The 74 Super Beetle and the AH Engine, Part 1

1974_VW_1303_AH_Engine_Original_001
Almost completely stock 1974 VW 1303 AH Engine.

The one potentially good thing out of the original project 1974 Super Beetle I bought is the engine.

From the initial inspection of the car in September 2017, it became apparent that it appeared to be about 95% stock original, with many of the original VW parts that people have removed and replaced over the intervening decades, including the US Federal Government mandated anti-smog components.

Now it wasn’t the more severe anti-smog components of a California vehicle of the same year, but the EGR valve was still intact (with modified tins) and the dashpot was still on the Solex 34 Pict 3 original carb.

The engine ran, but it was a little rough and did stall occasionally when going to idle, especially upon braking at a stop sign and so forth. If not in gear it ran very well.

When I first inspected the car, I checked what I could and of course, noticed the usual typical oil leaks and so forth around both the cylinder/case connection point, the push rod tube seals, as well as a suspected flywheel seal leak.

The one thing that was not stock original was the distributor.

A 1974 Super Beetle should have rolled off the factory floor with a 113 905 205AN DVDA (Dual Vacuum Dual Advance) distributor.

This was the one major thing missing from the car as it only had a generic 009 mechanical advance distributor on it.

It was also missing the EGR filter from under the tin to the exhaust, though all of the other EGR components were there.

I drove the car across half of Ohio and it ran ok. Not great. But it was functional.


Since the seller knew zero about air-cooled VWs, he could give me no info as to the last tune up or such, and by appearances and the way it ran I figured it needed to at least have some basics done.

I did an oil change and that’s when I realized how truly sludge like it was. I ran some engine oil cleaner in it to try and break down any deposits and did 2 oil changes again with some cheap stuff.

My son took it out for a bit and then we decided to run some Sea Foam in both the oil and in the air intake in the carb.

I really never used Sea Foam before but my son seems to think it does wonders. I really don’t think it does much, but I can see it working to loosen up deposits and crud in the oil galleries and oil cooler of a Type 1 engine so we ran some through and even did a bit through the carb.

After driving it for a bit I finally wasn’t really getting filthy oil of out of the car so I put in some of the Castrol 20W50 I typically run in my Beetles  as well as some Sea Foam. I replaced the spark plugs and wires and left it at that.


A week later the first engine issues became immediately noticeable.

1974 Super Beetle and 1979 Super Beetle (Murbella)
1974 Super Beetle and 1979 Super Beetle (Murbella)

I got in to go drive to pick up my son and had the car die half way down the block.

It seemed to be an electrical issue and after a few days I determined it was the original black coil. Unfortunately, I was going to have my knee replaced so I figured there wasn’t much I could do other than order a new coil.

A few days after my surgery, I was back home but I could barely walk so I figured the car would sit over the late Autumn and Winter months. However, my son installed the new blue coil and got it running again.

I like to run my stored cars for 30 minutes every 2 weeks during the winter. I really don’t want them sitting for months and with both running, I knew I could have Mak just go out every 10 days or so and start them up.

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