1976 Volkswagen Beetle: Our Shed

By: Glenn Torrens, Photography by: Glenn Torrens

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After years of flying solo, Glenn Torrens prepares to take on a partner

1976 Volkswagen Beetle: Our Shed
1976 Volkswagen Beetle: Our Shed

 

1976 Volkswagen Beetle

Doubling Up

After its first running in 2014/15, I’d heard great things about the North Shore Sporting Car Club’s Tarmac Twilight Rally Sprints. This fast and fun event is held on a 3.2km course laid out through the carpark, access roads and main track at Sydney Dragway. Driver or spectator (and spectator entry is free!), it’s a lot more entertaining than wandering around a shopping centre on a Thursday evening!

What a great idea!

I was keen to have a go in my yellow hill-climb VW Beetle. Although my Beetle is not a ‘rally’ car, the Tarmac Rally is held – as the name implies – on tarmac, not on loose dirt, so my little VW with its low ride-height and semi-slick tyres would be perfect at the event.

Except for one thing: My race car needed a second seat to be fitted. The hill-climbs I compete in during the year are driver-only events and the CAMS regulations allow removal of the passenger seat for competition. Rally sprints require a co-driver. My mate Tony jumped at the chance to be my co-driver but he needed somewhere safe and secure to park his butt. So I spent a sunny Saturday installing a lightweight fixed-back competition seat – on side-mount rails – and a brand-new five-point harness.

There wasn’t too much other work required to prepare my hill-climb car for a tarmac sprint. I knew from my experience in hill-climbs where to set my Beetle’s adjustable front and rear sway-bars for good handling, and although past their absolute best, my grippy Yokohama tyres were ideal for the event’s twisty and technical layout.

But my engine was suffering from an embarrassing oil leak. It’s not really a leak as such, but a case of a little engine doing a big job (8000rpm and around three times more power than standard) that overwhelms the factory-designed crankcase ventilation system. That means there is extra air, frothed with oil, finding its way out of the crankcase breather at sustained high revs.

The fix was to install a larger engine crankcase breather with the hose terminating in an oil catch-can. There isn’t much space in a VW engine bay but by cracking a can of beer and having a little think, I realised a discharged out-of-date (what the hipsters would call ‘re-purposed’) fire extinguisher would be an ideal catch-can: light-weight, easy to install, effective and – best of all – free!

The catch-can was installed just forward of my VW’s driver’s side carburettor and the upgraded crankcase breather unit and pipe swapped for the old one. These two tasks soaked up the remainder of my weekend after installing the seat and harness.

But would you believe there was a pin-prick corrosion hole in the just-replaced crankcase breather? It meant another embarrassing oil leak…  Fixing it will be another task for another spare few hours one weekend…

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