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71 Super Semi-Automatic Refresh Thread
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Tom K.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 8:42 pm    Post subject: 71 Super Semi-Automatic Refresh Thread Reply with quote

I thought I would document this project and hopefully get good advice from the Samba community along the way. I'm starting with a nifty recent Craigslist find.
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My goal is to produce a car that can be driven by my wife and kids. My wife drove a 71 semi-automatic in high school but never learned how to use a clutch - thus she is unable to drive my '70. My daughter turns 16 next year and also wants a Beetle - the semi-automatic would be perfect for her too. They are already fighting over it.

What makes the car perhaps unusual is that it has been stored in a dry garage for the past 35 years.
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The original owner of the car passed away about then, and it has been sitting ever since. Here is a copy of the original title (sorry for the angle).
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In the trunk were, among other things, a box of new brake shoes with a receipt dated in 1982 - sadly the shoes were never installed (again, sorry)
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Also in the trunk were a collection of extra generator belts - I'm developing the sense that this original owner took good care of his car. We honor and thank you, sir.
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First, the engine, with I'm guessing 111,000 miles on it. It started and sounded fine (we installed new coil, points, and condenser)
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The case is original with serial number that matches the year of manufacture. I'd like protect this case, so the cautious route is to change the valve stems, the exhaust valves, and replace the bearings and other engine consumables and of course install a new engine bay seal. This work will begin immediately

The body of the car seems in pretty good shape
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The original Alabaster upholstery is in pretty bad shape, but the carpet, dash, and headliner aren't too bad
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The front hood area seems solid and well kept
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The exterior paint is original Sapphire Blue that needs some work

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Most of the damage is on the doors, hood, and fenders. The main body is in pretty good shape. That factory paint cleans up really nice

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I hope to update this thread as progress occurs. Thanks for looking!
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:45 pm    Post subject: Re: 71 Super Semi-Automatic Refresh Thread Reply with quote

Nice find! Really nice find!!!!!!

Looking forward to reading updates.
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sb001
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:46 pm    Post subject: Re: 71 Super Semi-Automatic Refresh Thread Reply with quote

Sweet- you bought it! Congrats!

What did you find out about actual driving condition?
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 6:40 am    Post subject: Re: 71 Super Semi-Automatic Refresh Thread Reply with quote

Tom K. wrote:

The body of the car seems in pretty good shape

Might be the understatement of the year considering a local car from around this part of the Country.

Congratulations!

Best part is capturing the Minion's interest for some basic life survival skills training. Like how to change a flat tire, or deal with a battery, etc. Enjoy that.
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Tom K.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 11:49 am    Post subject: Re: 71 Super Semi-Automatic Refresh Thread Reply with quote

sb001 wrote:
Sweet- you bought it! Congrats! What did you find out about actual driving condition?

Yes, after PMing sb001 (who, in my opinion, is the Samba's ambassador for the semi-automatic), I bought the car. sb001 sent me some very helpful material and generally assured me that the semi-automatic is good. I read a little history on the Fichtel & Sachs invention and how Mercedes outbid VW for the tech until Mercedes didn't want it anymore. Count me in as a semi-automatic fan now - I look forward to figuring out how it the SA works and how to keep it running great.

Buggeee wrote:
Tom K. wrote:

The body of the car seems in pretty good shape

Might be the understatement of the year considering a local car from around this part of the Country.

The original owner (or his VW dealer) had some kind of durable undercoating sprayed to the bottom. It's still rock hard with no cracks. I'll take some pics once the driveway dries out. Note that the carpet is seriously glued down to the frame. I would have had to seriously rip it to inspect under - when the car wasn't even mine yet. I poked with a screwdriver for like 15 minutes and got nothing but solid "bonks" - but I won't know for sure until I pull it up. My wife wants new carpets to eliminate the musty smell. I'm going to first clean the carpet the best I can and hope she approves - it's really stuck to the frame.

The "refresh" will proceed along three fronts. First in the engine and SA drive train. A complete rebuild is in the works. That work can start immediately. Second, the exterior rust spots will get the orbital/sandblast treatment followed by OSPRO and glaze, etc. The hope is to leave the body as is and take the door, hood, and fenders to a local trusted sprayer for new matching blue paint - covering the entire piece or being more strategic to preserve factory paint. But it's way too cold to start that yet - so I get to stare at those rust spots for like the next month at least and get antsy. Third, the interior leatherette and the area beneath the back window needs attention. The back area seems solid as a rock (bonky screwdriver test), but all secrets will be revealed once I start tearing the bad stuff out. My daughter will be involved in all of this - she's been begging me.

Other chime in - why does providing a VW Bug for our children seem such an essential step for good parenting? Do we have a missing gene or something?
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:35 pm    Post subject: Re: 71 Super Semi-Automatic Refresh Thread Reply with quote

Neat car! These were the VWS no one wanted 15-20 years ago. It is good to see one being resurrected
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:50 pm    Post subject: Re: 71 Super Semi-Automatic Refresh Thread Reply with quote

Super clean looking Bug. You have started out with a gem. Automatic stickshift bugs are a unique driving experience. Very relaxing to cruise around in. Especially in stop and go traffic. I have had 2 before and enjoyed driving both. Hey. Post a driving video when you get it driving. I am following your thread.

Mike T
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:12 pm    Post subject: Re: 71 Super Semi-Automatic Refresh Thread Reply with quote

Thanks Tom- just to clarify I don't actively promote buying autostcks over 4 speeds Very Happy But I DO think the autostick has been misunderstood and unfairly maligned in VW circles for years, and in that sense I felt the record needed to be set straight. Its only real drawback is that it's simply a more complicated system than the 4 speed to diagnose when something goes wrong- but as I told Tom the original autostick transmission itself in my car lasted 45 years (and knowing what I know now there was probably nothing wrong with it when I swapped it.) The transmisison itself is pretty much bulletproof-- it's the peripherals that are usually the source of an issue-- and fairly easy to fix. But too many moron owners and fly by night mechanics didn't realize this over the past decades so it became frowned upon. I'm glad to read some others are seeing the light that it isn't near as problematic as some folks want to make it out to be and really not that much different a driving experience either.
All that said, Tom did you get to actually drive the car? You had mentioned the previous owner said it would idle but wasn't drivable... did you find out anything more about that specific issue?
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:30 pm    Post subject: Re: 71 Super Semi-Automatic Refresh Thread Reply with quote

When it comes time to replace the vacuum hoses for the control valve I used this stuff:

https://www.summitracing.com/parts/fra-810008

One 10 ft. roll is enough to do the whole system. It's cloth braided so it looks OEM. It's not wire reinforced, but it is rated for vacuum. So I figured I'd give it a try. It's still holding up well after 2 years in my Saxomat equipped '64.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 5:42 pm    Post subject: Re: 71 Super Semi-Automatic Refresh Thread Reply with quote

sb001 wrote:
did you get to actually drive the car? You had mentioned the previous owner said it would idle but wasn't drivable... did you find out anything more about that specific issue?

At the time of purchase when I first met the owner in person, I developed the sense that the he was simply being very cautious. By "not drivable", I think he was discouraging young inexperienced and perhaps overly optimistic buyers from peeling off in it without checking brakes etc. on a car that had been sitting for 35 years. My plan is to update all "consumable" parts of the semi-automatic system including hoses, diaphragms, etc. and diagnose any further problems from there. This tech seems seems really cool to me - can't believe I didn't encounter it before.

And to get a rare autostick for the bargain price of only $40,000! Yippee!

Thanks, vwfreek, for the tip on getting good hoses. I will pursue that.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 7:00 pm    Post subject: Re: 71 Super Semi-Automatic Refresh Thread Reply with quote

Tom K. wrote:
sb001 wrote:
did you get to actually drive the car? You had mentioned the previous owner said it would idle but wasn't drivable... did you find out anything more about that specific issue?

At the time of purchase when I first met the owner in person, I developed the sense that the he was simply being very cautious. By "not drivable", I think he was discouraging young inexperienced and perhaps overly optimistic buyers from peeling off in it without checking brakes etc. on a car that had been sitting for 35 years. My plan is to update all "consumable" parts of the semi-automatic system including hoses, diaphragms, etc. and diagnose any further problems from there. This tech seems seems really cool to me - can't believe I didn't encounter it before.

And to get a rare autostick for the bargain price of only $40,000! Yippee!

Thanks, vwfreek, for the tip on getting good hoses. I will pursue that.


Aah so it IS driveable- just not by young hooligans. Very Happy

Here is the VW part number for the original stock 12mm wire reinforced vacuum hose:

VW N-020-390-1

Google that number and you'll see several sources pop up for purchase, HOWEVER, the cost is quite high compared to the hose that vwfreek posted. (Like, $50 for a 10ft length from his source vs $50 for a 1 meter --about 3 ft-- length from most places that carry the original stock stuff.)
I think I'm going with his source next time I need some!
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Bosch 113905205AE autostick distributor
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 8:41 pm    Post subject: Re: 71 Super Semi-Automatic Refresh Thread Reply with quote

Nice find! Love the L51B Gentian/Enzian Blue!! Good for you for keeping it that way w/the repairs.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:16 pm    Post subject: Re: 71 Super Semi-Automatic Refresh Thread Reply with quote

I’d completely check out the brake system before driving it. You did mention that there was a set of new brake shoes in the trunk. That tells me the owner felt the need to replace them—35 years ago, but never got around to it.

When I replaced my old seat padding and basket weave upholstery, the old VW smell disappeared completely. Of course, I also had gas fumes, mixed with the mildew smell, but I took care of that, first. I ended up with a new VW smell—which is basically no smell at all.

I mention the above because you may not need to remove the carpet (I didn’t) to get rid of the mildew odor. My previous odor was apparently in the old horsehair pads. You might see this is what you’ll find, too.

Tim
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Tom K.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2019 5:13 am    Post subject: Re: 71 Super Semi-Automatic Refresh Thread Reply with quote

Refreshing the Interior

The weather was decent yesterday (sunny and 39 degrees), so I spent a few hours with the new project. It was too cold to lie on the concrete driveway to start the engine removal, so instead I decided to refresh the interior.

The seats were removed first. My wife reminded me that when I first called to say I purchased the car, the first comment out of my mouth was that I had never experienced VW seats that slide forward and back so easily - they move like a sled on ice - silky and silent. Removal was quite easy, and the carpet looks good after a few minutes with the shop-vac.

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I am going to follow Tim Donahue's lead and leave the carpet in situ. The glue is strong, and the metal beneath seems solid. I take peeks wherever I can.

The interior door panels were ugly

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But cleaned up nicely with a little Purple Power and effort

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The problem area is below the rear window

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The headliner, in general, cleaned up nicely and has no rips. But this portion will need to be removed, I guess. Or just leave it? Cover it? No, address it! Any thoughts or procedures for preserving the overall headliner whilst refreshing just this area? The metal beneath appears solid as a rock - this appears to be sun/heat damage

Finally, the original hairy insulation is still below the rear carpeting.

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This presents another dilemma for me. Modern insulation materials are now available that sharply reduce the likelihood of moisture micro-climates forming that generate rust. So, rip this stuff out to blue metal and update! But the condition of this stuff is excellent, and the carpet bond is strong. Dare I leave it? Any thoughts?

Thanks, again, for looking and maybe commenting.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2019 9:20 am    Post subject: Re: 71 Super Semi-Automatic Refresh Thread Reply with quote

You should check the metal from underneath the car. You can tap on it with a long screwdriver, while listening to the tone. A high tinny sound is good, a low shallow, bass sound is bad.

I am looking at the headliner and am seeing a large amount of damage. The sun will damage them. But the water makes them rot. From here it looks like both have taken place for a few decades.

Might be worth poking the bottom.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2019 5:42 pm    Post subject: Re: 71 Super Semi-Automatic Refresh Thread Reply with quote

That is a really nice find. Glad to see another Autostick get saved.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2019 3:24 pm    Post subject: Re: 71 Super Semi-Automatic Refresh Thread Reply with quote

Between snow storms this week, I was able to get out to work on the '71 AS SB.

Interior Tear Down
In my last update, I was pondering what to do about the area under the rear window. The headiner looked bad, and I had no idea what was under it.
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I decided to cut away the ugly headliner to search for hidden rust. Under the headliner was a thin piece of foam board.
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This foam lifted off in one solid piece - I guess I could reuse it if I wanted to. Under the foam board was, yay, good solid metal covered in Sapphire Blue (with glue residue).
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The "valley" below the window has some form of loose foam in it that is glued to the metal. My daughter is digging that out with plastic knives - slow going.

This (the orange), I assume, is the dreaded death foam
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I borrowed a boroscope from Autozone. I will send the little camera on the end of a two-foot wire into the side venting areas to look for rust or foam. Let's hope I see nothing but Sapphire blue in there. If so, these enclosed areas will get a *heavy* dose of Fluid Film - my favorite stuff.

Engine Removal
This was my first autostick engine removal. Things are a little different than for the manual but not much harder. The two lower mountings and the top left mounting involve bolts that thread directly into the engine case. The top right mounting is similar to the manual - a through bolt with a nut. I thought removing the four little bolts that hold the torque convertor to the flexplate (through a window in the bellhousing) was going to be a PITA, but they came out real easy and access was not hard at all. The autostick has a few more electrical wires to mark than the manual and of course the lines to and from the oil pump for the ATF. But this was no problem.

One warning for anyone doing an autostick for the first time, once you remove the four little bolts, the torque convertor is not secure and simply hangs on the main shaft. Pulling the engine back tends to drag - partially - the torque converter back too enough to partially dislodge the torque convertor, causing ATF fluid to leak all over the place. A definite WTF moment.

Here is the engine out
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The empty engine bay
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The control valve sits in the upper left where the throttle positioner thingy is mounted in the manual '71s (the autosticks did not get the throttle positioner). The ATF fluid goes in the tank on the right.
The bellhousing looks like this - note the openings for cooling as well as accessing the torque convertor bolts.
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Loose in the engine bay was found this little guy - both segments of the air filter bracket somewhat rare these days
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Engine Tear Down
First of all, I was sad to learn that the distributor in the car was the 205AJ , which was put in the '71 manuals but is not appropriate for the autostick. The appropriate distributor is 205AH - now on order with our great Samba vendor wcfvw69. Given that this car is so original, I'm trying to imagine what happened there. Maybe the previous owner, after driving it off the lot in 1971, experienced an idling issue at some point prior to 1984. He takes it to Mr. Non-VW mechanic who bluntly throws a new distributor at the problem but orders the wrong one for the '71. How disappointed the owner would have been with the sluggish acceleration.

Removing the gland nut from the autostick engine is very different than for a manual. My little flywheel locking tool doesn't work. Instead, after researching SAMBA, I rigged up four cryptic brackets to hold the flexplate to the case. Each bracket was bolted into the threads for the engine mounting bolts and also into the threads of the torque convertor bolts.
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My torque multiplier is also useless for the autostick, so it was back to basics
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The gland nut came out very easily.

Next job is to split the case
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Where my worst nightmares have come true. Crying or Very sad Crying or Very sad Crying or Very sad
Damaged Piston
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Damaged fuel filter rod
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that probably was responsible for the damaged distributor gear
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And, perhaps worst of all, one damaged rod bearing
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The remaining question is what damage that missing metal did to the rest of the engine. The answer will be provided by my PA machinist, whom I trust a great deal. The key is to get the components to him before race season starts this spring (he races old Porsches).
Here are some pictures of the rest of the probably damaged engine.
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Whew, it takes time to update this thread - I have newfound respect for all that can keep this up for an entire build.[/u]
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'71 Super Beetle Semi-Automatic: https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=714131&highlight=
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hazetguy
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2019 5:20 pm    Post subject: Re: 71 Super Semi-Automatic Refresh Thread Reply with quote

to condense a potentially long, rambling post into the cliff notes version:
-hope your case and heads are good/rebuildable/reusable
-everything inside is junk

good luck!
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:46 pm    Post subject: Re: 71 Super Semi-Automatic Refresh Thread Reply with quote

The orange felt is not death foam. Death foam is found at the inside of the body cavity, all behind steel. Check out vanram’s thread.

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=700942
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GFY's Xevin and VW_Jimbo! Smile
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2019 3:02 pm    Post subject: Re: 71 Super Semi-Automatic Refresh Thread Reply with quote

Update: No pictures today. I've been cleaning engine parts this week, and you've all seen that before. WD40 with brass brush and green pad on the heads. Alternating between Simple Green and Dawn on the case - repeat, repeat. I am taking the case, the crank, the heads, the cam, etc. to my machinist on Saturday morning. Everything is VW stamped and probably original to the car, so I'm hoping to reuse as much as I can. You've seen the damage above, I'm cautiously optimistic that the case will make it. The thrust bearing is rock solid in it's saddle and the other saddles are have smooth cross sections using the finger nail test. But a .10 align bore is probably the safe route.

No visible cracks on the heads in the areas between the plug and the valves - cautiously hoping they make it too. I had my machinist change the valve guides and exhaust valves last time on my '70 engine. I'm thinking this might be something I can do myself this time around if the heads check out, unless you think it a bad idea. I'll search the Samba threads to see how hard this is.

Probably the biggest question mark is the crank - also VW stamped. It has not been cut before but has obvious damage on the rod journal with the destroyed rod bearing. My machinist will know what to do with it. He has cranks in his supply room should I need a new one. I now think that the damage to drive gear (picture above) was done by me when I was turning the engine to remove the torque converter nuts in the bell housing. I remember a lot of resistance when turning the engine for the last bolt. I thought it was compression resistance and, like the stupid ape that I am, used a little too much persuasion to turn the engine that last quarter turn. I now remember something mechanical sounding and thought WTF. The fuel pump was already out, but maybe the push rod got stuck somehow, bent , and damaged the gear? Anyway, hopefully the crank is still in balance and just a new drive gear and a .1 or .2 cut is needed. Would love to keep VW made stuff in this engine. I will find out Saturday.

The longer term plan is that once the weather warms up, my '70 comes out of my one-car garage and this '71 goes in. Then I can begin removing windows and fenders and stuff and get started on the body. Until then (the 10 day forecast looks cold and wet), I plan to begin rebuilding the autostick components (control valve, servo, shifter, etc.). This will be new stuff to do. How fun is that!
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'71 Super Beetle Semi-Automatic: https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=714131&highlight=
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