THE feel-good story you’re about to read epitomises what street machining is all about. Geoff Polinowski’s plain white, 100 per cent street-driven VW Beetle built over the past 15 years from a bare ’63 shell, has run 12.7@108mph, and he has performed nearly all the work himself, including building the 2180cc, 180hp engine. Many of the parts used in the build come from Paul Wilson at Wilson’s VW Services at Bakers Creek. Ray Bleakley helped with the bodywork and rolled some of the sheet metal required to patch the rust up, while Shane Noble did the white paintjob for a carton of Great Northern beer, and from 20 feet away it looks awesome.
The shell was fitted to a 1970 floorpan with a two-inch-narrowed CB Performance front beam, 2½-inch drop spindles and Type 3 drum brakes. An IRS/CV-joint Type 3 trailing- arm suspension was installed in the back, with 1970 disc brakes. Wheels are Porsche 911 Fuchs items with Chinese tyres. Geoff found he was only getting around three months’ wear from the Pirellis and switched to the low-dollar ‘offshore’ rubber simply for financial reasons.
The gearbox is pretty much stock except for the Scat straps and a Stage 1 Kennedy clutch. There’s a $15 quickshift part that turns the sloppy stock gearstick movement into a precise short-shifting cog-swapper.
Back in 2003, Brazilian company AutoLinea brought out bulletproof aftermarket aluminium VW engine cases, and Geoff received one of the first imported into Australia. In blown or turbocharged applications, these Type 1 cases are meant to be good for 650-700hp.
The horizontally opposed air-cooled four cylinder has seen a couple of cranks. The first was a DPR crank with a 74mm stroke and a Mahle 92mm, 9.2:1-compression big-bore kit, which works out at 1967cc. This is the set-up that saw the Beetle run 12.7@108mph. Since then, an 82mm Scat crank, Clevite 77 bearings and CB Performance rods have been fitted, for a capacity of 2180cc. The 870kg Beetle (with driver) hasn’t made a pass down the quarter with this bigger engine yet.
The heads on the 180hp motor were ported by Keith Foster from Bad Air in Hamilton, NZ, who now resides in Eimeo, Queensland. They are fitted with 40mm intakes and 35.5mm exhausts, with Scat heavy-duty springs. The camshaft is an Engle FK-87 grind and pushrods are Scat chrome-moly. Dual 44mm downdraught Webers feed the engine with 98-octane.
A standard oil pump with a brazed extended pick-up provides oil pressure from a deep sump filled with seven litres of Penrite HPR 30 oil. The stock fan for the air-cooling system has been welded and balanced and is now good for more than 6500rpm without flying apart. Brad at Westside Mufflers in Sydney custom-built the stainless-steel 15/8inch extractors, fitted with a Varex remotecontrol muffler.
For daily commuting, a milder Engle W110 cam and 40mm Webers are fitted, and 30 litres of fuel lasts about a week-and-a-half of Geoff driving to and from work.
The engine is about to undergo another transfiguration to 2276cc with Wiseco 94mm pistons and barrels. This will require stripping the engine and machining the cases for the big-bore barrels. Super Flo heads done by Jack Sacchette in the USA – fitted with titanium 48mm intakes and 38mm exhaust valves – are sitting on the work bench, and Geoff is saving up for a pair of 51.5mm Webers to match the combination. Compression will go from 9.2:1 to 12:1 with these new heads. The goal is 220hp, which will give the Beetle high 11-second capability at 113mph. So far, just the engine parts alone tally up to $11K.
Also on the to-do list is a pair of 15-inch drag radials. With the engine sitting behind the back wheels, one thing Beetles do is hook up anywhere. I’ve seen plenty of bikes mono when taking off from the traffic lights, but never seen a car pop the front wheels in the air. While Geoff is not about to try it – his licence is too precious – this is one car that could.
Speaking of feel-good stories, a big thank you to our local federal member, George Christensen, for helping the 50-year-old Palmyra Drag Club out with a $160,000 government grant to repair the track. I’m sick of seeing our taxes going overseas, so I’m glad to see a little bit of our money staying here and being put towards a motorsport I love. The drag strip is used for light aircraft, Q-Ride motorcycle training, community events, and I recently saw schools using it for a self-propelled vehicle competition. Most importantly for us, it offers a safe place for kids to race and do burnouts off the street.
Some of the big meetings bring competitors from interstate, who stay at motels, dine at restaurants and spend thousands of dollars in the region, so the money spent on refurbishing the track will be returned to the district many times over.