Skip to main content

Hi to all, I'm Martin, I live near Portsmouth on the south coast in England and I'm new on here because I've just picked up a black Chesil Speedster.

Pics below are from the day I picked it up.


It's a 1998 build on a '70 1600 IRS Beetle.


The engine was rebuilt by Stateside Tuning in '97 to 1914cc with twin Dellorto DRLA 40s, a Porsche fan kit and an antisocial Sebring style exhaust.

Overall it looks very tidy but beneath the surface there's plenty of work to do to get it running and looking right. Which is part of the reason for buying it - to have a winter project ready for next summer.

First job is to mend oil cooler hose which sprang a leak on my third drive in the car. Luckily, I'd only driven a mile up the road when the hose on the right in the pic sprang a leak due to being too close to the exhaust. The best piece of luck was the oil dripping onto the exhaust caused a huge smoke signal which meant I spotted it before all the oil left the engine. I managed to get it home with penty of oil left and the hoses are now with a local supplier to get copies made.Tigermoth66_oil_leak1

Talking of exhaust - wow, is it loud! Not for me, I'm afraid, so I'll be looking to quieten this one or replace the system.


The engine needs a bit of work.. There's oil coming from a couple of places - pushrod tubes and oil filler tube (dreadful bodge allows oil to escape) to name but two.

There's a lot of backfiring and popping which needs sorting (not just on the overrun) - I think it's a combination of dirt in the fuel (the car has had very little use over the last year or two), Dellorto 40s which are not sorted and, from what I hear, can't cope with dirty fuel, and an old fashioned points based ignition system that doesn't really work with the stroker engine.

The Gearbox is an AH model which is very low geared and covered in oil, so that'll be fun to see what's going on there! I'd like to get a comfortable cruise at 65-70 rather than the 3000rpm at 60mph.

The steering box is covered in oil, the steering is both vague and quite stiff (not a good combo!) and ideally the front (which has Sway-a-Ways) needs to be lowered another inch to get the car a bit more nose down. And I'll probably bring the back up a smidgeon to reduce the need for the sump guard!

The good points? I like the black and red. The previous owner, who was not a mechanic, liked the bling stuff, so it has a banjo steering wheel, a pretty quickshift gear lever, all the right dials and badges etc.


The chrome Fuchs-style wheels are different (not sure if I like them better than stock steel with hubcaps, but I'm going with the flow for now) - not sure if they're genuine or not yet. The engine has loads of grunt which is nice, but I'll take reliable and quietish over power and noise.

I  grew up with simple, old Beetles - I learnt to drive (in 1985) in a '64 1200 and my first car was a '67 1500. So I know Beetles, but only the original, single carb bog standard version. So all this extra engine trickery and lowered suspension geometry is new to me. I've been reading up on all the good info on this site and will probably be quite active - asking plenty of questions in the relevant areas, and posting loads of pics as I work on it.

Looking forward to some happy times with my Speedster!!




Images (6)
  • Tigermoth6_Chesil_front1: Black on red Chesil Speedster
  • Tigermoth66_Chesil_Side1: Side view - front needs to go down, back up a fraction
  • Tigermoth66_Chesil_cockpit1: Overall, pretty clean but drive seat split and lots of tidying to do
  • Tigermoth66_engine_bay1: Engine bay - DRLA40s & Porsche fan kit
  • Tigermoth66_oil_leak1: Oil cooler hose too close to exhaust
  • Tigermoth66_exhaust1: Anti-social exhaust!
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

Thanks @Lane Anderson, I can feel the madness taking hold already!

Hi @WOLFGANG, it is indeed shiny, but it’s gelcoat, not paint. There are imperfections but not worth a respray. Being gelcoat, certain edges like the bonnet are effectively trimmed edges that are sanded smooth. I’ll look to touch those in with matching paint but that’s low priority for now!

As and when COVID-19 gets controlled, Cornwall is a beautiful place to visit. :-)

Welcome to Speedster Madness, Martin!

I'm halfway between the two New England Portsmouths (in New Hampshire and Rhode Island) and drive a CMC which I built back in the 1990's. 

Looks like a good winter project for you.  Just make up a list of "To-Do's" and start knocking them off.  Try to find an aircooled VW club near Portsmouth as a source of info from it's members for things like the exhaust system.  Getting a quieter one is as simple as finding a quieter muffler and figuring out how to get it in there - That big can probably has nothing inside for baffles but the rest looks like an extractor (header) system so you might want to retain that part.

I almost went with that color combo when I built my car (Black Gel and Burgundy for me) but eventually went with pearl white and Burgundy.  Yours will be a knock-out for sure!

Looking forward to seeing th progress on here!

The "Speedstah Guy" from Grafton (Massachusetts - Not that one over there)

Thanks one and all for the warm welcome.

@Gordon Nichols Thanks for the tips.

Timing is everything and one of the best things to happen in the last month is that my wife has just taken up a new hobby (sewing) so doesn't mind me spending more time in the garage! Perhaps I can persuade her to get into car upholstery?

I'm loving the thought of impending work - which is unusual for me because I'm inherently lazy. :-) Usually my other toy, a '99 Honda CL400 scrambler needs very little maintenance other than fresh oil and filter. Working on this aircooled gem takes me back to working on our old Beetles with my dad and brother. My dad's no longer with us but would definitely approve of the Speedster.

My wife has been a quilter for many, many years and has a couple of different sewing machines that do different things, like embroidering letters and images or doing free-style quilt stitching.  The cost of these machines is just as eye-opening as a lot of the Speedster stuff (on either side of the Atlantic) and I can easily equate a middle-of-the-line quilting machine to a new 2,110 Type 1 engine in similar cost.

BUT (there's always a "but", right?) God Forbid if I ever tried to use one of those machines for upholstery.  I did that once when we were first married and sewed up the front seat of a 1946 Ford coupe (it looked really nice) while she was away on a busniess trip, but ended up buying her a new machine after I screwed up her first one.  I also learned that they make special, rugged machines for upholstery for a reason......    

@Ewatub yes, the DeHavilland Tiger Moth was indeed an old biplane. And with my surname being Moth, when I joined the RAF back in the mid 80s I naturally got the nickname Tiger. As nicknames go, it could have been a lot worse!

@Gordon Nichols I’m not really expecting my wife to upholster my car. And thank goodness for the internet because I have already researched the situation and found the machines needed for leather are indeed old, powerful and expensive, and not the modern electronic sewing machine my wife has!

Looks like a very viable project, Tiger. Thanks for sharing it here.

The exhaust on that looks like an A-1 Sidewinder; these are excellent for making power with a big, high-cammed engine. Do you know the specs of yours?

You might be able to quiet it some, without losing the benefits of those equal(ish)-length tubes, by replacing the muffler. Others who know much more than I will chime in.

As you may recall from your youth, VW Bug engines like to leak oil. After you get your oil cooler lines properly re-routed and squared away, you will find that the leaky bits on this engine are pretty much the same as on that 1200 you learned to drive in. Fixes are the same as ever: good gaskets, good hardware, careful assembly, and don't overtighten. 

Your stock transaxle ratios can be changed, and depending on how much power your engine has, and how strongly rebuilt the box was last time, you may want to consider opening it up to do so—or springing for a new/refurbed unit.

There are lots of gear ratio choices available and you can spend pretty much as much money as you have, and then some. If you've got some horsepower—and your engine looks like it should have plenty, once sorted—by far the best bang for the buck is to get a new Erco ring and pinion set at 3.44-to-1. That's a taller gear than VW ever put in there, and stronger. It will raise all your ratios, turning 1st into something more than a stump-puller, and leaving you with a 4th gear that (depending) runs 70 mph or so at 3000 rpm—all at the expense of off-the-line acceleration. 

I have two cars with this gearbox: a Subaru-powered (135hp) MGTD replica, and a Type 1 (120hp) 550 Spyder. In both applications it works brilliantly.

If you don't have a VW gearbox guy in your rolodex then maybe call these guys. Seldom here complaints about their work.


Last edited by edsnova

@edsnova many thanks for the useful pointers. Refurbed gearboxes are running between £1500-2000 here in the UK, with Free Flyers going for around £2400, so that’s not an option for now. I like giving work to small local businesses if possible, and I’m starting to find  all sorts of small engineering workshops nearby so hopefully I can find a gearbox guy who can do as you suggest and rework the existing gearbox.

I found the original invoice for the engine rebuild but sadly it doesn’t show what kind of cam was used. I’ve got an email into the original builders in case they are able to shed some light on the answer.


so I think the idea for the engine is to get the leaks sorted, perhaps get a run on a dyno to get an idea of the power, then sort the gearbox accordingly. The gearbox is an upgrade though, not a ‘must do’, so that goes to the bottom of the to do list!

Meanwhile, my wife and I are at a spa break for a few days to get over the death of our much loved Patterjack rescue dog, and my ‘holiday reading’ is not quite your usual fare:





Images (3)
  • 9090D988-BBCD-4D53-84C7-EBAAC2F06833
  • 34B87A9D-B034-4F1F-A392-8FDCC28A6F2A
  • 5250F457-70AD-4AD1-98EA-A6095E890412: Holiday reading..

I forgot to add: I emailed Westfield Sportscars (who bought Chesil at the beginning of the year), to see if they had a build manual from the period my car was built. The Managing Director very kindly responded almost immediately, sending me a PDF of the build manual. I had asked for one that related to my ‘98 build car, because I’m sure they must have updated manuals over the years (or perhaps not?!). Top service!

That IS good service!  I've read a lot of mixed reviews of the old Chesil so maybe the new guys are treating it like a real business with real customers who want real service.

That's always a good thing.

And I agree with Ed on the gearing.  I have a stock ratio VW transaxle from Rancho in California.   .89 4'th gear and the ring and pinion is now a 3:88.  At 75mph I'm turning a shade under 3,250 with 16" wheels and 205/55 tyres.  I used to run a 4:12 R&P and the overall performance through the gears was a bit snappier (2,110cc engine) but it was pushing 4,000 rpm a lot on the highways.  It seems much happier now - Me, too.

Nice Spa, BTW.  Looks like a place my wife and I have been to just outside of Cork, IR

@dlearl476 yes, the Westfield 7 is theirs -

They also do a gorgeous Lotus XI replica which initially was a toss-up between that and the Speedster for me. But I went with the Speedster because it was more passenger friendly and slightly more practical! The beauty of the design was equal in my eyes.

Westfield certainly have a much more professional outlook on the whole 'customer service' experience.

@dlearl476 posted:

Good point. I'd wanted an Alfa Romeo Spider all my life. In the process of convertible shopping in 2004, I tried to test drive one. My knee wedged between the steering wheel and the console. The F type lost out because it was too short with the top up. 

The 968 won out in all categories. 

Yeah, I tried many cars that were impossible for me to get into and recently tried a 914 and again it was impossible to get my head below the windshield... Glad I did not get tempted to buy sight unseen.

@Stan Galat posted:

For reference, see "the great ape tries out a Spyder" (again) in the Maggie Valley. I'm sure somebody took a picture.

I so desperately want to fit. I so completely don't.

I've had several people ask me how I fit in my Spyder. As anyone who owns one knows, ingress/egress is like putting on a pair of gloves. But once I'm in, there's plenty of room for my 6'2"-275lb self. 

 I'm sure it looks weird when I'm getting gas and the top of the body is about mid-thigh.  But the Spyder is orders of magnitude roomier than the Alfa was. 

Last edited by dlearl476

Add Reply

Post Content
Link copied to your clipboard.