Velvet underground: 1964 VW Type 3 Squareback

1964 VW Type 3 Squareback

You’re wrong!  At least, you’re wrong if you think Michael Moos’ Squareback is just another lowered Type 3 rolling on Fuchs, as this is actually one of the most modified Variants we know of, it’s just not immediately apparent from the outside.  But let’s rewind to 2008 and the beginning of this story.  Michael’s a self-employed tiler and, running his own business means having little spare time, but the few hours he does have free are totally devoted to his hobby, which is air-cooled VWs.  “It all started with a patinated ’58 Beetle that I transformed into a fully-loaded Resto Cal.  After driving around in it for some time, I felt the urge for a new project.  A Squareback had always been high on my wish list, so I started searching for one.  I wanted an early one with a sunroof, and I knew I had to take whatever came along as they’re as rare as hen’s teeth!”  And yes, the car he finally found was an early one – a ’64 to be precise – and yes, it had that desirable steel sunroof.  But, and there’s always a but, the car was a complete rust bucket.  “I knew I wouldn’t find a better one, so I bought it, even though I’d never welded body panels before in my life.  But it’s never too late to learn, right?”

” In all I bought 13 doors until I had a matching and spotless pair. I know, I am a bit picky “

Good used or pricey

Every Type 3 aficionado knows how difficult it is to find sheet metal for early Type 3s.  There are some late model reproduction parts around of fair quality, but almost none for pre-’70 cars.  So good used or pricey NOS parts are the only solution. “Mario Steinhauser of T3HQ was a massive help, but even he wasn’t able to find all the parts I needed that are specific to a ’64.  That’s why I had to buy later panels, cut the early model characteristics out of the old sheet metal and graft them into the new panels.  A good example is the front apron. I bought a universal version and modified it with the horn grilles from the old ’64 apron.  I didn’t want any Type 3 experts saying I’d used a wrong panel somewhere,” says the 36-year old.  Details like this run like a common theme throughout this restoration.  Michael modified the outer and inner sills, heater channels, front and rear aprons, the left side rear quarter panel and the right side front wheel housing using this method.  Wings, bonnet, rear hatch and doors were changed for NOS or good, rust-free, used parts.  “In all I bought 13 doors until I had a matching and spotless pair. I know, I am a bit picky when it comes to my air-cooled rides!”  If you think that’s it regarding the body, you’re wrong again.  The ’shell might have been solid as a rock by now, but Michael’s plan involved a serious lowering and narrowing job, but you can’t achieve that with stock suspension.  A Type 3 beam can’t be narrowed because of its torsion bar design.  Some people have solved this ‘problem’ by modifying the framehead to accept a Type 1-style beam, but our German friend isn’t a fan of this conversion.  His explanation: “The Beetle beam is not made for the weight of a heavy Type 3, that’s why I went down a different road.”  What Michael came up with is something really special.  No wonder, as he builds adjustable beams as a sideline under the name of Dog Back Beam Performance.  “My initial plan was to raise the beam mounting brackets by 1.57 inches, using the stock Type 3 beam, but after building several adjustable Barndoor beams for customers I realised how perfectly those axles with their shock towers would fit my Squareback.  I stayed with the idea of raising the mounting brackets, which made modifications to the upper beam mounts on the body necessary.”  They were raised by 1.57 inches, but the changes aren’t visible to the untrained eye.  Now that the beam mounting brackets weren’t the lowest point any more, the front end had to be modified as well to get the car that low without scraping the ground.  To do that, I shortened the front valance by one inch and the spare wheel well by almost two inches. Both look stock, but aren’t!”

Tech Info:
1964 VW Type 3 Squareback

  • BODY: 1964 Type 3 Variant 1500S; special order L521 Velvet Green; raised framehead and upper beam mounts; modified anterior inner wheel wells, front apron and spare wheel well; custom made 2/3-size fuel tank; NOS bumpers with VW accessory overriders
  • ENGINE: 1776cc Type 3; Engle W100 cam; twin EMPI 34EPC carbs; CSP bellcrank linkage, Tri-Mil exhaust
  • SUSPENSION: Dog Back Beam Performance Barndoor-style adjustable beam; 3-spline drop at the back; Monroe and truck cab air shocks
  • WHEELS & TYRES: 4.5 and early 6-inch Fuchs; 125 and 205/65 Firestones

Trapeze artist

The beam itself is a Barndoor Bus-style unit, completely built from scratch, and it’s a really trick piece of engineering.  The first thing you have to know is that the upper and lower trailing arms of Buses are different in length by around 4mm.  This offset is compensated for by the spindles.  Michael turned his spindles upside down and swapped them left to right, but that would have resulted in an 8mm offset.  The solution of our beam builder was a trapeze-shaped beam with its upper tube 3.54 inches shorter than a stock Barndoor version and the lower one 4.72 inches shorter.  “When I had this problem fixed, the next one was already on the agenda – mating the new beam to the Type 3 brackets.  After various attempts, I came up with some steel adaptors with the shape of the Type 3 beam on the outside and the Barndoor beam shape on the inside.  Actually it’s a very simple solution, but it took me a while to figure it out!”  But what about the steering column? That wouldn’t work with the new arrangement, but Michael thought his way around this problem, too.  “I combined rack and pinion parts from a Mk1 and Mk2 Golf and made everything fit.”

Tunnel of love

Before he lowered the back by simply turning the rear torsion bars by three splines, Michael took on another task.  “Due to a lack of good reproduction ’pan halves back then, I chose to cut the tunnel off my original chassis and put it on a donor chassis, which was in better condition. This way I could preserve all the typical ’64 details.”  A homemade air ride suspension consisting of four air shocks allows Michael to adjust the ride height whenever necessary.  While Monroe made the ones up front, the rears are more commonly found beneath the cabs on trucks. “They needed a bit of modification, too,” reveals Michael with a grin.  More modifications were required to adapt the Porsche 944 discs all around (with 944 Turbo calipers up front and 964 Carrera calipers in the rear).  The choice of wheels?  Early Fuchs, of course, chromed and detailed by Al Reed in California.  Skinny 125-15 Firestone F560s wrap the 4.5s and meaty 205/60-15s the deep sixes, with 10 and 22mm spacers completing the picture.  “The perfect stance is so important for a car.  It’s easy to make it wrong and it takes some time to get it right!” Well said, Mr. Moos.

” The Beetle beam is not made for the weight of the Type 3 “

With the body and ’pan finished, it was time to find the right paint shop to make it all look pretty.  “I asked around in my area but all the painters told me they prefer to do insurance jobs, rather than paint classic cars.  I had no clue where to go, until I saw the red and white Deluxe [Samba] of Andy Finch at Le Bug Show at Spa in 2012.  The paint on the Bus was outstanding, and I had to find out the painter responsible for it.  A few weeks later I got in contact with Andy through Marco De Waal of MarCo Supplies.  He sent over some photos of his work and they just strengthened my decision to have my car painted at his shop, Spike’s Vintage Restorations.”  In March 2013, Michael trailered his Type 3 the 1,150 miles to England.  “I combined it with a visit to The VolksWorld Show and, on that day, said to myself, ‘next year my Square will be here at the show.’”

Home and away

Now that a goal was set, the bachelor started to organise what he could do at home while the body was abroad.  The seats, rear bench and door panels were all sent to a local coachtrimmer, while Wilfried Wittkuhn from Wittkuhn Tuning took care of the engine.  It was upgraded to 1776cc with some mild performance parts like an Engle W100 cam and ported and polished VW cylinder heads.  In the meantime, Michael worked on the chassis.  “It had to be as good as the body, so I spent ages sanding, filling, sanding and filling again.  I then had it painted at a local paint shop.”  It was done just in time to be mated with the body, which was finished in August of 2013.  “Andy’s work exceeded my expectations.  The paint really was mile deep, and shiny as a new penny.  And yes, if you’re wondering, it’s the original Velvet Green, which was only available as a special order colour for the ’64 model year as it wasn’t officially introduced until the ’65 range.”

” The reward? A VolksWorld
Top 20 award and the
Cool Flo Choice trophy “

The assembly process started in November, by which time most of the components were ready for installation.  “It was a hard time, running my business at daytime and working in the cold garage at night.”  New Year’s Day saw the completed and rolling chassis and body reunited, with only three months to go before the show.  That might sound a lot, but it isn’t when you’re doing everything on your own.  “My good friend, Marc, helped as often as he could, but that’s not easy when you live two hours away.  When I realised I was running out of time, I commissioned Marco De Waal to complete the engine.”  Michael still had to fit the headliner, the seats, the Porsche 356 steering wheel, build up the dash and a lot more.  “It was a mad rush, but we made it, with the last preparations done at Andy’s before we arrived at the show on Friday!” And the reward?  A VolksWorld Top 20 award and the Cool Flo Choice trophy.  What more can you ask for after a six-year restoration period?

Words: Georg Otto


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