Lifting/Raising your T1 Beetle, a beginners guide!
If stock ride height doesn’t quite appeal to you, but you’d like to try something other than the usually popular slam + narrow treatment… Then Lifted suspension might be for you.
Lifting/raising the suspension of T1 platform cars has been going on for a long time, much longer in fact than any form of lowering! The rugged and already ‘long travel’ aspect of transverse torsion bar suspension like our cars have lends itself fantastically to demanding off-road driving and racing.
Baja’s, Buggies, Sandrails and other custom chassis cars that use the VW T1 style transverse torsion bar setup have all been subject to lifting, large knobbly or all terrain tyres and heavy duty suspension gear!
Whether it be for aesthetics, or real world purpose - you can’t deny the presence of a high lifted car commands respect!
So, if you’d like to raise your stock VW Beetle, here’s the basics on what you’re going to need:
These are like the commonly seen ‘dropped’ spindles, only, you guessed it… work in the other direction! Similar to droppers, these keep your suspension geometry closer to stock (which is always ideal) while allowing the wheel to be mounted in a more preferable position.
Here, the ones we manufacture and sell are lifted precisely 2 inches.
These are the ‘first step’ in a lifted front end, and used alone and bolted to an otherwise stock setup will be enough to satisfy most peoples desires.
So, beams. That thing we do best!
If you’d like to have some height adjustability to your front end, you’ll need a beam with super high-range adjustment available. Like one of our special off-road spec Beams. These are like our usual adjustable beams, only with extra bracing, tow eyelets, mounts for optional chassis brace bars, extra long shock towers, and high-range installed adjusters.
These can be specified in different sizes, either 2” narrow, stock width, or a range of ‘oversize’ sizes.
An adjustable beam will allow adjustment both upwards and downwards, allowing you to ‘dial in’ your perfect suspension height and available travel.
For our Monster mexi, we used a 2” narrowed beam, to offset the extra width added by the lifted spindles. Stock width would give a wide stance, which could be preferable depending on your desired look!
Ok, so for the rear end, things are a little more complicated.
For the lifted suspension to work, handle and look well, the standard Swing-Axle suspension should be ditched in favour of the semi trailing arm ‘IRS’ style suspension found on the rear of 1302/3 beetles and ‘68 onwards American spec cars.
If you already have IRS suspension, great! If not, you’ll need to do the conversion.
The conversion is straightforward, but the welding in of the pivot brackets should only be tackled by trained technicians/fabricators only.
An IRS conversion can be taken out by us at EvaResto.
IRS pivot brackets
Complete IRS arms
Flexible and hard Brake lines
With the IRS suspension, you’ll need to now allow for a lift of around 2-3”. This is easily possible with our Raise IRS spring plates. These are shaped specifically to allow more downward suspension movement, without over extending the CV joints on the driveshafts.
These are available from us to work with either standard swing axle torsion bars (for you conversion guys), or longer IRS torsion bars.
Plates to be installed in the range of 27-30degrees depending on height wanted and adjustment side to side.
You’ve lifted your suspension, given it the absolute most available travel you can… So now it’s time for shocks that can cater to that extra expanded length and keep the handling in check.
For those using a stock front beam and raise spindles, the stock shocks will suffice in giving adequate travel and feel.
For those running one of our front setups though, our SPAX shocks come highly recommended. For the front and rear, these are sized to offer the absolute most travel, making full use of the longer towers up front. They’re also adjustable, meaning you can ‘dial in’ your preferred feel and handing characteristics.
WHEELS AND TYRES
A big part of the ‘look’, and not something that should be skimped on!
The standard size tyres for T1 platform is 165/80 r15, on a 15x4.5 steel wheel. These are considered tall, but skinny by today’s standards. They work perfectly in every situation on a stock car and give all clearance needed at all times.
Our Monster mexi has 235/75 BFGoodrich tyres, on the factory 15x4.5 steel wheels. These would not fit without the suspension raise due to their massive overall size and relatively large width, and even with the raise, present some fitment challenges! Turning clearance is effected, so be prepared to shave a small area of the pinch lip on the inner wing/heater channel, and also rear arch clearance can be an issue when under full compression! Again this can be fixed by careful clearancing work.
These are about the most you can safely do on a stock wheel, and in my opinion look great… but smaller sizes may work just as well if you need greater clearance and turning room.
‘All-Terrain’ style tyres are preferable, as they have the off-road look and function, but work well still on the road with minimal noise and best possible wet road traction.
Other types of wheel can be used, but keep an eye on the overall width and the offset. The last thing you want is compromised suspension travel due to inadequate inner or outer clearance!
So, hopefully that's a good introduction to the world of lifted VW Beetle suspension. If you have any questions, please don't be hesitant to ask us for help!
The parts listed and covered here are all available in our Lifted/Raised and Off-Road category. Have a look below!