Wednesday, 5 February 2014

The test subject...

As I mentioned before, my current car is a 1956' beetle. It has the "Oval" rear window and is deluxe TKD (total knock down) model. In other words, they made it in part in Germany then it was shipped to Oz and assembled down here. When I got it last year it looked like this...

It's a great looking car with a stack of period accessories. However, there was a problem. It was just too low to drive properly.

Read; the back suspension bottomed out on the smallest bump.

The front suspension had adjusters to lower it... and they'd 'cut off' the bump stops. Yep, you read that right. So while it looked awesome, it was a symphony of thuds, rubs and bangs.

The next day, I raised it all up a bunch.

The good news is, the body has spent most of it's near 60 years in a garage. So there is little if any rust in the body. For that reason alone, it's a great car. It's also about 70% original paint.

Real, genuine patina.

The motor is pretty interesting too. I say interesting, not powerful...

It's a Judson supercharged, 1200 (40hp) engine. The original motor would have been about 25hp. The 40hp plus the supercharger adds up to a grand total of, wait for it 50hp. On a good day. Going down hill. With a tale wind. And lots of hotrod stickers. Course the bad news is it looses about half that power through the gearbox and you end up with roughly 25hp at the wheels.  So it's pretty unimpressive...

Just enough to pull the skin off a rice pudding, but not a jot more.

I knew this when I bought it. I needed a 'slow car' for 12 months due to some issues I had relating to traffic infringements. The motor is pretty tired too. One oily cylinder and lowish oil pressure. So now that year is over, it's time for upgrades and improvements.

The first thing I did was put seatbelts in it. Seriously. This was enough to incur the wrath of some forum trolls who informed me I'd "ruined" the car. Yeah right, whatever. Other than that, I've been fixing things previous owners did. Dodgy front gearbox mounts, non-working front brakes. *sigh.

After owning it for about a year, it got a go in a skidpan motorkhana the other day by accident. I was sposed to be driving a Datsun 1600, but it was having a few issues, and I was driving like crap. So I gave it up and rolled out the ol' 56'.

Here's a vid of the first run. Slow, cautious and well, slow. Still, no breakdowns and I gradually got the hang of it across the day. Taught me a lot of things. Which has given me a good list of things to sort and an order to do them in...

1. Camber compensator
2. Better seat
3. Better hand brake
4. More power

The camber compensator stops the car do odd rear wheel angle things which can result in a rollover. The seat, well let's just say the stock one is crap and I had to tighten the belt up to "can't breath" tension to stop falling out of it. Handbrake is not quite right, it's the same as I had on my buggy, but needs some love. More power, well, there are plans a foot. More on that next time.

The brief for all of these mods is as follows;
Legal, reliable, cheapish and vintage/factory looking.

In fact, I'm aiming for a "this is an old race car I found in a barn" effect. This is complicated because in 1956, there wasn't much about and most 'off the shelf stuff' comes from the 1970s US scene.

Anyhow, that's an intro to where I'm up to.

Get drivin'

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