Classic Car Trials
Another area in which Volkswagens have been successful is that of Trials - whether it be Production Car Trials or Classic Car Trials.
Trialling is, basically, the art of driving a car up a very steep, usually slippery, slope, without stopping or going backwards. Of course, being rear-engined, Beetles and Type 3s are very well suited to this area of motorsport - so much so that they are usually put in a seperate class.
Many people have been successful in this sphere, and they have evolved the Beetle especially into a formidable tool. To get a clean run on a hill, various modifications have been made to the cars to help with ground clearance, grip and weight distribution.
For weight distribution, the spare tyre is usually mounted on a rack over the engine lid, and on the hills the co-driver sits in the back as well. For grip, the normal road tyres have their pressure decreased to about 4 psi, thus allowing the tyre to deform and grip on to more of the surface. The co-driver sitting in the back can also bounce around when necessary, moving the back of the car around to find more grip.
As would be expected, ground clearance is important, as the hills are often very rutted. As such, the both the front and rear suspension is raised. There are also various pieces of strengthening fitted, which mostly follow the original VW parts for markets like Africa. These include: skid plates over the jacking points, so that the car doesn't stick on them; front axle and chassis strengthening which takes the form of two tubes which bolt around the torsion tubes, join together, and then are attached to the chassis. For some of the cars, various Trekker (Thing) parts are used. For example, the Trekker came with raised brake spindles for extra ground clearance. The Trekker also had stronger CV joints and axles in the rear.
© Ken Green
The above is Ken Green's Beetle clearing the Blue Hills Mine section on the Land's End Trial. This shot shows the angle of the hill to good effect, and the height of the suspension on his car. For fitting the Trekker parts, Ken converted a semi-automatic car to manual, thus gaining the double-jointed rear suspension, and torsion beam front.
Gary Browning on the 2002 Cotswold Clouds Trial in the UK
Mark Smith in a 2.4-litre Type 4-powered Beetle on Fingle Bridge section, Exeter Trial 2005