- The Chassis
This is not intended to be the ultimate how-to-build the VW chassis guide, just some ideas
I used in the preparation of the chassis for the Speedster. Some things might work for you
others not, but the technique is pretty much the same for any shortened VW application.
Building any kit car takes time, but the CMC was more involved than some Speedster
suppliers available today. I did not really keep track of the hours, but I work full time like
most and in the evenings and weekends, I built the Speedster. I estimate that something in
the area of 600-800 hours over a 6 month period were consumed getting this drivable.
OK, one man's junk is another man's gold. This is one way to start, all your really are after
is the chassis, maybe a steering column, but almost everything else can be trashed.
Even at this point, un-crating, unpacking and checking for parts back ordered, you've got a
half dozen hours into the project just since the package arrived, but that's nothing, how
long did you wait to start this project, maybe years, so don't rush it.
All chassis are 20+years old at this point, with who know how many miles. Most important
are the VIN numbers and a title, the rest you can fix. Start by cutting anything not worth
saving and start the stripping, sanding and grinding process.
The pictures on the right show a chassis that was cut down and already pulled together.
Using some 2X4 bracing and a couple of levels, make sure the chassis is square and level.
Measure corner to corner using the factory bolt holes as reference points. Use shims under
the chassis to get everything as level as you can and weld it back together. Here's a view of
the tunnel showing an overlap joint on the sides and a top view of the e-brake lines, You can
just cut these, (but not the throttle and clutch) and spot weld them back together before
you close the hole and weld the top shut.
This view shows the throttle and clutch tubes extending out the back of the chassis. DO
NOT cut these in the middle of the chassis. Grind away the spot welds at the rear so
they're free and when you pull the chassis together they'll extend out and then cut down.
This way there are no bur's effecting these cable that get constant use.
This picture shows the completed shifter now repositioned 4 inches further to the rear.
Draw out a couple of boxes, cut them out and swap them. As always measure twice, cut
once. Reduce the length of the shift tube and the e-brake handle by the same and your all
set! This makes a lot of sense if your tall and plan sit as far back as possible.
- The Body
These first two pictures remind me of how much work was actually required to complete
the car. My kit came with the doors pre-hung, nothing else. It was called the Deluxe kit at
the time. I really can't imagine that they sold it in any less of an assembled package, but if
they did I really feel bad for you.
No holes, no reference marks of any sort! All I can remember is that I did a lot of looking
at photo's, reading the instructions, then take some measurements, make a mark, then
re-measure and re-mark.
You'll find out how non-symmetrical this thing really is and have to decide on some sort of an
average or compromise location. Then drill, cut, file or sanding till it fits. Then simply
repeat everything above a few hundred times more. Just looking at the blank dashboard
starring back scares the hell out of me. Try to imagine the look you want and how good it
will look and use paper cut-outs or templates, don't experiment on the dash.
This picture was taken just after the body had been dropped onto the chassis, a really
great feeling. Not only did it fit, but now you have twice as much space in you garage again.
OK, mounting the windshield was probably the most intimidating. I had heard so many horror
stories about glass breakage that this was going to take some balls to do this part, but who
else was there? Other people had told me two or three windshields broke before they got
With no reference marks on the body, I preassembled the glass and frame as best as
possible, holding it together with duct and masking tape and moved it around to find out
where it sat best on the body. I looked at it from every angle I could think of and then
marked it and went to town with it.
When you set the assembly onto the body, you'll notice that entire assembly sort of pivots
on the two outside mounting post. Simply relying on the single center post to pull the
windshield down during installation didn't make sense to me. So, I added a couple of the
ratcheting tie-down straps from the top of the windshield frame to the front lower lip of
Tightening the straps and the center post, provided three points over a wider area and
allowed me to apply pressure gently and evenly while working the bottom gasket over the
bottom mounting flange. Go slow, make sure nothing is binding and keep your fingers
crossed. Anyway, this worked for me on the first try, with no breaks, what a relief.
As you finish one problem you simply move to the next, the wiring might be pretty high on
you anxiety list also.
- The Wiring
The wiring harness looks like a complete rats nest of wires in a bag. Before you start
working inside the car, lay it out on the floor so it resembles the cars layout. You know, left
front corner, right, and the rears (L&R). Compare the wire counts and colors with the wiring
diagram, eventually, everything will start to make sense. There were three different
harnesses to start with (front, rear and dash, all not marked) and all of them will get tied
together in the dash area.
Take your time and do one step at a time. Don't get ahead of yourself and it will be finished
and look good. Keep it neat and use lots of wire ties.
I tried to keep a little service length to the wires so I could remove the gauges by popping
them out if needed. Working on your back and upside down on the dash is tough enough, so I
tried to minimize it.
- The Interior
In all honesty, the CMC interior is pretty tough to get right, and in hindsight, I missed a few
details and will have to get it right on my next car, yea right..
Here's a view of my interior. It looks pretty good, not 100% accurate vintage wise and
that's all right with me. Aside from that, there are a few things that did not finish up as
good as I would have liked, but most people would never notice them.
The only task I could not figure out and make work was building the CMC seats! I tried but
no go. My advice, send them out and have an expert finish them.
Here's a few final shots of the completed car.
If you've got a CMC that needs to be finished, just get it done. It really makes a decent
top down cruiser. These cars might be a little more work to complete than others, but can
be done and with good results.
My Speedster Specs:
- IRS Chassis
- VW front disks
- 2180cc - 44 Webbers, stock oil cooler w/ full flow filter plus 1 1/2 quart sump.
- Transform 3:44 street stock transaxle
- 185's on 5 1/2 x 15 rims
That's all I can remember for now, good luck.
CMC Classic Speedster 1983-2011