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Hello, I purchased a Speedster replica last year but I haven't had the oil changed yet. The engine is a 1641 cc VW type 1. Does anyone know the exact oil I should buy for the change? From what I researched 1030 or 530 Mobile was recommended but I don't know if synthetic should be used. Any help is appreciated!

Original Post
@Arden posted:

Straight 30wt or 40 wt with 16 ounces of Lucas zinc

You're joking, right?- why would you use such an ancient concoction when there are much more modern formulations? And please have something better than "if it was good enough for VW 50 years ago...". If that's the case we would still all be driving stockers and no one would have ever tried to get more power out of them.


@Arden posted:

if you guys like something else by all means use it.

... and that's the best statement of the thread.


I'd rather run 30 or 40 wt than a 10w30, but lots of guys disagree. If you want to buy oil at a normal auto parts store, I'd get Valvoline VR1 in the 20w50 formula. It's good oil, and you'll be safe with it. VR1 has the zinc you need, and the 20w50 formulation will help you maintain oil pressure in hot weather.

The thing to look out for is in cooler weather. Don't rev your engine up past about 2500 RPM or so until the oil gets warm enough to at least register something on the temp needle. I know this seems like a lot of rules for a simple machine, but they need to be heeded, or you run the possibility of blowing a seal somewhere you don't want to. It's not rocket science, but it isn't "jump in and go", as normal cars have been for 40 years. Let the engine warm up a bit before taking off.

VW recommended 30w oil in the '50's/'60's because it was a budget car for the masses, both bearing clearances and the cooler bypass system (can't think of anything else to call it right now) is designed specifically for 30w, single weight got the job done and there was no need to spend any more when multi weights (at the time) were considerably more expensive.  The name of the game was low operating costs as the Beetle was sold as an economical commuter car.

That said- millions of dollars have been spent on oil technology since then.  The proper multi-weight lubricates sooner on start up and with more modern refining techniques is a much better/cleaner product. I don't think there is an automotive manufacturer today that factory fills or specifies a single weight oil for their products. 

The only issue an owner of a modified VW engine with higher valve spring pressures has to watch for when shopping for a multi weight is ZDDP content, which Brad Penn, Valvoline VR1 and others have (or you can dose your own with several different brands of additives).  As multi weights became cheaper VW started recommending them. 

Interesting- as early as 1961 in the Beetle owner's manual VW recommends using a muliti-weight- 20w20 in temps from 32- 86°F

and found this little tidbit (again, 1961 Beetle owner's manual)

@Arden- What API rating is the oil you are running?

Ps- I agree with Michael- thinner is better. 20w-50 is known to close off the path to the cooler at highway speeds because the higher hot pressures can be too high to let the bypass open, which causes the engine to run even hotter.

Another PS- Don't get me wrong- I'm not down on single weight oil. I just think there's better products (multi-weight) to spend your money on. If I was bombing around, needed a quart for the car and all that was around was single weight I'd happily use it, but it wouldn't be my first choice for an oil change.

Last edited by ALB

@ALB who is your last question directed to?

Thank you Michael (btw- how the heck are you?) - Arden. I will correct that.

PS- and I'll add this here- In the orange (late) Bentley Beetle/Karmann Ghia manual multi-weights are listed in engine oil viscosities/climate table- page 5, Lubrication and Maintenance.  And the automotive world has learned a couple things since that chart was drawn up...

Last edited by ALB

So, big Al, if say I was running NO internal cooler, what then? Then I wouldn't have to worry about the cooler path. I guess I could run whatever viscosity I want depending on ambient temperature and oil pressure then.

Like I do. If I lived in Georgia or Florida, I'd run 20w50 year-round. But up here in the not-quite-so-hot Hudson Valley of NY, I run 10w40. My oil pressures and temps support this. 

So for Lisa, the answer to what you end up running depends on where you live and when you drive.

Also, I don't suggest extended warmup times. Thirty seconds or a minute max, then drive off. Just take it easy for the first few miles.

What you bought should be perfect.  Tell your mechanic that the engine is just the same as a 1970 VW Beetle.  Drain plug is in the bottom of the sump.  Re-fill to just under the “full” mark on the dipstick.  It should take somewhere between 3 and 4 quarts (all our engines are different so I’m guessing, here).  You could also buy a 1965 - 1970 ish Bentley’s VW Service Manual (usually on Amazon) which tells you (or your mechanic) all this stuff and everything else about maintaining your car.

BTW, you may, and this is a long shot with a 1641 cc mostly stock engine, have an oil filter that is external to the engine.  Looks like a can attached to the car frame, about the size of a 4 cup Measuring cup, usually orange or white with big hoses going to it.  If you or he finds that, it should be changed with the oil.  Just match it up at a NAPA auto parts store.

if you don’t have that one, no worries.  There is a straining screen inside of the sump that could be changed if the mechanic is in to that sort of stuff.  You’ll need two sump gaskets to replace them once the screen is cleaned.   Here’s what they are:

(That’s a link)

If you don’t clean the screen this year, make sure you do it next year and it'll be fine.

 And Here's a link to the Bentley manual on Amazon

Last edited by Gordon Nichols
@ALB posted:

 Ps- I agree with Michael- thinner is better. 20w-50 is known to close off the path to the cooler at highway speeds because the higher hot pressures can be too high to let the bypass open, which causes the engine to run even hotter.

There has to be a limit to that, in your mind, right? 0W10 is the best?

I've never seen an engine with an adequately sized remote cooler that runs hotter with 20W50. It's only when guys are dead-set against running an adequate remote oil cooler that it might be an issue.

We'll need to agree to disagree on the bypassed cooler being a real problem, rather than just a "Samba accepted" apocryphal one, Al. In any kind of "lower 48" summer weather, the hot oil pressure in hot weather is never going to be high enough to bypass the doghouse cooler. In cooler weather or before the engine is fully warm (when it does bypass), the bypassed cooler is not a problem.

This gets to a fundamental point in how we look at remote oil coolers. If one sees a remote cooler as supplementing the primary cooler (on the engine), then what you are saying makes a bit of sense. If you see the remote cooler being the primary, then it does not.

The stand cooler bypass piston controls temperature by oil pressure, which is a really, really poor way to do it. The bypass pistons are part of creative but overly complicated way the Sainted German Engineers played with the oiling system in an attempt to make the vehicle able to run in all weather situations. If somebody was to study the system in isolation, without knowing what country's engineers designed it - I'm guessing the answer would be "France".

If you can take a step back, you can see it looks like it was designed by Rube Goldberg.

I view the remote cooler as being the primary, and the stand cooler as being something that will kick in if needed. Oil pressures between 20 psi (at idle) and 60 psi (at speed, with a pressure relief filter base) are entirely possible, and as I've said - good oil pressure is the primary consideration. Heat can always be dealt with.

Regardless, I don't overheat, and I don't starve my bearings of oil.

Last edited by Stan Galat

I'm aware of that.

I'm contending that the normally accepted 1 psi for every 100 RPM is not adequate, especially if getting oil up to the 1-2 rocker box is important. Al advocated for Hoover mods a lot - there is no possibility of a meaningful "spray" from either the rockers or holes in the pushrods with less than 10 psi of pressure.

Regardless, the vast majority of Speedsters and Beetles are not running oil pressure gauges, and people are relying on a light that turns on at 3 psi to determine of their oil is too light.

I know that you are gauged up, and know what you are doing @Michael McKelvey, but most guys here have zero idea what their oil pressure is. I'm advocating for adequate oil pressure for people with greater bearing clearances than you are running. In 90* weather, it's going to be difficult for those people to maintain adequate oil pressure with a 10W oil.

The 15W oil Lisa got for upstate New York will be adequate, most likely. But unless a guy has a decent oil pressure gauge, all of the discussion regarding adequate viscosity is conjecture. I'd rather advocate for safety than make a blanket statement that "yep, 10W30 will be great", and have some guy in Houston or Miami take it to heart.

BTW: the daily high temperature just a few hundred miles south of you has been over 90* every day for over a month. Even in the upper Midwest, we're hitting 95* more days than not.

Last edited by Stan Galat


Lisa, FWIW,  I use my Speedster as a daily driver (in SoCal). It does not endeavor to be a 911 Turbo, but it is peppy enough for me to have fun, keep up with highway traffic and has proven to be very reliable. 

I typically use an inexpensive Valvoline or Gastrol 10/30w which I buy from Pep Boys for $6.99. I have NO CLUE as to the Zinc content and have ZERO angst about it. I've motored along for 100,000 trouble-free miles over 14 years through most of the Western States. Your mileage may vary and wish you many miles of top-down driving in your fun little car!

P.S. - This group is a a great bunch of folks and their collective wisdom make this site a one-stop shop for any information regarding these replicas. 

Last edited by MusbJim
@ALB posted:

You're joking, right?- why would you use such an ancient concoction when there are much more modern formulations? And please have something better than "if it was good enough for VW 50 years ago...". If that's the case we would still all be driving stockers and no one would have ever tried to get more power out of them.

50 years ago engines didn't have catalytic converters and numerous electronic sensors that could be ruined/ plugged by the very detergent and anti-wear agents 50 year old engines were designed to use, which is why they've been removed from modern oils.  


Lisa, when you're starting out with these cars, the best thing is often to find a local aircooled-VW club for general help and for advice on who the best local mechanics are.

I lived in Lambertville for a few years in the late 70s, but then moved to California, so I have no idea what the local VW scene looks like now - BUT, I did find this group based about 15 miles from you (near Somerville) that looks promising - The Central Jersey Volkswagen Society (Click on the link).

Their monthly meetings are at The Chimney Rock Inn, in Bound Brook, although it looks like they've suspended meetings until things get healthier. Their website does have a few contact numbers, though, and the guy who wrote up the club history spent his career working at local VW dealerships, so he must know where the local grizzled old VW mechanics are hiding out. They also have a 'links' page that lists a few independent shops that specialize in old VW's.

Good luck, and let us know how things work out.


PS: Looks like a fun group:




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Last edited by Sacto Mitch

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