It was 1977 and I was driving a 1967 Black SunRoof Beetle with that awesome brick red interior. Oh, the car wasn’t in tip-top condition, but, it was all stock. I drove the car every day to and from work and elsewhere, while my wife ferried herself and the children in a second ’67 Ruby Red Beetle.
At the end of one long work day, I left the job and got into my Beetle. Funny thing. When I put in the clutch and attempted to start the car and shift into first, I could not get a gear—just a lot of grinding. Oh-oh! I thought. The clutch cable is gone. My brain went into over-load and information began to sift. Today, I’d say that my cerebral computer began a data search—but, in them days personal computers were uncommon to the masses.
I recalled about speed-shifting (at least that’s what I called it). This involves using the accelerator to generate movement, releasing the foot from the accelerator and quickly pulling or pushing the stick to get the next gear—all without the clutch pedal coming into play.
Only one problem: When the key is turned with the car in first gear, the car lurches forward.
I checked for traffic, pushed the lever into first, then turned the key—away we went!
Let off the gas and pull quickly into second. Hey—this was working fine. Now, I hoped for clear streets and few stop signs and stop lights. I was in Dallas afternoon rush traffic and had 15 miles to travel to get home. I plotted my trip as I drove, taking alternate streets where I knew there was less traffic and few stop lights, especially.
I sweated it to the outskirts of Dallas and pulled into Big Billy Barrett’s—the largest Volkswagen dealership in the area. When I obtained our VWs, it hadn’t taken long to become acquainted with the parts division at this dealership. I purchased a clutch cable, got into my trusty steed and made the remainder of the trip without incident.
I had a method for changing the clutch cable. I raised the driver’s rear, placed a jack stand beneath the car, removed that wheel and had instant access to the far end of the clutch cable. Vise grips were clipped onto the cable just before the clutch arm to keep the cable from twisting as the wing nut was unscrewed and then reinstalled when adjusting.
Next, the pedal cluster was removed. But, what to my wondering eye should appear but a crack at the base of the clutch pedal where it is pinned to the pedal cluster shaft. Besides a frayed clutch cable, the crack was opening when the pedal was depressed, allowing travel, but not effective travel. The pedal would bottom at the stop but wasn’t pulling the cable sufficiently to move the clutch! My problem immediately was compounded.