-Written by Steve Phillips for HotVWs Magazine -
In this article I would like to talk about lowered spindles. Good idea? Bad idea? Bang for the buck? If you are thinking about lowering your vehicle in the front, I think it’s a great idea. It will lower the car and maintain the stock ride. That’s a win. Plus think of the money you will save by not having to buy a mouth guard and a sports bra if you’re a female. Your coffee will stay in the cup and on and on. So let's look at the different types and the pros and cons on each.
Bugs and Ghias up to 1965 are a king and link set up on the spindles. There are a couple of different ones you can do here, disc or drum. If you are thinking about going to disc brakes in the front now is the time to do it. Think about this. Most of your braking is in the front so yes, it's worth it. On the disc spindles there are some different ones: Wide five (5x205), four lug (4x130) Porsche pattern (5x130). Pick your wheel before ordering them. Drum are always (as far as I know) wide five. Good news is, a lot of people sell these. Bad news here is they don’t tell you that they do not come with the king pins or link pins and the fact that you have to use part of your old spindles to get them on or the fact that you need a machine shop to redo the king pins. Then there are a few shops like us that sell them ready to bolt on, on an exchange basis. Make sure you know what you’re getting before you buy them.
On bugs (std) and ghias 1966 and on, there are also a couple of types. Drum or Disc. On the disc you have the option on wheel patterns again. Wide five (5x205), four lug (4x130) Porsche pattern (5x130). On drum you can use your stock drums or a different pattern drum if you like. Again there are a lot of people selling them. What is not said is these spindles are made for 68 and later cars. If you have a 66 or 67 you will need to buy the inner wheel bearings and the later model tie rod ends for the outer. On the wheel bearing the OD is the same on all years. It is the ID that changes. 66-67 is smaller. So if you own a 66-67 when you go to put your stock drums on guess what? They don’t fit. Same thing on the tie rod ends. 66-67 ends are smaller than the 68 on ones. It's not a big deal to change these parts. Just letting you know what you're in for. They pretty much bolt on with no machine work.
On 1955-1967 buses there are a lot of factors here. First, there are three different spindle. 55-62 has a large spindle and small link pins (20mm). 64-67 has a small spindle and large link pin (22mm). Then there is the bastard year 1963. 1963 could be any one of the three spindles. Early 63 is the same as 55-62. Mid 63 is yeah the one year only deal, small spindle (same as 64-67) but small link pin 20mm (same as 55-62). Then there is late 63 which is the same as 64-67. Confused? Don’t blame you. Bottom line is if you have a 63 call and talk to someone who knows what I’m talking about. These spindles most of the time are a 3 ½ drop. This is done by flipping the spindle. Now that sounds easy, but it's not easy if it's done right. To do them right takes a lot of machine work. Do your homework here. Are they flipped or a welded spindle? I don’t know about you, but nobody loves my ass more than I do and I'm not going to be running down the road on a welded spindle. Sorry, but that’s just me. Next, do they come with rebuilt king pins? Most of the time the spindles are worn out, so having them come with rebuilt king pins is a huge plus. Do they come with a steering stop? What? Why would a spindle have a steering stop? Well they do. These stops keep the tie rod from going over center. What does the mean? Let's say you don’t have them. You’re driving your bus into McDonalds to get your run and go breakfast before work. You turn hard into the driveway then back straight. The tires are making horrible sounds and it feels like the brakes are on. You get out of the bus and notice one wheel is pointed out. Nice, right?. Now you have to turn the steering wheel again and grab the tire and try and get it back over center the other way. That can ruin your morning for sure. These lowered spindles don’t come with link pins. Why? Well unlike a bug or Ghia, the link pins are a bearing not a bushing. If someone greases them once a decade they are usually still good and can be reused in the new spindles. Now getting the races out can be a pain unless you have a press but it can be done. Again, do your homework and know what you’re buying.
For buses 68-79, there are some welded spindles out there and some cast. I already said how I feel about welded. The cast ones are a 2 ½ drop and will come as a disc spindle. So if you have a 68-70 bus you need to decide if you want to go to disc. If you do, you will be changing your wheel pattern. Those of you with 71-72, you’re not out of the woods either. The rotor and caliper will need to be changed to 73-79. Keep in mind here that 73-79 disc parts are cheaper and easier to get than 71-72. So if you can afford the other pieces it's not a bad way to go.
Things are a strange one. They do not make a lowered spindle for a thing. There is a way to get lowered spindles on a thing, it just takes more work and more money. The position of thing ball joints are straight down, both upper and lower. Bug ball joints have the upper ball joint pointing down just like the thing, but the lower arm the ball joint points up. So you can change out the ball joint arms and put the bug lowered spindle on. If you haven’t already, please read what I said on bugs 66 on.
Type three, I got nothing for ya. The front beams are different than any other type. There are no lowered spindles that I'm aware of. There is not a way to get the bug spindle on that I'm aware of, so I got nothing.
Super beetles are not a trailing arm suspension, so they don’t have the problems of a ruff ride when just lowering with a beam on a std. The trick here is not lowered spindles but adjustable lowered struts.
I hope this article brought some light to lowered spindles. I do run them and I have put lots of them on. I highly recommend them and bang for the buck I think they're worth it. Just, as a buyer do your homework.