Cloth Wiring Harnesses for 1952 and Earlier Beetles

Revised 10.14.09

Zarwerks is the premier supplier of cloth loomed wiring harnesses for 1952 and earlier VW Beetles.  These reproduction harnesses were developed after extensive research and analysis of original harnesses found in early split window Beetles and are constructed of the very best materials available. The wires in the earliest versions of these harnesses are cloth covered PVC wires in the correct colors.  Cloth braided PVC gives the insulation and longevity benefits of PVC wiring with the vintage look of cloth covering.  Most of the the harnesses are all braided with black cotton loom.  The larger diameter segments are machine braided using multi-thread machines after the harnesses are constructed, just like the originals.  Some of the thinner diameter harnesses are hand covered with a black cotton looming. The ends of the wires are all terminated as they were in the factory over 50 years ago, they are stripped, non-corrosive rosin flux treated and dip-tinned in molten lead/tin (solder) to insure the ends do not fray.  The correct spade terminals and metric specification brass eyelets are used on the wires that had such termination's originally.  All of these connectors are soldered to the wire ends, not just crimped.

We also have PVC wiring harnesses made of PVC insulated wires and bound with the same black cotton loom as our cloth wire harnesses. These harnesses are correct for '51 to Sept '52 Beetles. The exact date in 1951 that VW switched over from cloth wire to PVC wire is not known. In fact it is not a fixed date at all, as original early '51 cars have been found with PVC wires, and other early '51 cars with cloth wire. It is likely that VW used them alternately for some period of time until the supply of cloth wire harnesses ran out. It has been our observation that cars after June '51 all have PVC wiring harnesses.

We also have harness kits for all Sept '52 and earlier Cabriolets and Hebmullers.

Our complete kits are just that, complete.  They include every wire used in the bodies of the car, whether part of a harness or a "loose" wire.  They also include the through-panel grommets.  But we also offer partial kits, extra wiring parts and individual harnesses if a complete kit is not what you need.

Our pricing table is below, use the link at the bottom of the table to request more information or place an order.  Most often we have harnesses in stock, but if not, lead time for harnesses is typically 4-6 weeks.  Following our pricing table is a comprehensive description of each harness we make with pictures of each.

Note: We are convinced that our harnesses are the most correct and complete of any available today.  All colors are per the original wiring diagram keys as are gauges with the exception of the .75 square mm cross section wires that VW used.   This equates almost exactly to a 20 gauge wire in the US AWG standard.  Such a gauge wire is not manufactured today in cloth.  Cloth wrapped, 18 gauge is the minimum and these are substituted in the few cases where VW originally used 20 gauge.

Pricing Information- Complete Harness Kits
Year Model Description Kit Price
'46-'48 Sedan

Cloth wire/cloth, PVC and hemp loom kit

Available Options: Dual conductor taillight wires


add $19

'49-'51 Sedan Cloth wire/cloth loom kit (specify if door switch harness is needed and long or short brake light switch harness)


Available Options: Dual conductor taillight wires

Right Hand Drive

$750 without door switch harness

$775 with door switch harness

add $19

add $30

'51-'Sept '52 Sedan

PVC wire/cloth loom kit (specify long or short brake light switch harness)

Options: Dual conductor taillight wires

Right Hand Drive


add $19

add $30

'50-'51 Cabriolett

Cloth wire/cloth loom kit (specify if door switch harness is needed and long or short brake light switch harness)


Options: Dual conductor taillight wires

Right Hand Drive

$875 without door switch harness

$900 with door switch harness

add $19

add $30

'51-'Sept '52 Cabriolett

PVC wire/cloth loom kit (specify long or short brake light switch harness)

Options: Dual conductor taillight wires

Right Hand Drive


add $19

add $30

'49-'51 Hebmueller

Cloth wire/cloth loom kit (specify if door switch harness is needed and long or short brake light switch harness)


Options: Dual conductor taillight wires

$825 without door switch harness

$850 with door switch harness

add $19


Pricing Information- Individual Harnesses and Options

Main Harness, Sedan, Sunroof $295
Main Harness, Cabriolet $395
Main Harness, Hebmuller
Upper Front Harness $169
Lower Front Harness $119
Horn Harness $20
Brake Light Switch Harness $20 
Semaphore Harness (sedan and sunroof only) $89
Door Switch Harness (1951 Beetles) $29 
Pope's Nose Harness $20
Taillight harness (single conductor) $49
Loose wire kit $20
Battery power cable $29
Convert taillight harness to dual conductor- add $19
Convert taillight harness to triple conductor- add $27
Add push-on terminals and boots to brake light harness $4
Accessory plug inline fuse $10

Ordering Information

Harness kits can be ordered by the descriptions above, however some information is necessary to complete the order:

1. Door switch harness (yes or no)

Most 1950 and earlier sedans and convertibles did not come with door switches to activate the interior light. Most '51 and later deluxe Beetles had the door switches in them, but most standards did not. Some '50 deluxes and Cabriolets did have them. Please specify on all orders if the door switch harness is needed.

2. Brakelight switch harness length (long or short)

VW used two different brake light switch routing schemes on early Beetles. They are shown below. This is relevant because two lengths of brake light switch harnesses are used and supply a kit correct for your car, we need to know what kind of brake light switch harness you need; LONG or SHORT. There is no additional charge for either one, we will supply whatever you specify.

A recent informal survey of eighteen '50 to '52 Beetles revealed that three of those had the small hole under the fuse box and would have used the SHORT harness for the brake light switch.

3. Taillight wires (original single conductor or option dual conductor)

We offer optional dual and triple conductor taillight wires that you may want if you plan to run dual filament bulbs or other lights. Be advised that they are slightly visibly thicker than the singe conductor (especially the triple conductor ones), and the single conductor ones are original and correct.

The SHORT brake light switch harness was for cars that had a small hole just underneath the fuse box on the front left inner quarter panel. On these cars, the brake light switch wiring passed through this hole and directly down to the brake light switch. This harness is 750mm long.  

The LONG brake light switch was used on cars that did not have the hole described above. In this case, the brake light switch harness went down into the spare tire well, along the left rear corner, and exited to toward the rear of the car via the leftmost wire retaining tab hole. The cars horn wiring may have also gone out of this hole on Deluxe models ('49 and later) with the horn under the fender. The LONG harness is 1150mm long. Our research shows that most early Beetles used this harness.

Click here to or

Additional Information on Our Kits

All of our kits contain the following:


Cloth or PVC loom, what is correct for my car? 

This is an often asked question, and like may early VW manufacturing details, it is one without a real clear answer.  We are talking about the loom over the wiring harness here now, not the insulation on the individual wires themselves.

What is clear is that both cloth and PVC looms were used in the early cars, with the cloth loom being most common.  We have studied late '51 harnesses with PVC wires and cloth looms, and 1950 harnesses with cloth wires and PVC looms.  Additionally, in the same car, some harnesses had cloth looms while others had PVC.  And in the 40s (and on our '46-'48 Harnesses) PVC looming was used!

It is well known that in the late 40s and early 50s, Volkswagen was struggling to keep up with demand for their cars, and multiple suppliers and designs were often used, in the same production year.  Given this, we have opted to produce "cloth on cloth", and PVC wire in cloth harnesses for the post '48 kits as we know that they were used on some early splits, and most people doing vintage restorations seem to prefer the look of the cloth wiring loom. 

Fact:  All of the wiring in a 1950 VW Beetle would add up to 327 feet or 99.7 meters if placed end to end!

Main Harness

This is the main, long harness that runs from behind the dash up front, up over the right side roof line (sedan and sunroof Beetles), and back down into the engine bay.  End to end it is about 16 feet or almost 5 meters long.  It carries the main power feed from the battery (via the starter), the ignition wire to the coil, the oil sender wire, the regulator "DF" wire, the wire to the dome light, the wire to the taillights and the wire to the brake light.

This main harness is machine loomed with heavy black cotton threading just like the original.  It is a tight, durable covering for the harness that can stand up to the rigors of being pulled through the body cavities.

In the Cabriolet (convertible) this harness takes a different route, dropping down out of the right front quarter panel to the floor, and traversing the floor line to the rear of the body. In addition to being just less than a foot longer than the sedan harness, the Cabriolet main harness also incorporates the semaphore wiring.

The main harness is available separately for $295.

(Sedan and Sunroof)

$335 for Cabriolet or Hebmueller.


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Upper Front Harness

Next to the main harness, this is the largest and most complex harness in the car.   It carries supply wires from the dash to the fuse box located up front on the forward, inner left quarter panel for the lights, horn, and wiper switch. It also has a "drop" that goes down through the trunk area floor to connect to the headlight dimmer switch mounted on the front firewall.

This harness is also machine loomed in black cotton.

The upper front harness is available separately for $129.

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Lower Front Harness

This harness connects the forward fuse box to the headlights.  It has wires for high and low beams, parking lights, and just like the originals, has a bare ground wire that is terminated with an M6 eyelet and fastens just inside the spare tire well on one of the fender wiring conduit clamp bolts.

The lower front harness is available separately for $89.


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Brake light Switch and Horn Harnesses

The brake light switch and horn harness are each simple 2 wire harnesses with their own cloth braiding over them. They connect to a 3 position terminal block just below the forward fuse box, and to the fuse box itself, and feed power to the horn and a current path to the brake light switch.

Options:  You may wish to have us solder a set of 1/4" female push on connectors to the end of the brake light switch harness.  Yes, the original brake light switch had screw terminals, but brake light switches don't last long in early VWs, largely because they weren't designed to handle today's DOT3 and DOT5 brake fluids.  Screw terminal brake light switches cost around $25 each if you can find them, but spade terminal switches can be found easily for $3-$4.  If you will drive your early Beetle often and need to rely on operating brake lights, you may wish to "convert" to a lower cost, common spade terminal switch.  This low cost harness option provides the connectors needed for this type of switch with PVC protective boots over them.  See the options list in the pricing table above for the price of this option.

The brake light switch and horn harnesses are available separately for $15each.

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The Semaphore Harness

The semaphore harness is a separate harness that branches out to either side of the car from the semaphore switch location behind the dash.  End to end, it is nearly as long as the main harness!  It can be removed and replaced independently of the main harness.

Semaphores are relatively high current devices, and among the other electrical components in the car, rely the most on good, solid wiring between them and the semaphore switch.  Sluggish and slow operating semaphores are often the result of poor wiring in their harness.

The semaphore harness is available separately for $69.

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Pope's Nose Harness

The "Pope's Nose" harness is another simple 2 wire harness that goes from the engine bay fuse box, to the Pope's Nose on the decklid.  It supplies power for the license light as well as the brake light

The Pope's Nose harness is available separately for $18.

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Taillight Harness

The taillight harness is actually not a harness at all, rather a set of special aluminum wrapped wires that feed power from the engine bay fusebox to the taillights. These are manufactured in Germany.

Options:  While single filament taillight bulbs in the early splits were original and correct (as were the single conductor aluminum wrapped wires to them) we know that many restorers prefer to "convert" to dual filament bulbs in the taillight housings, and/or run extra ground path wires back to the main body shell from the taillights.  For this reason we offer 2 and 3 conductor aluminum wrapped wires for taillight wiring as well.  Of course these wires are thicker and will not "look" correct in the engine bay, but we give you the flexibility to make those tradeoffs.

Single conductor taillight harnesses are available separately for $43.

Dual conductor taillight harnesses are available separately for $62.

Triple conductor taillight harnesses are available separately for $70.

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Loose Wires

There are a number of "loose", unloomed wires in an early split Beetle, and our "Loose Wire" kit includes these.  The following wires make up this kit:

  • Wiper motor wire.  A short black/purple 18 gauge wire, 300mm long.
  • Horn button wire.  This wire "lives" inside the steering shaft and connects the horn button with the copper commutator on the shaft.  You will have to remove your steering shaft to replace this wire.  Black, 14 gauge, 370mm.
  • Clock pod illumination light wire.  This wire goes from the headlight switch to the light in the clock.  Black, 18 gauge, 350mm.
  • Distributor wire. This one goes between the coil and the distributor in the engine bay. It has an M4 eyelet on both ends.  Black, 14gauge, 250mm.
  • Note: The following 3 wires are crimped to non-removable, riveted eyelets on the speedometer pod at at least one end.  Replacing these wires is difficult.  The original eyelets are brittle and cannot be easily opened up and  re-crimped and they very often will break off flush where they are riveted to the pod terminals.  But we do supply these wires with the Loose Wire kit.  Zarwerks does do the very finest speedometer pod restorations in the VW hobby, and we can repair broken crimps with exact duplicates and re-fasten them to the terminal blocks perfectly if you wish.  This is a difficult process has taken years to perfect and replacement of these wires is included with standard pod restoration services.  We do not recommend attempting this at home.

  • Generator and Oil warning light power feed.  This wire goes from a riveted eyelet between the generator and oil warning lights to a riveted eyelet on the ignition switch.  Black, 18 gauge, 290mm
  • Speedometer Illumination Light.  This wire goes from a riveted eyelet on the headlight switch, to the speedometer illumination bulb.  Black, 18 gauge, 165mm
  • Starter button power feed.  This wire goes from a riveted eyelet on the headlight switch, to the starter button.  Red, 12 gauge, 115mm (not shown in picture).

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Power Cables

An integral part of the Beetle's wiring are the cables that deliver power to and from the battery.  We are able to supply these.

Our battery power cables are the correct 4 gauge red wire, covered in cloth, of course, for the early cloth kits. For the PVC Wire kits, the power cable is sheathed in black PVC as original.  They are 1 meter in length and are terminated with a an M8 spade lug on one end, and a side exit battery post terminal on the other.

Note: We no longer carry the battery ground straps and suggest obtaining them from Wolfsburg West.

Battery power cables are available separately for $29.

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Accessory Plug In-line Fuse

We all know that the Beetle is a marvelous example of engineering, but there are a few things on the early cars that just weren't done right.  The electrical system is only marginally fuse protected at best, and some circuits have no fuses in them at all.  Almost impossible to believe is that the power feed to the accessory plug under the dash is not fused.  While we are as much into vintage preservation as anyone, if you will ever plug anything into your accessory outlet, we strongly recommend that you fuse the power feed to that outlet.

For a nominal price, we can supply a bakelite, screw terminal,  in-line fuse holder and a short length of red cloth wrapped, 18 gauge wire that will give you some protection if you ever short out or over load your accessory outlet.  An 8 amp fuse is installed in the holder and we recommend that you always use that value fuse.   Wiring instructions are included, the installation is simple.

Don't install new wiring in your split only to watch it go up in smoke when you plug something into the accessory socket!

Accessory Plug In-line Fuse are available for $8.

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