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So this is one of those races where the winner really isn't.   (Hope you enjoy the shout out @WOLFGANG )

My dad's had this CMC kit for about 30 years. (yes you read that right) anyway I was driving Dad's TT roadster and decided I really wanted my own, but with 2 kids it just didn't make sense having a 2-seater as a daily car.  Driving to his house I passed the barn where the CMC kit sits and said "just build that"... so went on samba and fbmarket and found donor bug.   Dad & I pulled the body off, and and I stripped the pan.  I shortened it using a jig adapted to a tri5 chevy 'body cart' I borrowed from a hot-rod friend.  I then made a rotisserie out of 2 engine stands & sandblasted, epoxy-primed and spray bedliner coated the pan.    Working on it about 1 Saturday a month (if that) its not going quickly.  All of this has taken about 2 years now and I'm still finding parts in the storage trailer.  I found the top bows and header while looking for the hibachi grill (still haven't found that).  

It's time to start assembly of the rolling skateboard.  While building this I wanted to ask advice on steering columns.  The one that came with the donor is a straight shaft ("skewer" -- not the collapsing kind) and I think it will need bearings and more work.  Looking for advice on options?  find a collapsing column? adapt a 914 column?  or super-beetle column?  pros/cons/fitment issues?

I'll make this my "build" thread and post some pics of the steps above if you are interested...


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Ahh a new build thread and fun to follow ! Because they are over 50 years old crush cage columns are getting dicey I have seen a number of the cages crack and fail. from both age and misalignment that causes stress on it.  Despite the solid shaft concerns its that better way to go. If you want to go with a tilt column Speedway has them for under $300 but you'll need a 1" D to VW spline adapter which I happen to have one that I machined but never used.

I'm for the challenge - now that Mike Mck is no longer a threat.  Rec'd kit ifrom CMC via Pilot Trucking Nov 1988.  Car has moved from FL (as donor bug) to Springfield VA and when I retired DoD in 2010, it got towed back to FL (as a 90% complete Speedster).  Although maybe 90% complete - engine no longer readily turns over (never been started after rebuild).  Wiring still loose ends.  Top & tonneau not installed.  Decided after 30 years lipstick red interior was no longer me and decided on tan/beige (have seat/top/tonneau but nothing else). 

I have an extra hibachi grill when you get to that point - extra frunk hood too.

Hi Lane, squirrels away!  let me help .

@Wolfgang, I'm winning   I think this kit was originally acquired late 80's then traded to my dad.. the body has never been bolted to a Pan.  The wiring harnsess is still in the bag, the bumpers are still in the box, the gauges are still in the box, frunk hood and engine cover never attached to body.. you get the idea.   so according to the instructions I should only be about 35 hrs away    I probably have the grill, just haven't found it. (But good to know, cause I may need it...)


Wrenn, as this will be a build thread, I won't be of much use to you, because, well... just trust me on that.

I know a little about electrics, but just enough to make things smoke.

But I do know where your Hibachi grill is.

If, of all the parts and stuff piled up in the shed, that's the one thing you insist on finding right now, it will be at the bottom of the last pile you rummage through.

Always glad to help.


My first CMC was bought in 1993.  I think that I donated the Hibachi grill to a Carlisle raffle - Hopefully, someone actually did use it on their grill.

My second CMC was originally bought a few months before Wolfgang bought his and sat, like your Dad's, in a garage in southern New Hampshire, untouched for decades until I liberated it in the mid 2010s (the owner is now the City Manager for West Palm Beach).  All of the boxes were intact, complete with shredded newspaper and mouse droppings and since the original owner was an accountant I had VERY complete and confirmed lists of everything in each box.  

I built up the rolling pan and got the body mounted and then had a lot of family issues to contend with so I sold it to Alan Merklin.   He finished it and sold it to someone who might be on here, I don't remember who.

So there are a few "Barn Find" CMCs still kicking around either in progress or waiting, like mine, to be liberated and finished.

Good for you, Wrenn, for taking on the challenge, especially if you have smaller kids.  My kids were mid-teens when I started CMC #1 and I finally finished it when one was fresh out of college and the other was about half way through.  The "40 hours" to completion was probably closer to seven years by the time I was done and on the road.  Keep plugging!

My donor was a 1969 VW sedan that was originally delivered to Cleveland, Ohio (high school graduation present, I bet) then went to Syracuse, NY (college, I guess) and then Cambridge, MA (Grad school then real job) all the same owner.  It then lived in and around Boston with three different owners until I bought it and by that time all four fenders were crinkled, the engine cover had a ding and it had been sitting for a while, but other than that it was OK for $275.  The pan was straight and that’s all that mattered.  The donor engine is now in a VW convertible cruising the “Lakes Region” of New Hampshire every summer and is still going strong.  

@WOLFGANG, those are 14" replica fuchs.. with empi 4-5 bolt adapter rings .  I sold them as I would be putting the proper 15" on. Coker tire has a 10 slot wheel with 4x130 bcd that I'm leaning toward, for now I have no wheels..  I may be doing the plywood disc thing for shop moving.

So I lost my phone this weekend and now don't have the photos of progress steps to this point..  Crap.

Most don't convert back to OEM VW 4x130.  There are a lot of aftermarket and OEM 914 wheels for the 4 bolt though.  You have to watch offset/width and tire size (especially if classic body with IRS rear - seems driver side is always closer to wheel opening interference.  I started with 4 bolt 5.5"x15 chrome Mangels, then 914 Pedrini, and now 914 Fuchs - the last two have minimal clearance w/185/65x15 tires.  I may go with CIP1's polished 5 bolt fake Fuchs with 5" offset with 5 bolt redrilled rotors/rear drums.

@WOLFGANG, No conversion required, the rear drums and front disc are standard VW 4 lug (x130) .  the PO used Empi bolt pattern adapters that are 1" thick aluminum rings to convert to 5 lug.  These would push track width out by 2 inches overall.  no way the rears would fit the classic fenders.  I would have to buy all new parts to convert to 5x130 or 5x205 to use any P wheels plus buying the wheels.   Current thought, just get 10slots with 4 bolt pattern or like you, find 914 2.0L Fuchs, can't really decide which I like better.

First goal, actually get the car working (with what I have) with minimal invested.  Then start the customize.  If someone had a set of VW wheels lying around to use as "rollers" that would be helpful with determining clearance for what tire I can use when I get the body bolted.

I should probably mount the fr & rr suspensions before worrying about wheels.  one step at a time.  ( also painting/reconditioning parts as I go. New bearings, grease, seals, etc. )

@Wrenn Smith

I would caution you to take a close look at those EMPI wheel spacer/adapters.  They are most likely cast aluminum so take a close look around the studs and stud holes for any cracking.  If they're cracked, don't use them.  If no cracks, they're probably fine.  Make sure you look on both sides.

I ran a set of cast adapters for years (I think I bought them from SoCal VW parts) and they were fine, but I eventually worried about them (too many track laps) and swapped them out for a set of machined billet adapters from Pelican Parts for $125 per wheel.  Expensive (buy once, cry once) but super rugged and worry-free.  They looked like jewelry when they were new (and they should, for $125 a pop).

IIRC, I tried to use a machine shop near me to make a set, but they lost the one cast ring I sent to them.      Somewhere in the attic I have three 4X130-5X130 adapters if anyone decides to build a tricycle running Fuchs rims........

Last edited by Gordon Nichols

Yes, the adapters would never fit under rear fenders of a Classic CMC.  I assumed you sold them with the 14" wheels.

5x130 drilled rotor/drums are not expensive though.  Folks often convert the front to disc so there is opportunity there.  Rear drums can be redrilled or replaced ($120 each new).  The CIP1 Fake Fuchs with 5" backset are $145 or $161 polished.  So all in for $1k.

Last edited by WOLFGANG

Wolfgang is absolutely correct. Just buy a new rotor/brake package. Zero-offset 5x130, 4x130, and even 5x205 are available.

Hub-centric wheel spacers are OK, but I'm not a fan of pattern adapters. Longer studs and spacers are the way to go  They just add a failure point.

I'm not 100% sure about rear discs, but for sure drums are zero-offset.

Here's a disc kit with e-brake for 5 x 130 AND Audi 5 x 112:

Last edited by DannyP

So last Saturday, spent 3 hours doing "chores" for Dad, then spent about 1.5 hr putting the rear torsion springs and 1 trailing arm back on the pan.  Had to stop due to time and the fact I couldn't remember which side of the trailing arm the spring plate fits against. I know now and I'll get that done next time...  And maybe even hang the front beam.  Then I'm going to make a support so I can move the pan around the shop and out from under the hanging body..  I have some casters so it's just a matter of some 2x4's..and time, the one thing that's really in short supply.  At least I got something going again.

@WOLFGANG,  front 4x130 disc brakes came on the donor, so I plan to use those to "Build" the car.

@Gordon Nichols, that's exactly what I thought of the spacers.  Which is another reason I sold the wheels.

Drive-able doesn't mean windshield installed, top installed, body painted, or even working lights/gauges… just means go/stop/turn under own power in the driveway  (it's a long driveway so there's plenty of "test" area)  I may even just drive the pan around like this guy...


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My cousin came over and provided a helping hand, so I had some real progress this weekend.. installed front beam, shocks and rotor/hubs.  Also made a spring compressing tool and installed the spring plates and 1 trailing arm..  the other pivot bolt threads were a little damaged, so I'm getting replacement or I would have had both trailing arms installed.   ( @WOLFGANG, only 38.75 more hours why do I think that hours estimate is off by an exponent or 2?)

The presidential ride along at Tour de Smo got me re-energized..  thanks again @Stan Galat.

@Gordon Nichols looks like you went with the transparent aluminum steering column, nice choice.


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  • 20211010_150044[1]: if you don't have the tool, make it
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Yeah, I thought about using a hot rod column from "Ididit" but wound up with one from "I-hid-it" instead.....    Pretty cool, huh?

And I see you've discovered that you can't raise the spring plates using a floor jack without the weight of the body on it!  I ended up wrapping a chain around the floor jack and spring plate (held in place on the plate with a couple of vise grips) and raising it that way.  Later on, I realized I could have offered free beer to the car club guys and they could have sat on the pan drinking while I was raising the plates.    

Live and learn.......

last weekend I got front brakes and MC installed and rear hard brake line routed.  Also steering box installed.. it feels really notchy on center though, that may be first thing to fix after initial assembly and driveway testing..

other side task, replaced the pump on a pressure washer.

rear stub-axle, brakeline flaring and attach on the next up list.

Hey, crazy thought, anybody have any rusty 4 lug VW wheels & 'may-pop' tires they aren't using or willing to loan? I may have a roll-able pan by Turkey day at this rate.   (turning up the heat on you @WOLFGANG better get to work. Oh wait, scratch that, let your project collect sediment, I'm trying to lose this race...)

The snail is back in the race...

I've been dealing with lot's of other stuff over the last few months (too much to list), but wanted to through a speedster update out there.  When I installed the spring plates on the chassis, one of the caps popped out and the end of the torsion spring was flush with the outside of the spring plate's torsion end cap.  You can see this in the photo above of the home-made spring compression tool.  2 weeks ago I took this back apart to see what I did wrong...  the torsion tube is hollow through.. so by installing one side it pushed that torsion bar over far enough that I couldn't get the other torsion bar fully inserted.   Took them both out, Installed torsion bars and measured how much was sticking out to keep them even, then alternating each side tighten the spring plates a little at a time.   My spring compressor's not working so well this time as it needs a holder person and a torquing person and I don't have 4 arms, but at least the torsion bars aren't poking through the end-caps of the spring plate.

So now I know that when I go to adjust spring plates for ride height after I get it 'built', completely do one side then the other.    Also according the internet, the 'stock' unsprung plate angle is ≈22.5° for a Beetle.  (if any builders out there have a better starting point # I'm listening)

This is the case when I'm working on stuff..  I learn as I go & it always seems to take longer the first time..  You-tube helps but does not always tell you the "watch out for this"..   

Now back to your regularly scheduled program.

I wrote an article on how to adjust stock VW rear height back in 2012 and it is up under Resources/Knowledge Base/Adjusting rear height on a VW Speedster.

You have to be a supporting member to access it, but it's all spelled out in great detail with 8 X 10 color glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one.  It uses an IRS car as an example, but setting up a swing-arm rear is exactly the same.

It doesn't care about the original VW unsprung angle of the spring plate - That was done for the factory guys to quickly set up hundreds of cars per day, once and done. The Germans could get away with that.  WE, unfortunately, cannot.

Instead, you get the car finished with the drive train in, seats in, body on, etc, to approach your final weight, then put a person or two into the seats and find side reference points at the rear (I used the top of the wheel well arch on both sides on my CMC, but others on here don't like that way and prefer to use corner scales and reference a point on the pan, but if you don't have a set of scales, then this is the next best thing).  

Measure to the floor from each side point.  You can then decide if you want it to go up or down and by how much per side.  I used a reference point on my tires and made them the same on both sides.  Remember to look up into the top of the wheel well to insure that you have enough tire clearance to the inside of the body when cornering or dealing with bumps (at the same time).  Sitting on the body on that side helps to see what's going on up in there.

Then, there is a table in the article showing inside splines and outside splines and how many of each in which direction (clockwise/anti-clockwise) you need to move to get to where you want to be.  Often that means rotating the inside in one direction and the outside in the other direction to get to the proper ride height (they have different spline counts so inner moves differently than outer).

So that's it, @Wrenn Smith    Become a supporting member of this band of misfits and a whole world of more information becomes available to you.

Last edited by Gordon Nichols

Go ahead and have your fun.  

I'm just sittin' here on the "Group W" Bench........

I got here 'cuz my engineer room-mate, back in 1969, decided to learn the background tune that Arlo was playing all through his monologue.  He played it endlessly while he was doing homework.  I'll never forget it.  Even though I might have to wait for it to come around again.

So let's just wait, while it comes around again......

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