Tuesday, 3 May 2011

RESTORATION 4: 3rd May FEB 2011

Bodywork almost complete! Car goes to H R Engineering on Thursday to have the rollcage and engine fitted - WOOHOO!

Sunday, 6 March 2011








Wednesday, 23 February 2011



Originally I thought I would slam on a pair of IDF 40's and a big shiny exhaust and just drive the car about and have some fun but pretty soon I started to dream of bigger and better things!

Beetle link fitted the big shiny exhaust (and an alternator conversion kit), but then my brief changed! Once I had strapped a pair on and done the decent thing; namely to put some decent money into the car rather than just trying to patch it up and once I decided that I would try and make it as fast and as fun as possible, I had to think about more power!

The result was weeks of wading through Google search results, hours of calling companies and evaluating the relative merits of the different options available to me and sleepless nights, thinking through my options and weighing up the relative advantages and shortfalls of each……

Here are my thought processes, engines considered and subsequently reasons for rejection and my final choice in order!

1. A Subaru Imprezza Engine.


This was my first choice. Firstly, it’s been done before so it seemed like a sensible place to start. Legacy engines and Scooby engines have been put into loads of buses (nice big engine bays and lots of space), I’ve seen them put into beetles and have spoken to people through researching my engine choice who have put them into Karmann Ghias. They’re reliable as *uc*, donor legacys are cheap as chips on the bay and old shitty scoobies aren’t that expensive either and you get big performance increases!

Phoning round, I quickly found out about RJ Engineering who turned out to be a good company in my experience; again being very generous with their time when I phoned them to ask their advice.

Turns out adaptor plates/bell housings etc. are easily available and relatively inexpensively through them so that you can bolt your existing gearbox to your donor Subaru engine, splice a few wires together and away you go!

Or at least it’s sort of that simple. The one major problem is cooling (as Suburu lumps are liquid cooled). This means locating and getting air to radiators (as well as oil intercoolers depending on the engine you go for).

On my car, this would mean quite major mods so that radiators could go up front, sort of where the spare wheel should be. Then apparently, intake pipes attached to the bonnet nostrils and some form of mechanical ventilation to ensure that enough fresh air is getting to the rads would need to be added to complete the setup.

The people I talked to about installing this type of engine told me this was not a problem but I have owned a couple of bastard cars in the past that always used to overheat (a P36 Range Rover and a Saab 93 stand out in my mind) and so I was a little skeptical. I just have too many bad memories of sitting in traffic jams in the summer, windows open and heating on full blast to try and draw heat away from the engine, praying that steam would not suddenly burst out from under the bonnet not to think this choice might not come with problems….

And so the doubts started to creep in.

As well as my concerns about cooling, I was not entirely satisfied with the concept of putting Japanese power into what was in my mind, turning into a more and more exciting restoration of a classic German car – it just didn’t seem appropriate! Ultimately, I want the car to look like the classic it is but with modern performance and a Subaru engine feels just a tiny bit chavvy – sorry to offend!

And so, in the end I had to concede that the Subaru engine was just not going to cut it and promptly went back to the drawing board…..

2. A Porsche 993 engine.

It’s been done already; although I’m guessing most of you know that! I’m sure not the only person to have gazed longingly at the Bader Racing car on the web and if you haven’t, check it out – it’s an AMAZING car!:


Why couldn’t I do this to my car, just cutting costs along the way to make it more realistic I decided?

I found an engine easily enough (complete and including ECU) with moderate mileage and limited history on E-bay for around £4,000 and quickly discovered that I could pick up a smilar box for around £3,000.

Assuming I would need to strip and re-build both and loosely factoring in the bare essential upgrades (exhaust etc.) I would need as well, I estimated the parts cost to be £10,000.

Next I called round garages to look at installation costs and quickly realized that there would be another big number to contend with….. Major chassis mods mean big money and so I quickly upped the estimate for my engine choice to £15k and not 10!

And then the doubts started to creep in; AGAIN!

Obviously I was becoming increasingly worried about cost! The famous project on the web I mentioned before – the one with the silver Karmann with the 993 RS engine and all bespoke suspension etc. was rumored to have cost a quarter million (US I think?)!!

Awfully sorry, but to my mind that is way too much money for this sort of thing! Give me a quarter of a million dollars and force me to be idiotic enough to waste it all on cars and there would be a Bentley S2 continental convertible and a XK120 drop head in the driveway and probably still enough change to by the missus an MX-5 and a new pair of shoes and not just a very, very, very nice Karmann Ghia!

And then, in some ways more concerning to me was the weight of the engine. I know Porsche are living testimony to the fact that you can stick an engine wherever you like if you are clever enough about suspension but to be honest, I was still concerned!

And so, a mixture of cost, complexity and weight (sounding more and more like a girlfriend I know!) made me realize that this was not the way to go either…..

And so with no further ado and now that I have waffled through the third place and runners up engines, what I have finally chosen to fit:

3. A good old-fashioned, age-appropriate, big bore, fuel injected, race-spec beetle engine!!!!

All the people I have spoken to that are both knowledgeable and impartial have kept mentioning the same people when it comes to gearbox and engine choices; namely Pete at Cogbox for gearboxes and Mark at AirKraft for high performance engines.

If you’ve checked out my update on gearbox choices, you will already know that I am aiming to use a Porshe 915 box that was built by Cogbox with a Quaife limited slip diff that is currently owned by Pete at AirKraft for use in his car.

Yet another person I have managed to find that is both genuine and generous with his time, Mark at AirKraft appears to be the last word in air-cooled veedub engines in the UK:

Unfortunately the website is in it’s infancy and for some reason most of the writing is in bloody Latin, but the pictures of his work will give you the general idea! Here’s just a small sample of his engine builds just so you get the idea:

Although the exact specification of the engine I will go for has not yet been formalized, our discussions have left me with no doubt that this is the way to go.

The long and short is that for circa. £7,500 I can easily get 200BHP plus with a fuel injection big-bore setup and by pushing out the boat to £10,000 or so, I can get turbo assistance and in so doing, raise my BHP up to maybe 300 or beyond…..

At this stage I am not sure if I really want to go for the turbo option (having concerns about reliability and turbo lag – ultimately I want a fun car that’s great fun on snaking alpine roads rather than an out-and-out homicidal killing machine that will scare the shit out of my every time I stamp on the throttle – unfortunately the boy racer in me is constantly fighting the urge to do this at all times!) but will know more once we have honed down on specification.

What is clear is that I will have a derivation of the engine that should be in the car, pumping out PLENTY of power and with half decent reliability and not too much weight so all in all, I am pleased with my choice.

And getting the box already done, tried and tested from Mark and built by Pete at Cogbox saves me some of my re-build cost and means that I can leave the car with him and get both engine and gearbox done in one hit – perfect!

More updates to follow as soon as I have gone down to Truro for meetings to firm up engine options! Any comments, advice, experiences much needed and most welcome as always!

Regards and thanks in advance!



If you look at my wheels section you will see that I am using Porsche 6x16 (ET50 offset) boxster wheels. Similarly, if you look in the suspension section, you will see that I am using Red 9 Design’s independent double wishbone front end and IRS upgrade kits.

The combination of these ingredients thankfully means that I have the space to leave behind beetle brakes and fit something big and mean!

Right, here is what I have decided to go with:

Calipers: ProRace 7 from Compbrake in yellow (£300 plus VAT):

These are pretty much exact copies of 996 911/Boxster calipers. They work well on my 911 so they’ll be even better on a car that ways over half a ton less!

Discs: ROTOR 310 mm X 28 mm 12 bolt SINGLE 7" Pcd from Compbrake (£230 plus VAT for a pair):

Compbrake are confident that these outperform standard 911 discs. Slatted means less prone to cracking than drilled, big vents and the biggest discs I can physically get inside a 16” rim.

Alos, the fact that these are two piece discs means that Red 9 can fabricate their own bells to eliminate problems with spacing for the wheels.

Hubs: From the front end of a Porsche 944 (can only find them second hand but would be lovely if someone could tell me where I could get a new pair!):

And finally,

Pads: Ferrodo DS2500 Competition pads (part ref. SCP891) from Balance Motorsport (at a massive £217 for a set including carriage).

I always thought EBC Yellow Stuff were the best but apparently not! The firm is run by a chap called Julian – knows his stuff, was very generous with his time and says they are the best you can get – progressive, maximum feel and stopping power. Seems like a shit-load of money for a set of pads (especially seeing as I will probably need the same for the back) but I guess it’s gotta be done!

So, what does everyone think? Any better ideas (let me know quick as I am about to order!)

Let me know and thanks in advance,



Tuesday, 22 February 2011


You can probably tell from some of the stuff in this blog that I am by NO MEANS a technical expert and am basically working on a mixture of research, intuition, advice and deep pockets! I don’t even really know if I can have a bigger tank sitting further forward but it seems like a good idea – any comments welcome!

I don’t actually think there is anything physically wrong with the standard tank that is currently in the car but the reason that I am thinking about changing it is two fold:

1. Range – I would like the biggest tank I can find so that I can minimize time between stops at the pumps. I plan to tour Europe once the car is done (my family all live in the South of France) and don’t really want to spend hours scouring villages on the coast looking for pumps as I have been forced to in the past.

2. Weight distribution – I am keen to balance the car as close to 50/50 as possible so that when I show it a bend it doesn’t just throw it’s arse at the nearest tree post!

The engine choice I have made should not be a great deal heavier than the correct engine currently in the car but the stereo, the roll cage and the original makeup of the car make me think it is more than likely to be a little back-heavy. On this basis, I am thinking that I should probably use a new cellular race type tank (like the one we had in our track car) and mount it as far forward in the front of the far as possible to try and get close as I can to 50/50 weight distribution.

SO, has anyone done this? Does anyone have any ideas they could suggest on which product to use/who to use to fabricate/where to place the tank?

As usual, thanks in advance!


RESTORATION 3: 22nd FEB 2011

Body and chassis finally separated!

The soon to be beautiful body!

The soon to be radically altered chassis - not the awkward angle of my rear wheels!

Another body shot!

Inverted to cut out yet MORE RUST!

New floorpans going on.

Work in progress.

50L of O2 used already - next bottle on order!

Holes where rust used to be:

Sad, lonely engine (for sale if anyone wants a decent and complete 1600TP?)

Engine again.

The least rusty bit of the car:

Heater channels - or at least sort of haha

New cills - bought them off the KGOC noticeboard - not exactly straight but we'll make do I'm told:

More, more, more rust:


New rear valance on:



Stripping back started properly!

 The last owner decided to weld the body to the chassis right the way round the car - not very helpful!
 Whenever there was some rust, the last owner just welded a plate over the top and buried it - again, very helpful! Notice the way my car does not even resemble the shape of the panel parts. Reckon most of the lower back of my car was just random scrap welded on.....
 Not the same shape by about three bloody inches here:

 Lots of filler everywhere!
 Lots less filler here:
 It will have to get worse before it gets better I guess!