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TOPIC: What's it like to drive?

What's it like to drive? 8 years 7 months ago #5442

Hi there!

I'm a recent convert to the world of air-cooled VWs. My brother gifted me his '72 beetle 1300 when he went overseas about a year ago, and I've been so impressed with the thing that I've adopted it as my daily commuter in preference to my Jaguar XJR - so much so that I just sold the Jag because it wasn't being used!

There are however two things I don't like about the beetle. Firstly it's just no good on the highway. And secondly it's a bit lacking in the styling department, partly because it has 40 years' worth of accumulated parking dents, rust spots and paint blemishes and partly because, well, it's a beetle! That's to say, still one of the best-looking cars on the road, but not quite rare and distinctive enough for my liking.

On paper then, it's looking as if the Type 34 is my dream car! But I've never driven one and don't know much about them. So I wanted to ask whether anyone would like to offer their opinion on what the T34 is like to own and drive. Are they reliable and are parts available? Is fuel economy ok? Is rust a problem? (I live near the coast), and most importantly, how is it to drive in relation to the beetle? and I should say, what I love about the beetle are the characteristics of the engine, the lightness and precision of the controls, and the amazing handling.

I'm still planning to keep the beetle, but actually it's got to the stage where it needs restoring (at least the non-mechanical bits) and I'm looking at the T34 as something to do the transportation duties while the beetle's off the road, and to become my weekend fun car (and if need be, restoration project) thereafter.

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Re: What's it like to drive? 8 years 7 months ago #5444

  • Mick
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Hi ssscrambled, and welcome to The Registry. If you're looking to own a Type 34, then you have definitely come to the right place.

Type 34 ownership is a great thing. Not only do you get to own and drive a unique and beautiful Italian designed 'sports' coupe, but you also get to hang out with the cool air-cooled crowd. :cheer:

The Type 3 is a much more refined car to drive than the beetle. This is in most part due to the revised front suspension, but also due to the slightly longer wheelbase. You will also find that the Type 34 (in standard form) is a bit quicker than an equivalent year beetle too, later models having twin carburettor.

It will handle highway driving a little better, but it is worth considering that it is still a 50 year old design, and unless 'hotted up' you will probably be holding up the traffic a little. Handling is much better than a bug, again due to the revised front suspension, and if you have a later model, may also have IRS, which puts the handling heads and shoulders above.

Reliability is basically the same as the Beetle, as the engine is more or less the same basic unit. All mechanical parts are shared across the type 3 range, and apart from some early parts, can easily be sourced.

Body and trim parts are however a different story. Pretty much all body and trim parts are unique to the Type 34, so when buying one it is imperative to make sure that all parts are present and in good or salvageable condition. Door panels and carpets can be ordered from a number of trim outlets, but door cappings and dash pads are pretty much made of unobtanium, and in hotter climates generally tend to crack from sun damage. Brightwork can be found, but generally will require waiting until someone breaks a car up, which is less frequent nowdays than it used to be.

As with any 50 year old car (The Type 3 range will be 50 this year), ownership is a mix of enjoyment and regular maintenance, and the better condition car you start off with, the less work it will eventually be. Restoration of a Type 34 can be a massive undertaking, especially if there are a lot parts to source. And unless you are willing to undertake the work yourself, can also involve a large financial investment. The same is obviously true of any large scale auto restoration, but the scarcity of body parts means that many panels have to be custom made, putting the restoration of a Type 34 into the same realms as restoring a coach-built car.

Rust wise, Type 34's can suffer rust in the rockers (sills), wheel arches, front and rear valence, battery tray, spare wheel area, in fact pretty much all the way round the bottom 12" of the car. Places to check first are the battery tray which is under the rear seat, and the spare wheel area and bottom of nose (front valence). These areas are more vulnerable, and if rusted out give an indication of the level of care given to the car, and possibly what to expect in the other areas. Be especially weary of missing rocker trim and filled trim holes on the rocker. This can be an indication that this area has been filled. Also check inside the front of the nose for crash damage, and if possible the rear too, although the rear is double skinned and so will not be so easy to check. Jacking points, located at the rear of the floorpan, are also vulnerable and susceptible to rust.

The floor pans are now available (at a cost), and can also be used from a normal Type 3 with a little modification, so if there is a little localised rust in the pan it is fixable (such as a battery tray). But be aware that if the rust is due to leaking door seals, then it is likely that the heater channels and rockers will need attention too.

I hope this info is of some help. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask away.

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Re: What's it like to drive? 8 years 7 months ago #5481

  • Peacefulwarrior
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Ssscrambled, as a new owner and driver of a 66 T 34, and owner of over 75 VW's in the past 35 years,
I will say hands down, the T 34 is by far the best handling, best accelerating, easy to work on, fun to drive, comfortable air cooled VW I have ever driven! Why I did not find this out earlier in life is beyond me at this point, but find a good one and you are going to be happy!

I am on the lookout for another one, now! I am sold and I dig them!
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