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5 October 2012

So if someone were to ask you to build the ultimate Beetle (and telling them to just build you a 911 doesn’t count!) it would probably go something like this:

1. Give me lots of power. A Stage IV upgrade to the 2.0T would get us 500hp while keeping the weight over the front end reasonable.
2. If we’re going to get that power to the ground, we’re going to need AWD from the Golf R.
3. We’re going to need some BIG brakes to scrub that power off.
4. We need suspension upgrades to not only get the ride height right, but to dial in corner weights and balance.
5. Wheels. Something motorsport inspired but new and different.
6. Seats will need some upgrades to keep us firmly in place while hooning this thing.
7. Some exterior upgrades – there isn’t much available yet, but there are a few pieces we might be able to work into this to give us a new look.
8. Since it is a Beetle, we need a unique color that invokes a bit of history and speed.

That’s a solid start.

Actually, I was faced with the very same question. It started innocently enough over drinks with the head of Product Planning at Volkswagen of America, Rainer Michael and the Chief Product and Marketing Officer Tim Mahoney (both car guys by the way) asking me what we’d do with a Beetle if we had our way. So I told them we would give it 500hp and we’d take the Golf R all-wheel-drive system and transplant it into the Beetle. They of course laughed and said, “You can always dream.” To which I told them no, it isn’t a dream, we could actually do that. In fact we have a Beetle already that we could use for the project. Through various channels we were able to find a written off Golf R donor car and things started looking good. Now to put my money where my mouth was.
vwvortex beetle rs 2 front1 960x525

I followed APR’s MAX R build thread with interest earlier this year and decided to give them a call and pitch them on this idea. Stephen at APR called me back and said, “No problem.” 500hp Stage IV 2.0T? “No problem.” Golf R AWD transplant? “No problem”. Volkswagen Racing big brake kit? “No problem”. Mila Kunis posing with it? “Uh… how much money did you say you had?” Ok, 3 out of 4 isn’t too bad. So far so good.

Next a call to H&R Springs to see if we could get suspension bits for the Beetle. Roland at H&R asked what we planned to do with it and how soon we would have it done. I asked why and he mentioned that he liked our last Beetle project a lot and offered up a spot in his booth at SEMA if we can get it done in time. Yikes. A call back to Stephen at APR followed and I got another “No problem”. Hmm, well, this will be interesting, that’s for sure.

So with suspension on its way, I gave our friends at Recaro a call and asked if we could get a set of Recaro Sportster CS seats. We’d like to customize them, but there won’t be time before SEMA, so we’ll go with one of their stock Sportster CS setups and worry about customizing them later.

Next on the list is Brad at fifteen52. I’ve known Brad for years and fifteen52 has built some legendary cars and I knew he would get excited about this project. More specifically I wanted a set of wheels that were unique and hadn’t been offered before. Needless to say, Brad and Matt are going to come through and we’re excited. Brad also offered us a new body kit from a company they having been looking at working with and we’re going to see if we can squeeze it in before SEMA.

Talking about project cars with Brad and Matt always leads to lengthy discussions on what color we were thinking of going with. Time will be a major crunch factor and a show quality paint job is not cheap nor quick. We had such great success with our vehicle wrap on our Beetle that we thought it would be cool to explore something a little brighter and more noticeable this time. Plus we can switch it out at a later date if we want to change up the paint scheme a bit – just peel off the old and stick on the new. We’re still limited to what is available in wrap material, but luckily there are a number of companies offering quite a few colors and we think we found some inspiration in VW’s own palette but with a new twist.

So we’ve decided to call this project “Super Beetle” and it begins now. SEMA starts October 29th – we have less than a month to get this done. Piece of cake right? Right. Stay tuned…

Photos of our new Beetle arriving at APR can be found below. It is a bit of a rare bird in that initially there were supply problems with sunroofs, so VW built some Turbo Beetles without sunroofs and added 19″ wheels. So ours is a cloth interior, six-speed manual, no-sunroof turbo.

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