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Wednesday, 30 August 2000
Column: Mathew Loh

WHEN we last left you we had just purchased an original classic in the form of a 1966 Volkswagon 1600 TL "Fastback" Saloon with a Karmann Ghia motor. Now after two weeks on the road it's time for an early report card - before we check it into the care of ARCO motors Newtown and the expertise of recognised VW specialist Brent - and little bit more history about this fascinating and funky little white motor.

Now as Brent informed us the TL sat for close on two years with a recently reconditioned engine and by the time it fell into SCOOP ownership it had only done about 200 miles on the recon. motor. So obviously the motor fundamentally is running like a clock.

However after gathering dust and unfortunately a little rust in it's period of neglect on the roadside in Newtown their were bound to be some problems that surfaced with use.

And sure enough while there is nothing major to worry us the front disc brakes are wearing out - as we were warned by a two and half year old ARCO work receipt which noted worn front disc brakes - and need urgent fixing.

Additionally the motor when cold can miss and occaisionally over the past fortnight has run on three cylinders for a time before bursting in it's full four. This we have been reliably informed will be remedied with a tune up featuring new points and plugs, rotor arm and distributor cap. The timing also will done and the wheels will be aligned and balanced.

Apart from the wearing brakes the major concern is the problem it sometimes has starting on cold early mornings. Now thankfully the previous owner, while guilty of neglecting the car for a long period, was clever enough to do what many consider to be a crucial job - that is changing the electrical voltage from six volt to 12. This gives untold advantages as it empowers the VW's electrics to new levels.

However despite this valuable voltage increase we have still experienced the odd morning when a convinient hill or on one particular dawn a gang of tough fishpackers are required for the old crash-start. Now with such a cool car this is isn't very cool so something has to be done about it especially as my partner - despite who self-professed love of the old classic - refuses to go near it until it is thoroughly warmed up.

When difficult starting occurs it is often assumed the carburettor is to blame this is the definitely the wrong idea as the 'carbie' is seldom the villan. Ignition faults are among the most likely causes of starting trouble and we'll be getting Arco's Brent to give the ignition system the thorough seeing to.

At worst pistons rings and/or generally poor engine condition can significantly hamper starting in cold weather but hopefully as we are dealing with a recently recon motor we won't have to deal with any serious problems.

I actually suspect a weak battery or perhaps an inefficient starter motor is the culprit and is failing to rotate the engine at a high enough cranking speed to obtain the right conditions within the motors combustion chamber to ensure an easy start on cold days. Anyway Arco's Brent will sus it all out and with brakes an urgent fault it's off ARCO we go hi ho.

Finally a little bit of VW lore for those enthusiasts out there: The VW TL, which was introduced in August 1995 is a five seater passenger saloon, powered by a rear-mounted, twin-carburettor 1584cc engine - similar in design to the 1500S model. Remember the design of these cars as with the performance Porsches has it origin in the brilliant mind of car designer extraordinaire Ferdinand Porsche.

The power output of the TL 1600 is 65bhp and it has a top speed of 85mph (125kph) with drum brakes on the rear wheels and disc brakes on the front. And with that sort of top speed it's lucky the TL handles with sporting performance and has such good brakes which reminds me again that the SCOOP TL needs desperate front brake attention so it's time to sign off and get going over the hill to ARCO...

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