Like the rear suspension, the Volkswagen Beetle torsion bar suspension is one of the most rugged, effective and enduring suspension systems ever developed. It is so good the basic design of Volkswagen Beetle front suspension is still used in some of the most demanding motorsport environments on earth, and of course is still underneath millions of air-cooled Volkswagens worldwide. Later 1302 and 1303 Beetles use the more common MacPherson strut suspension, and naturally VW Heritage has all the VW Beetle suspension parts in stock to keep both types of classic Volkswagen Beetle front suspension in perfect working order, as well as a huge range of air-cooled Beetle parts to upgrade and modify your Beetle’s front suspension. To browse or buy the parts you need just follow the links above, or read on for further information on the different types of VW Beetle suspension.
There are actually three different kinds of Volkswagen Beetle front suspension – two earlier types that use an outwardly similar looking torsion bar beam, and the third – fitted only to 1302 / 1303 models – that uses a more modern ‘strut’ assembly instead. Here’s how the three types differ:
This is the earlier type of torsion bar front suspension where a beam consists of a pair of hollow axle tubes, each housing a stack of flat metal bars to which the trailing arms are attached. These are the Beetle torsion bars in this system. Four individual VW Beetle trailing arms then support the stub axles by means of ‘king and link pin’ assemblies. The VW Beetle king pin sits vertically, the link pins horizontally. Benefits are longevity and a greater degree of movement. Have a look under the front of your car – if your shock absorber ‘towers’ (the vertical legs at the ends of the axle tubes) are straight, you have a king and link pin model. Additionally your VW Beetle front shock absorbers will have a loop at both ends.
This later type of Volkswagen torsion bar suspension also comprises a pair of axle tubes housing torsion bars to which the trailing arms are attached. But on these models a pair of VW Beetle balljoints support the stub axle at either end. Benefits are less maintenance and a smoother ride. Again, look under your car, if your shock absorber ‘towers’ (the vertical legs at the ends of the axle tubes) are angled outwards at the top, you have a balljoint model; your ball joint Beetle front shock absorbers have a loop at the bottom, but a strut at the top, which is fitted with a rubber beetle top mount.
There is no main beam. Instead, each stub axle is connected directly to an independent ‘strut’ with a coil spring around it (more like a modern coilover shock) and balanced by control arms that mount to the chassis. If your spare wheel is mounted flat (horizontally) under your bonnet, you have a MacPherson strut model.
VW Heritage stock an extensive range of air cooled Beetle parts for all three types of VW Beetle front suspension, including complete Beetle front beams – both stock width and VW Beetle narrowed front beams, together with Avis-style and Sway-A-Way beam adjusters and a wide range of Volkswagen Beetle shock absorbers, reconditioned Beetle trailing arms, and more. Of course, we also hold stock of the Beetle balljoints, king and link pins, bearings, stub axles – both stock height and VW Beetle dropped spindles – and even complete replacement Beetle MacPherson struts. On top of all this we have a great selection of performance and styling parts, including lowered and performance Beetle shocks from KYB and GAZ, adjustable struts, Beetle long-travel balljoints, urethane bushes, caster shims, anti-roll bars and 1302 / 1303 adjustable lowering struts. If you have any questions about what type of VW Beetle front suspension you have, or just need some advice on what parts are suitable for your car, just click on the ‘live chat’ button or call our sales team on 01273 444 000 at any time during UK business hours.
The basic 4x4 system was only available to use in 1st gear (and on some models reverse). There was a third military variant of the Beetle, which was called the Kommandeurwagen, or Type 87. This was the rarest of the military models, reserved for German Military VIPs with only 669 rumoured to have been produced. The Kommandeurwagen was a hybrid of a 4x4 Kubelwagen and Beetle, using the Kubelwagen chassis, with a conventional Beetle body on the top.
It is suggested that a lot of the Beetles design features were influenced by that of the Czech manufacturer Tatra, and their chief engineer Hans Ledwinka. It is cited in the book “Car Wars” that Ferdinand Porsche admits to having “…looked over Ledwinka’s shoulder” whilst penning out the initial ideas for the Beetle.