Ratty Rescue: Not-So-Super Beetle

With Volkswagen’s recent semi-announcement of the death of the Beetle, we’re having our first-ever Beetle Week at VWVortex. The Bug is an automotive icon, and we want to give it the attention it rightly deserves. Today’s Ratty Rescue is the pinnacle of New Beetle performance in the United States, so if you’re looking for a peppy project car, this one could be for you.

Now we know what you’re thinking “A New Beetle!? As an enthusiast’s car? You can’t be serious.” Yes, we’re serious. The media heaped praise on the little car when it was introduced in 1998, especially for its lively handling and fun-to-drive demeanor.

While it was never a sports car, it was sporty. And in 2003 with some parts-bin sharing, the little Bug went from cute to seriously quick with the introduction of the New Beetle Turbo S. The Turbo S is the first VW product to feature the 180HP 1.8T engine (vs. the 150HP 1.8T). The S speeds to 60MPH in a respectable 7.4 seconds. Power flows to the front wheels through a standard 6-speed manual transmission. It’s the only transmission available on the S.

To complement the added power, the Turbo S sports a number of visual enhancements: revised front and rear fascia’s, 17″ inch “Delta X” wheels, and like the GTI, the car is only available in four colors: silver, platinum grey, black, and red. Inside the S takes inspiration from the MK1 Audi TT with genuine aluminum accents with a ‘dimple’ pattern on the steering wheel spokes, shift knob, and glove box latch. And all Turbo S’s have nicely bolstered sport seats covered in two-tone leather with silver stitching.

This Ratty Rescue is actually not too ratty. Well, from what we can see in the four photos. The fog lights are missing. The clearcoat has seen better days. The headlights need a good polishing. And the front and rear emblems have faded (a common problem on these cars). Sadly, there are no interior photos. And with only 93,000 miles, there’s plenty of life left in this little car.

If you’re looking for a fun and uncommon project car, this could be the one for you. This 2003 Turbo S is located at Volkswagen of Salem in Salem, Oregon. Current asking price is $2000. If you’re interested, don’t wait: the “Wholesale” banner on the first photo makes us think it won’t be on the dealership’s lot for long.