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1976 Volkswagen Beetle - Add on overdrive?

I've recently bought a 1976 VW Beetle. It's in very condition for it's age, but I intend to gradually modify it to make it a better more reliable drive. (Already added electronic ignition and a new stereo, and am thinking of giving the engine more power.)

I was wondering if it is possible to put an add-on overdrive, or change the gearbox to get a fifth gear, as I'm using it for driving long distances The high revs from doing 100km/h down the highway can't be good for engine life or fuel efficiency.

Any suggestions that won't cost more than I paid for the car?

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  • rston405 May 11, 2010

    Is this an air-cooled model with rear engine and transaxle? If it is, I would not touch the transmission. They are bulletproof and best left alone. An overdrive unit can only be added to a rear wheel drive car with a drive shaft. I don't even know if they are available anymore and would cost a lot if they were.

    Make sure you have factory tire sizes on the car in case a fatter lower tire is making the diameter of the tire smaller and causig the engine to run faster. You want taller bigger diameter tires to reduce revs. The old beetles used tall 5.60 x 15" inch tires, but I am not sure about the 76.

    The electronic ingnition sounds good since points are far inferior. Stage 1 for more power will come from a bigger better carburetor to replace stock, exhaust header (easy install), and nailing down the tuning (timing, carb mixture, etc.).

    Carburetors can be tricky. The 76 air-cooled has dual-port heads with decent stock manifold tubes. I would concentrate on a first-rate carburetor to replace stock. If your engine is fuel-injected, I am not going to be much help except to tell you to keep it stock and keep it running.

    I recommend the header with a decent (quiet) muffler as first kick up since you really cannot hurt anything. You should get a little more power and efficiency. Make sure you get the engine shrouding back in place or you will foul up cooling air. A big killer of these engines is leaving the shrouds off, especially the one under the engine fan belt pulley, that causes overheating.

    I hope this helps.


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