Super Beetle – SEMA Live Blog

Saturday, October 27, 2014

We have arrived in Las Vegas for the 2014 SEMA Show and to greet our Super Beetle for the first time. What a lot of you probably don’t realize that I still haven’t seen it in person yet. The last two and a half weeks were a blur and there just wasn’t going to be time to get down to APR to see the car before it shipped. So I arrived here in Las Vegas for setup on Saturday and we finally took delivery of the Super Beetle.

The first thing that grabs you is the color. It looks great and in the sunlight it is amazing. This ORACAL Azure Matte Blue vinyl wrap is one of the best metallic films I’ve seen. There is some satin shine to it so it isn’t completely matte and the metallic gives off different hues of blue depending on how the light hits it.

Overall the car so far looks great. There wasn’t time to completely prep the front and rear bumpers to the extent that we’d like, so we’re going to revisit that in the body shop after SEMA so they can be painted factory color and then rewrapped by our top guy in Virginia. This is a tricky car to wrap and, while it overall looks great, there are a few things we want to fix here and there to make it perfect.

Despite the head work and fueling upgrades not being complete (nor was there much time for calibrations on the dyno) the car is still very strong. I got to drive it around the Las Vegas area for a half day for photography and it is damn quick already and will only get stronger. There are no hesitation issues, no rattles, vibrations or otherwise. The only tip off that there are heavy mods is the stiffer clutch pedal and some chatter from the aggressive clutch plates which we expected. The polyurethane bushing upgrades feed a few more minor vibes into the cabin, but the whole thing just feels way more connected and ready to move instantly if you need it. I’ve driven a lot of tuner cars over the years and I’m shocked at what was done here in just 2.5 weeks. Every detail is sorted, even the space saver spare from the Golf R was moved over giving this AWD conversion a very OEM stock look.

SEMA wouldn’t be SEMA if there weren’t some last minute things to be done as well as some drama to got along. The custom spoiler we had made by FMS Automotive turned out great but we ended up installing it in the hotel parking lot after I had to wrap the bottom of it in the ORACAL Azure Matte Blue vinyl to match the car. The spoiler fit perfectly and looks great.

Next we hooked up with Brad from fifteen52 to get our final wheels installed. The 19″ 3-piece Formula TR wheels turned out great. The hand-brushed tinted-clear finish on the face looks particularly good. However we took a risk trying to go with a lower profile tire and it just didn’t look right. So we had to scramble to find a new set of tires to work. That’s the reason we only have a couple of complete photos of the car with the fifteen52 wheels as the mad rush to find a new set of tires set us back on time even further. Roland and his crew at H&R Springs helped us work through all this running wheels and tires back and forth and overall lending a hand wherever they could. It was a tremendous help.

So headed out to the desert to take a few photos which I’ll leave you with here. I’ve uploaded photos of both the fifteen52 and HRE wheels (click on the photos for larger versions). More updates coming soon…

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Wednesday, October 31, 2014

So it has been a crazy few days here at the show. We’ve gotten a huge response to our project and it has been judged for the Gran Turismo Awards. We’ll find out tomorrow night if it wins anything. Tomorrow Mr. Gran Turismo, Kazunori Yamauchi will come by the booth to see the car and get a walk around tour. Ultimately he picks the finalists in Best European, Best American, Best Asian, Best Hot Rod and Best SUV. Then he chooses a grand prize winner that gets their car rendered in the video game.

Here are a few photos of the Super Beetle with tires, wheels and suspension sorted out a bit more:

I’ll have more updates tomorrow of the other VW’s at the show this year.

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Thursday, November 1st, 2014

Super Beetle Wins Gran Turismo Best European Import at SEMA 2014!

Well today was another crazy day at the show. The founder of the Gran Turismo video game franchise, Kazunori Yamauchi and his entourage of video cameras came by personally to look at our Super Beetle project. Our Beetle is a finalist in the Gran Turismo Awards which takes place tonight. We have won the award for best European Import for SEMA 2012. There are five categories in total (best European, American, Asian, SUV/Truck and Hot Rod) and Mr. Yamauchi himself picks the overall winner which will then get rendered into the Gran Turismo video game. In person Mr. Yamauchi is a very humble person but clearly a car enthusiast as he was genuinely excited to talk about the car.

He asked a number of questions about the car regarding not only what modifications we did, but why we did them and what our overall goal was for the project.

Overall he spent about 20 minutes looking at every detail. He even crawled around on the floor looking at the modifications under the vehicle as well. In the end he wished me luck and told him it was an honor to be considered. Especially considering the competition at a show like SEMA where nearly every car has countless numbers of hours put into it.

Here is the link to the GT Planet blog post on the finalists. If I had to pick one car to win it all, it would be the Eckerts Mach Forty – that thing is a beautiful work of art.

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