Rear Cross Member

VW Beetle Restoration Project, Nov-2014

The rear cross-member was in very poor condition but new repair panels for this year of car (63) are not available and I was told by VW Heritage that the 67-on ones would not fit. Some other suppliers say that the only difference is the hole for the heater tube – later ones being oval instead of round. This isn’t the only difference that I noticed – for example, the later one has a sharper radius where it curves down towards the floor.

Given the state of the existing x-member we decided to buy new x-member halves and make them fit rather than try to patch up this mess.

It took hours of trial-fitting, trimming, trial fitting again, etc, and I had the body on & off the floor about a dozen times. Among other adjustments, I needed to shape the “heel” of the cross member (with a hammer!) to get a proper fit to the profile of the floor where it starts to curve up over the gearbox:

Eventually got a snug fit all round with all body-chassis bolt holes lining up and the cross-member aligning to the heater channels where it should. The only problem is that the holes for the suspension bolts sit a little higher than the original x-member so will probably need to take up the gap with a spacer rather than risk distorting the panel when the bolts are tightened.

All welded in:

I drilled holes either side of the heater tube ovals and welded on an M8 nut. This gives us the option of fitting an adapter plate to suit the new heater tubes when we get around to re-assembly.

There’s a lot of overlapping flanges in the heater channel design, especially at the back where it meets the cross-member. This explains why they rust so quickly. Like the Mini and probably just about every car from that era there are so many moisture traps built in to the design its a wonder they last as long as they do, especially considering that internal sections were mostly bare metal! One things for sure, these new heater channels will be getting soaked with cavity wax before the car gets anywhere near a drop of rain!