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Hi! This week I became the unwitting owner of a 356 Speedster. I say unwitting because I won the car on Monday in an online competition and it was delivered to me on Tuesday! So my head is still a bit fuzzy and not knowing too much about these cars the last couple of days have been a whirlwind of curiosity into the sexy-looking Speedster that is now occupying my garage.

That is why I am here! I already have questions that need answering

604XUK_1

I have worked out the history as the car has come with most of the documentation and receipts.
It is a Vintage Speedster model (RHD) built in California in 2007 using a 1961 VW chassis, shipped to Germany where it was first registered and had the engine rebuilt to the owners spec, then transferred to the UK and re-registered before being moved to Jersey (UK) where it lived until 2020. Has done just over 10k miles.

So what are my first impressions? Obviously it's a looker! The paint and bodywork seem to be flawless for a 14 year-old car.
Its very basic! There are no 'added extras', not even a radio (I don't want to be too tempted to add stuff and spend £££$$$'s that don't add value.
It starts and drives sweet and being low to the ground is a bit of fun, although I imagine going at speed (I've not tried yet!) might be a little more nerve-racking as the back end feels twitchy but that might just be me not having driven RWD for a few years!

I've had very little time to be out and about in it so far, so not much else to report right now.

Issues discovered that need attention:

  • The tachometer does not work - I have already found many (MANY!) topics on this site covering this. I've been over it with a multi-meter and the wiring checks out fine.  It's going to need fixing or replacing so if anyone knows any UK-based experts in these things please let me know?
  • The pedals need an overhaul! They really are awkward. The accelerator pedal appears to be a round wobbly metal wheel that is held on to the pedal arm by one M10 bolt. It's loose, and that doesn't aid responsive driving at all! The brake pedal is very close to the wonky gas pedal. I guess this is a standard VW setup, but I'm sure it can be improved.
  • The cabrio/roof clips that attach to the windscreen need replacing. I've seen pictures on other cars that have 3 clips that have one part screwed onto the top of the screen and the other on the front of the roof - these clip together. Mine are not like that - there are just 2 clips that clamp around the top of the screen. They do work...just awkward. Not that I plan to drive it with the roof up (what would be the point in that?!)

I'm yet undecided on whether I will want to keep this car long-term. I'm still buzzing that I won the car right now. Realities of economics might take over my heart. I have another classic car being restored already, along with 2 motorbikes, and the additional expense (and space) of keeping and running this one might prove too much. Then again I might fall in love with the Speedster and sell the other. I'll give it till next spring to decide, when the weather is improved and I'm out on the road with it more often!

So hello! I hope to get some useful info from this site and will surely be asking some questions over the coming months!

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That's pretty cool that you won a Speedster. If you're not familiar with Westfield Motorcars they are in Westfield and they purchased Chesil Speedsters two years ago and build the Speedster there now. They may be a good resource for you for parts and mechanical advice. https://westfield-sportscars.co.uk

Welcome to our group and as we say, Welcome to the Madness. The madness part is the constant need for wanted and unwanted tinkering with these cars.

I second the "Welcome to our group"!

Regarding the tachometer repairs, I would google "vdo gauge repair in the uk" and it'll pop up a bunch of choices.  A word of warning:  There are three places in the US that we go to for gauge repair (two VDO and one Smiths) and they are all expensive, but a number on here have gotten their tachs and speedos repaired with very good luck.

DO NOT TRY TO ZERO THE SPEEDOMETER TRIP METER WHILST THE CAR IS MOVING!!!   That will instantly render the trip meter useless forever until repaired.  (Or just live with it.)

Parts for just about everything on the car are available from Gerg Leach at Vintage Motorcars of California   https://www.vintagemotorcarsinc.com   Yes, shipping will be expensive so I would look in the UK, first.  Show us a photo of the convertible top latches so we'll know which ones you have and we can go from there.

One of our members is @Martin's Eleven (UK) down in Portsmouth, UK, and he's just finished bringing an older Speedster back to life,  You can send a private message to him.   He may also get an email alert as I mentioned his username on this.  There is also a way for you to see any other members of this site close to you up under the "Members" drop down - Follow the prompts and try different things to find others (I just tried it and got Bupka.  That's why I said "try different things").

So what's the other "classic" you're restoring?

Gordon - The Speedstah Guy from Grafton, Massachusetts

Last edited by Gordon Nichols

Regarding the tachometer repairs, I would google "vdo gauge repair in the uk" and it'll pop up a bunch of choices.  A word of warning:  There are three places in the US that we go to for gauge repair (two VDO and one Smiths) and they are all expensive, but a number on here have gotten their tachs and speedos repaired with very good luck.

DO NOT TRY TO ZERO THE SPEEDOMETER TRIP METER WHILST THE CAR IS MOVING!!!   That will instantly render the trip meter useless forever until repaired.  (Or just live with it.)

Parts for just about everything on the car are available from Gerg Leach at Vintage Motorcars of California   https://www.vintagemotorcarsinc.com   Yes, shipping will be expensive so I would look in the UK, first.  Show us a photo of the convertible top latches so we'll know which ones you have and we can go from there.

One of our members is @Martin's Eleven (UK) down in Portsmouth, UK, and he's just finished bringing an older Speedster back to life,  You can send a private message to him.   He may also get an email alert as I mentioned his username on this.  There is also a way for you to see any other members of this site close to you up under the "Members" drop down - Follow the prompts and try different things to find others (I just tried it and got Bupka.  That's why I said "try different things").

So what's the other "classic" you're restoring?

Gordon - The Speedstah Guy from Grafton, Massachusetts

Brilliant thanks Gordan! Already found the roof clips that I had hunted high and low for ! Called "Top Bow Clips"

My other car is a Gilbern Invader Mk3...it's Welsh...belonged to my father. Currently having the interior fully remade so out of the garage for now.

Gilb1

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That's a really cool looking car. Love the color.

Welcome

Thanks it's the Ferrari yellow known as Giallo Fly = 'Yellow Fly' ... because it attracts fly's! (true story)

When I visited the UK I was disappointed that I didn't see more evidence of the British car industry.  A TVR was mostly it.

There's huge classic car interest over here and a great variety, but they only come out between May and August when the sun is shining!



Back to the speedster...Have taken the tach out tonight for repair and will send it off to  JDO Instruments here in the UK. Will let you know how it goes!

The city of New Bedford, here in Massachusetts, is home to one of the largest ocean fishing fleets in the US.  The father of one of my college roommates was a fisherman who told me to “always paint the roof of a boat’s cabin yellow - Seagulls never poop on a yellow boat”.  

Now,  I don’t know if this works, but there are one helluva lotta boats in New Bedford harbor with yellow roofs!

I have a puzzle concerning the tail lights on my Speedster.

I thought it was odd that when I turned on the side lights the (orange) rear indicators lit up.
When indicating they just flash brighter (dual filament)
The brake light (red) lit as normal when braking, but was not used as a side light. It is a single filament.

So this just seemed weird to me as I've not encountered dual-filament using the indicator light before.
I am wondering if this is a U.S. thing (I see US tail lights were originally all red).

I have now come across different type of tail lights for sale with dual filament wiring in place both here on the indicator side (which my car has now):
https://partworks.de/en-partwo...gasket-RIGHT-EU.html

...and here on the brake light side:
https://replicaparts.co.uk/pro...riant=23471968223290

So is it 'normal' in the Speedster world to have these variations?

I'm wondering whether to replace the tail lights I have with ones that have dual filament on the brake light side, which seems correct to me!

When I was building my car My rear lights were originally like that, too.  I, too, thought it a bit weird so I swapped the positions of the bulb sockets (it’s easy to do) and made them more “right” (at least in my mind).    It takes less than 5 minutes to swap them.  

Yeah I looked at swapping the sockets over but can't get them to budge. They're pressed in and would need cutting I think. I'll have to buy a replacements light set. Found some on eBay

Final one from me this weekend - this accelerator pedal I just cannot live with!
Is there a kit or swappable parts I can get hold of to have an actual pedal rather than a wobbly wheel?!

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I found this type of pedal that would bolt through the floorpan but I'm guessing I'll have to replace the whole bar/rod that passes through the whole assembly to the cable, and may need other parts added as well?

https://replicaparts.co.uk/pro...=5ab55b6ee&_ss=r

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@WOLFGANG posted:

Looks like some one added it on (poorly).  You can buy replacement  EMPI arms with the roller pedal for $15 dollar .  There is a billet version at $25. They were originally used on 1957 VW on back.   Springs for the pedal assembly are also available.

EMPI Black VW Roller Accelerator Pedal

Unfortunately that's for LHD. Mine is RHD.

I think having read some more on this I can understand why they used the roller -standard floor pedals can fall back to the floor, and also get in the way when hitting the brake - whereas the wheel has a smaller profile (not in the way of the brake pedal) and rotates when pressed so has a more fluid action than a VW flat pedal.

So I might keep the wheel but fabricate a better arm extension that the squashed bit of wobbly pipe on there at present! (until something better comes along).

@Gilb (UK) posted:

Final one from me this weekend - this accelerator pedal I just cannot live with!
Is there a kit or swappable parts I can get hold of to have an actual pedal rather than a wobbly wheel?!

IMG_6081

IMG_6112IMG_6113

I found this type of pedal that would bolt through the floorpan but I'm guessing I'll have to replace the whole bar/rod that passes through the whole assembly to the cable, and may need other parts added as well?

https://replicaparts.co.uk/pro...=5ab55b6ee&_ss=r

What you have looks like it was cobbled together from a LHD setup.

Here's a very short thread from some RHD folks looking to do what you did:

https://www.volkszone.com/thre...rottle-pedal.245134/

I also found some used parts on eBay UK: https://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.h...814&toolid=10001

Or call Westfield Motors and see what they have.

Last edited by Robert M
@Robert M posted:

What you have looks like it was cobbled together from a LHD setup.

Here's a very short thread from some RHD folks looking to do what you did:

https://www.volkszone.com/thre...rottle-pedal.245134/

I also found some used parts on eBay UK: https://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.h...814&toolid=10001

Or call Westfield Motors and see what they have.

It's definitely a RHD setup from VW Beetle '58-'66.

I've been finding threads like this...
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/fo...1&postorder=desc

and this...
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/fo...ewtopic.php?t=454087

and a restored one here:
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/cl...detail.php?id=989984
...showing how it should be setup with a floor pedal.

In my case the floor pedal has simply been replaced (badly) with the wheel.

So my options are: stick with the wheel or switch to a floor pedal.
I'll stick to the wheel for now, but improve the setup by making a stronger steel bracket to hold the wheel in a better position. I have it in mind...will post pics when I'm done!

Welcome to the madness @Gilb (UK)

Having done a restoration on my car last winter I can help with sugegstiins and also give pointers on the best UK parts stores for spares. DM me for any help you need.

That pedal is weird - looks like they simply removed the actual pedal that rests against the roller and added a larger roller. It must feel so strange. Get it sorted - anything that makes the car less likeable to drive means every day you lose a little love for it. Once I got my car sorted and reliable I loved every minute of it. (I'm talking past tense because I recently sold it and now have a new project (more of that in an imminent post guys!)

Cost wise, try Footman James for insurance - they're very good and remarkably cheao for a replica car insurance policy. I paid around £130 for the year.

They're very simple to work on - so much less to worry about.. Key things I'd look at first are:

  • Steering box adjust (unless it already steers well, this is a faff but once you get it right it makes a HUGE difference)
  • Get the tracking done via a garage that knows what it's doing (i.e. mechanic must be over 40 yrs old and know about adjusting Beetle suspension),
  • Do a compression check (tricky to do given limited space but will help give a clear idea of health of engine)
  • Do an oil change and
  • Set valve clearances

Have fun (and the Gilbern looks seriously retro-cool!)

Martin



That pedal is weird - looks like they simply removed the actual pedal that rests against the roller and added a larger roller. It must feel so strange. Get it sorted - anything that makes the car less likeable to drive means every day you lose a little love for it.



Thanks Martin. That seems to be exactly what they did, and made the roller a little higher by (loosely) bolting on a bit of pipe! In fact I don't think they ever fitted a pedal due to the way the carpet / mats are cut - there has never been a cut where the pedal would have been so I think the roller pedal was a choice when it was built!



Welcome to the madness @Gilb (UK)



Cost wise, try Footman James for insurance - they're very good and remarkably cheap for a replica car insurance policy. I paid around £130 for the year.



I got insured as soon as the car arrived, with Adrian Flux. £111, I thought very reasonable! I think they gave me a discount because I have my motorbike insured through them. Wasn't sure I should have told them that there's no locks on the car!

I'm unfamiliar with the VW air-cooled engine in this so it will be a good time to learn. The car seems to run well (will drive better once I get that pedal sorted).
I've already had the rev counter fixed and returned to me (used JDO instruments, sent to them on Monday, back repaired on Thursday). It's an odd tach - still bounces around a bit - I believe this is the cheap China copies I keep reading about. I noted that JDO added a permanent live to the wiring. Don't know what they did to the 'innards'.

I replaced the tail lights too this week. Gone are the indicating side-lights. Side lights are now with the red / brake light plus the new chrome bezels look a lot nicer than the pitted old ones.

Have also ordered new shiny bezels and horn grilles for around the front side-lights. Can't help myself adding shiny things £££ !

I don't want to spend any more right now except to fix the pedal and then I expect I'll move the car to storage for the winter as I need my garage space for when the Gilbern returns from its interior resto.

Next spring I will start the servicing and learn a bit more about the car no doubt. Should I be worrind that the previous owner was called Dick Turpin

My daughter has already booked it in to take her to her prom next June Happy times ahead I hope!

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