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Author: Subject:  1970 beetle to Baja
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posted on March 17th, 2011 at 09:06 PM
1970 beetle to Baja


Finally purchased my 1st VW, 1970 beetle, no rust reco 1600 engine, drives well. Ready to Baja, what is the best first step?
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posted on March 17th, 2011 at 09:26 PM



Lift it and put on decent rubber to get off road asap. :tu:



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posted on March 17th, 2011 at 09:40 PM



What is the best way to lift it & what are the best rims, tyre size to put on it?
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posted on March 17th, 2011 at 10:31 PM



Firstly. welcome to the world of offroad VW ownership, it's going to be a fun ride!


Buy this book.


http://www.amazon.com/Baja-Bugs-Buggies-VW-based-off-road/dp/0895861860/ref=s...


1970 will be balljoint front end with swingaxle rear.

What you want to do with the vehicle will determine what mods you make and setup you run.

What is your intended use? Lots of beach driving? crawling rocky tracks? Or massive mud holes? (psst, you should answer all of the above :lol:)

The best first step would probably be converting it from a Beetle into a Baja! This means you'll have to cut the front and back of the car and fit the fibreglass guards, bonnet, nosecone and engine scoop. New tubular front bar must be made as well as a rear engine cage/bumper.

There is a chapter about converting a Beetle in the above book. So order it quick!!



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posted on March 18th, 2011 at 07:29 PM



Thanks Smiley, I have this book & it is great, I have a Baja kit I bought ages ago, I don't want the car off the road for too long, enjoy driving it too much. So I am saving my pennies and collecting bits & bobs needed to do the job, I want to drive 50-50 on road off road, nothing extreme off road ....at the moment.... What is the best way to get ground clearance from balljoint front end & swingaxle rear. Way in the future I would like to convert to irs rear, but not in plans at the moment.
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posted on March 18th, 2011 at 09:04 PM



Quote:
Originally posted by Redbackemu
Thanks Smiley, I have this book & it is great, I have a Baja kit I bought ages ago, I don't want the car off the road for too long, enjoy driving it too much. So I am saving my pennies and collecting bits & bobs needed to do the job, I want to drive 50-50 on road off road, nothing extreme off road ....at the moment.... What is the best way to get ground clearance from balljoint front end & swingaxle rear. Way in the future I would like to convert to irs rear, but not in plans at the moment.



If you're just doing some mild offroading leave it swinger. The rear suspension at stock height with 31"s will have more clearance than any 4WD running 33"s.
You can maybe raise the rear a touch, I did this by accident when I built my car, but it's only and inch or so higher than stock. A little bit of camber that's noticeable.
Swingers do get twitchy when you raise them and drive them fast. But they are predictably unpredictable in their handling.
I'd say stock height with 31"s, that is providing the ratios in your transaxle/power of your engine can turn them without lugging too much.

Now you have a few options for the front. Basically you want to try and get it up to match the rear with it's big treads.

The first and easiest thing is obviously bigger than stock tyres, which will net you some more clearance underneath. Things you need to watch when changing your front tyre size are
1- Speedo will change depending on how different they are to stock diameter tyres
2- Steering effort will increase as you go to a larger tyre.
3- You need to watch for rubbing on lock to lock with the car at ride height and with the suspension compressed.

Then there's a few different ways to go about the front suspension.
The best way, and the most expensive is to buy a set of Thing (VW Type 181) spindles and front trailing arms from America. These are a factory 2.5-3" (I'm not certain) lift over standard. No engineers report etc required when fitting, cause they are a factory VW part just bolt them on. They will give you ground clearance without altering your suspension geometry or spring rates.

The other way too go about lifting the front is to weld adjusters in or cut and turn the centre adjuster in the beam.
Both methods are the same it's just that the adjusters allow you to fine tune your height to where you want it.
These both require the beam to be removed from the car, disassembled, cleaned out, then the cutting welding and you're done. This is a lot cheaper than the spindles but the downside is that when you screw your front end up you increase your ground clearance but at the same time you decrease the down travel (suspension droop) that your front wheels have. A general rule is too have 30-40% of your suspension travel in the downwards direction, obviously with adjusters this will end up being a little less.

This isn't a massive problem on the frontend of an offroad VW. You will notice when offroading that because the weight is over the rear wheels you tend to lift a front wheel off the ground every once in a while when you're driving tracks anyway etc. With less downtravel you'll be lifting wheels more frequently.

Then there's the option of going the whole hog and putting adjusters and Thing spindles in it. With the adjusters screwed up a little above standard and the height offered by the spindles and some bigger wheels you'll have a very good setup.

Holy crap I can ramble on, keep the questions coming and we'll keep this thread flowing.
Anyone that acctually knows something about offroad VWs can chime in and fix any mistakes/bad advice I've given above :lol::lol:


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posted on March 19th, 2011 at 07:20 PM



Plenty of advice there Smiley much appreciated. I know little about these subjects so some questions may seem silly to seasoned off roaders, but here I go.... 31"tyres are they exactly what they seem, top of the tyre is 31"off the ground, I had a rough measure on my wheels, that would give axle height approx 3" lift. That is a big tyre my Hilux has 29"tyres on it. My 1970 beetle has a reco 1600 engine in it, I am guessing standard transaxle that came with this model, before I spend up big on 31"tyres will this stock setup have enough go & not be too sluggish? Will there be any clearance probs ?
The Thing spindles etc sound like a good way to go, what is the rough cost of these? What size tyres would you run on the front
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posted on March 19th, 2011 at 09:32 PM



Good advice there Smiley (as usual :) )
Your onto it Redback, 31's will definately kill your performance with a stock engine. A few more herbs and preferebly a diff ratio change as well might be the go. Otherwise go with a compromise tyre dia., maybe around 27-29" overall.
I recently got a set of thing arms and stubaxles from the states. Normally around $300-400 USD, but after freight it'll be closer to owing you around $700.
Problem with the thing stubs is you really end up too high in the front without big rear rubber and increasing travel.




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posted on March 20th, 2011 at 12:21 AM



Quote:
Originally posted by matberry
Good advice there Smiley (as usual :) )
Your onto it Redback, 31's will definately kill your performance with a stock engine. A few more herbs and preferebly a diff ratio change as well might be the go. Otherwise go with a compromise tyre dia., maybe around 27-29" overall.
I recently got a set of thing arms and stubaxles from the states. Normally around $300-400 USD, but after freight it'll be closer to owing you around $700.
Problem with the thing stubs is you really end up too high in the front without big rear rubber and increasing travel.


Matt is right about the tyres. Until the engine died my Baja was a 1300SP, not exactly.....................sprightly.
But because mine is an earlier "6V" swingaxle box the ratios are lower, which helps a little. I was running 30"s but when I got my next set of tyres I went to 31"s because they were about $100 cheaper!!!

Mine chuggs along offroad and down the beach but it;s working fairly hard to do a lot of stuff. Even slight hills knock it a bit on the highway. I've just dropped a spare 1600TP in for the moment to keep me motoring so I'll be interested in how much improvement there is.

And there's no such thing as a stupid question, so keep 'em coming!!


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posted on March 20th, 2011 at 12:27 AM



i put 29's on the back of mine when i was building it

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posted on March 20th, 2011 at 09:54 AM



I was lying in bed this morning and I thought of something else you could do at the back.

Run reduction boxes. If you add them to your existing transaxle with it's current diff ratio, the ratios will be pretty sweet for 31"s with the stock engine.

You'll get more clearance from the boxes and more again from the tyres.

It's up to you whether you can put of with the idiosyncrasies of redux boxes.

Read some more about this on the first page of Nils build.

http://www.shoptalkforums.com/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=126314 


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posted on March 20th, 2011 at 09:27 PM



I have driven Phatbug's yellow Baja with country buggy rear,( I was thinking of buying it at the time) I am guessing this will have similar handling to reduction box on standard transaxle. It did feel very weird handling wise, I think I would prefer not to go down that path.
Mat you refer to a diff ratio change, is a redux box the only way to do this? I still like the idea of the thing front to keep it all legal with no need for engineers cert. (shipping costs from the US really cost $300 or $400) If you run 31's on the rear and smaller tyres on front will this help with the front height problem?
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posted on March 20th, 2011 at 09:47 PM



Quote:
Originally posted by Redbackemu
I have driven Phatbug's yellow Baja with country buggy rear,( I was thinking of buying it at the time) I am guessing this will have similar handling to reduction box on standard transaxle. It did feel very weird handling wise, I think I would prefer not to go down that path.
Mat you refer to a diff ratio change, is a redux box the only way to do this? I still like the idea of the thing front to keep it all legal with no need for engineers cert. (shipping costs from the US really cost $300 or $400) If you run 31's on the rear and smaller tyres on front will this help with the front height problem?


31"s would be ideal on the rear, but if your ratios are too high it's really going to be a bear to drive, especially offroad. Hills etc are easier to drive when you can crawl up slowly, also there's a lot less chance of you breaking parts etc, cause you're traveling more slowly. But it also comes down to what type of offroading you want to use it for.

Personally I would save up and buy the spindles for the front, run them with stock front suspension height and smallish tyres. Put some 28-29"s on the back and drive it. Then you can formulate a plan on where you want to head from there.

You'll be very very surprised how good a stockish Baja is offroad. Mine amazes the crap out of me every once in a while, and gives some of my mates 4WDs a run for their money :smilegrin:


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posted on March 20th, 2011 at 09:51 PM



Quote:
Originally posted by Redbackemu
I have driven Phatbug's yellow Baja with country buggy rear,( I was thinking of buying it at the time) I am guessing this will have similar handling to reduction box on standard transaxle. It did feel very weird handling wise, I think I would prefer not to go down that path.
Mat you refer to a diff ratio change, is a redux box the only way to do this? I still like the idea of the thing front to keep it all legal with no need for engineers cert. (shipping costs from the US really cost $300 or $400) If you run 31's on the rear and smaller tyres on front will this help with the front height problem?


Yeah, I'm the same regarding reduction box's, here's a pic of my baja, stock thing parts in the front giving the height, but the rear has had quite a few mods to get there. As it stands in the pic, you could probably get the rear close to where it sits there, but the big very important issue is as it sits there, it has around 4" of suspension droop. This allows the wheel to drop into a hole even while cornering, the inside wheel may need to do this. If it can't, the wheel spins and you loose drive, and getting bogged is often the result. Even driving on bitumen is a horror with no suspension droop.
http://i375.photobucket.com/albums/oo199/mattberry-photo/20032011354.jpg

As for changing the diff ratio, you need to get a transmission specialist thats experienced with VW's to do that for you. If it was me, I'd go straight to a Kombi 1600 box and IRS conversion to run 30-31" rubber with a stock or warmed up engine. You wouldn't look back :)
In the front some Thing front stubs or just weld in some adjusters with slightly taller front rubber.




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posted on March 20th, 2011 at 10:03 PM



Quote:
Originally posted by matberry
Quote:
Originally posted by Redbackemu
I have driven Phatbug's yellow Baja with country buggy rear,( I was thinking of buying it at the time) I am guessing this will have similar handling to reduction box on standard transaxle. It did feel very weird handling wise, I think I would prefer not to go down that path.
Mat you refer to a diff ratio change, is a redux box the only way to do this? I still like the idea of the thing front to keep it all legal with no need for engineers cert. (shipping costs from the US really cost $300 or $400) If you run 31's on the rear and smaller tyres on front will this help with the front height problem?


Yeah, I'm the same regarding reduction box's, here's a pic of my baja, stock thing parts in the front giving the height, but the rear has had quite a few mods to get there. As it stands in the pic, you could probably get the rear close to where it sits there, but the big very important issue is as it sits there, it has around 4" of suspension droop. This allows the wheel to drop into a hole even while cornering, the inside wheel may need to do this. If it can't, the wheel spins and you loose drive, and getting bogged is often the result. Even driving on bitumen is a horror with no suspension droop.

As for changing the diff ratio, you need to get a transmission specialist thats experienced with VW's to do that for you. If it was me, I'd go straight to a Kombi 1600 box and IRS conversion to run 30-31" rubber with a stock or warmed up engine. You wouldn't look back :)
In the front some Thing front stubs or just weld in some adjusters with slightly taller front rubber.


Do what Matt says. He knows best, I can vouch for that :D


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posted on March 20th, 2011 at 10:09 PM



Jeez some people dribble some crap on here :D

Cheers Smiley




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posted on March 20th, 2011 at 10:14 PM



Quote:
Originally posted by Smiley
You'll be very very surprised how good a stockish Baja is offroad. Mine amazes the crap out of me every once in a while, and gives some of my mates 4WDs a run for their money :smilegrin:


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You said it all here Smiley. One of my favorite Fraser trips many years ago, was when my car was off the road and I borrowed a totally stock 1200cc baja with LeHarve aircraft tyres on the back...damn thing was unstopable in the sand.




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posted on March 20th, 2011 at 10:23 PM



Quote:
Originally posted by matberry
Quote:
Originally posted by Smiley
You'll be very very surprised how good a stockish Baja is offroad. Mine amazes the crap out of me every once in a while, and gives some of my mates 4WDs a run for their money :smilegrin:


Smiley :cool:


You said it all here Smiley. One of my favorite Fraser trips many years ago, was when my car was off the road and I borrowed a totally stock 1200cc baja with LeHarve aircraft tyres on the back...damn thing was unstopable in the sand.


I have so much fun in mine, sure it won't rockcrawl like some big gumpy 4WD does, but you can't match it for pure and simple fun. I wouldn't trade mine for all the quiet and comfort in the world. Speaking of, I had better learn how to tune a 34 so I can get the blasted thing running again. Am currently driving my sisters Daewoo (horrid) around and it's no good at all, it's quiet, comfortable, handles well, fantastic on fuel and has aircon :lol::lol::lol:
Just too uninspiring for me, and I don't get any waves atm :mad:


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posted on March 21st, 2011 at 07:11 PM



My questions may never end..:!:... Mat the thing front stubs are they the same as spindles? Where is the best place to buy them? Kombi box and irs conversion, is it possible to buy these new? If so where is best & what is approx price?
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posted on March 22nd, 2011 at 10:23 AM



Quote:
Originally posted by Redbackemu
My questions may never end..:!:..


That's no problem. You're helping to spread and share offroad VW knowledge, and we all love that!


Quote:
Originally posted by Redbackemu
Kombi box and irs conversion, is it possible to buy these new? If so where is best & what is approx price?


You can't exactly buy these new.
You can have second hand gearbox rebuilt, so it will be as good as new.

The IRS you have to buy new pivot boxes to weld onto the floorpan, CVD does a really good pair at a good price

http://www.customveedub.com.au/store/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=22 

Then you're going to have to buy/find a doner car to strip/buy the required parts/source all the bits you need to change it over.

Custom mounts for the Kombi box will be required to mount it into the Baja. Again CVD has a product, but they aren't the only ones. Plenty of different styles of kits out there from different people. The internet is your friend!
http://www.customveedub.com.au/store/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=43 
You may run into interference with the nose cone hitting the body under the back seat area, something to look at.

The plus side is, with a Kombi box and the IRS the handling will be much better on and off the road. You get minimal camber change through the travel of your suspension. And the ratios of the Kombi boxes especially the 1600 3-rib (lowest ratios) will allow you to crawl through anything, even with 31"s!!!


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posted on March 22nd, 2011 at 02:43 PM



If u wanted it on the road asap, fit the kit, put larger tyres on the rear, basic front and rear barwork to replace the bumpers that have been removed and drive.

a baja is one of those 'how longs a piece of string' things... you could go on forever with mods.

Even a stock beetle is fun offroad, (reminiscing about 8 years ago). i should have went that way and enjoyed it whilst i built it. (i went for an off the pan resto, and although still slowly propressing, i ahven't had the privelege of driving it on bitumen for almost 4 yrs.




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posted on March 22nd, 2011 at 03:11 PM



Quote:
Originally posted by bajachris88
i went for an off the pan resto, and although still slowly propressing, i ahven't had the privelege of driving it on bitumen for almost 4 yrs.


Tsk Tsk. Hurry up man!!!


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posted on March 22nd, 2011 at 07:11 PM



bajachris, sounds like good advice, I think I will progess that way and collect other bits & bobs as I go:tu:
But 4 years is tooooo long, mate you gotta spend more time in the shed :no:
Some advice on rims would be great I like the sunraysia looking rims you see on some baja's, where is the best place to buy rims and how wide should I get them, and how wide should the tyres be, I guess you use narrower rims & tyres up front
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posted on March 22nd, 2011 at 07:45 PM



Wheels generally are 5 or 6" on the front and 8" on the rear. With the availability of all the wide 5 (5 x 205) brakes and offroad wheels atm, a few cars are going this way, the wheels are far more secure with the 5 bolt wide stud pattern. Just ask me, lately a few cars around here have had issues with 4 stud mag wheels coming loose! On the other hand, you incur the extra $$ by changing from the already fitted disc/drum late model (new parts are cheap) affordable , reliable and totally legal combo.

The big issue is how hard do you want to play???

If it's off road ability and use that is high on the list, also street performance/handling is desired, I feel a swing axle baja is for a stock or mild engine and IRS for harder use, bigger engines and ....well you get the idea.




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posted on March 23rd, 2011 at 06:57 PM



I don't think I want to muck round with changing to a 5 stud pattern. 50/50 on road off road for me, unfortunatly there are no beach's close to me, there are some hills, etc to drive round, I have also joined Volksclub in Bendigo, which is an hours drive from here, so want to be able to drive there and participate in any rally's. So I will leave it swingaxle rear for awhile with an eye to changing to IRS in the future, if I went for 29"on the back what would be the ideal width tyre. What size tyre can I get on the front without modifying the front suspension ?
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posted on March 23rd, 2011 at 07:24 PM



unless u have a gps to tell you your speed instead of the sender at the front wheel, stock heights the go :)
Otherwise it will be reading under the actual speed, and you will be over the limit. but thereare plenty of ways around it.




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posted on March 23rd, 2011 at 07:33 PM



Just posted a reply and the bloody modem crashed just as I clicked post reply. Good choice to go IRS later but as MAtt said go for the kombi IRS when your ready to do it. Bit more work than a type 1 install but will give better ratios and they are a stronger box. On standard rims it gets a bit hard to find taller rubber cause they are so narrow. I recently spent some time with a tyre fitter looking through some catalogues unseccessfully and ended up getting a standard size tyre but with a kevler belt in it. I figured that at least punctures should be very rare when let down for sand driving. Even with poor clearance (read less than standard) I have been able to out perform any 4x4 I have owned previously, when mud driving. These little cars are excellent offroaders and have a lot more personality and style.
My setup currently is 31s on rear with standards on front. Gearbox is standard but I have destroyed 4th gear. I assume it's because of the effort the 1600TP has made to turn the rears when offroad.




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posted on March 23rd, 2011 at 10:09 PM



`my 29's were 235 wide on a 6" rim and had standard fronts on 4 1/2" rim



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posted on June 10th, 2011 at 10:11 PM



Quote:
Originally posted by bajachris88
If u wanted it on the road asap, fit the kit, put larger tyres on the rear, basic front and rear barwork to replace the bumpers that have been removed and drive.

a baja is one of those 'how longs a piece of string' things... you could go on forever with mods.

Even a stock beetle is fun offroad, (reminiscing about 8 years ago). i should have went that way and enjoyed it whilst i built it. (i went for an off the pan resto, and although still slowly propressing, i ahven't had the privelege of driving it on bitumen for almost 4 yrs.


Hey Chris, you've inspired me. I was planning on something more like a full body resto (off the pan, replace rust with metal, and full respray).

Luckily I have very little rust. So I intend to get it registered and drive it.

Then I'll look at other mods. Probably kombi IRS and Thing spindles. I might simply use rattle cans to cover up the worst of the bad paint (the doors will be different colours), and it seems the engine is in good condition...




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