

Last edited by Gordon Nichols

Thanks guys. The car was made by vintage beautiful car, just didn't expect all these issues. I was contemplating putting a new engine. I know that the Subaru water cool engines might be a good choice.

If your car was, indeed, built by Vintage Motorcars (vintagemotorcarsinc.com) located in Hawaiian Gardens, CA, and they're only 90 miles from your listed home in Victorville, CA.

Check out their website and give them a call. I assure you the owner (Greg Leach) will treat you very professionally and address whatever concerns you've got about his product.

All of this is contingent, though, upon one thing: Your Speedster was built by Vintage Motorcars.

With the poor Chinese parts quality, one of my two engine builders showed me measurements on cylinders etc and noting is the same . So he is in a position that he cannot stand behind his engine work so he will only be doing reman transmissions now.

He won't be doing transmissions much longer, either. The availability of German and Brazilian parts is dwindling, especially when it comes to bearings.

In my experience, the Chinese bearings of today are mostly junk, and that is what seems to be mostly what is available. I try to re-use good OE bearings when I can, they certainly don't make them like they used to.

@IaM-Ray posted:

@Marty Grzynkowicz. I think this discussion is simply confirming my sneaky suspicion that subie engine might be saving the hobby.

Maybe, but don't shut the lights out and close the aircooled door just yet.

A couple years ago I built up a CB Builder's Choice Panchito 2332(that needed more cam and heads), but would truck along with torque and power easily. I estimate that one at 140-150 hp. This was a proof-of-concept for me, to see if I enjoyed working for others building stuff.

I just finished a 2276cc engine that is STRONG and pulls like a train to 6200 rpm, where the rev-limit rotor saves it from itself, for safety. I spec'd out this one completely with GOOD parts from everywhere. This one is 190-200 hp.

And I did a top-end rebuild of my 2165cc a couple years ago. It's running stronger than ever and now has EFI(as most of you know). Darn reliable, just change the oil and maybe adjust the valves(they don't change much if at all).

All three have full-flow oil systems with external coolers in addition to internal(only two-mine has no internal cooler). Two have dry sump oiling for safety.

Quality engines CAN be built today that run cool and strong and are relatively maintenance-free. They are expensive, but they're aircooled, for those authentic feels...

@IaM-Ray posted:

@Marty Grzynkowicz. I think this discussion is simply confirming my sneaky suspicion that subie engine might be saving the hobby.

For some people maybe. For me, the whole point of having a Porsche replica is the aircooled motor. If I wanted to go water cooled, I’d go back to the dark side with an MGA, B, or Lotus Elan. I’d take a WAG that if you could find a cheap enough donor vehicle, you could build a virtually brand new car with a body shell from Moss for what a replica costs from the big 3.

Come to think of it, I’d get my buddy in the UK to talk to his neighbor and source me a restored, 25 year old TVR  with a new frame.

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Danny my point was simply that for those who don't have the desire to do a lot of wrenching or are not familiar with the aircooled or do not want to learn about air cooled well they can stay with watercooled boxter tech.

The tent is big enough to hold us but I get the TRV as well, I like them but the 356 shape is... awesome.

BTW, having your tech guy close by is a sure thing to help someone new to this hobby succeed.

Last edited by IaM-Ray

I'm a confirmed retrogrouch, but I love (and I mean LOVE) being able to say, "yeah, it's just a fancy lawnmower engine back there", right before winning the respect of people who expect it to perform as such. I like to think of my car as Underdog (I've thought of putting him on the fender instead of the flying horse) - out here in Buttscratch, Nowhere USA, getting it done in spite of the limitations baked into the cake of an 80+ y/o engine built to be accessible and disposable.

The truth is, I can buy any one of two dozen modern sports cars that will suck the doors off anybody here (Subi guys too), and do it for a fraction of the cost. But I care not - I can get everything I want (and indeed need) in all it's gooey goodness in an air-cooled package that everybody else has given up on. To guys like me, dropping in a Subaru seems a bit like swapping an LS in your AMC AMX - it's better by every objective metric and it's an easier road. But sometimes (for a certain kind of guy) it's more satisfying to take the road less traveled, just to be able say you did. The highs seem just a little bit higher (and the lows admittedly lower) when you get there by your own sweat and effort.

It's entirely possible to build a Type 1 to be anything you wish it to be... but not all of those things at the same time. A Subaru will do that. So will an LS. I'd rather take the hard road.

I'm like the patron saint of lost causes.

Mighty Mouse

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Last edited by Stan Galat

I'm going to be 70 on my next birthday and after a lifetime of building ridiculously overpowered cars, I'm actually pleased with myself for being extremely satisfied with a slightly massaged, fuel injected type 1.

Like Stan, it presses all of the right buttons for me. I do believe in "going not gently into that good night," but driving a scary fast car is no longer required. Beautiful and quirky fills the bill.

@IaM-Ray posted:

Danny my point was simply that for those who don't have the desire to do a lot of wrenching or are not familiar with the aircooled or do not want to learn about air cooled well they can stay with watercooled boxter tech.

The tent is big enough to hold us but I get the TRV as well, I like them but the 356 shape is... awesome.

BTW, having your tech guy close by is a sure thing to help someone new to this hobby succeed.

I think you're missing MY point as well. I absolutely love to tinker. But I can also build engines for those that don't. Is it a single valve adjustment and oil change per year that makes it "a desire to do a lot of wrenching"? A Suby Speedster only eliminates the valve adjustment, you still need to change the oil.

I have no problem with Suby-powered cars for those that want them. I was merely stating that good motors can still be built today.

Hey, if you screw together an EMPI/Chinese cheap 1776 and expect it to run well AND be cheap to build you're kidding yourself.

But there are manufacturers that build quality parts out there: CB, Pauter, SCAT, Webcam, Autocraft, and JayCee. Unfortunately JayCee was purchased by EMPI, but the last few times I've ordered parts Jack is still there and managing things. The quality of parts hasn't changed.

Quality ain't cheap no matter what path you take.

Last edited by DannyP
@DannyP posted:

I think you're missing MY point as well. I absolutely love to tinker. But I can also build engines for those that don't. Is it a single valve adjustment and oil change per year that makes it "a desire to do a lot of wrenching"? A Suby Speedster only eliminates the valve adjustment, you still need to change the oil.

I have no problem with Suby-powered cars for those that want them. I was merely stating that good motors can still be built today.

Hey, if you screw together an EMPI/Chinese cheap 1776 and expect it to run well AND be cheap to build you're kidding yourself.

But there are manufacturers that build quality parts out there: CB, Pauter, SCAT, Webcam, Autocraft, and JayCee. Unfortunately JayCee was purchased by EMPI, but the last few times I've ordered parts Jack is still there and managing things. The quality of parts hasn't changed.

Quality ain't cheap no matter what path you take.

I personally think that a Type IV like @Jimmy V. is what would be the best in a speedster for torque and mated with a 915 tranny for no issues with CV joint boots and availability of the famous 5th.  As the drivetrain works together. Not inexpensive but it would be to me the ultimate aircooled and keep you somewhat out of the P budget.  On the other hand a small 6 P would be nice too.

As to the Subie, well turbo's are not my favourite but with a full subie setup the drivetrain works together.

It looks like your engine building skills are up there DannyP.  Good for you and I hope others around start using your skills.  I would if I was close.

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