STF Post from CoolRydes about Mendeola Gear

I would like to clear up a few points you might not be aware of about the Mendeola Suspesnion.
The rear arms are built with .5 degrees of camber at a 1.5 lowered ride height, and also has a camber adjusting plate that allows for even more camber adjustment. They also have toe and height adjustments. They are also the only rear trailing arms on the market that are available in a narrowed arm. This allows for a lot more tire and wheel combo’s. In fact we just fit 17×8 rear wheels with 215/40/17 tires under the rear of a low light ghia with out major fender mods.

Take a look at for more info.

Also guys, the Mendeola Suspension prices are $3295 for the complete front kit spindle to spindle and $2395 for the complete rear kit. That’s less then 6k. Why have a 8-10k motor that hauls a$$ when you can’t stop or turn just as good? Just saying…..

Are EMPI 3/4″ Sway Bars Worth the Money?

Hi juki48,

Dual 19mm bars on your ’74 will make your car feel very quick and responsive for street use. The front bar keeps the body roll down and keeps both front tires planted. The rear bar decreases the understeer and is the big contributor to the quick-response feel. The rear bar really enhances “turn-in” as in where you are steering into a turn and the car responds almost instantly.

But, for very high speed use, where you want understeer, a front bar alone is just right. High speed here means 100 mph sweepers where you want no sudden moves off course.


Mendeola Suspension Email

Howdy, Jim

First off Jim, Thank you for your interest in our products.

If you really want this car to handle and ride like a modern day sports car, I would say our complete Mendeola True Performance front and True Track narrowed rear kit would be the way to go. These will allow you to fit 17×7 wheels all around with 205/40/17s up front and 215/40/17s in the rear.

We also offer Big brake kits for well improved stopping. We offer 11″ cross drilled and vented front and rear brake kits with 4 piston Wilwood calipers on all four corners.

If you see yourself doing a lot of freeway driving or high speed driving, I would consider one of our 5 speed Porsche 915 Transaxle conversion kits. This will give you a trans that can take up to 300hp and let you run down the freeway at 80+ without running the engine above 3000 rpm.

Cost of these parts:
Suspension Front kit…..$3295
Suspension Rear kit …..$2395
Front Brake kit….$1280
Rear Brake kit…..$1480
915 trans kit…….$6500

You can find most of these on our website.

Please let us know if there is anything else we can do for you.

All the best to you my friend,
Kevin “Coolrydes” Zagar
CoolRydes So-Cal Customs &
1695 Cactus Road
San Diego, Ca. 92154
619-710-4946 EXT.120


Karmann Ghia Chassis…


Narrow the Rear End

Original Page

Swing to IRS, the Hard Way

VWs set up for drag racing typically use what is known as “Swing Axles” in the back. The advantages are simplicity, strength and relatively easy to set up. The disadvantages are the severe wheel alignment change as the suspension goes through its full travel. Both extreme degrees of camber change (tip in or out at the top and bottom) as toe changes (pidgeon toed or people toed).

I haven’t been completely satisfied with the way car has been working with the swing axle set-up. Haven’t been for quite some time. Although I have been getting fair results, there have been compromises that needed to be made because of its limitations. I decided that the end of the 2009 season was time for the “Big Project,” and although there are fairly easy ways to do it, as in most things on this ride, I want to do it “My Way.”

The Big Project is a change of wheels and rear suspension. The U-jointed swing axles we have run since 2003 are giving way for Independent Rear Suspension or IRS. This will feature a narrowed rear track with custom tubular control arms, Big 930 Porsche CVs, Mark Williams axles, coil-over shocks, four corner disc brakes and “Micro Stub” rear hubs. Wider wheels and tires will go along with these changes. American Racing’s Trak Stars are the wheels I’ve been looking to use for this project ever since I started thinking about it. Along with the spindle mount front wheels, the overall look will be different and very aggressive. Maybe it will scare the competition!

The major benefit will be better rear wheel alignment throughout the suspension travel, and the tires will stay square to the track surface and hopefully give more efficient operation. Increased safety is another benefit. There will be much less risk of losing control in the event of an axle failure. It is also looking like we’ll see a weight reduction both front and rear to the tune of about 60 pounds overall.

Once the existing drivetrain is removed, we began the mock-up by slipping the CV drive flange onto the transaxle, and then positioning the wheel/tire/hub combo into the wheel well in the position where it should be. By taking a measurement between CV flanges on trans and drive hub, a dummy mock-up axle was made that bolts on the flanges and is the length necessary to position the wheel where it needs to be. Basically, it’s a length of tubing with flanges at both ends.

Since it’s on center with the output flanges on the trans, the wheel will be on center as well when we start fabricating the control arms. Although absolute on-center wheel positioning is not so critical with IRS, having it as close as possible, will make it so the joint doesn’t “work” any more than it needs to.
My original plan was to leave the upper spring mount in it’s existing location, but after some rough mocking up with cardboard templates, it was apparent that too many compromises would have to be made to the design of the control arm to fit the coil spring into the same location it’s been in. So, a fairly difficult, yet at the same time, easy decision was made to cut out the existing rear support structure and start fresh.

To get the control arm design to be the way I wanted, I decided to raise the upper shock mount so that the lower mount could be on top of the control arm, and out of the way of the diagonal bars and the outer CV joint. This required removal of a portion of the rear package tray, as the upper shock mount will be above the stock package tray location. Since I will be “mini-tubbing” the wheel wells, a little more sheet metal work in the package tray is not a big deal.

With the new rear support structure tacked in, I moved to making the custom brackets and tabs I would need. All of the control arm mounts are going to be located off the rear torsion housing. This makes set-up much simpler. The pivot bracket will have three mounting holes. The bottom one on center of the torsion tube and the other two at one inch spacing above that. Call it an educated guess as to determining their location. The pivot point on center will be as if it was in the stock location. The two points higher up will put the pivot arm’s “push point” on a higher weight center. Will it improve handling? Only time will tell.

With the inner bracket tacked in level with the chassis, fab work on the control arm begins. First, the outer hub bracket, then the inner control arm stub. After that it’s simply a matter of “Connect the Dots.” An outer pivot bracket is then made and will be welded to the end of the torsion tube after the “stock style” spring plate flange is removed. We can then finish off the basic control arm with the addition of the outer straight forward bar. The control arm pivots on 3/4″ super duty rod ends which are adjustable in and out.

To enable adjustment of rear wheel alignment, a plate which is cut at a slight angle, will be sandwiched between the hub and the hub mounting plate. By rotating this plate, a precise rear wheel alignment can be achieved.

When the first control arm is complete, the arm and it’s bracketry is mirrored for the other side. Once both sides are complete, it’s down to finish and detail work, then measuring for axles.

The axles ended up 11.875″ long, made from 300m material and were ordered from Mark Williams. Fair price, great service!

The pan, once all the finish welding was done was sent over to Blast Tech in Fresno for powdercoating. Since first putting this pan into service in 2005, this will be it’s first trip to the powdercoaters. The finished job is simply incredible! A week from start to finish, and it was received clean with no trace of sand residue. The satin black finish is actually glossier than the gloss black I have received from other powdercoaters. The control arms, tie rods and a few other various pieces were done in gloss black, and it’s like a mirror. Very pleased with Blast Tech’s work!

Now that it all fits and functions as envisioned, the Big Question is, “How will it work?”

The Front End

Next up is converting the front end to the new American TrakStar spindle mount front wheels. While it seemed that Anglia spindle wheels would be the easier conversion since the inner bearing has the same inner diameter as the stock linkpin, it turns out that Strange spindle wheels are easier. This due to the OUTER bearing which would only require a skim cut to fit, and the threads are good as is. The Anglia outer bearing is much smaller and would require either reducing and rethreading the end of the spindle or finding a conversion bearing.

I opted for the Strange. All that is required is to make a bushing for the inner bearing and taking a .030″ skim cut on the outer spindle journal. Very simple.

I also bought a Wilwood disc brake kit to use on the American wheels. The brake hat bolts right on to the back of the wheel. The biggest hurdle was that the bracket for the caliper was made for a P&S dragster spindle. I used this as a pattern to make caliper mounts to fit the VW spindle. All in all, a painless conversion that took about a half day and a foot long piece of 3/8″ x 4″ 6061 aluminum.

With all American style wheels and brakes, the only original brake part that remained was the cast iron dual circuit master cylinder. I decided this was the time to replace that, even though it was new last season. I felt the four piston calipers at the rear, along with the disc brakes up front would need more volume than the stock MC could provide. Wilwood again supplied the aluminum dual circuit MC with optional remote mount reservoirs.

With the elimination of the stock style MC, there was no sense in keeping the stock brake lines with a bunch of metric to AN adapters. It will be completely converted to all AN with stainless steel lines.

That completes the chassis work. With clean-up and detail work and elimination of all unused brackets and tabs, the pan will go in for a satin black powder coat finish.

The Body Work

Yes, I cut the car. Some will consider this the ultimate sin. In fact I swore I would never cut the car when this voyage first began. This was because of what I did to my 1970 T/A Challenger “Back in the Day.” I always had illusions of being able to take the Ghia back to stock if I so chose. I never imagined that the car would create its own “history” and as such, is probably worth more as a race car than it ever would as a stocker.

At any rate, I was fairly gentle. The narrower rear track made it necessary to provide a bit more room to the inside. I decided on the “Mini-Tub” approach. This method involves removing the inner half of the stock wheel housing, moving it inboard and welding it back in. I ended up building a new inner half from sheet steel and still welded it in so the body maintains its integrity.

My good friend Bob Welker did most of the work cutting out the “hole” helping me fit the new stuff and doing the finish work. I made the parts, and did the welding.

Bob is a true craftsman and has been “The Man” behind more than a few show winners and magazine feature cars. I couldn’t have thought of anyone I would rather have doing this work. Thanks Bob!

With the fabulous and very precise job that Bob did with cutting the opening, fitting the new innerwheel tub was fairly easy. Once finished, I doubt most people will even notice as the entire engine bay was repaired and refinished back to the blue color that the rest of the car is.


Sorry… the pictures were linked from the original post. Sadly, these are the best I can save.

This topic can be found at:

Read the original post. It seems there are some issues with these.

Adventures in Adjustable Spring Plates
Disclaimer. Removing or installing spring plates is dangerous. This post is a guide only. Proceed at your own risk.
We decided we needed adjustable spring plates for our swing axle road racing 1965 Ghia so we could set the rear ride height and compensate for uneven torsion bar sag, decamber or recamber at a whim, or even jack a little weight around when chassis tuning.
Before adjustable spring plates, you needed skill, sobriety, luck, and major medical insurance in case the torsion-loaded spring plate took off your fingers like an overpowered rat trap. Reindexing the spring plates was a major job involving protractors, math, and remembering how many splines on which end moved you up or down so many degrees, or minutes and seconds between splines. And then maybe doing it all again  — and maybe again — when the blasted car failed to set right.
But no more. Follow these simple steps and amaze and amuse your friends and confuse your competitors as we show you how to install these spring plates and adjust your way to road racing or autocross victory.
To do this job you’ll need a set of adjustable spring plates, new inner and outer urethane torsion bar bushings, a spring plate compression tool, and eight grade 8.8 M10-1.50 x 50mm bolts and 24 thick hardened washers to match. 16 of these are for spacers.
The best place for your jackstands is under the rear torsion bar tube, away from the torsion bar cover. The cover has to be removed.
Step One. Understanding Our Friend The Spring Plate
You might think the torsion bar is the only “spring” controlling its half of the rear suspension, but the VW spring plate is just that, a spring. It is attached to the torsion bar at one end (which only allows it to pivot vertically) and to the swing axle at the other end, which forces it to flex horizontally as the axle moves up or down.
Ergo, the spring plates add springing resistance to all axle movement. The amount of spring resistance it provides is calculated into the overall amount of rear springing capacity. Crafty, those Germans.
We expect an increase in overall rear suspension stiffness and predictability from the heavier, thicker adjustable plates.
Above: The adjustable plate is in two pieces, a full length plate, and a short splined section that fits over the torsion bar and outside the long plate. They interact together with a big screw (6mm hex to turn it) on the long plate, that touches a stout steel stop-block on the short plate. The stock plate is 4mm thick, total.
The plates we show here are 5mm each, for a total of 10mm.
Step Two. The Adjustable Spring Plate
Our plates came from Jeff Lain’s Kaddy Shack, home of street and strip Kadron carburetors.
The adjustables impressed me with their 5mm thickness and apparently different material. No flexible stock 4mm spring steel plates here. Maybe “spring plate” for the adjustable is a misnomer. “Anti-spring plate” seems to describe it better. Space and time might bend before these do.
Actually, we are okay with that. The best way to make a swing axle handle is to almost stop it from swinging, and these slices of armor plate look like they can do that without effort.
Step 3. Don’t Forget The Special Bushings
For adjustable plates like ours you need a special inner urethane bushing with a larger hole in the middle to fit over the inner long plate’s guide hub. The outer bushings are standard size.
I’ve felt urethane bushings you could flex with your hands. But these Prothane spring plate bushings are very hard. No appreciable compression whatsoever. To get them to fit inside the torsion bar housing, they had to be trimmed down on the bench grinder. Lots of pink dust, but very little gumming or smearing.
These are going to make very precision-acting pivot control devices.
Step 4. The Right Tool
If you’re feeling lucky and have a few fingers to spare, you can use chains or big C-clamps to try and control the spring plate as you unbolt it. There is a point in this operation that the brutally strong torsion bar takes over if it can, and shoots the spring plate downward like a rocket-propelled hatchet, only faster.
Your first line of defense is this special compression tool (carried by most VW parts houses), and if you want to make it easy on yourself, you’ll modify it as shown with a couple of big washers and a (5/8″ thread) nut to let you control it with a 1 1/8″ wrench rather than the tool’s wing-nut style arms.
Step 5. Taking It Apart The Easy Way
Remove the brake drum and unhook the hand brake cable from the brake shoe lever, and remove the 13mm bolt and hand brake cable retainer from the backing plate. Pull the cable itself out of the drum and out of the way. The reason for all this is the spring plate can/will get caught in the cable as you wrestle the axle and spring plate around.
Then remove the lower shock absorber mounting bolt. You do this to free up the axle.
Last, take a look at your alignment notches on the axle housing and spring plate. Your new plates will not have markings, but it’s a good idea to look at your original markings in case you ever need to put it all back together as stock.
Above: Most original German spring plates had stamped alignment marks on top and bottom bolt holes. The marks are so shallow they are easy to overlook. Swing axle VW’s were not placed on four-wheel alignment racks before delivery. The workmen bolting up the rear axles simply slid the axle all the way rearward to the end of the bolt hole slots and that usually aligned the v-notch in the axle flange with the spring plate mark.
With the factory torsion bar settings, that gave either zero-toe or slightly positive toe-out (OUT not IN). Toe-out is tolerable for the rear suspension because the rear wheels try to advance forward under power, and that toe-out becomes zero-toe or even toe-in.
Finally, loosen (don’t remove yet) the three bolts that hold the spring plate to the axle flange. One of the three bolts holds on the bump-stop bracket. As you slowly remove these bolts, you will see the spring plate relax and unflex.
Push the axle up and back, out of the way. Tie it or wire it so it will stay. It will interfere if you don’t.
Now, fit the spring plate compression tool slot SECURELY to the bottom of the plate and locating body-bolt head atop the suspension arm. Tighten the tool to take out all the slack. Remove the four bolts from the torsion bar cover, and pop it and the old outer bushing off with a screwdriver.
Step 6: The Moment Of Truth
Notice how the spring plate rests on a ledge on the suspension support. You’ve got to bend the plate outward enough to allow it to lower past the ledge.
There is terrific torsion bar force forcing the plate down on that ledge. Use the compression tool to raise the plate about a quarter-inch off the ledge. Jam a lever of some type (heavy-duty long bladed screwdriver works great) into the space you’ve just made, and pry the plate outwards.
You can also carefully lever above and below the forward (boss) end of the spring plate.
You’re not trying to fully pull the plate off the torsion bar splines here, just move it out enough to clear the ledge.
Use a brass hammer to tap on the spring plate spline boss as you lever, and the plate will walk off the splines a little. Unless it doesn’t. Then you have to spray WD-40 into the splines and let it soak.
When you are sure the plate is clearing the ledge, slowly use the compression tool to lower the plate until you can securely feel there is no longer any torsion bar force on it.
Note that on the fully relaxed spring plate that its lower edge is on or near the lower left-hand torsion bar cover bolt hole. This, of course, is coming off the factory setting. If someone else has reindexed the torsion bars, you might find anything, but we can still use the lower left-hand bolt hole as our reference point.
Because the plate is adjustable, as long as we start from the factory setting, we don’t need the protractor or inner spline vs outer spline calculation approach. This is cheating at its best.
Remove the compression tool and pull the spring plate off the torsion bar splines. The old raggedy soft rubber inside spring plate factory bushing will be visible now. Pop it out.
Step 7: Good going! I’d thought you’d all have either given up or gotten maimed by Step 7.
Clean out the bushing recesses on both the torsion bar cover and torsion bar housing. Test fit your new inner and outer urethane bushings into them. If they do not fit flush (and they won’t) cut or grind away at the knobby bushing locators until they do fit flush.
Do your trimming slowly and test fit often so you don’t take off too much.
The temptation to skip this step and just try to pull the torsion bar cover down with longer bolts and compress the bushings will be strong, but all you’ll do is bend the cover and break a bolt or strip a thread.
Get out your metric tap and die set and chase the torsion bar housing threaded bolt holes clean of rust and dirt with an M10x1.5 tap. Use a little light 3-in-1 oil to help. Those holes do go all the way through, and are subject to water and dirt on the inside.
Prothane supplies a good silicone grease with its bushings, but not enough in my opinion. I’ve seen advice to use talcum powder to lube urethane bushings, but I slather black moly grease on them and so far (2002-present) nothing bad has happened.
The silicone grease is supposed to stop the classic urethane squeak that is common and irritating on street cars. In that all I work on is race cars, a squeak is not a real problem, but binding is. You want grease on all moving or contact surfaces.
Now (if you’re working on the right rear side of the car) screw a bolt into the lower left-hand corner hole of the torsion bar housing. This will be your guide and plate rest. Reverse this for the left rear.
Step 8: Reassembly
Place your (flush-fitting) inner bushing on the adjustable plate inside-facing boss and insert the bushing into the torsion bar housing recess over the torsion bar.
Rest the plate on the bolt.
Now, with lots of grease on the torsion bar splines, carefully fit the outer adjustable short plate over the splines, so that the outer plate is aligned evenly with the long plate as if they were one piece.
The long inner plate covers the ledge at full rest, and is going to have to be bent outwards to clear the ledge when we raise the plate assembly, so we don’t want to slide or hammer-tap the outer plate all the way down over the torsion bar splines just yet.
Attach the compression tool to the upper suspension arm nut and hook the bottom of the inner plate with the tool’s slot, and slowly lift the plate, watching out for the slot to fit, adjust itself, and not slip.
When you have the inner plate raised just above the ledge, slip on the outer urethane bushing and torsion bar cover, and screw your four long bolts into the torsion bar housing, with your two washer-spacers per bolt in place. Slowly tighten the bolts down in an X-pattern. Now you are pulling the outer plate down over the torsion bar splines. Don’t hurry. Tap the outer plate with a brass hammer a few times near the torsion bar cover as you go to equalize the stress.
You should see the inner plate move inwards so it is over the ledge. Lower the inner plate now to allow it to securely rest on the ledge, and do not guess at this. You must be sure. Be aware all the ledges out there are not guaranteed flat or straight after all these years of service.
Leave the compression tool in place. It is your safety.
Above: (A) Factory alignment notch for matching factory spring plate mark. (B) End of plate even with axle housing, applies for factory or adjustable plate.
Step 8: Almost Finished
Manhandle and shift the axle back into place, so that the axle flange and the spring plate can be bolted together.
Now insert the two axle housing end bolts loosely and slide the axle back all the way so that the axle housing is dead even with the end of the plate, as in the photo above.
Tighten the end bolts first, and you’ll see the adjustable plate bend just a bit, then finish with the bump stop bracket and it’s bolt. Make sure your alignment hasn’t changed. You might be lucky and have the alignment right, but let’s consider this your initial alignment until you test drive it.
Remove the compression tool so you can do the other side of the car.
Once you have the car on the ground again, you can raise or lower each side of the rear suspension to get your desired ride height.