Home > Project Cars > 1974 Volkswagen Super Beetle 1303 S Part 3: Debugging our Super Bug

1974 Volkswagen Super Beetle 1303 S Part 3: Debugging our Super Bug

It has been a while since we tinkered with our project cars. For one thing, we’ve been quite busy for the last few months working on the realities of life as well as realizing our goal of coming up with Power Wheels TV, our motoring show with Pop Life TV that will soon be airing on SkyCable Channel 72, digital TV, free TV, and Video on Demand. For another thing, our funds were quite low, so we had to prioritize important and immediate living expenses over equally important but not immediate car restoration expenses. But we did not remain idle all that time. We re-installed the missing passenger side wiper arm and wiper blade on our 1974 Volkswagen Super Beetle 1303 S, and we removed the black plastic rain deflector from the rear engine lid. No, sir. We’re really not lazy.

After the holiday season – Saturday, January 4, 2020 to be exact – we took our Super Bug out of its cage, err… garage to dust it off, gas it up, and air the tires. Since 1600 cc air-cooled flat-four started almost immediately and was idling smoothly, we felt that we could drive our 46-year-old Volkswagen farther down the road without stalling. So, off we drove to Yock’s Auto Electrical Repair Shop and Auto Supply along Roosevelt Avenue in San Francisco Del Monte (SFDM), Quezon City but they were closed for lunch break when we got there. We decided to drive to the nearby Walter Mart to while away the time but our engine sputtered and then stopped before we can get there. Fortunately, we got the engine running again and hurriedly drove back to Yock’s before our engine stalls again.

Our regular technician was surprised to find us with a fading metallic green Beetle after he got used to working on our other project cars – our Hugger Orange-with-black-highway-stripes 1971 Chevrolet Camaro; our formerly-blue-but-now-yellow 1977 Mitsubishi Celeste 1600ST; our black with silver 1986 Mercedes-Benz 500SE; our metallic silver 1991 Mitsubishi Galant GTI; and our metallic pewter 2002 Chevrolet Tahoe LS 4800. He was even more amazed when he learned that we got our green 1303 S for FREE. He opined that we’re like a magnet for project cars but we’d like to think of ourselves as gluttons for punishment!

We voluntarily removed the rear passenger seat so the Yock’s technician can have unimpeded access to the battery, which was hiding underneath. He attached their voltage and ampere meter to the battery, asked us to start the engine, and checked the readings. He found that the alternator was overcharging the battery. He looked at the wiring harness around the battery and found that it had been reworked before. He saw a black external mechanical voltage regulator and told us that these boxes were a common “quick fix” for electricians who do not really know how to work on original Volkswagen alternators with internal transistorized regulators.

The technician cleaned all the electrical contacts and tightened all the electrical connections including the connector that attaches the positive cable from the battery to the starter solenoid and the negative lead to the car’s body for grounding. He found that all the connections were loose. He then soldered a separate wire for the ground lead of the external regulator and narrated that it was a rookie mistake to use one ground wire for the regulator.

After everything was said and done, the alternator was charging right at 13.5 volts even when the engine was revved above 4,000 rpm. The technician buttoned up our Super Beetle, we paid the bill, and encouraged us to drive our Volkswagen more so we can find and fix whatever problems that will come out in the future. We drove out towards Roosevelt Avenue with the aim of driving to a meeting with our geodetic engineer at Fairview, Quezon City, but thankfully, we decided to use our long-term 2016 Suzuki Ciaz instead. It turned out to be a good decision because our green Super Bug bugged out again and stalled as we were driving home.

Next time, we will work on the car’s ignition system by replacing the spark plugs, spark plug leads, distributor cap, contact point and condenser, and the Bosch coil. Stay tuned!