I saw this picture first on the evocatively-named VWSlut’s Instagram, and was struck by how strangely lovely this bit of axle and wheel looks, with all those holes drilled into it to make it lighter. I luckily don’t suffer from trypophobia, so I can appreciate the lace-like look of it all. Oh, if you do have that phobia of holes, though, um, sorry about this.
That’s clearly a Volkswagen Type I front axle, with its dual torsion beams and shock tower. Those are early five-lug VW/Porsche wheels as well. I’ve never seen a VW front axle—hardly the heaviest of axles to begin with—lightened in such a dramatic fashion.
The full car was revealed later, in a follow-up post:
The car is interesting, as it appears to be one of the postwar VW Specials being built in Germany for amateur racing, often on old wartime surplus Kübelwagen chassis.
Famous-of-the-era racers like Petermaxx Meuller raced proto-Porsches like these, and the influences on the later Porsche 356 are very easily seen.
I don’t think this one is using Kubel parts, though; that front axle has the integrated shock tower, which Kübelwagen axles didn’t have:
Very early Beetles and KdF-Wagens (the Nazi-era name of the VW Type I) didn’t have that shock mount either, and later kingpin VW suspension setups that had shock towers used different looking ones made of stamped steel with a visible lip around them:
That’s why I think this unusual racer may have been using a VW Type 2—as in Microbus—front axle:
This strikes me as a little unusual since the Type 2 wasn’t released until 1950, and I wouldn’t put this picture much past, say, 1953 or so. I don’t think the supplies of junked Buses would have been that great to salvage a front axle from. Maybe racers were buying them directly from the factory?
Regardless, the picture is quite striking, and the extreme lightening efforts I suppose make sense when you and almost all of your other competitors are working with around 50 horsepower, at best.
This is a fascinating era of grassroots racing and engineering, and I always love seeing details like this.
Again, if you have that hole phobia thing, my apologies.