As a long-time owner of a 1,192-c.c. VW, may I add yet another letter to your file?
I bought my car in Penang, operated it there for 18 months, brought it home on expiry of my tour, and have now used it for 2-1/2 years in England.
Accepting the shape (which I have grown to love) and the size as being basic facts, I have the following criticisms to make of design details, starting from the front.
(1) The hooter (i.e., horn) wiring should be clamped to the mass of the hooter, as this part is mounted on a spring, and the two wires emerge from a heavily insulated cable very near the terminal block, consequently the vibration set up in the mass of the hooter leads to rapid fatigue failure in the conductors.
(2) The front seat passenger should have a more comfortably angled surface on which to rest his/her feet.
(3) The angle of the gutter on the front window quarter-lights should be adjusted, so water does not collect in there, or even run into the car in tropical rain; but to run rearwards.
(4) The heater control should be simplified or strengthened. On my car, possibly through non-use for the first two years, the cables do not close the blanking plates. My heater operates with wooden wedges, as indeed do several other cars to my knowledge.
These in my opinion, are the sum total of design defects.
I grew up in an automobile-owning family, Chevvies and Fords, but for my money (where values are not distorted by import duty) there can be no better car than the VW. My personal experience is one of reliability plus cheap maintenance. A list of what this car cost me in 40,000 miles is as follows:
1) Basic price of machinery? It didn’t cost me £716!
2) 1,100 gallons of petrol at $1.85 and 4/3d.
3) X gallons of oil and grease at servicings plus half pint of oil last week, as I underfilled the sump last oil change.
(4) One rotor arm – self-inflicted wound; I filed the original one in an aberrated moment.
(5) Oil pressure transmilter, As (4) above, same moment. I broke the seal when tightening the nut.
(6) One wiper motor. Semi self-inflicted wound. I ignored a squeak when new, it cooked at 12,000 miles.
(7) One battery. Original failed in his second English winter.
(8) Two front shockers. One original went sick at 32,000 miles. Messrs. Armstrongs supplied two replacements at a price I cannot disclose as I’m sure they made a mistake.
(9) Two tyres at 35,000 miles. Xs replaced Continentals on rear wheels. The other three look good for 5,000 plus.
(10) Three pints of Valspar. Original finish destroyed at sea on way back to U.K.
(11) One front brake shoe. Cracked doing 1 “g” stop in Marshfield to avoid cat.
(12) 12 spark plugs. No comment.
(13) One clutch pedal spring.
The car has lived out of doors through three winters now. Last autumn I had her undersealed. The garage had to sand the undersurface to get the goo to stick on the baked enamel. The Valspar brush-applied finish is superior to cellulose as, being a working car, she gets filthy, and in summer one can scrub the wugs off with a hard brush without scratching the paint. I never polish the finish, but use a branded liquid detergent with spectacular results.
The bumper chrome is rapidly corroding. The tail pipes are paper-thin cylinders of chromium, all steel having gone the way of exhaust gases.
My only real gripe is that I dare not entrust the car to the agents in this country, as I have literally to go over every item on the check list after a servicing; to reset tappets, tighten finger tight plugs, retirne ignition, check the brakes and so on. So I do it all myself. Unlike the agents in Penang, whose Chinese mechanics, VW trained, really did the job well. Incidentally, I have found the best ignition setting is 1/8 in. to 3/16 in. before the crankcase joinm
The car has not been off the road longer than 24 hours.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Chippenham. – R. T. A. Innes.