1973 Volkswagen Type 3 1600L Squareback
Sometimes, buying another car rather than finishing the one you’re working on can pay dividends. Adam Boodle’s family Square is a case in point. Words and pics Jimbo Wallace.
Work, zest and Play
Late model Variant is stanced to perfection
Work, zest and play. You’re gonna love this slammed Squareback!
“I get so excited when an envelope of shiny new bolts arrives in the post,” laughs Adam Boodle as we stand on a beautiful south coast beach at sunset. It’s a statement that lends an insight into the psyche of the civil servant from Havant.Particularly throughout lockdown, tales of driveway and garage renovations have kept a huge number of people functioning, and given them something to focus upon and strive for during some pretty isolated times. Not that Adam’s ’1973 Volkswagen Squareback is a total Covid car, you understand, but it has certainly come on leaps and bounds since Boris asked us all to stay at home.
“Honestly, it was never meant to be this nice. I bought it simply as a tidy-up project in May 2017 after I had bought another Squareback ’shell that I was going to weld up and fully restore.
“But as I sat browsing VZi one Sunday morning, looking for bits for the resto, this one popped up just up the road in Pulborough,” Adam reveals.
Almost before he’d got his pjs off, he’d picked up his mate and was on the way to have a look.
“I wasn’t really in a position to buy it but, when we got there, it was orange and looked stunning, so I lowballed the guy an offer I thought he’d never accept, and he did.” And so, Adam returned home with a smile on his face, now the owner of two Squarebacks.
Before we get into the rebuild, though, let’s go back around a decade, which found Adam embarking upon a Brilliant Orange (L20B) Bay Window restoration with his other half, Kerry. That taught him a quick lesson: “My water-cooled years were all about nuts and bolts but, when I got into the Bay Window, it soon became apparent welding was going to be essential – and hours of it.”
He still has the Bus, and so when he saw the Squareback in the same colour, it must have felt like serendipity. “I’d owned loads of water-cooled VWs before the Bay – a few Corrados, couple of Mk3 VR6s and a Mk1 Caddy with the supercharged G60 engine, but I’d always hankered after a Squareback for some reason. It just made sense with the dog and a growing family.
Ah, the good old water to air-cooled switcharoo, hey? It’s a tale we’re hearing increasingly often these days. Adam is the first to admit he’s never really been into the show scene but, as his network of local car friends has expanded, he’s found himself increasingly drawn into the community: “It’s genuinely taken a hold of me. I spend every moment I can out on the driveway spanner twiddling and fiddling about with it.”
Thanks to an engineering past, no job he faced on the Squareback was going to faze him. Although the orange Variant came ready modified, sitting low over a set of Porsche Teledials, with tombstone seats and a 1776cc motor upgrade, there were still a number of jobs to tick o the list, as Adam recalls: “It needed some welding around the rear seat belt mounts, in the inner ’arches and a few patches in the frunk [that’s the boot at the front, as opposed to the one at the back, if you hadn’t already worked that out], but overall, it was pretty solid and a superb base to start from.
A self-confessed enjoyer of welding, Adam had the car MoT’d and back on the road two weeks later. From there, he continued to use and improve it in mild increments, first tidying up the engine bay, and then tweaking the suspension and bolting on a set of 17-inch Porsche Twists to make it more his own.
That was until the winter of 2019, when he started to notice a few ominous rust bubbles starting to appear. “It was coming through on one of the doors, and there were a couple of little patches where it had been treated before that were starting to look a bit suspect,” he recalls. “It was a question of the G60 Caddy needed a bit of paint or the Square needed a bit of paint, so I made the choice to sell the Caddy to do this.”
Fast forward to the August of 2020, and Adam had the car booked into Elite Body and Paint in Fareham, where Wayne, Barry and Mike let him strip the car down in preparation for a full, windows out respray.
“They were brilliant, and let me use the workshop for both the strip down and the rebuild. They also bare metalled the car for me, which revealed it had been painted at least twice before. They also did the boot, engine bay and inner ’arches for me.”
While it was all in bits, with the new coat of Brilliant Orange being dusted on, Adam turned to ISP West in the States for all new rubbers to freshen up the aesthetics.
“The service and delivery time from those guys was incredible. It was just like ordering parts from a UK company,” he recalls with glee.
With the car repainted, Adam then set to bolting everything back, all the while wondering what more he could do to improve it, now that the exterior was beaming like a kid high on Jaffa Cakes and Sunny D.
“A good mate of mine then bought himself a Mk2 Golf Edition One G60, and it came with a set of 17-inch BBS E50s as part of the deal. He didn’t want so, well, it would have been rude not to…” quips Adam.
Fortunately, the Square was already running Porsche 914 discs up front and re-drilled and studded drums out back, so slotting on the zero lip six and 7.5 x 17-inch Porsche fitment wheels with 165/40-17 and 195/40-17 tyres wasn’t an issue. Except it was, as Adam had a very definite vision of where he wanted the wheels to sit. Watching it drive around the south coast on the day of the snaps, there’s no doubt he’s got the set-up dialled in perfectly on the back, courtesy of a two inner spline drop, but he’s still not 100% happy.
“One day, I might get some adjustable spring plates to sort the camber out, but it drives great like this so I’m in no rush.”
In the best way of all modified cars, the wheels had a snowball effect as, once they were on, the car just wasn’t anywhere near low enough for Adam.
“Now, with the new paint and a ceramic coating by the guys at Fresh Layers, the car was starting to look more show worthy than ever, so I decided to go the whole hog.” When Adam bought the car, it just had a stock Type 3 beam on it, with the trailing arms rotated round so far the balljoints and tie rods were working at their absolute limits. The engineer in him was never really happy about that so, with little more than dust in his piggy bank, Adam gave Max at EVA Resto a call and ended up ordering one of his four-inch narrowed Type 1 beams for the car, along with a Wilwood four-piston front caliper brake upgrade.
“The new beam allows the car to sit much lower, while maintaining full suspension travel. Plus, with Max’s track rods, it now steers and reacts as it should.”
The explanation for that is the EVA Resto beam mounts higher into the car than the stock one, reducing the angle of the trailing arms for a similar amount of lowering. And if it’s ever too low, for instance when encountering a speed bump or a sloping driveway, a pair of Monroe air shocks and an onboard compressor can raise it up a little.
Pump ’n’ dump
“It’s the perfect compromise for me,” says Adam. “The coffers didn’t quite stretch to a full air ride conversion but, with a little one-gallon tank and Viair compressor, the Monroes pump up in no time and offer a few inches of lift for the front end, which gets me out of any trouble. “The difference when driving with this beam, compared to the slammed original one, is night and day. Honestly, it drives like a magic carpet now.”
It’s still motoring along nicely, courtesy of the old 69mm stroke x 90.5mm bore engine out back. With VW 044 heads, an Engle 120 camshaft and twin 40IDF Webers, it sucks, squeezes, bangs and blows with superior efficiency, and “comfortably copes with motorway speeds quite happily,” says Adam. “It sounds great too, with its Vintage Speed exhaust system.”
Though Adam is clearly happy to get his hands dirty at any given opportunity, he admits none of what he’s achieved with this car would have been possible without his two driveway mates, Geo and Mark.
“They’re always bad influences, but generally lead to good decisions. I’ve also got to say a massive thanks to Kerri and Devyn for their support and understanding throughout this project.
“I’m really lucky to know some nice people, and everyone has been super cool and helpful along the way with this build.”
So, what of the other Squareback, we wondered? “I’m just having too much fun with this one at the moment. And it does exactly what I wanted it to do in our life. It’s just the perfect car for all the family.”
“Ah, the good old water to air-cooled switcharoo, hey? It’s a tale we’re hearing increasingly often these days”
“beaming like a kid high on Jaffa Cakes and Sunny D”
Comfy seats are Porsche 924 / 944 tombstones Plenty of luggage space, or fold the back seat down and there’s enough room to sleep comfortably It’s fair to say this car is all about the wheels. They’re six and 7.5 x 17-inch BBS E50 split rims in Porsche stud pattern with 165/40 and 195/40 rubbers That tuck at the front is thanks to an EVA Resto four-inch narrowed and raised Type 1 beam.
This is about as simple as air ride gets – a single pump, one-gallon air tank and Monroe air shocks on the front only. Neatly fitted, it’s enough to get Adam out of any trouble, and means he can drop the car on the deck at shows.
“I might get some adjustable spring plates to sort the camber out, but I’m in no rush”
Car was a 1600L model originally, which meant carburettor not fuel injection and a few more niceties than a base model A. It’s now a 1776, though, with dual 40IDFs, an Engle 120 cam and VW 044 cylinder heads. Note there is no room for air filters with 40s under a stock engine lid.