Avoid a dud dub

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying Guide -

Re­sis­tance to rust isn’t a strong point, so care­ful checks are needed. Bolt-on wings en­sure those are easy to re­place, but pay par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to the boot and bon­net lids, the doors, the rear quar­ter pan­els and in­ner wings, and the rain gut­ters. Cor­ro­sion also hits the screen sur­rounds and the bot­tom of the A-pil­lars, both of which can be tricky to re­pair if things have gone too far, and it’s worth en­sur­ing that the bumpers are se­curely at­tached as the mount­ing points rot away. Scru­ti­nise the sills, floor­pan and bulk­head too.

Oily in­spec­tion

Oil leaks tend to come from the rocker cover gas­kets and crankshaft oil seal, the lat­ter sig­ni­fied by drips be­tween the en­gine and gear­box which will re­quire gear­box re­moval to rem­edy, while no­tice­able move­ment at the crank pul­ley (try pulling it back and forth) means ex­ces­sive crankshaft end float and an im­mi­nent re­build. Oil changes ev­ery 3000 miles will do it the power of good, so look for signs of ne­glected main­te­nance, while lumpy run­ning can be caused by per­ished hoses, an ig­ni­tion or fuel sys­tem past its past, or valve gear in need of an over­haul.

Hot stuff

Over­heat­ing will quickly ruin an oth­er­wise sound en­gine, so look for cool­ing flaps that are seized or cor­roded and make sure that the ther­mo­stat hasn’t failed or been re­moved. The tin ware sur­round­ing the unit is im­por­tant in con­trol­ling air flow so make it’s not dam­aged or miss­ing al­to­gether, while cor­roded heat ex­chang­ers can al­low fumes into the cabin with dan­ger­ous con­se­quences, so check them care­fully.

Crunch time

Trans­mis­sion wise, the four-speeder can suf­fer from worn syn­chro­mesh and bear­ings, so check for any nasty noises or jump­ing out of gear on the over­run, while dif­fi­culty se­lect­ing gears can just be a worn link­age which is easy to sort. Re­mov­ing and over­haul­ing the air-cooled mo­tor is a sim­ple task for the DIY-er, so don’t be put off by an en­gine need­ing work es­pe­cially if the body­work is sound.

Hold your sus­pense

The sus­pen­sion is a sim­ple ar­range­ment of tele­scopic dampers and tor­sion bar springs, and needs check­ing for rot around the mount­ing points and gen­eral wear and sag­ging. Over­haul­ing the drum brakes is cheap and easy, but check the steer­ing for ex­ces­sive play be­tween the steer­ing wheel and idler arm; the steer­ing box might not have any ad­just­ment left ei­ther.

Ven­ture in­side

Per­ished win­dow rub­bers will con­trib­ute to a dis­solv­ing floor, and en­sure all the electrics are func­tion­ing as they should be. Old wiring and am­a­teur mod­i­fi­ca­tions are po­ten­tial is­sues, while the Bee­tle switched to 12-volt electrics in 1967 and ear­lier cars may have been con­verted.

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