Front Suspension Rebuild on the ’73 Super Beetle

Rebuilding the front suspension! …because safety.

I was finally able to disassemble the front suspension on the super beetle. I needed to get in there and replace the ball joints and tie rod ends because they were trashed and causing the “super beetle shimmy.” Unlike most beetles, the ’73 super uses a MacPherson strut in the front instead of the torsion bar. This made it super easy to lower the front because I could install the Top Line Super Low Kit. Basically, I was replacing everything because as the VW guy I met in the Hot Wheels aisle at Walmart put it, “you want to be sure you have your stuff straight in those cars because when it goes bad on the road, it goes really bad.” So I have that going for me.

The disassembly was a bit of a pain, I won’t lie, but I got through it. I’m almost certain the ball joints, tie rod ends, bushings, etc. were original. At least it seemed that way since they were all a pain to remove. Years of everyday use made these components rusty and therefore a pain to separate. After struggling with the pickle fork, I picked up a different tool that did the job. A couple of cut knuckles and a broken speedometer cable later, the front of the beetle was floating.

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In no particular order, this is what needed to be replaced:

  • Ball Joints
  • Tie Rods (both ends were trash so I replaced the whole piece)
  • Center Tie Rod
  • Control Arm Bushings
  • Steering Stabilizer
  • Struts

Now that the Beetle had everything removed, I had to prepare the new parts. The Top Line Kit arrived and it was pretty easy to do…other than Ike and I almost launching a spring through the garage. The only thing that did require a bit of effort was the “flip-it” bushing for the spindle. Once we drilled that out, it was ready to be put together.

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“flip-it bushing being installed”

The pieces all went in pretty easily–just a few hours of work. I somewhat wish I had taken the time to clean it up and POR-15 the underside, but I’m ready to get the car on the road.

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And finally, what the 2.5 inch drop looks like:

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I still have a few adjustments to make, but now I can move to solving the problem with the brakes!

8 Comment

  1. Matt Toledo says: Reply

    Hey man i had a 74 super beetle for 15 years as much fun as that car was i never fully restored it but i did do a front disk conversion and a bunch of suspension work on it. My advise is try to keep the car as factory as possible and drive her till she dies. i hope you have as much fun as i did, and if you need advise or help let me know.

    1. Caleb Raymond says: Reply

      thats some deep man, i respect it

    2. Taylor Woodson says: Reply

      It has been a lot of fun so far! I plan to do discs in the front to make it a little safer, but otherwise keeping it mostly stock. Thanks!

  2. Bill says: Reply

    Taylor I may not be a fan of the “Fat Chicks” but if you need any info. Just ask. Join us on Facebook at Aircooled Underground and Aircooled Recycler (VW only). I have 56 oval tube chassis drag car, 68 street/strip bug, and 72 Frankenstein put together from spare parts from 65-77.

    1. Taylor Woodson says: Reply

      Haha, I have not heard that term for them yet! I like the older ones but I couldn’t pass this deal up. I’ll be sure to check those places out. Thanks!

  3. Thomas K says: Reply

    Cool blog , I have a 1970 Karmann Ghia , and it the first VW I have ever owned , so I’m not familiar with its German parts .. and right now it’s stuffed in the garage with my 1972 SS Nova , I’m going to try and work on both a little bit at a time .

    1. Tim says: Reply

      I’ve got a 67 fast back and it’s a fun project! You should definitely get an older one they’re a lot more fun and much more simple to work on in my opinion!

  4. Mike says: Reply

    I am going through this right now. Having a helluva time getting my tie rods off and now I am wondering if I should have purchased replacements. Any advice on how to get those suckers off?

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