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Just saw this on the Jalopnik website and finally understand what my 1969 donor VW heater controls near the handbrake did.  Bear in mind that the only VW sedan I ever drove as a, um, complete sedan was my ‘57 Oval window and it had the star wheel Heater control on the central tunnel, same as my friend John’s ‘54 with the semaphore directional wings that popped out of the side of the central pillar.   Having the “heater” controls behind the e-brake was a totally modern and cultural shift for me and I never really experienced them as I should have.   Besides, I had moved on to cars with hot water heat and never looked back by the time the Super Beetles came out, so I never experienced the “heater control spotlight” mentioned below.  Up until 1994 when I bought my (ever un-named) Speedstah donor, which didn’t have a heater control spotlight, anyway.

With my star wheel “heater” control you had to twist the wheel clockwise for more heat.   The idea of actual heat coming into the car was more of a suggestion or maybe a cruel joke.  To get defroster heat you turned the wheel and then closed the little door down by the floor with your foot, hopefully on a back road with no traffic because you also had to lean way over and down below the dash to reach the passenger side little door down by the floor and close it, too, or the pretend defrosters didn’t work.  
Once you started beating on the little doors by the floors, you soon found them corroded in place from last winter’s salt on your boots so you ended up kicking the $#!+ out of it and breaking off the little knob that was supposed to move the sliding door.  

THAT required you to head for the umpteenth time to the junk yard for another pair of little doors by the floors, which, if you were smart, you would clean up and grease the $#!+ out of before installing them so that maybe, just maybe, they would slide back and forth the next time you tried to move them.  Actually, that never happened.  Having them move as intended was just a cruel myth from the Sainted German Engineers.

I always thought that my sedan had something wrong with it’s lack of heat/defrost capabilities, only to find, years after my Dune Buggy era, that everyone driving aircooled VWs back then had the same issues.  That’s what’cha get when you drive “basic transportation”, right?  After all, Dodge Neons weren’t a whole helluva lot better (but they had actual heat).

So here’s the Jalopnik article, explaining not only what those central tunnel levers do (I still have mine from the donor but they only have a ball at the top, not lettered caps - I may make them into a wall trophy/ornament after this) but also what the Sainted German Engineers did in the face of a round of ridiculous US Gum-Mint regulations in the 1970’s, the same group (on both sides) that brought us those Clunky-looking and hideously heavy 5-mph “crash bumpers” and “heater control spot lights”.  

Enjoy the ARTICLE:


Last edited by Gordon Nichols
Original Post

I read that article as well...I had NO idea the levers didn’t function the same.  I thought they “controlled” the flow of “heat” in their respective side.

The little light actually makes sense now.  I tried in vain to read a map using it once in my 1979 Super thinking that is what it was for.

As far as AC in any capacity in the Super; well, I make the motion of rolling the door window up for heat and down for cool to explain it to anyone who wonders!

Temperature control in my VS is relegated to heavy coats in the cool months and hats and shade trees or trucks to block the sun at intersections in the warm months!

Last edited by TheMayoMachine



I love useless trivia like that, although it does remind me that most of the stuff that fills my head is useless trivia, leaving little room for anything else.

Since my Speedster gets driven mostly in daylight hours, it took me a while to discover just how freakin' dark the front footwells are at night.

But that was remedied pretty early on when I installed a 12V power port under the dash. That came with a little, green power LED that's always on when the ignition is. At night, it lights up the footwells just enough so that you can see where you dropped your phone. You still can't reach your dropped phone, but at least you can see just how far out of reach it is.

The power port was fifteen bucks, so the green LED must have cost about eight cents. I wonder why modern car makers charge five hundred bucks for LED 'mood lighting' in the footwells.




@WOLFGANG posted:

...Mercedes has 64 different color ambiant lighting option.  Give me orange or green or dimmable white...



The LED's for mood lighting probably cost bubkis.

But it must take 4000 lines of code to make them work. And somebody has to pay the dudes who write the code.

I've always suspected it was those 4000 lines of code for the mood lighting that have been screwing with the windows on my MINI Cooper - which are also controlled by The Computer.

It used to be, you had a double-throw switch for power windows that connected to a motor. Switch up, window goes up; switch down, window goes down. There was a very old-school logic to it all. But, like everything old school, there is a better way.

Now the window switch is connected to The Computer. Switch up, and a circuit closes which sends some pulses along the main bus to the CPU, which runs some code and a few seconds later decides if something should be done. About every fourth time I push the window UP switch, The Computer decides that the window should go DOWN.

The Computer knows that if it did this every time, I would be pissed enough to have it reprogrammed. So it doesn't. It does it only every fourth time or so. There is some sadistic consistency to its little scheme, however. About every fourth time I press the window DOWN switch, it sends the window UP.

The Computer must fear being reprogrammed, though. It never plays its little trick with the windows when the car is within five blocks of the dealership.

"I'm sorry, sir, we can find no fault with your windows. Do you still want to pay the exorbitant charge for having the CPU reprogrammed?"

This probably could be worse. Suppose every fourth time I pushed the window DOWN switch, one of the fuel injectors stopped working? It's just as likely as the window going UP. After all, The Computer is all-powerful. It can do anything it wants at any time.

I guess I should be thankful that my mood lighting works.


While replacing the burned out flush LED Lights in my kitchen ceiling after “The Great Voltage Spike” of Hurricane Isaias, I found that all of them had switch selectable colors from 2600K (kinda yellow-y and much like 60 watt incandescent lights ) to 5000K (wicked bluish-white that really wakes you up).

”Who knew?”

The new replacement ones are switchable, too, so everything is sitting on 3000K and look good to our old eyes. 👀

@Sacto Mitch posted:

 Stan, you have no confidence in the future

How quaint. Those stupid, stupid people in the '40s. We're nothing like that at all.

As we all know-- in the CERTAIN FUTURE we'll all ride in battery powered self-driving pods, see. It's a done deal-- "settled science" (if you will), and we've been hearing they were just around the corner for, um...


Last edited by Stan Galat


Me, I'm counting on a future where cars will be obsolete.

We'll all be whisked wherever we need to go in minutes, on silent, overhead monorail trains.

We'll have all the food we ever need, harvested from pods on the ocean floor. And we'll vacation in resort colonies on Mars.

The ideas are all sound. It's just a question of working out the engineering details. We just need the right 'can-do' attitude.

It's gonna be great.



And it occurs to me that you would have been branded a lunatic if, in 1968, you'd told people that these cars are as good as it will ever be.

It's all going downhill from here.

Run out and buy as many cars as you can get your hands on - in the future, they'll be worth more than you can ever imagine. Yes, even that crappy Mustang.

And while these new 911's may seem nice, what you want to hang onto are the 10-year-old ones, the ones with that dawg of a four-cylinder - especially the stripper model, the one with the joke for a top.

The future isn't always what we think it will be.


I bought my 1st new car in 1967. It was a VW of course. It had one lever between the seats to control the heat. That lever was part of the 200 odd upgrades done for the 67 model year. I traded it in for another new VW in 69. It had the new front and rear heater controls. I recall you pulled the left lever up to turn the heat on, and the raised the right lever to distribute heat to the rear floor vents. The heater control was red and the rear control  arm was white. 

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