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  • Writer's pictureFrank Oles

1978 Beetle Summer Update 2012

Shortly after we took delivery of the Beetle, our goal was to get it safe and roadworthy. That included making sure it didn't catch on fire (a common problem with old cars with old fuel lines!) and that it would be safe in modern traffic. It will never be fast, but we felt a disc brake upgrade was in order to make sure it could at least stop like a modern car. At least as well as you can stop without ABS!

Our first shipment of parts, including new struts with lowering springs and a front disc brake conversion. Great quality from Top Line Parts, who specialize in the Super. Find their site at:

Here we are after fitting the new struts with adjustable spring perches (set to lower the front two inches). We are also fitting a new backing plate to the spindle to accept the new disc brake caliper. Everything fit together nicely.

And here is our new disc brake conversion and strut. This will give us an added measure of safety, especially in panic stop situations.

I sourced a set of Pedrini alloy wheels from Craigslist in New Mexico. These were OEM wheels on the Porsche 914. They happen to have a perfect offset and brake clearance for our Super. These will soon be refurbished to look like new.

Here we checked the fit of the Pedrini wheel with a 135 section front tire. Perfect fit, and perfectly tucked into the front fender, with just enough fender gap without rubbing. Success!

Unfortunately, the stock running boards were a little rusty, having developed the trademark bumps beneath the metal and rubber cover. When we removed them, we discovered a little rust along the frame channel. This was only cosmetic, but we decided to remove the rust permanently to prevent it from spreading.

And after! We media blasted the area, primed with a metal etching primer, and then topcoated with factory-matched white paint, and a little Eastwood Chassis black epoxy paint on the bottom. Rust be gone!

Cleanup of the front compartment included removal of some minor surface rust, and new gas tank and replacement of all rubber fuel lines. Factory fresh and clean!

Here is the finished Beetle, ready for new adventures with the Oles family. Pedrini wheels, disc brakes, new gas tank and rubber, new aluminum running boards. Much better with the top down, though!

And here it is posing with the rest of the Oles family fleet: my Uncle Jim’s 1957 190SL Mercedes and my father’s 1982 Corvette. It’s like our own mini classic car parade!

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