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VW Dictionary
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0-9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

S Model 1964-65 "S"uper aka "Deluxe" model Type 3 that introduced the dual carbureted, high compression 1500cc engine, although with a number of other cosmetic and mechanical improvements.  See also N-model.

Safari Model of  the named Type 181 aka the Thing

Safari Bars See cow catchers.
safaribars.jpg (117312 bytes)

Safari Windows Optional opening front windshield for the pre-1968 Split-screen Bus.  Often standard issue in the more humid climates, such as South America and Australia.
safariwindows.jpg (53082 bytes)

Sakbayan This is a Type I box type Volkswagen, the design of which copied from the Country Buggy of Australia, although the entire body was built and hancrafted in the Philippines. This was introduced in the 70's. The workd "Sakbayan" came from two Filipino words; "Sasakyan" means "vehicle" in English and "Bayan" means "Country" in Filipino. Hence, the term "Sakbayan".

Salvaged Indicates that a vehicle has been involved in a total loss such as theft or a wreck where the insurance company paid out the market value of the vehicle to the registered owner.  A vehicle with a salvaged title is worth less on the open market and in the eyes of an insurance company.

Samba Nickname for the 23-Window Deluxe Microbus in Europe.

Sand Blast To strip paint off of a car using sand applied at high pressure.  See also media blast.

Sandrail VW-based off-road vehicle, often consisting of a tubular frame and 1-4 seats for sand usage.
sandrail.jpg (43535 bytes)

Sano The term "Sano" comes from the late Grey Baskerville.  He died in 2002 after working for nearly every car magazine (maybe even VW trends) back to the late 50s and early 60s.  He also pioneered terms like "Reet".  The term has no background; "sano" isn't short for sanitary or insane.  It is a Grey original.  Sano refers to a clean vehicle, e.g. "That Bug is super sano!" 

São Paulo Volkswagen do Brasil coupe, produced from June, 1972 until December, 1975. Both versions, the SP-1 and the SP-2, were based on a modified Type III chassis and were equipped with pancake engines produced in Brazil. 
saopaulo.jpg (13875 bytes)

Sapphire Radio Original equipment radio manufacturer for VW.  Sapphire radios were sold through USA dealerships and came in various AM and AM/FM models.
sapphire1.jpg (34713 bytes)

Sassafras Slang for safari windows.

Saxomat A Saxomat was a factory retro-fit kit for an ordinary 4-speed transmission, offered upon special request from around 1959 until 1967, made by Fichtel & Sachs AG.  The Saxomat was developed in the 1950s as a type of automatic clutch available as an option on Saab 93, Volkswagen Beetle, Borgward, DKW, BMW, Opel, NSU and Glas. When Volkswagen introduced the full synchromesh gearbox in 1961 they were able to fit a Saxomatic gearbox to it, as an option for the European market.  The Saxomatic was optional on both Type 3s and Beetles from 1961.

Cars with a Saxomat clutch did not have a clutch pedal, the clutch was engaged above certain engine RPM by centrifugal force, acting on spinning weights inside the clutch, similar to a centrifugal governor. A centrifugal governor controls the speed of an engine by regulating the amount of fuel admitted, so as to maintain a near constant speed whatever the load or fuel supply conditions.  More information: http://users.cybercity.dk/~ida2958/page8.html


Sawzall Electric saw useful for quickly cutting through VW sheet metal.  Often used to disassemble a parts vehicle for sale.

Schwimmwagen Amphibious Volkswagen that floats and is usable on water.  The crankshaft has a special attachment that connects to a propeller for water movement.  See Type 166.
schwimmwagen.jpg (60198 bytes) schwimmwagen2.jpg (163215 bytes)

Sedan Term to indicate a solid roof vehicle as opposed to a ragtop or convertible.

Segaphones Slang term for Semaphores, used as a joke term in the Samba Forums.  Originally based on one or more classifieds misspellings

Sekurit German OE manufacturer of glass used in VW and other vehicles.
sekurit1.jpg (47927 bytes) sekurit2.jpg (64142 bytes)

Selecta Image created with one of the various Selecta on-line programs.
selecta.jpg (82330 bytes)

Semi-Automatic Semi-Automatic, aka Autostick, had a torque converter and an electrically-actuated, vacuum-operated dry clutch wired to an articulating gearshift lever. The engine oil pump has a second external section to pump automatic transmission fluid from a reservoir (under the fender on Bugs and inside the engine compartment on Ghias) through the torque converter and back to act as an rpm/ speed sensitive, hydraulic "wet-clutch" like most fully-automatic transmissions use. This common option was started in '68 and gave excellent drivability, economy and ease of use for beginners and partially-disabled people.  This should not be confused with the fully automatic transmission used on Type 3s and later model Buses.

Semaphores Turn signals used before flashers were in general usage, these arms pop-up from the body of the vehicle and lights up via a small bulb to indicate you wish to turn.  Used through the 1960 models in Europe and else where.  Until 1955 in the USA.  Also see Winker.
semaphore1.jpg (81052 bytes) semaphore2.jpg (45362 bytes)

Servo For early Volkswagens, a term used for a device used to amplify the braking force applied by the driver.  Somewhat incorrect in that this is actually a mechanical amplifier and not a classic  servomechanism.  Example: Brake servo.

Shark nose A slang term for 1970-up Type 3's.  Refers to the shape of the front apron.

SHO The German manufacturer, Hermann Stribel. They produced electrical components including turn signals, brake lights, semaphores, connectors, etc. The company logo is an interlaced "S" and "H" inside a circle.

Shoot Slang term used for the application of paint or primer to a vehicle, e.g. "I'm going to shoot my Bug Sea Blue this weekend."

Short Block Short block refers to the bare engine including the engine case, crankshaft and not much else.  It does not include the heads or any external accessories such as intake manifolds, carburetors, generator/alternator, or fan shroud.

Shorty Term used to describe a Bus that has been shortened, often by removing the area of the cargo compartment where the cargo doors are located.  Opposite of the stretched customization.
shorty.jpg (40349 bytes) shorty1.jpg (78651 bytes)

Show Car VW that is in top quality condition and frequently entered in car shows, possibly a trailer-queen.  Usually not a daily driver.

Side Loader Like the extinct Tieflader, except instead of a door, it has a diamond plate ramp. 50 1961 Single Cabs were Coachbuilt to compete with the Corvair Rampside. Only 2 are still known to exist.  Also see Low Loader

Side Step VW or aftermarket accessory step that connected into the jack points underneath the Bus cargo doors.  This step was used to aid in entry to the VW Bus rear cargo or passenger area.
sidestep1.jpg (96061 bytes)

Sidler German brand name company that produced interior dome lights for various models during the 1960's and 1970's, including Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3. Sidler also made the rear ashtray in Bay Window Buses.

Sigla German manufacturer of glass used in VWs.
sigla.jpg (27672 bytes)

Silverfish Bay Window Special Model.  See this Forum thread

Single Cab VW Pick up truck produced beginning in 1952.  3-person seating up front.  8 foot x 4 foot bed with 3 drop down side gates.  Often accessorized with a Tilt, aka "hoops and canvas"
singlecab.jpg (24294 bytes)

Single-port The early style of head which has only one intake hole (or port) which splits off into two separate ports internally to each intake valve.

Single Wheel Trailer A trailer that has only one wheel supporting it. The trailer attaches to the tow vehicle using a special hitch, which attaches at two points to the vehicle, not just one.

Skalbagge Swedish: "shell-bug" (beetle).  In Sweden, the most common nickname for the Beetle sedan and convertible.

Skid plate A piece of sheet metal or mild steel attached to the front area under the front axle or under the rear of a sand rail or glass buggy to protect the undercarriage when off-roading.

Slam To slam a vehicle is a slang term meaning to lower it. In Bug and Bus, this involves cutting and re-welding the front beam and/or installing drop conversion kits manufactured to fit either link pin or spindle front ends.  The rear can be slammed by reindexing the rear torsion bars.
slammed1.jpg (64004 bytes)

Slammed Slang for a vehicle that has been lowered.  See Slam

Slant nose Slang term for all pre-'70 Type 3's. Refers to downward slant of front hood. See also shark nose.

Slash Bumpers Bus bumpers.  1959 - 1965.

Sleeper Slang for a vehicle that appears stock or in poor condition from the outside, but has a large displacement engine.

Sloped Rack A sloped version of the Westfalia roof rack found on pre 1961 model Westfalias.

Slug Bug See Punch Bug

Small Nut Refers to the size of the rear axle nut and reduction box design on a pre-1964 Bus.  A small nut reduction box uses a 36 mm axle nut and has a gear ratio of 1.39:1.  Also see Large Nut

Smokefix A small holder of cigarettes with an automatic self lighting feature optional in the 50s for in dash installation. (6-volt)

Smooth Bumpers 1953 -1955 (US) Beetle bumpers. Also called a "Euro" or "Blade" bumper.  Used in Europe until 1961.  Overriders used in the US from 1956 - 1967.

Smooth Gate Reference to the original gate design on early barndoor era single cabs. In contrast to later gates with a stamped design, smooth gate single cab gates have a flat exterior profile.  Used on 1952-53 Single Cabs, up through Chassis # 20-066115.

Smoothies Slang for 15" Beetle wheels that are "smooth" on the outside - they have no slots

Snowflake Taillights 1956-61 Beetle taillights

Snowtop See Freedom Camper

Snubber Slang term for the front or rear rubber suspension stops

SO-kit Description needed. Send a description (special option kit)

SO-23 Special option code given to the Westfalia camper from '59-'61.
so23.jpg (128028 bytes)
Forums thread with more detail

SO-34 Special option code given to the 1961-'65 Westfalia camper conversion with a laminated white interior.
Forums thread with more detail

SO-35 Special option code given to the 1961-'65 Westfalia camper conversion with a finished wood interior.
Forums thread with more detail

SO-42 Special option code given to the '65-'67 Westfalia camper conversion with a finished wood interior.
Forums thread with more detail

Solex OE manufacturer or VW parts.  Usually associated with carburetors.

Sondermodell German: "special model".  aka Deluxe Bus.

Sonderausfuhrungen Special model Buses that could be ordered directly from the Factory
Some examples are:
SO9: Pick-Up with hydraulic cherry picker
SO16: Double Cab conversion (Binz)
SO33: Westfalia Camper with small roof hatch

Sopru First factory approved camper manufacturer in Australia.  Factory in South Australia. E. Sopru and Co.

SOTO At one time the largest Bus club, SOTO was formed in LA in the eighties. Over the past few years the club has become inactive or at least has stopped attending events and producing a newsletter.

Southwind OEM manufacturer of gas heaters.

Sparkafer See Standard Beetle

Speedo Slang for Speedometer.

Speedwell A car tuning company from the 1960's located in London, England and connected with the aftermarket VW parts company EMPI from that era.

SP1 Built by VW of Brazil in the 1970's (June 1972 through 1975).  Displacement is 1584cc, normally aspirated, with two Solex 32 PDSIT carburetors.  Features a sculpted, sporty 2 seat Coupe body married to a Type 3 chassis, Swing Axle Rear Suspension and Type 1 front end.  Also known as Project X / Prototype X.  It bears a loving resemblance to the T3 Fastback, the 411/412 Coupe and its' Porsche cousins.  See Type 149.

SP2 Built by VW of Brazil in the 1970's (June 1972 through February 1976).  Displacement is 1678cc, normally aspirated, with two Solex 34 PDSIT carburetors.  Features a sculpted, sporty 2 seat Coupe body married to a Type 3 chassis, Swing Axle Rear Suspension and Type 1 front end.  Also known as Project X / Prototype X.  It bears a loving resemblance to the T3 Fastback, the 411/412 Coupe and its' Porsche cousins.  See Type 149.

Speedometer Gauge on vehicle which determines speed, measured either in mph or kph.

Speedster Replica VW-based kit car built to resemble a Porsche speedster automobile.
speedsterreplica1.jpg (41917 bytes) speedsterreplica2.jpg (100164 bytes)

Spice Rack One of the cabinets in a Westfalia kit.  Intended to hold spices.

Spindle Portion of the front-end around which each brake drum or rotor rotates.  Connects to the front beam.  Also see drop spindle

Splash Guards See mudflaps.

Split-Case VW transmission used from 1953-1960 (1959 in Buses). Non-synchromesh, straight-cut first gear that required you to stop before engaging first gear. Case was split down the center like an engine case.

Split Case Design Design term to indicate a transmission or engine built with 2 halves that are joined in the center.  See split-case or crashbox.  Not to be confused with split-case transmission.

Split-screen Any bus, transporter, microbus, panel, kombi, single or double-cab of the Volkswagen Type II description with a manufacture date prior to 1968 (e.g. 1967 and earlier).  Refers to the divided front windshield.
splitscreen.jpg (28570 bytes)

Split-window First mass production run of the Beetle.  Used two pieces of flat glass for the rear windows.
splitwindow.jpg (63896 bytes)

Splitty Nickname for a 1949 through 1967 Transporter with a two-piece divided windshield.  Also, the nickname for a pre-1953 Beetle sedan with a two-piece divided rear window. See Split-screen or Split-window.

Spoon latch Slang term used to describe the long version of the pop-out window latch used on pre-67 buses. The latch is chrome and looks like a spoon.

Sports Bug The special edition for 1973. Available as a Super Beetle. Two colors were offered; bright yellow, and metallic silver blue. All chrome was painted flat black. This was the only VW with 5.5" Sport Wheels, and wider tires (as opposed to later 4.5" Sport Wheels). Interiors came with Recaro style front seats, and all seats were black vinyl with dark purple corduroy inserts. There was also a thick rimmed small diameter steering wheel.

Sportsmobile U.S. based camper conversion based initially out of Indiana.  Had a pop-top that raised straight up, similar to a Riviera, except without the molded fiberglass luggage rack in front.
sportsmobile.jpg (60668 bytes)

Spring Kit Slang for '55-'57 Westfalia interior.

Sprint Stars Type of rim  
sprintstars.jpg (39422 bytes)

Square Slang term for Squareback.

Square-Window Slang term for the 58-up Beetle.  As opposed to Oval-Window or Split-Window

Squareback The Type 3 3-door sedan.  Also known as the Variant.  Produced from 1962-1973.  More info welcome...
squareback2.jpg (34699 bytes)

Squirrel Cage Term often used to describe the type of fan used for either a fresh air or auxiliary heater fan.  The arrangement of the rotor bars resembles a squirrel cage; hence, the term squirrel-cage.

Stale-air 1961 and earlier heater system where the air used to cool the engine was directed into the passenger cabin for heat.  The air often picked up engine smells like oil and fuel vapors or odors from cylinder head leakage, causing a "stale" smell.  See also Fresh-air

Standard The typical Standard or Microbus. A mid-range passenger Bus appointed with a headliner, full interior panels and 3 passenger seats. Available in 7, 8, and 9-seat versions. Two-tone paint came standard.
standard.jpg (67196 bytes)
For Brazil:
Up to 1966 all Buses in Brazil had 13 windows.  The Standard model had no headliner, panels, or trim.
After 1966 all Buses have rear corner windows, they were 15-Window Buses but Standards still had no headliner, panels, or trim.
Standards were also one solid color, top and bottom.

Standard Beetle Model 111/112/115/116 Base model Beetle.  The term Standard is typically used when referring to early 50s/60s models. e.g. Standard vs. Deluxe but can also refer to 70s models, e.g. Standard vs Super Beetle.  1950s/60s models featured painted handles and bumpers, no chrome, no fuel gauge, limited color choices, and so on.

Non-exhaustive list of features for 67/68 models:
1200cc base model
Trim on the side but no trim on the bonnet.
NO vents on the engine lid
Single horn grill on the LHS (painted grey)
Indicators on top of the wings (painted grey)
1/4 windows (painted grey)
Only a roof section for the headlining (not on pillars etc) Plain interior with no chrome on the dash.
68's had a fuel gauge.
5 stud on 67's
4 stud on 68's
No trim on dash.
No "chrome" in the window rubbers.
No chrome on the running boards.
Basic steering wheel


Steering Damper A damping device designed to inhibit an oscillation of a vehicle steering mechanism, similar to a shock absorber in nature.
On VWs, a shimmy in the front end is often caused by a worn out steering damper.

Station wagon Marketing term used for the Bus in the USA

Stinger Straight-pipe exhaust with no muffler.  Often very loud, originally intended for racing use only.
stinger.jpg (162201 bytes)

Stock Denotes a vehicle that is stock in appearance and mechanics.  Term often used incorrectly.
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Straight Descriptive term referring to clean body lines, lack of dents, etc. 

Stretched Slang for customization where a "limousine" effect is created by merging two or more vehicles. Opposite of a "shorty" customization.
stretched1.jpg (67423 bytes)

Stufenheck German term for Notchback. Literally, "Step-Back". 

Sub-Hatch Term used for the roof opening in pre-65 model Westfalias, used for ventilation. Also see flip-hatch.

Suicide Doors Driver or passenger doors hinged at the rear rather than the front edge. 
suicide1.jpg (51153 bytes)

Sun Bug A special edition in 1974. It was available as a regular Bug with a sunroof, a Super Beetle with a sunroof, or a convertible without a sunroof. All Sun Bugs were metallic gold with 4.5" Sport Wheels, and a Sun Bug badge on the deck lid. Interiors were tan with corduroy seat inserts, wood grain on the dash, silver highlights on the horn button, and a Sun Bug shift knob.

Sunburst pattern See Swirl

Sundial Sundial was a camper conversion outfit from LA in the 60's and 70's.  Typically Sundial campers were based on Panels and Kombis and have a tell-tale red "Sundial Camper" badge and unique fold-out bed.

Super Beetle A variation of the Beetle. Characteristics include a big-nose front hood, larger trunk space, McPherson strut front suspension, curved windshield ('73-later), and modern dashboard (also '73-later). '71-72 (and '70 overseas) will have a flat windshield and typical Beetle dashboard.
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Super Escarabajo Spanish nickname for the Super Beetle

Super Vee VW race car class that originally involved the use of a Type 4 engine of 1600cc size.
supervee1.jpg (195248 bytes)

Surface Rust Thin layer of rust that can be removed and has not damaged the vehicle's body panels.
surfacerust1.jpg (64256 bytes)

Survivor Slang: Un-restored original car with little work other than maintenance done. Typically original paint, interior, engine, etc. No restoration work done.

SVA See SVSA

SVDA Single Vacuum Dual Advance .  A distributor with both vacuum and mechanical advances but only one vacuum can.

SVSA Single Vacuum, Single Advance .  A vacuum-advance only distributor.  Vacuum can sizes vary by year.

Swamp Cooler Device that produces cold air in hot, dry weather by drawing hot air over a wet cooling pad, either by air movement or via a fan.

Swap meet Gathering of VW enthusiasts to buy and sell parts.  Usually accompanied by a car show.
swapmeet1.jpg (111758 bytes)

Swirl pattern Slang for the pattern used on pre-1959 Bus rear seat kick panels

Swing-axle Pre 1968 VW rear end design.  As opposed to IRS.

Swivel-seat Original VW Bus options that allowed the driver's and sometimes passenger seat, to swivel into the cargo area.  Involves a cut-down design of the front seat bulkhead.  Installed only on walk-through Buses.
swivelseat.jpg (35543 bytes) swivelseat2.jpg (79653 bytes)

SWF Company that produces semaphores and other electrical items for Volkswagen and other vehicles.  In the 1950's SWF was part of the company Gustav Rau GmbH.  Gustav Rau started SWF - Spezial Werkzeugfabrik Feuerbach, in 1923.  In 1973 it was sold to ITT. In 1998 SWF was taken over by Valeo - http://www.valeo.com

SWR Abbreviation for Sealing Wax Red, a common color used on pre-1966 Buses. Alternatively, when talking about CB radios, it means Standing Wave Ratio.

SWT See Single Wheel Trailer

Syncro Four-wheel drive system for VW Transporters offered as an option on the Vanagon and Eurovan Bus and Trucks and also later Quantums, Golfs, and Passats. 

Synchromesh VW transmission design introduced in 1960-1961 (depending on model) where the four forward gears were fully synchronized. Tunnel-case transmission design.

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