The early VW engineers either spent a lot of time and resources determining how to create a very efficient and simple system, or were just engineering geniuses. And for an air cooled auto to function and function well, it must have a well engineered system and will operate in high temperatures as well as sub freezing Northern European winters.
The tin on VW engine case is designed to blow cool are evenly over the cooling fins on the heads. And for it to work well, most of the tin originally on the engine needs to be present.
The oil cooler and air flaps under the main fan shroud tin play a large role in engine cooling. Removing the air flaps and/or oil cooler will have a detrimental affect on engine cooling and the useable lifespan of the engine itself.
There is a thermostat built into the original engines and is often removed for various reasons. This will increase the time needed for engine warm up and will allow the engine to over cool in very cold climates. This may not seem like a bad thing, but overcooling will have a detrimental effect on lubrications and the cycling of hot and cold causes the engine to cycle between expanding and shrinking, which will decrease the useable lifespan of the engine.
The air flaps are under the fan shroud are there for a reason. They regulate the amount of air flow to the heads as the thermostat opens and closes and direct the airflow over the heads. If you op not to use a thermostat, then you should still keep the air flaps as your VW engine cools itself more efficiently with the flaps then without. These can be welded open or special brackets can fabricated to hold them open.
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