Street Machine - - Contents - BOB KOTMEL


THE feel-good story you’re about to read epit­o­mises what street ma­chin­ing is all about. Geoff Polinowski’s plain white, 100 per cent street-driven VW Bee­tle sleeper, built over the past 15 years from a bare ’63 shell, has run [email protected], and he has per­formed nearly all the work him­self, in­clud­ing build­ing the 2180cc, 180hp en­gine.

Many of the parts used in the build come from Paul Wil­son at Wil­son’s VW Ser­vices at Bak­ers Creek. Ray Bleak­ley helped with the body­work and rolled some of the sheet metal re­quired to patch the rust up, while Shane Noble did the white paintjob for a car­ton of Great North­ern beer, and from 20 feet away it looks awe­some.

The shell was fit­ted to a 1970 floor­pan with a two-inch-nar­rowed CB Per­for­mance front beam, 2½-inch drop spin­dles and Type 3 drum brakes. An Irs/cv-joint Type 3 trailin­garm sus­pen­sion was in­stalled in the back, with 1970 disc brakes. Wheels are Porsche 911 Fuchs items with Chi­nese tyres. Geoff found he was only get­ting around three months’ wear from the Pirellis and switched to the low-dol­lar ‘off­shore’ rub­ber sim­ply for fi­nan­cial rea­sons.

The gear­box is pretty much stock ex­cept for the Scat straps and a Stage 1 Kennedy clutch. There’s a $15 quick­shift part that turns the sloppy stock gear­stick move­ment into a pre­cise short-shift­ing cog-swap­per.

Back in 2003, Brazil­ian com­pany Au­to­linea brought out bul­let­proof af­ter­mar­ket alu­minium VW en­gine cases, and Geoff re­ceived one of the first im­ported into Aus­tralia. In blown or tur­bocharged ap­pli­ca­tions, these Type 1 cases are meant to be good for 650-700hp.

The hor­i­zon­tally op­posed air-cooled four­cylin­der has seen a cou­ple of cranks. The first was a DPR crank with a 74mm stroke and a Mahle 92mm, 9.2:1-com­pres­sion big-bore kit, which works out at 1967cc. This is the set-up that saw the Bee­tle run [email protected] Since then, an 82mm Scat crank, Cle­vite 77 bear­ings and CB Per­for­mance rods have been fit­ted, for a ca­pac­ity of 2180cc. The 870kg Bee­tle (with driver) hasn’t made a pass down the quar­ter with this big­ger en­gine yet.

The heads on the 180hp mo­tor were ported by Keith Foster from Bad Air in Hamil­ton, NZ, who now re­sides in Eimeo, Queens­land. They are fit­ted with 40mm in­takes and 35.5mm ex­hausts, with Scat heavy-duty springs. The camshaft is an En­gle FK-87 grind and pushrods are Scat chrome-moly. Dual 44mm down­draught We­bers feed the en­gine with 98-oc­tane.

A stan­dard oil pump with a brazed ex­tended pick-up pro­vides oil pres­sure from a deep sump filled with seven litres of Pen­rite HPR 30 oil. The stock fan for the air-cool­ing sys­tem has been welded and bal­anced and is now good for more than 6500rpm with­out fly­ing apart. Brad at Westside Muf­flers in Syd­ney cus­tom-built the stain­less-steel 15/8inch ex­trac­tors, fit­ted with a Varex re­mote­con­trol muf­fler.

For daily com­mut­ing, a milder En­gle W110 cam and 40mm We­bers are fit­ted, and 30 litres of fuel lasts about a week-and-a-half of Geoff driv­ing to and from work.

The en­gine is about to un­dergo an­other trans­fig­u­ra­tion to 2276cc with Wiseco 94mm pis­tons and bar­rels. This will re­quire strip­ping the en­gine and ma­chin­ing the cases for the big­bore bar­rels. Su­per Flo heads done by Jack Sac­chette in the USA – fit­ted with ti­ta­nium 48mm in­takes and 38mm ex­haust valves – are sit­ting on the work bench, and Geoff is sav­ing up for a pair of 51.5mm We­bers to match the com­bi­na­tion. Com­pres­sion will go from 9.2:1 to 12:1 with these new heads. The goal is 220hp, which will give the Bee­tle high 11-sec­ond ca­pa­bil­ity at 113mph. So far, just the en­gine parts alone tally up to $11K.

Also on the to-do list is a pair of 15-inch drag ra­di­als. With the en­gine sit­ting be­hind the back wheels, one thing Bee­tles do is hook up any­where. I’ve seen plenty of bikes mono when tak­ing off from the traf­fic lights, but never seen a car pop the front wheels in the air. While Geoff is not about to try it – his li­cence is too pre­cious – this is one car that could.

Speak­ing of feel-good sto­ries, a big thank you to our lo­cal fed­eral mem­ber, Ge­orge Chris­tensen, for help­ing the 50-year-old Palmyra Drag Club out with a $160,000 gov­ern­ment grant to re­pair the track. I’m sick of see­ing our taxes go­ing over­seas, so I’m glad to see a lit­tle bit of our money stay­ing here and be­ing put to­wards a motorsport I love. The drag strip is used for light air­craft, Q-ride mo­tor­cy­cle train­ing, com­mu­nity events, and I re­cently saw schools us­ing it for a self-pro­pelled ve­hi­cle com­pe­ti­tion. Most im­por­tantly for us, it of­fers a safe place for kids to race and do burnouts off the street.

Some of the big meet­ings bring com­peti­tors from in­ter­state, who stay at mo­tels, dine at restau­rants and spend thou­sands of dol­lars in the re­gion, so the money spent on refurbishing the track will be re­turned to the dis­trict many times over.

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