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Dignity (a big budget Story).

So there we were, 3 weeks before Bug Jam 2003. Some how  (I’m not sure whom I have to blame, but I’m sure there is some one) I came up with a plan. Now, these things are never easy, but I decided to get the ’69 1200 Beetle out of the Barn and go and have a go at RWYB at Santa Pod… Sounds easy doesn’t it? Well, I’d purchased the car 2 years earlier for £50 and towed it to my barn…The previous owner last used it in 1990… there was still the Bug Jam ’90 pass in the Glove box! My (now) wife was seriously ill with Breast Cancer and I needed something to take my mind off things... 

 

So after 13 years of Storage, and a week of planning, I now had just 2 weeks to get the car back together again… oh, and on a budget! Anyone who knows me will know that I like ‘cheap’ motoring! That is exactly why I started up www.partsemporium.co.uk … to keep cars going without having to break the bank! I set myself a budget of £300… 

                 

Luckily, the car was fairly solid and mostly one colour! On the Tuesday, less than 2 weeks before the Jam, I dragged it home… The work began. We rebuilt the Brakes, including swapping the single circuit master cylinder for a dual circuit job. All the flexi pipes, shoes etc were changed. The underside was all wire brushed and painted black. The interior was striped out to make the car lighter and the pan wire brushed and painted. A bucket seat was acquired and welded to an original seat runner.

I had already acquired a set of Centreline style wheels on another Beetle that owed me £50. The 1600 T/P Engine came from another £50 Beetle… So far so good! The engine needed a flywheel oil seal and a good service. I waved a magic wand at the electrics and they all worked! The steering was as baggy as a very scary baggy thing … so the steering box was changed along with some track rod ends… the beam was greased… Gearbox oil was added and axle gaiters changed…    the front caster nuts were found to be pointing in different directions… and there were many loose or missing nuts and bolts… The engine lid and valance were already cut off… all I had to do was fix up some Dzuz fasteners to make it ‘quick release’… there are other jobs such as fitting a smaller (Mountney) steering wheel and many more that I forget…

Anyway, an MOT was booked 7 days later for the Tuesday… 3 days before Bug Jam... the initial test drive to the MOT was fun, everything seemed to work and the noise in the car was loud (no sound deadening or carpets etc)! We pulled up on the MOT station forecourt, and the engine died! Out came the tools… and the whole estate to see what was up! After some tinkering with the carb it ran again, sailed through the MOT and off we went! Sadly, it started jumping out of 3rd gear… you could put the lever into 3rd, and as soon as you lifted the clutch… Crunch… graunch and bang!  I wasn’t best pleased… so I drove home, and took the engine out again, removed the gearbox and replaced with a spare from the car that provided the engine…

finishing after midnight, the engine was in … but I had to wait till the morning to try it…  all was ok on the initial test drive… but again the car broke down…  again playing with the carburettor fixed it… so home we went and after some investigation, I found the Fuel pump was rusted up inside and pumping rust into the carburettor, I changed the pump, rebuilt the carburettor and fitted a filter and all has been well since…

I was interested to see how much weight the car had lost when all of the interior (seats, carpets, door panels etc) was stripped out. I had weighed the wheels when they were changed and discovered that the new wheels weighed a total of 8kg les than the stock wheels. I took the car to the local weighbridge… 700kg was the final weight… about 70kg less than a standard 1200 Beetle… which is nearly 10% of its original weight.

The car had now cost £302.50 in total to build, £2.50 over budget, but worth it!

There wasn’t much time left, so the Bug, which by now had been named ‘Dignity’ , was attached to an A Frame and towed to Santa Pod. We had a few moments with it on the A frame... Every time, and I mean every time I braked, the A frame hit the floor... we only had about 5mm clearance... so every bump etc just bottomed it out... but we got there... 

   

I ran up the strip 9 times with 8 decent timing slips... the 9th one seems to have upset the timing gear! The plan wasn’t to go fast, just take part… but basically I wanted to get below 20 secs ... and on the first run I got a 19.5! .. The others were all between 19 and 19.5seconds. Except for one run where I was holding it on the hand-break at the lights to see if that helped my reaction times... ‘Dignity’ popped out of first gear on acceleration... so I ran a 20 Second pass... but other than that I very consistently ran 19 to 19.5 seconds at 65/67mph ...  all this was with a standard 1600cc T/P engine with no modifications (in fact I hadn’t even had time to check the valve clearances). I raced a number of other 1600 Beetles and beat them all! So that was pleasing!

   

Next I need a big engine... oh, and a better gear shifter... and traction (I had a lot of wheel hop off the start line). and… and…. The budget will be blown!

Special thanks go to…   Burl, Edd, Nutter Dave, Hayley, Paul (Bugmad), Mikey C and I’d thank the neighbours if they hadn’t complained about the mess!  

 

Update - 27/09/03 - 

The new rear tyres are now on (thanks to John for the tyres)..... they were fitted for free too! They are Kumho 185 Standard profile tyres... the old ones were 185/65's... the Tyre bloke said they wouldn't fit... wasting his time... I said I was willing to take the risk... they eventually agreed to try one... but gave me stick the whole way through...  it fitted! Just! So he let me have the fitting for free... cos I proved him wrong!

 The gearing is now higher... longer legs... but whether its enough to help me only use 3 gears on the 1/4 mile... who knows... 

Before:

After:

October 2003: I've been using the car as a daily driver... much fun! I did however bend the front anti-roll bar because the front is now too low!

Friday 24th October: I ordered a 5" Monster Tach and Bugpack Merged header/stinger from VW Speedshop.

Sunday 26th October: Fitted the Monster Tach, Cut off the bent front anti-roll bar. Cut down the Gearlever and replaced a bolt on the top of the rear N/S shock (there had been a knocking that turns out to be the wrong size bolt allowing the shock to move!)

Yeah Baby!

Oops!

28/10/03: New Merged Header and Stinger arrive from VW Speed shop... and fitted... not sure the neighbours are gonna like the stinger.... 

Blimey, the Season is on its way again... the new engine is still not built... 

22/1/04 Fitted the new Gearbox strap at work today... well, they have hydraulic ramps! gotta get the engine brace bar fitted sometime too... Gearbox Strap and Empi Brace Bar cost £66 delivered from SSP...  the budget is properly blown now... 

Oh, and I ordered 2 sets of cheap Kadron 40mm Carbs off USA Ebay... 

02/03/04 I have spent a little time recently building the new 1776cc Engine... the case is now together... but Pistons etc not yet fitted... 

Engine Spec;

1776cc, New Case, Full flow, External oil filter and oil cooler with Mocal thermostat, Balanced stock VW Rods, Counter-weighted 69mm Crank shaft, Engle 110 Camshaft, Standard Followers (because the Scat ones were too tight in the case!), Mahle P&B, Teflon Buttons, Melling Oil Pump, CB Performance 044 Magnum Heads with 40x36mm Stainless Valves, 12mm Plug Holes, single Heavy duty springs and retainers, Kadron 40mm Carbs, Bolt up rocker shafts with swivel foot tappets, Lightened 8 dowel flywheel, chromolly push rods, Full Merged exhaust...  

04/03/04 I found a few hours to put in the head studs, fit Pistons and Barrels and check deck height, (1.6mm), and fit heads, original cool tins and push rod tubes.

18/03/04 Surprisingly the engine is nearly built... I cant wait to get my bench back!

28/05/04 Getting no where fast! We went to big bang on the Saturday for a last blast with the 1600... it rained all day... so we didn't get to play, however, I had fitted the Engine traction bar the day before and the driving characteristics of the car changed over night!  So hopefully we will have traction when we next get to play! (engine isn't finished ... 2 months and no progress!)  

10/06/04 Finally got forced by Ed to do something with the engine... spent a few hours in the garage setting up rockers etc, fitting clutch and checking stuff...  I turned it over for a while to build up oil pressure... checked everything... then tried again... it had ceased solid!!!  after a short panic, I discovered that the bottom pulley had dug itself into the nut that holds the heavy duty oil pump on! So remove tin wear and fit original style pulley! ... I put some brake cleaner in the carbs and started it on the bench with no exhaust! (we do not recommend that you try this at home kids!) Flames from the exhaust ports.... and a nice smells...  so now its time to prepare the car for fitting!

11/06/04 Even before the 1776cc is fitted, I have gone out and bought some as new 1914cc Pistons and Barrels, weber twin 40's on manifolds with filters etc, ratio rockers, Some heads with big valves fitted and fully ported, so it looks like we have another engine project for next winter!

25/06/04 MOT Day! Fixed the washers and wipers... gave it a wash... and we have an MOT! I now have some discs and spindles to fit and some new calipers...  just gotta find some time to fit them and the engine!

21/06/04 The engine is now in, running and has covered 400 miles... the 3rd oil change has now been completed, and the engine sounds lovely... there is a strange noise between 2-2500 rpm, but I'm informed that its just twin carb noise... fighting for air! It seems to go quite well... so lets see how long before I can break it!

26/07/04 -Right...  cos people keep asking... Bug Jam 2004.

Last year with a standard 1600 engine we were running between 19 and 19.5 seconds... mostly 19.2 ish

This year on the Friday of Bug jam we had the new 1776 with twin 40 kadrons all run in and ready to go... I built it myself... so had no confidence in it... Anyway, after 15 runs on Friday.

We have a Personal Best of 16.08 Seconds... standing start 1/4 mile...

A best Terminal velocity of 81.31 Mph...

A best 1/8th of a mile speed of 66.19mph (this is last years 1/4 mile speed!)

Next I want to try running without the engine lid, wing mirrors and wiper arms... and also another run with no fan belt and this should "buy" 0.5 of a second.. thus planting me in the mid 15 seconds! (I was having so much fun running up the strip I forgot to stop to take bits off!)

However... I'm now as quick as a Ferrari Mondial Cabriolet... and faster than a 944s...  ... so yes... I had a good time!

And no I didn't break it... or get as far as setting up the carbs!

 

15/08/04 This morning was open RWYB time at Santa Pod... loads of Jap Crap...

But I was determined to have a go... with no changes since Bug Jam, on a warm day...  First run... 16.141 ...@ 81.51 Mph in 3rd... so similar to the runs at Bug Jam... then I took off the fan belt... I've been told it can gain up to 0.5 of a second doing this... so, assuming this was an exaggeration... I hoped for 0.2 of a second... to get Dignity into the 15s...

First run without the belt... 15.339 @ 86.41 Mph......(0.8 of a sec quicker!) whooooo hooooo!!!!! It felt fast, and I couldn't wait to find out the time...

Kevo insisted that I needed to back it up with at least a 15.46 .... so next was a 15.410 and then a 15.325 and then a 15.360 ... very consistent... and a Jap Beater! (well, some of them!)..... all at about 85 MPH in 3rd....

To say I'm chuffed is an understatement!!!!


11/12/04 I've been busy. Dignity has been in the Garden! Today I got him out... went for a blast... Big Grin! 

12/12/04 ... Today I  decided to fit Dignitys front discs... I got them in the summer... along with new calipers, pads, hoses etc...  so it should be an easy, swap over... with the added complication of the line-loc.... anyway... got the drivers side apart in no time at all... to discover that someone had fitted an Anti-bump steer kit to the car...  (this involves drilling a large hole in the steering arm where the track rod end goes... and placing a tapered sleeve in the hole with the taper upside down, allowing the track rod end to sit upside down....) ...  BUGGER!  These holes are about 19mm in diameter and in thick cast metal... so, 3 hours later...and a very hot smoking drill!   I have one disc brake... I have now drilled the 2nd 19mm hole and will attempt fitting of the line loc and other disc brake tomorrow!

13/12/04 - Ed and I have spent most of the afternoon, freezing cold, trying to fit the Line Loc and other disc set up. Stopping the line loc from leaking at all the joints was a big job! PTFE tape fixed it... but I don't like to use it on brakes...  I can now lock my front brakes and spin the rear wheels... Big Grin and very childish... I wonder how long the stock gearbox will last?

24/12/04 In June I mentioned some 1914 Parts... Well, I have now ordered a New Case, I Beam Rods, Counter Weighted Crank, Engle 110 Cam and more from the US of A ... The parts are presently waiting at Heathrow Airport for Customs to check them over...  I ordered from the states with the hope of saving money...  when UK Customs have finished, we will see if it worked...  soon I should be able to build another engine!

05/01/05 The parts have arrived. I saved about 1/3 of the price that I would have paid in the UK so it was well worth it...  the build of the 1914 will happen when I find a bit of time... could be a while before it happens! 

23/01/05 Drove Dignity to the Surrey Swap meet today... ended up doing a full circuit of the M25.... just for fun!

03/04/05 Today I officially joined the VWDRC @ the Volksworld Show... 

04/04/05 Today I got my race number - SPVW9 

29/04/05 Big Bang! I was just visiting for the day to do some RWYB.... when I arrived, Kevo had my new race numbers and some other stickers.... the car got plastered! On my first run, I broke the gear lever! So I made a knob from Gaffa tape and continued...  I was unable to match my previous times... apparently due to a head wind and a less sticky track...  I was also attempting to use the line lock as my handbrake on the start line... but there is a delay between releasing the switch and it releasing the brakes.... thus some of my reaction times were poor... you live and learn! I did about 8 runs and my best was a 15.6 at 83.9 Mph... the car ran faultlessly .. 

21/05/05 - new shifter fitted... maybe a chance of quicker gearchanges? Also, battery box purchased and ready to fit... 

09/05/05 Stripped engine back to find oil leak, oil cooler seals leaking badly... changed them, back together... but still loosing some oil... maybe flywheel oil seal?

17/05/05 www.spvw9.co.uk is the new Dignity Drag racing website... 

We fitted the new battery box and gave the car a quick service and then it was off to Santa Pod for Bug Jam 19... I got the Car Scrutinered with a little help from an old pro (thanks Brian)... and paid £22 for a MSA log book for the car, this allows me to race without MOT and Tax and Insurance... thus no need for the last minute race to get an MOT for Bug Jam and also no need to take all the documents to the Pod every time I visit! I also applied for my MSA race licence at the track (Cheers Spencer!) I has Borrowed a crash Helmet (Thanks to Cabrio Rich!) and later borrowed some gloves too! We completed some RWYB runs on Friday and 4 rounds of qualifying on the Saturday...  I Qualified with a 15.57 on a 15.50 Dial in... (0.07 off the mark!) which put me at 7th over all in a class of over 30... so I was quite pleased... especially as I wasn't used to sequence of the lights... and red lit twice! oops! Sunday was a wash out and so there was no racing... I learnt a lot and had a great time... but just wish we could have actually raced! One thing we tried on Friday was using 185/65 tyres instead of the 185 full profiles... so that we could use 4th gear...  we ended up with near Identical times but with a lower top end speed (typically 2-3 MPH slower!)  

Picture Courtesy of Gwynn @ www.slimboyfat.co.uk ... go take a look at his amazing photos!

Picture from Adie ... bugger can't remember the web site... please can some one tell me!

Last picture by Hayley... of me Beating a Porsche! (this was with the smaller rear tyres... )

30/07/06    - Its been a while, but today I drove the car to London Volksfest at North Weald (Harlow) for a bit of a run out... The Track here is Concrete and quite rough in comparison to Santa Pod... and I wasn't expecting great times down the track, My first 2 runs were up against a really friendly girl in a Cosworth... I left the line and got off down the track way in front, with the cossie desperately chasing me, but by the end of the track she was doing 20+ Mph more than me and took the win on both occasions...we had a laugh about it! I was quite pleased with the first 3 runs being 16.03 , 16.04 and 16.07. I also ran a 15.93 and a 15.8 then a 16.2 and a 16.1 later in the day, beating the smokey burnout Rolls Royce in the process! - I even got my picture in Volksworld magazine!

Lots of fun was had!

Oh, and no... I still haven't built the 1914... 

April 2007... Well, I've got Married and moved house in the last 6 months, so nothing much has happened! Last week, Nutter Dave and I removed the engine, cleaned stuff, Changed the flywheel oil seal and clutch, and put it all back together ... 

April 29th 2007, Big Bang @ Santa Pod, I managed 12 runs in both RWYB & Qualifying ...and managed a new Personal Best Time... 15.0269 ... at 88.06 MPH on my first run .... but not quite a 14.99 ... lots of fun and the throttle linkage broke twice on me in qualifying... but I got out there raced and had fun!

The timing slip... 

 

This picture, looking back at the Golf GTI by Slimboyfat (Thanks) - www.slimboyfat.co.uk 

Burnout By Daren W - Thanks! www.retro-motoring.com 

That GTi Again... By Odin (Vzi) - Thanks!

The following 3 pictures are by Richard Wells...

 

Summer 2007 - London Volksfest... I drove down to the show with other members of the Herts VW Club in a cool VW Cruise.. all was good, I hung around for a while as the Track was busy by late morning things were moving well so decided to to take a few runs down the track... great burnout... but on my first launch I instantly could tell that the engine didn't sound right or pull with the right amount of power... I made it back to the "pits" .. The bug wouldn't idle... I decided I had an air leak, couldn't be bothered to fix it and thus drove home at high speed... not allowing it to idle at any point... it only drove well when accelerating... So I did!

About 6 months later I found time to take a look... I was right... the plastic elbow going into the right hand manifold has broken allowing the balance pipe to suck air into both carbs!

SOLD - Early 2008 -  I ended up taking all the racing bits of the car and selling him to a very nice man from near Southend... If you see him around give him a wave! - Here he is at London Volksfest this summer with his new owner.

I have more recently put the 1776 and the line lock on my 1964 Beetle that I have owned since I was 16! -  20 years!

This is Fred ... He was last in use in 2002 ... Here he is at Bug Freeze.. 

he was laid up shortly after this and 6 1/2 years later I dragged him home from the barn...  Actually.. he drove home!

I stripped him down, and dragged him off to Panel Kraft for some welding... 2 rear Hookeys bumper hangers and spare wheel well and bumper mount repairs to name a few!

 

I bolted him back together, with the Line lock, dual circuit brakes (all new), the 1776, the trigger shifter and some re-wiring... sadly no money to spend on making him pretty again... I found some Empi 5 Spoke wheels that I had lying around...  swapped the tyres for the ones on Dignity...

After 6 1/2 years ... Fred is back... 

Just got to lower the front some more... 

Please come back soon for further updates...

2014 - My wife is ill again with Cancer again... so I needed another distraction... A few of us are building another race car...  "Distraction" is being born...