1974 Beetle Racer Interior: Full FIA spec 6-point rollcage, FIA 4-point harness and seat, plumbed-in fire extinguisher Chassis: Swing axle with ball-joint front, HD front anti-roll bar, HD rear torsion bars, front beam adjusters Brakes: Front: disc; rear: drums Engine: 1600cc VW Heritage-built standard engine, 52 Flywheel HP Wheels: 15 x 5.5in Dragstars Tyres: Toyo Proxes
This 1974 Beetle provides the perfect test bed for a whole range of products, with the Castle Combe circuit proving and ideal testing venue
affected by heat generated through suspension movement). The key to a good damper is matching the level of compression/rebound damping and travel to the vehicle’s weight and suspension set-up in order to achieve the desired effect, e.g a smooth ride or tight body control.
Testing Time Say hello to VolksWorld’s new test vehicle, a 1974 Beetle and refugee from the now defunct Beetle Cup. The car was chosen due to the fact that it is a ball-joint, swing axle
The testers: Lawrence
usually writes for Racecar Engineering magazine but has a
long-term love affair with all things Volkswagen, especially those that go fast. This year he is campaigning a 1972 Beetle in the Beetle Challenge, sponsored by VW Heritage/SSP, although reliability problems have impeded progress. Previously he has also competed in sprints and karting events.
Richard Marcroft: Richard Marcroft runs the entire IPC Motoring Group and has a long involvement with motorsport and VWs. Having owned
cars ranging from a Wizard Roadster to a full-on 80s Cal-Looker, Richard also spent several seasons competing in Minicross before graduating to the highly competitive Mighty Mini championship.
equipped car, representing probably the most common form of Bug on the road. Oh, and we can race it in the all new Beetle Challenge!
“Quantifiable figures on performance”
The car has been
meticulously prepared by the students at The College of North West London, who have given the little rocket a full mechanical and cosmetic overhaul, with parts provided by VW Heritage and guidance provided by long-time racer Trigger from Thingamies Beetles, plus help from Simon Sergides. At the moment the car is fitted with a dinky 1600, but plans are afoot to see this replaced with something befitting the car’s beefy looks. The most important bit of kit on the car is the Race Technology datalogger, which will allow us to
record an array of information, from acceleration to engine parameters such as oil temperature and RPM. The beauty of this piece of equipment is that it will allow us to put quantifiable figures on the performance of parts tested, with its in-built GPS providing exact track positioning, and in-built accelerometers
measuring both lateral and horizontal acceleration.
In the case of the dampers, we assessed them on the following factors: Performance, comfort, price, feel and build quality.
Comfort and feel were assessed subjectively by the two test drivers. If you are running a lowered car, it will almost always be a trade-off between looks, handling and ride quality, with a softer shock inevitably allowing more body roll. However, in certain conditions a softer set-up can provide better handling; a rock-hard ride is fine if you have a billiard table smooth racetrack to play with, but on
Our new car campaigned for many years in the old Big Boys Toys Beetle Cup before being retired and converted back to road use. At the rear the z-bar has been removed and uprated torsion bars fitted. This is due to the fact that z-bar equipped cars came with softer rear bars as standard. The front end has also been stiffened up with an uprated anti-roll bar that is thicker than the standard unit and provides better control of body roll. For the moment the brakes consist of standard discs, which proved more than capable of slowing the car. Finally, Toyo Proxes road tyres were chosen for reasons of durability – while race rubber would allow the car to go faster, it also wears out quickly and would have affected the consistency of our test results.
the UK’s potholed roads a bit more compliance can be a godsend. Feel is harder to pin down, but is best described as how positive the car felt on turn in, both through high- and low-speed corners and how stable it felt at speed on the straights. The performance of the dampers was measured through a combination of factors including fastest lap speed, corner entry speed and corner apex speed, all recorded with the Race Technology datalogger for analysis after the event.
Spot the drivers avoiding any form of dirty work volksworld.com
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