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If it's old enough to be an original (Hawaiian Gardens) VS and has only 1200 miles on the clock, it's very likely the carbs were never set up properly to begin with (and this may be partly why the original owner sold it).

Setting up the carbs is not difficult, but it's something that must be done with every car before it will run decently. They are never right fresh out of the box, guaranteed.

There's lots of good information on doing this in our archives. If you are a wrenching type, you can probably work this out yourself. If not, pay someone who can, to do this and you will be good.

Return with us now to the days of yesteryear, when folks resigned themselves to dealing with the idiosyncrasies of carburetors. They run very differently when cold than when hot — especially if they have no chokes (and ours don't).

Generally, without chokes, the warmed-up idle must be set a little higher than normal to allow the car to run at all when stone cold. But first, the linkage and the jets and the mixture adjustments must be right, not to mention a check of the distributor performance and the ignition timing.

It all sounds daunting at first, but it's not.

Let us know how you're getting on and there will be more advice here than you can ever imagine — some of it helpful.



@Popee posted:

...Can you recommend a good VW guy in Orange County California?


Well, no.

Most self-respecting north state residents deny knowledge of anything that happens south of about Lodi, but we do have a healthy membership down in La-La land who should be piping up here.

You may want to contact Greg Leach at Vintage Motorcars (who moved into the old VS shop when VS changed ownership). Greg is very busy building new cars, but may be able to work on your car or recommend someone who can.

BTW, do you know what kind of carbs you have?

Change the fuel filter(s) and drain any old gas from the tank for starters. Once you get it started with starter fluid, let it run for awhile. Run the rpms up and let it get to operating temperature. Drive it around awhile and see how it behaves. It may just need to flush itself out.

This is the exact first step instructions.   Fresh gas and fuel filter will do wonders.

@Popee You say the car runs well. Does it idle smooth once warm? Is the engine responsive and smooth under load?

Is it just the cold start that is a problem?

If so, it may be that you just need to figure out what the car wants when it's cold.

I have an example for you(and this is NOT a reflection on you!).

I have a customer with a sand rail, 1835cc with dual 35mm Solexes(that I installed and tuned). The carbs have electric chokes and it runs and starts well from cold.

However, he came out to visit me one day, and had trouble starting the car when it was warm. The car had sat for about 15 minutes. He simply turned the key for a LONG time until it caught.

Now, me, I've had carbs all my life, but he had ALL injected cars. All he needed to do was VERY slightly crack the throttle as he turned the key. Instant start, let off the gas, perfect idle.

There was nothing wrong, just needed to give the car what it needed. Now he has no trouble at all, anytime.

As I said above, maybe you just have to experiment and figure out what the car wants when it's cold. They can be cantankerous and difficult when cold.


I'm a little surprised that none of the SoCal owners have popped up on this thread to identify a VW mechanic they trust near Santa Ana.

So knowing full well that it's a 3-hour drive to get practically anywhere down there, I would suggest that you call the folks at Vintage Motorcars Inc. in Hawaiian Gardens and ask who they might recommend for a VW shop within a reasonable drive that could check out your car and set up the carbs for you.  Anna will probably answer the phone (business hours) or you can ask for Greg, the owner, but Anna is really a good source for info like this.

Their contact page and phone number:

Another good info source would be one of the many Aircooled VW clubs in SoCal, so google "aircooled volkswagen club of southern california" (Click on it - It's a link) and start looking into some of them.  Old VW people are the most helpful on Earth.

Last edited by Gordon Nichols

Seems 1/2 the pictures one sees of a VW engine there is a 59 cent clear plastic fuel filter hanging near distributor --- just waiting to crack/melt/leak and destroy the car.  We all collectively cringe.  I have a clear glass one up under fuel tank -- almost as bad but it's nice to be able to see if there's rust collecting in it.  The steel ones are preferred for safety.  (Do carry a good size fire extinguisher with you!)

NO, NO ---- 803-201-511C Plastic Fuel Filter For Vw & Other Fits Both 5/16 & 1/4

Another issue could be the fuel pump - you didn't say if still mechanical or an electric add-on.  With electric one should turn on key and wait until pump stops running.  Mechanical takes engine turning over.  Many use the $16 Empi/Facet vibrating electric pumps which aren't very good (and frequently fail).  A good rotary pump is worth the $75 (but check volume - you may need a fuel pressure regulator to reduce pressure and keep it consistent).

toasted 356


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Last edited by WOLFGANG


If your car is a Hawaiian Gardens VS, it probably has only one fuel filter, and it's likely not in the engine compartment.

You probably have a mechanical fuel pump, mounted near the distributor. Follow the fuel lines from that. One will lead to the carbs, the other passes through the firewall at the front of the compartment. The fuel filter is usually just on the other side of that partition.

It's probably a metal canister, about three inches long. The problem is that it's usually mounted very high in the narrow compartment just ahead of the engine compartment, accessible from underneath the car, but hard to reach unless the car is up on a lift.

My car had no filter just under the gas tank (although installing one isn't a bad idea). If your filter is in that narrow compartment in the back of the car and mounted high up, there's a good risk of dowsing yourself with gas when trying to remove it unless you're prepared.

As the Boy Scouts say, be prepared.


Last edited by Sacto Mitch

Mine did that suddenly (gears became hopeless), and it required a new linkage. The old one had just shattered apart. Happily, it's easy enough to check by opening the little panel just above the back bench, behind the seats on the transmission tunnel. It should be under a flap of carpet. It's even easy to fix yourself, if that's the problem (and you'll be able to see the broken pieces easily).....and you can order the part quickly enough.

There is another place to check, at the base of the gear lever, which is just a small rubber ring to be replaced, but your description sounded just like my problem - which was the first fix described above.

There are 2 types of couplers ,

one style has the hockey stick coming out of the gearbox which goes into a round metal piece , then a round “rubber piece” in the center ,  then the metal  front section has a hole for the shift rod to slide into ,

the other style is rectangular with a metal cage that holds rectangular rubber pieces that a screw goes thru ,  the shift road has a metal sleeve on the end where the screw goes thru ,

There have been some real junk couplers thru the years, if there are German ones get one ,

Simple to change yourself …..

@Popee posted:

To all who gave advice, thank you so much. The issue with the shifting were the 2 red bushings on the shift rod coupler. It was a very easy repair thanks to you and YouTube. Actually had a fun time doing the replacement. Merry Christmas to all.

Can’t figure out how to attach a picture. Sorry I’m old and not technical much.


Try not to use any of the red urethane crap; everything made from it is useless. Try to get OEM or at least OEM style rubber ones; they'll last an eternity.

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