How to make your lil 36hp Classic VW Beetle BuG Motor run Faster and stronger?

Added September 15, 2012 by Chris Vallone

How to make your lil 36hp Motor run Faster and stronger?

Many people like myself have a 1960 and earlier beetle that runs the stock 36hp motor.  Yeah these little motors can be frightening to some when it comes time to get up on the highway.  I travel with my 1955 beetle on the highway all the time and yeah when a semi tractor trailer goes by, or someone driving as if they are on the indy 500, and BLOWS right by you, yeah it can get a little scary.

But don’t fret, there are some solutions, none of which are that cheap.  The ultimate way to go (if you still want to stay period correct) is to buy the Wolfsburg West Okrasa Kit for 36hp motors.  They give you dual port heads, manifolds, carbs, linkage, air cleaners, and all the instructions to hook it up to your motor.  More info on the product can be seen HERE.  You can see a video I did on a motor with this kit Here

Now you can get away with going with just that kit and you will be able to boost your performance pretty well, maybe to even 50hp or so.  But to ultimately boost the motor, you would want to go with a stroker crank (that now sells) and a performance camshaft that you can get from Mr. Okrasa on

There is a speed record out there that reached over 130 miles per hour with that little block all upgraded.

Now you can spend thousands putting this kit together!  Me?  I do not like to go too crazy with my motors, for the most part I like the bone stock look, and I really do not like dual carb motors anyway.  But there are a couple things you can do to improve the performance on the lower end side.

1. You can always go with a later motor like a 1600cc to throw in if you like.

2. Go with the Bosch 010 mechanical advance distributor, they used to use these in the Busses.

3. Optional: buy the Abarth Quad exhaust muffler from Wolfsburgwest


The 010 Distributor:

These are great distributors to use in a 36hp motor.  The busses in the 50s used these in their 36hp motors. Why the busses and not the bugs? Because busses had to push more weight around, naturally.  They work perfectly in the bug, you just have to plug up the vacuum insert with a small bolt on the carb, that’s it.  There are guys on that sell these all restored, expect to pay $250.00.  Now you can be done right here!! Just add the 010, you will feel some more pep. 

But I just added this to my ’55 ragtop….

The Abarth Muffler!  If anyone asks this was a period option offer in the 50s, I even have the literature to back that up.  Wolsburgwest sell this HERE.  Not cheap, muffler, gasket kit, and shipping came to $600.00. But the fitting is spot on, the quality is amazing, and it sounds friggin AWESOME.

So for just under 1k USD, you can improve the performance on the 36hp motor and even improve gas mileage.  The motor just breaths better with this setup.  If you go with the dual carb kit, you need to top it off with the 010 distributor and the Abarth Muffler.

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Categories: VW Restoration Tips



I just got a 1960 bug.  All stock.  Engine is in pieces.  Had it inspected by a specialist and its all there and in good condition.  What I need is a step by step guide to getting this thing back together.  Any advice?  I've been searching online, but not much luck.  Thanks.


A 1600 and larger will bolt in, but a small amount of grinding is required on the bellhousing to clear the 12 volt flywheel. I must caution about the dust created from grinding, it burns very nicely and bright. 

What I did on my '59 Euro Beetle to install my 2180cc. I used a '68 swing axle transmission with my '59 axle tubes along with newer SA axles and a split window bus transmission nosecone. This all bolts in like stock and shifter works perfect. Where you run into a little trouble, is when you try to use the doghouse cooler setup. The sheet metal over the bellhousing area is way different and the exhaust for the cooler hot air hits that sheet metal. So you end up either cutting or bending that sheet metal to fit the engine air channel. I too the route of removing the original sheet metal and installed a late model sheet metal and everything fits like stock. I saved my original sheet metal so it could be rewelded if I ever wanted to run a 36hp again.


The 1600 can't be a straight bolt in, flywheel is larger. What other changes would be required, different transaxle, motor tins, etc ?

Tom  1959 Beetle 1192 cc