[T3] Attention '71 Type 3 Owners

Jim Adney jadney at vwtype3.org
Sat Nov 4 09:50:29 PDT 2017

If you own a '71 Type 3, you're probably already aware that there are a 
number of '71 parts which are one year only parts, now unobtainable. For a 
number of years, I've been thinking about how to overcome some of these 
problem parts, and one of them is the ignition switch.

What I've wanted to do is to figure out a way take all the electrical load off 
that switch and install relays to do that job. I thought that I could do this with 
2 relays: one for the starter solenoid and one for the normal operating loads.  

I needed access to my '71 to work out the details for this, but that car has 
been in storage since the 2014 Invasion, since I drove my '69 to the 2016 
Invasion in Arizona. Well, a month or so I managed to get the '71 backed out 
of the garage so I could drive it a bit, burn up the old gas that's in the tank, 
and work on the relay conversion.

I started out thinking that I could mount the relays in the 2 empty sockets in 
the top of the late style fuse box, but I quickly discovered that not only did 
this make the wiring harder, because ALL the wires I needed were over by 
the right side of the steering column, but as I looked into this closer, I 
realized that I needed 3 relays, since, starting in '71, there is an X-contact (X 
for eXtra) in the switch, which goes off in the START position, so the 
headlights, and a few other high current consumers, go off when the starter 

So, now I have a 3 relay system designed and built. 2 relays live in a bracket 
hidden undr the right side of the steering column and one, the X-relay, fits in 
one of the sockets above the fuse box. I installed the first version of this in 
my '71 a couple days ago and it worked perfectly.

But, in the process of installing it, I discovered that there was a single inline 
fuse, serving only the fan, hidden above the fuse box. WHO KNEW THAT 
WAS THERE? That gave me the idea to alter my relay design slightly and 
put the fan on one of the regular fuse box fuses. This was easy because 
fuse 9 had almost NO load on it. (And yet it comes with a 16 A fuse. Why?)

In the end, I arranged for the new X-relay to power the lights, the fan, and a 
few other items, using rhe OE fuses for the lights and fuse 7 for the fan and 
other X-relay devices. I had to move the fuel pump to fuse 9.

I now have a kit available to install this modification to any '71 Type 3. I 
emphasize that this is ONLY for '71 Type 3s. This has been designed to 
work with my US market FI '71 Type 3. I don't see any reason why it should 
not work for any market version, but I really can't promise that. The kit 
includes 3 relays, a mounting bracket, all wires with the correct fittings 
already crimped on the ends, and 8 pages (!) of installation instructions.

Contact me if you want this for a car from another market. I'll need more info 
to see if this will work for you.

I could make a version of this for other years, but there's really very little 
point, at least for the 12 V models, because all the other years have ignition 
switches that are cheap and available. Maybe '67s could use something. For 
6 V cars, something else might be needed, but I don't know if I can get the 
same small relays for 6 V.

It's taken me hours to get the parts list all worked out, and days to get the 
installation instructions written and corrected. I've probably revised the 
instructions 20 times, but I think they are now error-free.

This should be a really tempting modification for any '71 Type 3 owner, but 
there are a couple of downsides. The first is the price: With all the work that 
went into this, I have to sell it for $75. The second is that it's a really hard 
install. It took me 5 hours to do it, but I wasted a LOT of time running back in 
the house to get different sizes/colors/lengths of wire, crimp on different 
connectors, and make notes of the differences I found, so the kits could be 
right. Some of the work is in cramped quarters and frustrating. I had a 
number of tiny cuts on my fingers by the time I was done.

There are also 3 somewhat special tools you will need: a tool to release 
locking female connectors from their plastic housing (a jeweler's screwdriver 
can work here, or I can sell you something that I've made) a tool to loosen 
and retighten the retaining rings around the headlight and 4-way flasher 
switches, and some sort of wire crimping tool. (There is 1 OE wire that you 
will need to cut, strip, and  then crimp on the connector that I supply with the 
kit. That step is optional, but it's easy and it puts the clock on fuse 8, so you 
can remove fuse 8 when you won't be driving the car for a long time, to 
reduce the discharge on the battery.)

If you have time, patience, and the right tools, and are willing to take your 
time and follow my step-by-step instructions, this may be right for you.

In the end, the car ends up working EXACTLY like it did before, except that 
the function of fuses 7 and 9 are swapped, the single inline fuse above the 
fuse box is gone, the clock is now fused, and your ignition switch contacts 
now carry 1/3 A max, each.

Let me know if you are interested. I don't expect to sell many of these kits, so 
I don't have a large stock of the necessary parts. I can easily buy more if 

thanks for reading,

Jim Adney, jadney at vwtype3.org
Madison, Wisconsin, USA

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