1965 Type III Notchback


1965 Model: 1500S
Engine: 1500cc Single Port (stock)
Carbs: Dual Solex 32 PDSIT
Brakes: Front disc, rear drum
Wheels: Porsche 2-Liter alloy
Front tires: Michelin 135SR15
Rear tires: Pirelli 185/65HR15

Note: Click on thumbnails for expanded images!

How I found the Notchback

Not long after getting my 1966 Bug on the road in 1985, I saw my first Notchback picture in a magazine. I was convinced that it was the coolest VW I had seen. I decided at that point that I *had* to get one. I came close to buying one in 1986, but could not scrape up the cash to complete the sale...I was bummed.

Sometime in the late summer or early fall of 1990, I was taking a short cut through a neighborhood to avoid a road construction detour. As I passed a street, I noticed the back of an interesting looking car...it turned out to be the Notchback. The very next day, I stopped back and took a closer look at the car. It had been sitting on the street for a while, with old expired tags and a pile of leaves and other stuff underneath. I left a note on the car with my name and phone number, hoping the owner would want to part with the car. I didn't get a call back right away, so I left another note a few weeks later. After another note or two, I think the owner realized he needed to call me, or suffer from the avalanche of notes that I intended to leave.

In late 1990, I got to meet with the owner and take a closer look at the car. It was in pretty good shape, with just some minor rust in a few spots. The car had been sitting for over 2 years without being moved. I had brought a new 6-volt battery with me, and we were able to get it to crank over, but not start. It had spark when I checked at the coil wire, but not even starting fluid could get it to fire. Since I was handy with engines, I was not too worried. We talked on and off for the next few weeks, and in February of 1991, the owner of the car agreed upon a price, and the car was mine!

Getting roadworthy

I had the car towed to my friend Mike's house that lived nearby. I replaced the rusty spark plugs with new ones, shot some starting fluid down each carb...and VRROOOM! The engine started and ran off the starting fluid and nasty gasoline that was still in the tank. Then BOOOOM! The engine backfired, and half of the muffler was blown to tiny bits all over the driveway. It seems that the muffler had rusted from the inside out, and what had previously looked like an OK muffler was nothing more than an eggshell over the exhaust ports! The following week, I called Bill & Steve's VW Parts and ordered a new muffler, carb rebuild kits, tune-up stuff and a few other odds and ends. Once I replaced the muffler and rebuilt the carbs, the Notchback ran great!

Front view During 1991, I drove and enjoyed the car just as it was. The paint was (is) faded, the tires were nasty bias-ply, but I didn't care. I was still in school full-time, so there was not any extra time or money to play with the car. In 1992, when I started working full time, things changed.


Although there are purists that cringe whenever somebody restores a car to other than stock, I'm not one of them. I believe that cars are for us to enjoy as we please. My personal goal is to fix the car up in "Resto-Custom" style. I will *not* weld up chrome trim holes, mount funky hood scoops or otherwise butcher the car. My goal is to perform bolt-on modifications to enhance my enjoyment of the car. This brings me to the current state of the car. In 1992, I bought a rusted-out 1969 Fastback for parts. Installed the front disk brakes and 4-bolt rear drums on the Notchback. I also lowered the front end by repositioning (2 splines) the front suspension arms on the torsion bar. I also installed the Porsche 2-Liter alloys that were on my Bug when it was wrecked in 1987.

In 1993, I started running the car in the slalom event held at the Bug-Outs in Mannassas, VA. This prompted me to add a thin-line oil sump to the engine to help prevent oil starvation during cornering. I also installed a camber compensator on the rear suspension.


The Spring of 1996 was not so good for the Notch. I had a flight to catch from BWI airport, which is just about 30 miles of interstate highway driving from my house. I was running late, and needed to make some good time. Once on I-95 North, I put the accelerator pedal to the floor. The 1500S engine and the transmission's 4.12 final drive can push the Notch to about 90 MPH. But not for long, it seems. I didn't hear any detonation, but after about 20 miles of pedal to the floor driving, my speed started to drop. Desperate to make this flight, I kept the pedal to the floor. Over the next few miles, my speed dropped to 80, then 70, then slipped to 60 MPH. I started to notice a bit of smoke from the heater vents, but decided not to stop. I figured if I stopped, the Notch would end up stranded on the median, and possibly stolen before I could get back to it. By time I was at the airport access road, my speed was down to 30 MPH - pedal to the floor. There was a definite smoke trail behind me, and some ringing noises from the engine. As I pulled into the parking area, the car would barely go 5 MPH with - you guessed it - the pedal to the floor. As I pulled in to an open parking spot, the engine was straining just to keep running. I lifted my foot slightly from the gas pedal, and the engine stopped. Not the normal shutting down sounds like when you turn off the ignition, but rather an immediate cessation of engine sounds. As I hopped out of the car to run to the terminal, the smell of a burnt engine was evident. Worst of all, I still missed my flight by 5 minutes!

Old Engine When I flew back into the airport later that week, I had a flatbed tow truck pick me up at baggage claims. We drove over to the parking lot, scooped up the Notch, and headed home. Once home with the car, I tried to crank it over - nothing. The engine is locked.


Since the Spring of 1996 until now (Spring 1999), I have done nothing. It's been a long 3 years since I drove the Notch. But this year will be different. My plan is to upgrade from a single-port to dual-port engine. I may also switch to a 12-Volt electrical system at the same time. On April 4th, I'm picking up a replacement engine. This engine has dual-port cylinder heads, and a 12-Volt generator. I have absolutely no idea if it runs, but if it does, I'm stuffing it in there and going for a ride! If the engine does not run, I'll either rebuild it or use the external parts on a new BeetleMex engine. I know the BeetleMex engine does not have the hole for the type-3 oil filler neck, so I will need to tear the new engine down and get the case machined. It may sound crazy to pull apart a new engine, but if you read on, you will see that there is some logic to the madness!

I hope to complete in local events of the SCCA Solo II Street Prepared Class D (DSP) or Stock Class H (HS) slalom racing series. In both of these classes, *no* internal engine performance modifications are allowed! Seems to me that a new, bone stock engine will be the way to go. I will have the internal components balanced, but that is about it. I need to check the rule books closely to see which class is best suited for the Notch.

Page 2 of my 1965 Notchback

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Tom Carrington