Gear Ratios!

Thanks to the kind folks at Karl's Custom VW, and thanks to Kennedy Engineering Products (the outfit that published this fine chart), I hereby present the gear ratios for every VW!

This is entered into HTML code verbatim from the KEP sheets that came from a book they provide to VW shops. In case you haven't heard of KEP, they're makers of fine clutches and engine adapters, known to make some durn good products!

Much thanks to the source of this data:


38830 17th Street East, Palmdale, CA 93550

Telephone 805-272-1147

SEDAN, bug, type 1

Rev.1st2nd3rd4thRing & PinionOverall in 4th
36 horsepower4.633.601.881.220.794.3753.45
'66 (1300)3.883.802.061.260.894.375 ?3.89
'67-'72 (AH) (a)3.883.802.061.260.894.1253.67
'73-'77 (AT)3.793.782.061.26(b)0.93(b)3.8753.60
'71-'77 Ghia 3.875
'75+ Dealer Item, used in Brazil 1.361.044.62

VARIANT, fastback, squareback, notchback, type 111

Rev.1st2nd3rd4thRing & PinionOverall in 4th
'72-'773.793.782.061.26 3.875

KOMBI, bus, camper, pickup, van, type 11

Rev.1st2nd3rd4thRing & PinionOverall in 4th
36 horsepower4.633.601.881.220.794.375 x 1.40=6.1254.84
'60-'613.883.802.061.320.894.125 x 1.39=5.735.10
'623.883.802.061.210.824.125 x 1.39=5.734.70
'64 1 ton3.883.802.061.210.824.125 x 1.39=5.734.70
'64 3/4 ton3.883.802.061.21.824.375 x 1.26=5.504.51
'653.883.802.061.210.824.125 x 1.26=5.20(c)4.26
'66-'673.883.802.061.260.824.125 x 1.26=5.204.26
'60-'67 mountainratio 1.69
'68-'78 Dmountainratio5.857(f) 7/41
'713.883.802.061.260.825.375 8/434.41
'72-'733.883.802.061.260.825.429 7/384.45
'74-'75 M (a)3.782.061.260.884.571 7/324.02
'74-'75 E1.26(b)0.88(b)4.857(e) 7/324.27
'74-'75 L.825.4294.45
'76-'78- -.884.5714.02
'76-'78 A.825.4294.45
'80 Vanagan (sic)3.782.061.26.884.5714.02


Rev.1st2nd3rd4thRing & PinionOverall in 4th
Webster ring & pinion, weaker than stock due to small pinion4.86 (f).....Mill Valley, Ca.
Close ratio sets from Berg, Scat, Speed Untl.1.581.32
Stronger 1st from Liberty3.55..... Available at Gene Berg, 1725 N. Lime, Orange CA 92665
Hewland-syncro for off-road racing (h)1.05
3.101.961.411.14 McKinsey Auto, 12945 Sherman Way Unit 4, No.Hollywood, Ca. 91605

Suggested gear changes: Buick V6 kit car .82 x 3.875=3.18, Mazda sandbuggy 5.857 R&P, Capri V6 in a VW bus .82 x 4.857=3.98. The gear ratios can remain as is for most of the other adaptions.

a) The capital letter which identifies this gear set is supposed to be stamped with the serial number of the transaxle on the outside of the case. It is also the same letter that Volkswagen uses on the end of the ring & pinion part number to identify that gear ratio. Example: P/n 002 517 143 M

b) These gears have very fine teeth. They are quieter but will not withstand much abuse. A full variety of ratios with coarse tooth gears are available for these late style transaxles from VW dealers and buggy shops.

c) 1965 through 1967 bus transaxles have taller gears, and larger stronger stub axles. To identify these notice that axle nuts require a two inch wrench instead of the 1 3/8" of the earlier ones.

d) This gear set can be identified easily by its eight tooth pinion. It is so weak that Volkswagen obsoleted it and is superseded by the "L" set (5.429/1) or "E" (5.857/1).

e) The bus gear ratio 4.857/1 is preferred for its strength by some off road racers.

f) When looking for strength in a Volkswagen ring and pinion, it is almost always true that a "Tall gear" (high speed or low numberical ratio) is stronger than a slow speed gear set (high numberical ratio). Be careful, when discussing ratios, that this confusing terminology does not cause any misunderstanding.

g) If you expect to abuse a 4.375/1 ring and pinion, then use a later gear set with the eight bolt ring gear.

h) These gearsets are tough for racing but noisy & possibly too soft for extended highway use.


No modifications are needed on the Volkswagen transaxle when it is adapted to any of the engines on the KEP list unless an exceedingly large engine is used or ususual abuse is expected. The KEP big sheet catalog has a full page explaining under what conditions the most common modifications should be done. Careful study of that page may save you a lot of unnecessary expense.

Disassembly and reassembly of the transmission can be done with a minimum of special tools. '68 and later transaxles require a large special socket for the pinion retainer nut. An old VW transaxle case with a four inch square cut out of its side will serve as well as an expensive jig to hold the parts in alignment so the shifter forks can be adjusted. Even the pinion bearing can be changed with the aid of an old first gear syncro hub, a vice and ingenuity. No ring and pinion adjusting tools are needed so long as you do not lose the pinion shims and you reassemble using the same gear set. Even if the ring and pinion are changed they can be adjusted with patience and Prussian Blue. Lipstick is the same except red. Backlash can be measured with a dial indicator against a rod that is stuck through the drain hole. Preload of differential bearings is easily measured by loosening the bolts on one side cover so it can spring away from the case, then measure that gap with a feeler gauge. A large pair of snap ring pliers are needed if the axles are to be separated from a 60-68 differential carrier.

It is helpful to have a VW maintenance manual that covers transaxle repair. The exploded view of the two shafts and their gears will aid you in replacing all the washers etc. in their proper order. Do not let them confuse you with all their calculations and metric dimensions. Off road racers have found they can tighten backlash to almost zero, however that can make it noisy for street use. Increasing preload to .020" total is permissible with the flexable (sic) stock side plates. End play of all the gears is generally set on the high side of the allowable tolerance to improve oiling.

Most failures of gears, axles and other parts are the result of fatigue. This can be reduced by magnetic inspection of these parts. Some offroad racers disassemble and magniflux after every race. Other tricks they use are polishing the exles around the spade end and shotpeening the gears. A few shops will even readjust second gear for better engagement if much abuse is expected.

A few of the transaxle repair shops in whom we have confidence are:

Transaxle Engineering, 9833 Deering Ave. Unit H, Chatsworth, CA 91311 (213)998-2739

FAT Performance, 1450 No. Glassell, Orange, Calif. 92667 (714) 639-2833

A & A Transmission, Unit B, 12623 Sherman Way, No. Hollywood, Calif. 91605 (213) 765-3566

Tools: VW Tool Specialist, 2635 Woodland Dr. Anaheim, Calif. 92801 (714)827-4210

editor's note: I don't know the date of the original document, so these business may or may not be at these locations / phone numbers. California has been area-code changing, so if the telephone number doesn't work, it may be a different area code now.