Important improvements to the Volkswagen

This best selling family car now better than ever

Notwithstanding the fact that Wolfsburg has instituted improvements to the VW whenever they have been deemed desirable, so that. in its present form this is the World's most durable and best-finished small car, many very important additional alterations have recently been announced. In the first place the combustion chambers have been reshaped, with the o/h valves now inclined in the same plane_ the valve lift and diameter having been inereased, and stronger valve springs fitted, while the timing has been modified, and the compression-ratio has been raised from 6.6 to 7.0 to 1. Thus the statement that the VW is the World's slowest car, which a colleague slipped in to Motor Sport the other day when the Editor wasn't looking. is refuted, for although Wolfsburg claims an increase in top speed of only 4 mph (72 mph maximum and cruising) this is likely to be an estimate. Moreover. they claim to have clipped three seeonds off the never-all-that-sluggish 0-50 mph pick-up, which the VW is now said to achieve in 18 seconds.

It is typical that long life and reliability are still foremost in the minds of the VW engineers, which is why they have retained the former engine dimensions of 77 X 64 mm (1,192 cc) and only increased power to 34 bhp at a modest 3,600 rpm—the older engine gave 30 at 3,400. The new unit gives 103 lb/sq in bmep at 1,512 ft/min piston speed and 61 lb/ft torque at 2,000 rpm. It is further typical that to match the modest power increase the new engine has a new crankshaft with thicker webs and larger journals, a strengthened die-east magnesium crankcase and wider spacing of the cylinders for more effective air cooling. Minor ehanges in the rocker gear result in quieter running, while carburation has been improved by endowing the former Solex 28 PICT carburetter with an automatic choke having hi-metal, electric heating, and vacuum control elements, and with it warm-air supply to obviate icing which automatically cuts out at high engine speeds and can be disconnected in summer if desired. There are other small engine improvements, including a new fuel pump.

The four-speed gearbox, famous for one of the most delightful gear-changes in motoring, now has synchromesh on bottom gear and slightly lower ratios, these being 16.6, 9.01, 5.34 and 3.89 to 1, which means that 1,000 rpm in top gear equals 18.67 mph, and that at the critical 2,500 ft/min piston speed the car would be doing 1113/4 mph!. A stiffer alloy gearbox casing and changes to ensure quieter operation of the lower gears have been introduced.

The classic "beetle" shape of the VW remains unaltered but a modified petrol tank, vented into the open, has doubled the already generous under-bonnet luggage space of this all-independently-sprung, rear-engined car, without affecting the 8.0,gallon fuel capacity, which gives a range of over 350 miles, including a gallon in reserve. There is also, of course, room for suit-cases behind the wide back seat.

Frost-proof polythene bags are now used for brake fluid and sereen-washer fluid, the front-seat passenger gets an anti-dazzle vizor, and to prevent the driver trying to start the engine when it is idling so quietly he cannot hear it, the ignition key has been given a non-repeat action. Proper direction flashers replace the former signal arms, the headlamps now have asyrnmetrieal beams, the 8-point fusebox is below the facia, the speedometer reads to 90 mph, vizors are padded, coat-hooks of plastic for safety, there are minor improvements to the torsion-bar suspension, the door locks are improved and more harmonious colour schemes introduced.

That all these improvements are available a no increase in cost makes the Volkswagen a formidable competitor, nay the leader, where combined durability, good finish, modern design, effortless travel and economical motoring are concerned. We still await the advent of an entirely new model with avidity—new body styling and a larger air-cooled engine are rumoured--but meanwhile, at £716 in this country in spite of import duty and purchase tax, the deluxe Volkswagen saloon is an incredibly sound investment. The sun-roof version costs £762, the beautiful Karman Ghia coupe £1,196. VW service is World renouned and Volkswagen are in the forefront of safety-belt research and have approved the Britax diagonal belt for use in their cars. -WB.