Idle Chatter | High Performance 101 | Reviews | Storing your Beetle | Tech Talk with Rick
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The Absorber: We all wash and wax our cars and there's not much that you need to do this chore except a bucket, sponge, hose and a chamois to dry with. The traditional chamois by definition is a "soft, pliant leather, prepared originally from the skin of the chamois, but now made also from the skin of the sheep, goat, kid, deer, and calf." If you use a shammy (slang term) to dry your car then you know the routine. Get it wet, wipe the car, wring the water out and repeat until the car is dry.

Well there's a new product on the market that could put the chamois industry out of business. It's called the Absorber and it absorbs three times faster than a traditional chamois or sponge. You can use this amazing product anywhere you would use a towel, chamois or sponge. It holds 50% more water, and is resistant to most chemicals. You can get down and dirty with Absorber because it is unharmed by grease, oil, and detergents. It takes a little practice to get good at using it. When I first tackled my Beetle, I found that if you scrunch it up it works best. If you try and use it flat it is so absorbent that it will stick to the car and you'll slide right off it. The Absorber gets every drop of water so you can dry the car in one go with no touch ups needed. It is lint-less, comes in a bunch of colors and lasts for years. When you are finished using it, wring it out and pop it back into it's own plastic container so it's damp and ready to use next time. If it gets dirty just throw it in the wash and it's good as new!

The Absorber



The Greatest VW Show on Earth by Bug Me Video: For those of you that don't know Rick Higgens, he's the guy from Bug Me Video that shows you how to maintain your vintage Beetle with his informative instructional video tapes. Rick had just released his latest video on wiring your Beetle, it's a fantastic tool to have when you're trying to sort out a short or replace the wiring harness in your car.

Rick has decided to take off his coveralls and get out of the garage this summer with a visit to the Classic Car Show in Irvine CA. With Rick's new video you can ride along to the DKPIII cruise night where you will meet the legendary cars and their builders. This portion of the tape shows some pretty wicked burn-outs as DKPIII Crew departs for the night. Next stop is a visit to some of California's top VW parts and accessory vendors. You get a chance to tour the Empi warehouse and visit the showroom of Bill & Steve's Auto Parts. The action keeps on going when you meet crazy Lenny Copp of West Coast Classic Restoration and then travel to see the West Coast Metric building and some of the rare cars in their museum. Other stops along the way are Kymco Motorsport, BFY Obsolete parts and another tour, this time at Gene Berg Enterprises. The footage shot at these famous locations is worth the price of the video alone.

The classic weekend continues with the O.C.T.O. vintage Bus show, a visit to the VW Toy and literature show and a huge gathering with nearly 300 others at Fudruckers restaurant. On Sunday of course is the grand finale with the VW Classic. After watching this video you'll feel as if you've been there and want to attend again next year. Available on DVD this is a must for anyone that is into the air-cooled VW scene. I absolutely loved it!

Mid America Motorworks


The Beetle - Keith Seume's celebration of the world's favorite car: Don't let the picture on the cover fool you. Of the 416 pages in this post card sized book only 29 of them are about the New Beetle. The rest of them feature some of the most amazing photos of the classic Beetle dating back to the 1934 NSU Prototype. Some of the vehicles that appear in the book are owned by Volkswagen AG and others by some fortunate collectors from around the world. The NSU Prototype, of which only three where ever built, is only one of the ultra rare vehicles that you can read about in The Beetle. I thought that I had heard of ever variation of VW until I read about the 1952 Stoll Coupe. This custom made one-off coupe that was produced for a wealthy customer that wanted his VW to stand out in the crowd. Although this unique hump backed coupe never gained factory recognition like the Hebmuller or the beautifully styled Rometsch, it is still an outstanding example of the love that people had for their Beetles back in the 1950's.

The book also covers in great detail the Kubelwagen, Schwimmwagen, Type 2 Kombi and Karmann Ghia. Type 3 and 4 owners I'm sorry to say will be disappointed that they are not even mentioned. I got his book from a friend and you might have a hard time finding a copy because I believe that it is out of print. I found some new and used copies for sale by searching the title on the Internet. So if you'd like an excellent little book with fantastic pictures it's worth hunting for.

The Beetle


Getting the bugs out - The rise, fall, and comeback of Volkswagen in America: I met the author, David Kiley, at the Michigan Vintage Volkswagen show in May. After a few words I picked up a copy of his new book to read and review at the site. I started reading and enjoying another rendition of the Beetle's History. Kiley follows the Beetle from its birth up until the introduction of the New Beetle and at that point goes back in time to show everything that went wrong with Volkswagen as a company in America.

Covered in great detail is the famous DDB advertising that started in the 1960's. I have always loved those ads and everyone remembers the world famous "Lemon" ad that won Volkswagen praise (and lots of new customers) from around the world. The relationship between VW and the DDB agency was a very special one, and it was interesting to find out that VW eventually had to replace them in America as part of the turn around that was needed to keep the company on US shores.

Not everyone knows just how close VW came to pulling out of North America altogether. Reading this book makes you feel like an insider at Volkswagen and you can almost feel the tension in the boardroom as the management of Volkswagen tries to get this huge company back on track. "Visionary. Conceited aristocrat. Obsessive. Driven to extremes. Dangerous. Ultrafocused. Chauvinist. Rottweiler of the motor world. Belligerent street fighter". These are all possible descriptions of VW chairman Dr. Ferdinand Piëch states Kiley. Piëch runs VWAG with a passion, "Getting the bugs out" puts you at his side. I loved this book and once you get into it you won't be able to put it down.

Getting the Bugs Out


bug-The Strange Mutations of the World's Most Famous Automobile: Think you know a lot about the history of the VW Beetle? Think again. This new book by Phil Patton covers every detail from the Beetles inception, up to the New Beetle and beyond. I would call this book a "thinking-persons biography on the Beetle". Rather than just covering the facts pertaining to the World's Most Famous Automobile, Patton discusses in great detail the effect that the Bug has had on the world and the effect that the world has had on the bug. We all take for granted the fact that the Volkswagen Beetle was the "peoples car." But there were in fact several peoples cars, and only one of them was made by Volkswagen.

The author spins quite an intellectual tale, connecting the Beetle to Bauhaus design, Coca-Cola, the Austin Mini, Henry Ford and of course the Concept One. It's interesting to note that the New Beetle design that came out of North America and stopped VW from pulling out of the US market, was not widely accepted back in Germany. In North America the New Beetle reminded people of the fun and carefree 60's, while overseas that era was something that was best left in the past. Meanwhile back home in Germany VW went to great efforts to raise the visibility of all Volkswagen product by opening a theme park called "Autostadt" (similar to Niketown in the USA) in Wolfsburg - "to stand as a testament to the way that the company had changed: how VW had discovered the cult of the brand" the book states. A very enjoyable book that challenges you to think about all the different ways that the bug has changed our world.

bug


Progress Motors: When I brought my Super back from British Columbia I needed it checked out to see where I stood mechanically. The dealership where I work used to be a Volkswagen dealer and we still have a few of the technicians working for us. One of them left years ago to start his own garage called Progress Motors. Emilio is what I refer to as an honest mechanic. I'm not saying that most aren't, it's just that I know him and would recommend him to anyone. If he tells you that your cars needs something believe me it does. He doesn't advertise his shop and all his customers come via word of mouth recommendation. As a factory trained VW technician he has worked on AIr-Cooled Beetles for years and rebuilt the engine and replaced the clutch on my car.

A couple of weeks ago I took the Super to him after an oil change that I did at home because it was leaking oil. I gave him the keys, asked him to fix the oil leak and to give the car the once over and fix what ever was required. When I came back to pick up the car a few hour later Emilio told me how the treads in the block and come out and the stud (that had already been replaced by a 6mm to 8mm step stud) would not stay in. Emilio installed a helicoil in the block and solved the problem. As for the rest of the car he told me "there's nothing here for me to fix here" and handed me the keys. If you're located in the GTA and want excellent service for any car, not just your VW, give him a call (416) 781-7088 ...tell him Wayne sent you!

Progress Motors



K&N Filter Charger Air Filter: The filter on my Super Beetle wasn't very dirty but I'd heard so many good things about K&N filters I figured it was about time to find out for myself. I called the local jobber and ordered the correct one for my car which happened to be part number #33-2001 for the 1975 fuel injected Super Beetle. It was about twice the price of the original stock VW filter but it also comes with a million mile warranty. Most filters don't come with any warranty at all. If you take the time and go to their web site you'll find tons of information and realize that air filtration is a real science to them.

Paper filters are made from compressed fibers. The spaces between these fibers provide microscopic holes the air must pass through. One by one, these holes become plugged with dirt and dust particles. Once a hole becomes plugged, the air must find an alternate route through the medium. This process is known as surface loading. As the surface of the filter collects more dirt, its resistance to air flow increases because there are fewer and fewer holes left open and as restriction goes up, horsepower and fuel economy go down. The way that dirt collects or loads on the K&N filter is very different. A paper filter exhibits "surface loading" which means dust collects only on the surface of the media. In contrast, K&N filters exhibit "depth loading". The multiple layers of cotton fibers provide many levels of dust retention. This characteristic allows the K&N filter to hold many times more dirt per square inch of media than the average paper filter.

The filter fit perfectly and I noticed that my Super Beetle had more pep and improved fuel economy as well. When you add up all the facts about the K&N product and that this will likely be the last air filter that you will ever buy for your car I think its a great deal. When it gets dirty you simply wash, re-oil it, then reinstall it and you're good to go.

K&N Air Filter


LeBra's Front End Mask: Protecting the front end of your Beetle is an important job so trusting it to just any product would be foolish. There are a lot of different front end mask manufactures out there all producing bras that are supposed to do the same job. But there is a bit more to it than that. LeBra has been producing automotive products since 1965 and has over 500 members on staff supplying demand worldwide. I noticed that the fit and finish on the full bra that I purchased was perfect. When installed there were no sags and it fit the hood snugly. This is important as you don't want the bra "flapping" in the wind and damaging the paint. The bra is lined with a white non-woven fleece and has a micro-perforated finish on the vinyl. This allows the mask to "breathe" and permits moisture vapor to evaporate when the vehicle is driven in wet weather. Still, if a mask becomes wet and is going to be left sitting in the sun, it is recommended that it be removed to allow the backing to dry properly.

On a recent trip to Michigan my LeBra Front End Mask protected the hood of my Beetle for over 370 miles. When I removed it the hood was clean and most importantly chip and "bug" free, excuse the pun. I always use it when going on long trip and don't use it for daily driving but depending on where you live it might be a good idea to leave in on all the time.


VW Beetle - The Car of the 20th Century: Do we really need another book about the history of the VW Beetle? After reading this fantastic book, the answer is a resounding YES! This is the newest book on the VW Beetle from Veloce Publishing out of the UK. And in my opinion is one of the best on the history of the Beetle and every model ever produced. The way the book is presented is one of the most interesting things about it. Richard Copping covers all aspects of the car from it's inception, right up to the Beetles that are still rolling off the assembly line in Mexico. While taking you along this journey the book features beautiful examples of Beetles from the time period being written about, complete with their own story. The book contains over 200 mainly colour photographs and illustrations and has many pages highlighted in blue that explain in detail some of the controversial issues of the era. I'm sure some of the facts uncovered for this book will surprise even the most knowledgeable VW enthusiast.

While reading the book I came across the story of the "Stamp Saver" period that I'm sure most of you are familiar with. During the 2nd World War German people would send 5DM weekly to pay for their VW which was yet to be produced. In return for their payment they would get a stamp to stick in their stamp saver book. Once the book was filled the car was to be delivered. It's a known fact that none of these cars were ever received and people sued after the war and eventually were given a form of restitution. It was thought by some that the money was used for the war effort by the then ruling Nazi party. But the book states that all of the money, 280,000,000DM was found in the Bank of German Labor in Berlin after the war and taken by the Allied Russian forces. The book winds up with a chapter about the history of the convertible, and goes into incredible detail covering the Hebmuller and of course the Karmann Ghia. A very interesting read! ISBN 1-901295-86-9

VW Beetle Book



Pertronix Ignitor, Coil and Ignition Wires: The Volkswagen ignition system hasn't changed much over the years. It still consists of a set of points, condenser, coil, and ignition wires. And as the saying goes "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". But what if you could make it work better? The Pertronix ignitor replaces the points and condenser. It delivers twice the voltage to the spark plugs and is supposed to increase fuel economy, horsepower and plug life. But does it work? I installed the complete Pertronix system including wires, coil and ignitor on my Super and here's how it went.

The installation was quite easy. The instructions are fairly clear but vary depending on whether your VW has an external ballast resistor or not. Here's a hint during installation. The two wires that run to the coil have a grommet on them. This is a two piece grommet even though it looks like one piece! Be sure to slide one off then feed the wires through the hole in the distributor and put the grommet back on again. I left the condenser on my distributor (without the wire) so it looks totally stock because the ignitor unit fits under the cap.

The Flame Thrower coil puts out 40,000 volts which delivers an average of 15% more spark energy and voltage. Installs with only two bolts and comes in stock look black or chrome. I had to add a forth terminal on the positive side of mine because the fuel injected Super has a whole lot if wires on the coil. Super easy to install.

The Flame Thrower wires come with a spiral wound stainless steel alloy and a carbon impregnated fiberglass center core for two current paths.They have a lifetime warranty and are heat resistant. Fairly easy to install as long as you do one wire at a time so you don't mix them up. When it came time to slide the wires behind the engine I had to take the boot off to fit them through because it's a tight fit back there. If you are switching from the OEM wires to these, you better keep the screw-on ends for your spark plugs because the wires require them for snapping on.

When the moment of truth came I turned the key and it fired up pronto, in about half the cranking time it usually takes. During the test drive the first thing I noticed was that the car pulled stronger through all the gears and accelerated onto the highway a lot quicker.

To sum up the results the car ran quicker, smoother, got better gas mileage and started faster. I'm not saying you have to put the complete system in. I think the ignitor would be a good place to start because the benefits justify the cost of the unit. You can always add the other items when it's time to change the old ones. The instructions could be a bit more detailed and include some helpful hints. (E.g.. removing the grommet on the ignitor wire and the height of the magnetic pickup in relation to the ignitor unit). I have spoken to Pertronix about these issues and they are looking into them. But all in all, with no points or condenser to wear out, adjust or replace, I think it's a great idea!

Pertronix VW Ignition Kit


Bug Me Video VW Repair & Maintenance Video and DVDs: I'm the kind of Volkswagen guy that knows how to do an oil change, a tune-up and maybe adjust the brakes. But when it comes to doing some of the more involved stuff I usually take my Super to my local garage and open my wallet. Bug Me Video has come the aid of those of us that want to do more but don't really know where to start. Better than your average shop manual these videos walk you through such everyday things as an oil change to a valve adjustment and right up to a complete motor rebuild. Rick really knows his Volkswagens and these videos are very professionally done. He comes across as a very friendly guy that you would see on any of those hot rod or car maintenance shows on television. I know after watching these videos I will definitely attempt more of the repairs myself. The good thing is you pick the video that you are interested in. The titles include, general maintenance, brake maintenance, complete engine rebuild, pull motor/clutch, transmission replacement and many more. A good place to start would be the general maintenance video which covers oil changes, adjusting the brakes, tune up, adjusting the clutch, setting the timing and lots more. Even if you already work on your VW I'm sure you could still learn a thing or two from these excellent tapes.

California Import Parts


Omega taillights: I replaced the taillights on my Super Beetle about a year ago with a pair of universal copies that came from Brazil. They used a universal rectangular reflector instead of the left/right square reflector of the original. They looked fine but when it came to using them at night, they weren't all that bright. The three bulbs (two 1156 and one 1157) that were used inside did not have a shiny metal reflector behind them and burned a dim red colour.

CIP1.com to the rescue! I told them of the problem that I was having and he suggested the Omega replacement taillight from, (of all places) Italy. First of all, this light is as close as you can get to an OEM VW unit. The only difference that I could spot was the "Omega" name that is stamped into lenses (and you can hardly notice that). It even has the original gray base whereas the Brazilian one was black. This unit uses four 1156 bulbs like the factory VW light, and has full reflectors inside to get the light out at night.

CIP1's replacement lights install in minutes using the original wiring configuration. These units have a plastic plate that goes between the base of the light and the rear fender (just like the original). This plate helps to keep the mud and water away from the wiring and also from the inside of the light. You can see from the pictures that these lights are manufactured with a definite left and right side. Here's a tip, in case you've got the taillights switched on your Beetle, the square reflector that is part of the lenses, goes to the outside of your rear fender. When I was halfway through the installation, I lit them up to see how the Omega light compared to the old Brazilian unit, and I was shocked. The CIP light was at least twice as bright and made me doubt if you could even see the brake light in the old ones during the day. If you've got worn out, cracked or broken taillights on your Beetle, these units will keep your car looking like new for a fraction of the price of the original.

California Import Parts


Classic Volkswagens: I really don't want to get into the debate over which years of Volkswagens are the "Classic" ones. I think any air cooled Beetle is a classic, but the pictures in this book are the best that I've ever seen of any Volkswagen! It's subtitled "The Beetles & other models from 1938" and it has pictures of almost any Classic VW product you can name and some that I didn't know even existed. There are some pictures of special bodied Volkswagens like the "Rometsch Beeskow" and the "Dannenhauser & Stauss Cabrio" that are possibly the most beautiful cars I've ever seen! It also contains a very interesting history of Volkswagen that goes into great detail about the creation of the Beetle. I learned a few things that I never knew, for example. The name Volkswagen was used in 1932 by Standard Fahrzeugfabrik for their remarkably Beetle-like car that even had a air-cooled rear engine. That was two years before Hitler announced that he was going to support the production of the Deutschen Volkswagen.

Classic Volkswagens


Bug Tales: I learned 3 things after reading "Bug tales"; most people "name" their beloved Vw, everybody has a VW story of some sort to tell and always take a throttle cable with you where ever you go! This has got to be one of the most interesting collections of VW stories ever compiled. You never know what is going to happen next. I laughed, I cried and was always surprised at the things that can happen in, around and on top of a Beetle! What makes this book so nice is the author is a VW fanatic like the rest of us and contributes a couple of pretty wild stories of his own. Like the time the throttle cable broke on his friends bug. Paul ended up sitting on the back bumper working the throttle while his buddy yelled "shift!" when he changed gears. Believe it or not they made it to the repair shop that way! You'll love this book even if you don't own a VW!

Bug Tales


My Bug: I just finished reading "My Bug" by Michael J. Rosen. It's a collection of VW stories and memories by various people including Russell Baker, George Plimpton and many more. Did you know there were 250 "Herbies" used in the making of all the "Herbie" movies? The book has hundreds of interesting photographs and drawings. It's really quite a nice coffee table book. Some of the stories are really very touching while others are downright LMAO funny.

My Bug

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