Jun 4, 2014 update to the Volkswagen Beetle TDi project car

Our Beetle Visits Sebring

And once on track, the Beetle was a prince: fast enough to be fun and no weird habits. Looks like we'll be back on track with this one soon.
We admit, we didn’t pack heavily for this one-day event.
Between sessions, we checked the torque of our lug nuts and then relaxed.
Sebring is one of our favorite tracks, and the Beetle loved it, too.

We had fun at last year’s Tire Rack SCCA Solo National Championships, but our 2013 Volkswagen Beetle TDI was a little out of its element.

We don’t mind autocrossing slower cars, but as most courses are designed to maximize second-gear performance, our diesel kept running out of gear. As a result, we were constantly shifting between second and third. Throw in the diesel’s rather flat power curve, and let’s just say that a Golf GTI offers the autocrosser a bit more thrill.

We enjoyed running at Virginia International Raceway, so we figured that another track day was in order—you know, to give the car a chance to redeem itself. So we made tracks for an SCCA PDX track day at the world-famous Sebring International Raceway. We’d be running on the shorter Club Course.

Prep was minimal: Refit our BFGoodrich g-Force Rival tires, take advantage of a $5 carwash, check fluids, and head toward Sebring.

The Volkswagen quickly fell into its element on track. Despite the stock suspension, the Rivals delivered solid, predictable handling during each 20-minute session. The chassis never got greasy, and the handling remained predictable and solid.

We’d call the car “Miata-fast,” as we could easily run with the popular two-seaters—assuming they weren’t turbocharged or anything. In fact, several people asked what we did to the Volkswagen. Our mod list was short: the BFG Rival tires, marginally better brake pads, and the conversion from wheel bolts to studs.

The engine ran cool, too. Our water temperatures were a constant 194 degrees. We see that same exact figure during our daily commute. Oil temps were usually right around 220 degrees.

We also didn’t use a ton of fuel. We filled up before we got to Sebring, and then stopped again on the way home—mainly because we needed the pit stop, not the gas. During that 209-mile stint, we saw 23.6 mpg.

If anything, we’d like to work on the brakes. Toward the end of the day, the pedal felt a little mushy. Time for some better, fresher fluid. Before our next track outing, we’d like to freshen the brake pads, too.

Get the best sports car content 8 times a year. Subscribe to Grassroots Motorsports now.
Join Free Join our community to easily find more project updates.
Comments
View comments on the GRM forums
David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/4/14 9:46 a.m.

We had fun at last year's Tire Rack SCCA Solo National Championships, but our 2013 Volkswagen Beetle TDI was a little out of its element.

We don’t mind autocrossing slower cars, but as most courses are designed to maximize second-gear performance, our diesel kept running out of gear. As a result, we were constantly shifting between second and third. Throw in the diesel's rather flat power curve, and let’s just say that a Golf GTI offers the autocrosser a bit more thrill.

We enjoyed running at Virginia International Raceway, so we figured that another track day was in order--you know, to give the car a chance to redeem itself. So we made tracks for an SCCA PDX track day at the world-famous Sebring International Raceway. We'd be running on the shorter Club Course.

Prep was minimal: Refit our BFGoodrich g-Force Rival tires, take advantage of a $5 carwash, check fluids, and head toward Sebring.

The Volkswagen quickly fell into its element on track. Despite the stock suspension, the Rivals delivered solid, predictable handling during each 20-minute session. The chassis never got greasy, and the handling remained predictable and solid.

We'd call the car “Miata-fast,” as we could easily run with the popular two-seaters--assuming they weren't turbocharged or anything. In fact, several people asked what we did to the Volkswagen. Our mod list was short: the BFG Rival tires, marginally better brake pads, and the conversion from wheel bolts to studs.

The engine ran cool, too. Our water temperatures were a constant 194 degrees. We see that same exact figure during our daily commute. Oil temps were usually right around 220 degrees.

We also didn't use a ton of fuel. We filled up before we got to Sebring, and then stopped again on the way home--mainly because we needed the pit stop, not the gas. During that 209-mile stint, we saw 23.6 mpg.

If anything, we'd like to work on the brakes. Toward the end of the day, the pedal felt a little mushy. Time for some better, fresher fluid. Before our next track outing, we'd like to freshen the brake pads, too.

Get the best sports car content 8 times a year. Subscribe to Grassroots Motorsports now.
Sponsored by

Volkswagen

BFGoodrich

Our Preferred Partners
b3EBXxS0qDZqHYpj8DBbDUML4O4wk8siA62S30uj2KfZhTv2Fm2LarPKBilVsk6E