The great distributor debate

It’s been hard lessons learned lately (that’s a lot of Ls). I think classic VWs are on the verge of becoming a “real classic”. By that I mean we are getting to the point where parts availability is become enough of a problem that these cars are actually starting to feel rare.

I have been hoarding German carbs for like 2 years now. Only to find out lately that they aren’t the best piece for the job. It’s also become painfully aware to me that the real problem at the bottom of many tuning issues is actually distributor performance.


The submissive distributor!

What I have discovered is that German carbs are typically worn, have throttle shaft slop and are almost never friendly with the distributors that are “around” today. Most of the late German carbs had deceleration valves which are now missing. They also hate ethanol fuel and need dual vacuum distributor to run worth a damn. When shopping for a new distributor you don’t have a lot of options. You can get an old 009 (good for some applications). A piece of shit new China 009 (garbage). There are also a bunch of fairly decent SVDA reproduction distributors available. I have been running a Pertronix brand SVDA that I bought from . I also opted for the “igniter” eletronic points conversion when I bought it. Lastly there is the Mallory Unilite. I really like the idea that this is new, parts are available and it;s TOTALLY customizable. I mean totally. Supposedly, you can even setup the vacuum advance to your own liking. It’s pricy, but this is the next one for me.

When timing the car, the distributor (the Pertronix), worked like it should and had a decent advance. However, no matter what carb I tried (one of the 8 German pict34-3) I tried, I could never get a great combo of nice idle, good take off, no stalling. Here is what I found out.


Viva Mexico!

Some of the carbs previous owners had cranked the idle jet too tight. If you have ever had one of these, you know it by the need to “crack” open the idle jet a little in order for it to idle. Fine if you want an erratic idle and rich running engine. Others were worn out enough that the idle was all over the place. I tried 2 different ones that originally had a decel valve. These ones would work ok, but always would stall coming off of higher RPMS. Like for instance, get off the Interstate ramp and it doesn’t want to idle without hitting the pedal twice. After exhausting my entire supply of carbs and about to give up, I tried a Bocar brand carb that I had on the self and had been neglecting. Why was it last try? The reason is because I fell into that “they don’t work for shit hear-say” trap. The Bocar is the clear winner. Why you ask? There are number of reasons;

  • They are new, haven’t been f%$ked up by every guy on the block
  • The were designed without any emission standards so they have no decel stuff. While they were designed to work with a DVDA dist, they work really well with the retard port (big one on the front) closed off and a SVDA dist.
  • I think they have a stronger vacuum signal. I’m not positive of this because I don’t have the correct tool to measure. However, you get more total advance with the Bocar than with 3 different German PICT 34-3s that I tried even thought they were hooked to the same port.

The combo of the Pertonix and the Bocar make the best power, no flat spot, really nice steady idle with no stalling. It’s made in Mexico not China. Only problem I see is that it’s starting to get scarce. Already the few I see for sale are up to $200+. I haven’t taken it on the highway yet but, i’m guessing it will be pretty nice as it’s timed at 7.5 at idle and goes all the way up to about 33 at 3000 RPM.

There are other winning combos as well. The 30/31 carb works well with a vacuum only distributor such as a 113 905 205 T. The 30/31 also works well with the 009 if everything is setup correctly.

The moral of the story, you better go get a Bocar while you still can. At $200 for the carb and $200 for the distributor (price estimate includes electronic) it’s not cheap. A couple more years and your only option might be a set of small duals and a Mallory Unilite $400 and $300. Lets hope not!





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