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7 June 2011

We like the new 2012 Beetle. Our readers like the new 2012 Beetle. In fact our readers have been making photoshop, after photoshop of modified versions and we thought it would be fitting to pick one and try and build it to see how it looks. There are a few conditions however. For starters this is one of only a handful of preproduction autoshow cars in the U.S. and the car can’t be driven on the streets as it was made to sit on a turntable and that’s it. No registration, no plates, no airbags = no street legal. No problem we say, we’ll steer clear of engine mods for now and concentrate on what we can do cosmetically. Secondly we needed to get the car done to what we called “Stage I” level by VW’s dealer conference this week so they could show dealers what some of the enthusiasts would do with the car. That meant we had about 2.5 weeks to get all the parts we needed, refinish the wheels, make sure everything actually bolted up to a brand new model and order a few other odds and ends. But the opportunity to be the first to modify a new Beetle doesn’t come along very often and who’s going to turn this down?

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So our inspiration for this project came from one of our readers in our forums (carfanguy) and a discussion topic where people have been posting photoshopped images of modified Beetles. The GT3RS look suits the lines of this car well. We know it is a blatant homage and some will cry foul – relax because when you see it in person it just makes you smile. Plus we’re going to change it to a different theme after we complete this one. The first major hurdle was trying to track down a set of Porsche GT3RS wheels in a 19″ size. The stock wheels are $1,500 a piece. Getting a set of 19″ GT3RS replica wheels has proven to be very difficult and compounding the issue is that the Beetle Turbo model has 19″ wheels stock with 235-45R19 tires. So putting another 19″ wheel wouldn’t look all that special. Instead we decided to try out a set of VMR710 20″ x 9″ wheels (!) with a 35 offset. So yes. The wheels you see in these photos are 20″ wheels, custom finished in orange and wrapped in Continental ExtremeContact DW 245-35ZR20 tires from our friends at The Tire Rack. With the additional wheel width and stock tire size, this plus-sized 20″ wheel setup results in a tire profile that doesn’t look like rubber bands wrapped around rims.

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So our next logical call was to Roland at H&R Springs to get a set of stainless adjustable coilover suspension. H&R sent us a standard Golf/GTI 6 suspension setup and it bolted right up without a hiccup. Everything under the car looks like a virtual carbon copy of the Golf 6 GTI which is good news for the aftermarket. After installing the suspension and adjusting the ride height, we got ambitious and tried to fit the Borla exhaust we had lying around from our GTI project car and discovered that all the hangers were in the exact same locations. However the chrome exhaust tips came up about 2.5 inches short of the rear valance (Beetle has slightly longer rear overhang) and the middle pipe section needed exactly an inch taken out to make it fit. Aftermarket exhaust system manufacturers shouldn’t have to modify their existing Golf 6 setups too much to make them work for the new Beetle. We also pulled a Forge carbon fiber dual intake system out of the box (also left over from our GTI project) and it bolted right up in the Beetle without any other mods. Bonus.

With the big wheels installed, the front brakes really looked tiny. So we called our friends at APR and ordered up a set of Brembo Stage II front brakes. The kit includes 14″ front two-piece cross drilled rotors, four-piston radial mount calipers, aluminum mounting brackets, stainless braided lines and pads. These too bolted right up with no issues and look great filling up the front wheels.

Lastly we needed to add some graphics to the sides and designed a “Beetle RS” graphic similar in style to the GT3RS graphic. While we were at it, we decided to try covering the rear badge with 3M Titanium Brushed vehicle wrap material just to see how it looked. Orange badges were just too over the top so we left the front stock (for now) and tried experimenting with the rear VW badge. We also blacked out the chrome strips on the lower door bumpers and on the front grill.

So that is “Stage I” for this project. The next step is to try and graft on a 997 GT3RS rear wing and after that we wait for an actual early production car that can be driven so we can move forward with a turbo upgrade, exhaust and locking torque biasing differential to help put that new power to the ground. We’ll be able to change up the looks of the car as we move forward. Numerous wheel companies have already offered wheel for this car in addition to numerous other advertisers letting us know they are all working on parts for this car. We’re excited by the possibilities and can’t wait to evolve this project.



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