Building the old Beetle, crowdcad style

The original Volkswagen Beetle is probably one of the most recognized cars in the world. It was in production from 1938 until 2003 and 21,529,464 were made over the 65 years. It’s the longest-running and most-manufactured automobile of a single design platform anywhere in the world.

Beetle also has a cult-like following with thousands restoring old models, keeping them running, some using them as their daily rides, others rolling them out on nice sunny weekends for that leisurely drive down the winding country roads.

Where am I going with all this? Couple of weeks ago we heard from Mark Burhop (of the Siemens PLM fame) that his son was restoring an old Beetle and they planned on getting all the parts of the car CAD-ified. They had already found an ally in another CAD world heavyweight Blake Courter (the co-founder of Spaceclaim), who just so happened to have a fully modeled Beetle transaxle.

Here’s how Mark Burhop recalls the start:

Zach (son with the VW) and I were talking about remodeling a Beetle when he’s done with school in May. He is restoring/redesigning a Beetle now. Zach and I couldn’t possibly model all the parts. Luckily, Blake and company had already been there and done that and had sent me the transmission a few months back. We discussed it again at COFES. There is a huge number of Beetle fanatics out there so this could maybe (someday) turn into something useful for them.

We certainly couldn’t say no to such a fun little project :) Hardi set up the main page for the Beetle crowdcad project and Mark and Blake uploaded what they had. Just today we got the third part from Danny Tas, the wheel assembly.

Beetle carburetor by Mark Burhop.

How can you participate?

  • Help us model more of the Beetle parts.
  • Help us find better technical drawings of the Beetle.
  • Help spread the world to Beetle fans, maybe they can help.
  • Take your father’s old Beetle apart, measure a piece and share the numbers here in the comments.

TheSamba.com, one of the world’s largest online Beetle fan communities, has a useful section with the owner manuals (here’s the one for the 1978 model) but these lack proper technical drawings and are sometimes of poor scan quality. Still, they’re great reference materials and might inspire you to model the next small piece.

Why are we doing this, are we being paid by Volkswagen? Unfortunately not :) Fun projects like these are what make life interesting and we love seeing crowdsourced, distributed projects come to life. Easy as that.

Could there be a more fitting song? Thanks Blake, for pointing it out.