Beetle Gallery

Photography by Wayne Dean

Bugsplat started as a 1969 Beetle, two and a half years later (mostly weekends in the winter, its cold here) the car was on the road. The first drive was in June 2011. When I first got the car it had been through too many Canadian winters complete with salty roads and had rusted out badly. It had then been used in the farm fields by some teenagers until it became a cosmetic body filler project. I bought it knowing it was a three dressed up as a nine as I had the idea to build an EMPI Sportster and did not need a good car to start with. However my source for a set of plans for a Sportster could not supply them so I started looking at what I had to work with. I found on the Internet and was intrigued by the idea of building an old style hotrod from a Beetle.

So without any plan I decided to build 'something'. My wife said the car was cute and I told her I was going to cut the cute right out of it. After removing the body and disassembling everything I determined that almost all was rusted, damaged, or worn out. I started cutting the body by first drawing a line down the side of the car above the rusted areas. Everything below that line was removed. I then shortened the doors to match the new body size. I wanted an open top so the roof was then cut off. Then I decided why have four seats when two will do, so I shortened the body by 10 inches. The wheel base was shortened by four inches and a new tube frame was built stretching from the rear torsion housing forward to the front beam. The new frame allowed the body to be dropped lower to the ground and still maintain suspension travel. The body is removable from the frame. The body reconstruction started with lowering the rear inner fenders and building from that point.

The front trunk floor had to be raised for foot room because the body had been sectioned so much. A new beltline on the body was created to raise the bodyline above the engine. This was done by making a round tube frame and then closing it in with metal that was salvaged from the original roof. The entire rear body section was created in the same manner, as was the new steel removable Carson style top. The top also features two removable panels that stow away in the front trunk when not required. The original front fenders moved to the rear of the car and had the curve reshaped slightly. They now feature 1960 Buick taillights. The new front fenders were cut from a Ford Model A spare tire cover and are mounted on custom fabricated mounts that allow them to adjust in both tire clearance and rotational location around the wheel. The interior has bead rolled panels fabricated to access the fuel tank and ahead of the foot wells. Seats were from a Honda Civic and modified to have the built in headrests removed. A Ford Explorer donated new headrests which mount behind the seats and appear to float above them.

The front inner fenders were cut open to increase the size of the foot well space and faux air scoops hide the expanded area from view. New running boards were built and welded to the car as were the rear fenders. A custom aluminum gas tank was built to fit in the rear package tray area and it was made to work with the stock VW fuel level sender so the fuel gauge in the speedo head works. The speedometer was moved into the center of the dash as the steering column goes through the dash where the speedo used to be. Other instruments are a tach, cylinder head temp and oil temp, All new electrical components, starter, 600 watt stereo, alternator, switches, battery, wiper motor, complete wiring harness from Rebel wire.

Complete new adjustable front beam, drop spindles, disc brakes, all new tie rods and ball joints, steering box and dampener. Towing lugs were fit to the front end and a custom tow bar was built for those times when I need to flat tow it behind my truck. A hideaway trailer hitch was built and hangs out of sight in the back of the car and allows me to haul a small trunk trailer. Shock towers on the front beam were cut off and capped to make room for headlight mounts for the '1939 Ford pickup' (that's what the seller at the market said) headlights. Armstrong hydraulic lever shocks from the rear of a mid 70's MG were fit to the front end. I am pleased with how they work. NOS rear trailing arms installed with all new stub axle bearings, new drive axles, CV's, shocks, and a custom built torque brace (Kafer brace) A CB Performance rear disc brakes and EMPI front disc brakes. The wheels are VW Marathons with the rear wheels widened by changing the shells to 10 inch wide Chevy wheel shells. Hubcaps are early Austin Mini caps fitted to custom bent spring clips, Tires are Mickey Thompson Street Radials.

New brake dual circuit master cylinder and stainless steel flex lines, B & M Line lock solenoid. The original engine was beyond repair so I had Brother's Performance Machine in Ontario California build an all new 1776 DP long block for it. Starting with new cases, Big valve heads, Engle 110 cam, balanced and counterweighted crankshaft, lightened flywheel, deep oil sump, Kennedy clutch. The headers are custom made and use mufflers from a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Carburetor is a Zenith 32 NDIX from a Porsche 356, Bosch 010 distributor with a Petronix module. Transmission is rebuilt by Dougy Dee at Olde Towne Auto here in Canada and is hooked to a Scat DragFast shifter. The body was finished with three coats of silver Master Series rust paint, this paint is used for restoring old iron bridges, so I thought I would give that look to the car. I applied over 100, ¾ inch bolts heads, these are nylon bolts with the shanks cut off and the heads are epoxied in place then painted over. It is a movie prop trick I learned from a friend years ago.

The body has no body filler as I hate sanding; I thought I would highlight the ugliness by using an air pencil with black paint to fill in all the weld seams, imperfections and around the bolt heads. Once the black paint was partially dry I wiped the whole car down with black paint and paint thinner on a rag, the resulting finish has everyone touching the car to see what it is, it is the most fondled car at a car show, a lot of people ask if it is bare metal, it really does look very much like pewter with this finish. I like it as it was unique, easy, cheap, no sanding, doesn't need waxing and can be touched up easily if needed, it came about as my wife did not want an olive drab military style look so this was the next idea that popped into my head. I tried it first on one door and liked it. The door art is inspired by an old Ed Roth piece but altered slightly. The original art featured a black iron cross in the center; this was replaced by the old KDF cog wheel logo. The letters 'NVKOS' stand for 'envy chaos'. I thought it was fitting for the car. It was hand painted by a friend, Unkl Ian of 'Flying Eyeballs' fame.

Rear visibility in the side mirrors is ok but it has no sightlines for a central mirror to see what is directly behind you, so I installed a rear view camera and placed the view screen where the central rear view mirror would normally mount. As forward visibility of traffic lights is limited at intersections I also tied in a forward camera which can look at the traffic lights, a selector switch toggles the view between cameras. The entire inside and underside of the car is covered with rubberized undercoating mainly for sound deadening purposes. The inside of doors, body compartments, and the floor under the carpet are covered in a sound mat similar to Dynamat but cheaper. About me if you care. I am a 50 year old guy that will try to build or fix anything . Built a lot of custom motorcycles in the past and was looking to do something different.

This is my first air-cooled VW. I had a diesel Rabbit in the 1980's for a couple of years just to run on jet fuel (its basically kerosene) that I got free while draining aircraft fuel tanks for servicing  Professionally I am an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer currently specializing in Garrett TPE331 turbo-prop (jet engine spins a reduction gearbox which spins a propeller) aircraft engine repair. But I have been other things in the past, some good some not. Can't think of much else to tell you, if you have some questions about something I missed let me know and I will try to fill you in, I can also probably find some build pictures of anything described above. I am really quite surprised at all the attention the car gets, lots of people taking pictures through their car windows in traffic, gathers a crowd wherever I stop and it always gets a smile from people young or old. Mostly it is a lot of fun to drive.


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