View original topic: Considering an Autostick Bug Page: 1, 2  Next
HippyTom Mon Aug 20, 2018 3:32 pm

I've found a Bug that meets everything I'm looking for but it's an Autostick. I've researched them and read lots of threads here, but I'm not sure about it yet.

It seems very cool actually, and from what I e read fairly reliable when properly maintained. I'm intrigued as I'm interested in unusual things. I guess my question from the guys that drive them is "does this woefully hamper takeoff or driveability? How does that compare to a 4-speed?"

I'm not into speed necessarily (I sold my muscle cars and love my VWs), but before I drive a couple hours to drive this car I'd like to know what to expect. Similar to regular Bugs? Slightly diminished? 0-60 in 2 days?

Just curious. I have 1600 single ports in my 62 and 63. They run strong. Any feedback would be helpful. Thanks.

glutamodo Mon Aug 20, 2018 3:56 pm

I never owned one myself, back when I was a mechanic from 94-2001 we did have a couple of customers with them though, as part of working on them I would, naturally, test drive them. I never really found them that bad, actually. You can still drive them passively or aggressively. Now if you just leave it in notch 2 all of the time around town, and let the torque converter do the rest, that is really on the passive side. (also, you need to learn keep your hands off the darn shift lever, I remember one test drive in which I kept doing so and always inadvertently triggering the de-clutch.... D'OH!)

Now, that was a couple decades ago. Today I might start to worry about the way parts for these become more and more hard to find.

Starbucket Mon Aug 20, 2018 4:00 pm

I would take a drive as only you will know. I never had one but other than the launch they are only a tiny bit slower (extra weight) than a stock 4 speed. Harder to sell than a 4 speed so the seller might deal. Good luck.

Q-Dog Mon Aug 20, 2018 4:08 pm

The autostick is a little slower than a standard beetle, kinda like starting off in second gear instead of first.

glutamodo Mon Aug 20, 2018 4:14 pm

Well, as I said above, it depends on gear selection. I've driven them, and it is possible to drive them rather aggressively - Okay, no race car, but still not horrible either, usually enough to compete with normal traffic (OK, when you have Magnum, P.I's Ferrari in the next lane, don't even bother trying to compete, eh?)

Tim Donahoe Mon Aug 20, 2018 4:47 pm

I owned one in the mid-seventies. We never used first gear because that was just for steep grades—hillclimbing—so, around town, we’d keep it in second. On the highway—after 53moh—we put it in third gear.

It wasn’t much slower from a dead stop than a bug. Not so much that I wished for more initial speed, that was. Besides, I don’t jam the shit of my VW’s when taking off from a stop, anyway.

In every respect, it was just like any other bug, except, no clutch. If you live where there’s a lot of stop and go driving, an autostick would be a lifesaver. I live where we really don’t have much traffic, but I wouldn’t mind having one, anyway. It was a fun car to drive—like any other bug.

Hell, it’s just a bug with no clutching involved. If you somehow feel more in control by shifting, it might not be your thing.

Steve on this forum has one. If you buy it and run into any shifting issues, I’m sure he can point you in the right direction.


Zar Mon Aug 20, 2018 4:53 pm

Tim Donahoe wrote: I owned one in the mid-sixties.

I thought the autostick came out in 68.

glutamodo Mon Aug 20, 2018 4:54 pm

Uh, Mid 60s, they didn't exist, it was only during model year 68 that they came out, so maybe you meant late 60s? (before that, there was the Saxomat, an option not offered in the USA, and those did not have the advantage of a torque converter/multiplier. They were just a normal 4 speed with a centrifugal roller clutch and a vacuum-servo clutch, and without a torque converter they had to be driven much like a normal stick shift)

Tim Donahoe Mon Aug 20, 2018 5:29 pm

Oops! I should have said “mid-seventies”. The car I spoke of was a 1969 Autostick. A thousand bucks.

I’ll edit my previous post.


HippyTom Mon Aug 20, 2018 6:09 pm

I appreciate the feedback from you guys than have driven them. I'm going to talk with the guy on the phone this week and plan on driving a couple hours to go check it out in person and drive it this weekend.

My little 1600s are pretty zippy, but I mostly putter around in them. I'm in no hurry anymore. The videos I've watched of people driving them seem pretty cool. I like different stuff. And it would be a heck of a lot better in parades!!!

The sickness of VW addiction continues!!!!!

glutamodo Mon Aug 20, 2018 6:25 pm

I will forever remain a fan of single port engines. They don't deliver high RPM muscle, but they have so great port velocity that lower RPMs are much better than on equivalent dual ports. I have no reason to prefer autosticks vs 4-speeds but with either of them I'd rather have an SP engine. Even a 1285cc engine. Hell, I'd long considered trying something "different" with my 62 bug and started gathering parts to make myself a 1493cc engine with 1300 small valve heads, being fed by a pair of Weber 34ICT carburetors. I have everything except for perhaps a change in carb jets on hand, just waiting to go and do the thing. The speed bump is mostly that I need to change the transaxle in my 62 first.

Max Welton Mon Aug 20, 2018 6:33 pm

Ask yourself if you can still get parts for an autostick or find someone who still knows how to work on one.


Tim Donahoe Mon Aug 20, 2018 7:51 pm

Max, I see autostick stuff for sale all the time in the Classifieds.


HippyTom Mon Aug 20, 2018 8:16 pm

Interestingly enough, this older gentleman said he's owned the car since the 80s and at some point acquired an extra autostick trans just in case. It goes with the car (along with a tow bar and installed hardware under the front of the car).

The car has had a replacement engine, a 1600 dual port. It's a vert and the top is shot, with the front wooden header bow needing replaced. Paint and pans are good.

We'll see. Worth checking out anyway. My 1600 single ports have a ton of low end torque, especially the 62 with the original trans geared so low. Only way to know how it drives is go drive it. Road trip!!!

I checked out a Thing last was not as described. So I'm always skeptical until I see it and drive it.

sb001 Mon Aug 20, 2018 8:43 pm

Sorry was in Branson all day so just now caught up with this thread :D

Yep everything you read above is true- a bit slower than standard 4 speed bug off the line but not so much so that it's a huge deal. The forward driving gears are "Low," "Range 1," and "Range 2," which are the equivalent of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in a conventional 4 speed respectively. Some folks over on (the autostick site) insist on taking off in Low, but I have never felt the need (and even my manual states that Low is really only for pulling really steep hills and/ or starting off while towing.) I've always started off in Range 1 (equivalent of 3rd) which is what the manual says to do and I've never had a problem.
Most VW people who dislike the autsotick do so because it can be complicated to diagnose problems with it. But typically if you can't shift it for some reason, there are usually 3 things that cause that problem, none of which are internal to the transmission itself and all of which can be fairly easily remedied:

1. Contacts in the base of the shifter out of adjustment or wire coming off them broken or worn
2. Clutch servo diaphragm torn
3. Fuse inline with power lead going to control valve blown

If you ever have any issues with it the folks over at are very helpful, and some of them have disssembled the whole transmisison which is further in depth than I've ever gone.

(BTW since you mentioned the car you're looking at comes with a spare transmission, I will go ahead and say that one overlooked advantage of the autostick is that so many people frown upon them that spare whole transmissions can be found for fairly cheap-- I too have a complete spare sitting in my garage that I got for $50 off craigslist. :D )

Zundfolge1432 Tue Aug 21, 2018 6:15 am

My opinion after having owned three autostik type 1s. They are not for everyone as with most anything there are pros and cons. First the pros, ease of driving in heavy traffic you can in fact leave it in 3rd and never have to shift, kind of like the old dynaflow transmission found on old GMs of the 50s and 60s.
If you like to multitask using hands for other things you’d appreciate that. It’s a smooth transition of power. Ease of use, most anyone can operate this system and it’s great if you had any type of physical limitations with knees, hips etc. around town puttering it’s hard to beat.

Here are the trade offs, gas mileage is slightly worse, top speed is reduced, acceleration the ability to move out quickly is diminished. There is a marked difference in performance and you lose engine braking which would be important if you lived in a hilly area. If I weighed all the pros and cons I’d also be concerned about parts availability and being able to either work on it myself or have a competent mechanic on call and or a great support resource such as VWWAR. Spare parts are still available might be a good idea to lay in a supply now while you can.

Not to discourage anyone from autostik, just be aware of what you’ll need to have many more years of pleasurable driving. 😀

volksworld Tue Aug 21, 2018 7:25 am

the only things i'd add are they tend to run a little hotter than a 4 spd from heat generated by basically launching them in second gear and letting the converter slip wind up driving it as a 2 speed and let the converter make up the difference....wether this will be an issue in florida with a convert that lacks the louvers under the rear window remains to be seen....and since you're taking off in gear with a little extra load they are a lot more sensitive to carb issues than a 4 spd where you can play with the rpm and clutch when taking if you stomp on the gas and it falls on its face you may have a long uphill battle to get it to run right

markj60616 Tue Aug 21, 2018 7:27 am

I have a mostly original 1970 autostick. I haven't had any issues with it since it really is in factory stock condition and hasn't been tinkered or messed with. What I like best about the autostick is the one smooth train-like "wind-up" you get from 0 to 45 before you have to shift. Perfect for cruising in and around the city. Much smoother than, say, a modern 6 speed automatic that shifts 4 or 5 times from 0 to 25. Be patient and enjoy the analog engineering beauty that is the autostick.

HippyTom Tue Aug 21, 2018 8:41 am

Wow, the more I learn about it the more intrigued I become. Living in the flat gulf coast area, hills aren't a concern. When I want to take off hard, I'll drive my 62. When I want to get out on the highway and roll fast I'll drive my 63. When I want to tool around nice and easy with the top down, Autostick vert. Varying options are nice.

The top will have to be completely replaced, including some wood bows. I've never done one, but I've figured out how to do everything else on these cars. I'll find out more this week. Just depends on what I can get it for.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Zundfolge1432 Tue Aug 21, 2018 8:52 am

If you read the manual it says you may drive it using all the forward gears, low, 1 and 2 or skip low and do the 2 to 3,shift or simply leave it in high gear all the time which if You’re not in a hurry works too. Rather than make a decision off what other people think I’d go drive a few cars and see for myself. As for the newer 6 and 8 speed autos I love em having driven Audi A4 with tiptronic, butter smooth stays in the power band all the time. Wife and I also fans of CVT.

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