Not so much a repair as a lucky escape, when I was in my teens a friend of mine, Steve, and I drove my trusty 1302s through Europe (via the former Yugoslavia and Albania) into Greece and on to North Africa taking the ferry from Piraeus to Alexandria. At one point I was driving down a mountain road in the Peloponnese negotiating tight hair pin bends on 1: 3 inclines, the roads at that time not being made up, when a hornet flew into the car through the open window.
I always had a morbid fear of getting stung and this was my first encounter with a hornet. Seeing it as an industrial sized wasp, I panicked and let go of the steering wheel and went off the road. We ended up on the same road but another layer down the car having pretty much flown through the air at one point and then hit terra firma and run onto the road, ending up across it.
The engine had stalled and all the camping equipment in the car had flown all over the place, Steve and I sat there for a few moments stunned and dazed blocking the road until some locals came along and hooted at us to get out of the way. It seems that a VW dropping out of the sky and landing across the road wasn’t so unusual in those parts.
I started the engine and we drove on down the mountain side into the next little town. There were some grinding noises coming from the front axle and the steering was pulling to the left, but otherwise the VW was going ok. We found a little local workshop in the town that had a hand painted VW sign over the door and a dusty, white type 3 on the forecourt and I managed through sign language and a lot of pointing to tell the mechanic what had happened and where I thought the problem was. He changed a front wheel bearing and we went on our way.
This was on the home leg and we then spent the next couple of weeks driving up through Greece, across to Italy and into Switzerland and then through France and back to the UK. The Beetle was cruising on autoroutes at 80 – 90 miles per hour and negotiating the mountain passes, hairpin bends and steep inclines through the Swiss Alps without any problem.
When I got back to the UK I took the beetle along to the VW dealership in Worthing for it’s MOT and Service (this was in the days when VAG knew what a beetle was) and the car failed it’s MOT on the steering mechanism. It needed a new steering idler and carrier.
I had the work done and when I went to collect the car, they unusually brought out a box from under the counter with the old idler and carrier in it. It was completely shattered with fractures running right through it. The mechanic said that he’d never seen one go like that before and couldn’t imagine what I had been doing with the car!
I can only assume that the carrier had shattered when we came off the mountain side, in which case we were very lucky that it had got us home and not disintegrated on an Autoroute or Swiss mountain pass! :shock:
July 1957 UK supplied RHD Oval. 1972 World Champion Beetle. 1978 UK supplied RHD 1303LS Cabriolet. 1973 UK supplied RHD 1303s.