V8 VW Bug – How to Build One

Growing up, I always found it fascinating that no matter what vehicle was out there, somebody would find a way to shove a V8 in it. That would usually mean a Chevy motor stuff into something that could support it in the first place.

First: a confession, or rather a string of confessions. Over the years, I have been a willing wrenchman in this pursuit of upgrading horsepower. I once put a Chevy 350 in an early 70s Jaguar XJ6. The original engine was a piece of crap and the car was sturdy. Plus the parts to do it were readily available by mail (pre-internet days). I put a 350 in a Chevy Vega. This was popular at the time and all you had to do was change motor mounts, the transmission hump and if you were smart, you would upgrade the brakes so you could stop the suddenly heavier vehicle. The list goes on and on. I committed many atrocious acts of Frankenstein-level vehicle swap/transplants. It was fun, it was easy and there was nobody there to stop me. I could keep you here for days on this topic, but I thought it was appropriate to share given the subject.  

In all my years, I never imagined that I would see something like this. I had seen very complex sand rails and dune buggies that had VW roots but really didn’t look or act anything like a VW. I had heard of these many years ago, I read about a couple in a magazine sometime in the 80s, but here it is. A Volkswagen V8 Beetle Bug. For real.

VW PURISTS – This is your chance to look away.

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Here is the heresy and brilliant lunacy of this project in a nutshell. Gone is the original rear engine, air-cooled wonder of the VW motor. Gone is the original chassis. In is a front-mounted V8 powerhouse that is stroked out for more power. A full 2 x 3 steel tube chassis replaces the original, along with an integrated roll bar, a fabricated transmission tunnel, a relocated gas tank and all kinds of madness.

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Builder Dale Nelson goes over his entire plan and offers tips on how to build one yourself, if you want one that is. It looks like a really cool project.

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For my tastes, despite my past at having done things like this, I would prefer to restore a classic over going this far into modding something that will end up nothing like its intended design. But perhaps that is because I am getting older and it is getting harder to find these classics. I suppose if you find a nice donor, have some time, a welder and all kinds of tools, you can say you did it once the same way I butchered Jaguars that Brits probably pine for and wince at.

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Punch Buggy Green!

Some of you may recall the ‘Punch Buggy’ or ‘Slug Bug’ game. Some of us still play it (with your kids perhaps). Well, wherever you learned it, that game has been going on for decades now and it turns out there are variants, ‘official’ rules, cultural references, and more out there.

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Yes, ‘Slug Bug’ is well-documented apparently. Starting with an official Wikipedia page entry (there are people that are extremely dedicated to cataloging everything on Wikipedia).

Punch buggy (also called punch bug, punch car, punch dub, piggy punch, slug bug, or beetle bug[1]) is a car game generally played by children in which participants punch each other on the arm upon first sight of a Volkswagen Beetle while calling out “Punch buggy!” or “Slug bug!” in reference to the Beetle’s nickname, the Bug. The color of the Beetle is also stated.[2]

You would think a simple game with the simplest of rules would not require documented rules, but someone has gone through the trouble nonetheless. As the author notes:

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this site I’ve been playing Punch Buggy for at least Thirty-Four over Forty-Two Years. That makes me somewhat of an expert on the subject, at least in my opinion…

Regarding the game of Slug Bug the rules are the same. Slug Bug is simply Punch Buggy by another name. It’s rather like ‘tonic’ ‘soda’ and ‘pop’. What you call it depends on where you grew up. Personally I refuse to grow up, but that’s neither here nor there…

There may be other car punching games out there, but this is The Original.

Punch Buggy even showed up on a Simpsons episode in a humorous clip:

So, the next time you overhear your kids in the back of the car playing this age-old game, remember that for some people, this is not a game at all, but serious business.

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2018: Goodbye Beetle?

Once upon a time, the Beatles called it quits. Whether or not that is your kind of music, there is little doubt that the band was iconic and when they packed up their gear for good, it was big news.

FILE - OCTOBER 5: 50 Years Since The First Beatles Single Released: A Look Back At The Beatles  A group portrait of the Beatles, straightening their ties, backstage at the Odeon Cinema in Luton on 6th September 1963. (L-R) Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, John Lennon. (Photo by Tom Hanley/Redferns)
FILE – OCTOBER 5: 50 Years Since The First Beatles Single Released: A Look Back At The Beatles
A group portrait of the Beatles, straightening their ties, backstage at the Odeon Cinema in Luton on 6th September 1963. (L-R) Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, John Lennon. (Photo by Tom Hanley/Redferns)

Well, we’re not here to talk about that, but something of that era to say the least.

 

There is a rumor that says the beloved Volkswagen Beetle will be ending production in 2018. Autoline has put out a suggestion that calls for an end for the vehicle after twenty years of production. Relaunched in 1998, the Beetle was pulled out of the design attic and received much fanfare.

The model line was reinvented year again just a few short years ago with a newer generation that you can find in showrooms today. The problem as Autoline reports it: demand. The Beetle is a segment of vehicle that undoubtedly has a devoted following and staunch admirers. However, there is a greater demand for compact utility vehicles (CUVs) that threatens to supplant production of the Beetles. Whether the news is a genuine leak (and somewhat true) or a prediction from the company remains to be seen. What we do know is that the move stands to upsets many devoted fans.

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Isn’t there enough CUV models on the streets? Volkswagen needs to make shrewd moves and keep all the fans they have. The Beetle is one piece of iconic design that they may want to embrace after the recent troubles endured by the company.

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Taking classic VWs and going Zelectric

There are many ways to take a timeless VW classic and bring it back into the shape it was once in from the factory. There are many ways to take that classic and make it into one person or another’s idea of what a custom classic vehicle should be. There are even ways of updating elements of a classic to make it more road-worthy than the original parts allow. Replacing the brakes, upgrading electrical, suspension upgrades are all part of this world of mildly modernizing classics. The Verge went in depth on a specialized shop that focuses on a decidedly modern spin on bring classics into the 21st century: electric power.

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Zelectric is the name of the Southern California company and it specializes in powertrain retrofitting classic Volkswagens from the Fifties and the Sixties. The company is doing incredible work installing e-motors into these classics, with buses, bugs, and a handful of other models. The conversion process comes with a hefty price tag, but that’s because of all the specialized work that goes into making the fit, finish, safety, and function a first class affair.

The hefty price is partly because of the intense work needed to safely install the electric powertrain, but also because the prices of well-maintained vintage VWs has exploded. Zelectric will even locate and convert that most quintessential of California vehicles, the Microbus — but prices for the iconic van are crazy these days, so a Zelectric starts around $130,000.

So if you like the smell of gasoline and oil, or you are drawn to that unmistakable Volkswagen motor sound, you may not be a great candidate for one of these conversions. The company claims that in a Beetle, these conversions have a range of 80 to 100 miles and are capable of up to 100 miles per hour. With an estimated horsepower equivalence of 85 hp and 120 lb. ft. of torque, that is far beyond the range of the original drive trains. If you want one, you have to head over to San Diego, throw down some bills and get on the list because Zelectric only builds about 10 each year.

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Video:

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Porsche/VW 917 kit car

True, it’s not a real VW, nor a real Porsche, but have a look at this:

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That there is a 1972 Porsche model 917 – well it’s actually a 1972 VW beetle made to look like one. But it’s still very cool.

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The Porsche 917 was a special race car that was designed for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world’s oldest, still active endurance racing even in the world. Known as one of the most prestigious races in the world, this model inspired many dreams and models since it was introduced.

What would a real one sound like?

AMAAZINGGG!!!!!

Of course, buying one of these originals is a bit out of reach for most of us, so we are left with tribute vehicles like this one. It sounds like a fun project –

Check out the original Craigslist ad :

This is a great kit car… A real head turner.
Everything with new parts, engine, transmission built to fast freeway speeds and new heavy duty clutch kit and parts, rebuilt engine modified to 1915 with dual carbs, nothing is used except for the pan but has been modified, all new parts. New disk brakes and brake lines, tires and rims, steering, race brake pedals, removable racing steering wheel, new easy wiring kit, new gauges, lots of parts, 85% completed. Body will be back on chassis in a few days. Brand new engine is broke in with about 45 minutes on it. Gull wing doors, just new paint about 30 days ago… needs to be wet sanded and buffed out. This is a fun and head turner car. It is based off the 1972 VW beetle chassis, everything has been modified. Clear title in Colorado

Now all I need is some space in the garage..

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The VW K70: Another VW that never got here

6025831973_0de7ffa840_bThe Volkswagen K70 is another model that never reached the shores of the United States. This was an influential model that was barely a VW in the first place. The vehicle was the product of the acquisition of NSU Motorenwerke, a German car manufacturer that Volkswagen spun off to form Audi. So if the style looks familiar and a lot like an Audi, that would be why.

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The NSU model was just about to hit the market when VW acquired the company in 1969. It features front wheel drive, a unique design, and a water-cooled 1.6L (74 hp) or 1.8L (99 hp) engine. Forward-looking safety features for the time included a fuel tank that was mounted ahead of the rear axle and the trunk.

What happened: 

The K70 came at a bad time. Buyers associated the model with the unreliable predecessor/sister car known as the Ro80. The car gained a reputation for body corrosion. Also, it didn’t exactly fit into VW’s lineup of vehicles, priced just below the Audi 100 and the Volkswagen 411.

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So, the vehicle never got much of a good start and never came to the US. However, aficionados keep these vehicles up and you can find one on the market today. They appreciate its influential, forward-looking exterior features and economical consumption. If you can find one, they are a true curiosity.

 

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Bygone Beetle & Bus Bodies Busting Budgets

old rusted split-window VW bus in a field

Join us in the VW Forums for a thread on how much 1950s and pre-1950s VW Beetle and Bus shells are going for. Rusted, missing engines, sitting for decades. Prepare to be shocked.

The old VW market is hyper inflated. Its isn’t quite as bad as some of the Fora

The worst section is the Split Busses – Type I 1950-1967. A rusty body shell missing its pieces can capture anywhere from 20-50k…no engine or transmission.

There is a firm which works up Old Vanagons into Campers, reworks engine and trans, and sells them for 75k. They have all the orders they want. Kudos to them, but 75k for a VW camper used is still insanity…all IMHO of course

Spllit Beetles 1953-back are being restored and sold for 50-100k an hour south of me. Also full with work. These restorations are NOT perfect, but good workmanship and materials. OEM parts for the splits simply are NLA.

Are old Bug bodies really going for $10k+?

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