1974 VW Beetle
Article By Mark de Jager
Photos by Joe van Zyl
So there I was, a novice in my own right but from a family that back in the day had good cars. 55 Ford Thunderbird, Austin Healey and Jaguar all of which I could not afford with present day conditions! I have two projects under the belt. The first one I converted was an old XJ6 Jaguar to a 2 door convertible and the second one was changing a Beetle into a Baja Bug, but that was back in the 80’s.
So what now! Thinking that R20K and six months sorts out a project, that’s novice mentality I tell you! So as you saw in the October 2012 issue of SA HotRods, I decided to chop a very dilapidated non running ’74 VW Beetle which I bought from a salvage dealer. This was after scouring the internet and looking at different styles of Beetle Rods and generally what people were doing to customise their Beetles. I wanted to make my Rod a 2-seater but the wife had other ideas, hence I now have a 4-seater Volks Rod!
A period colour was chosen and for the interior, Oxblood Red leather. The complete car was dismantled and the body and chassis were separated. The body was sent to sand blasting and the fl oor got some new panels. After a new coat of paint the assembly started. On the floor
I KNEW THAT ALL THE SCEPTICS HAD BEEN WRONG ABOUT MY COLOUR CHOICE
The floor pan was sorted and new brakes (front and back) were fitted although the original brakes were more than adequate with the Volks Rod weighing in at only 600kg. A 12 inch extender box was sourced to lengthen the front suspension to give it the longer stretched look.
The back suspension was then dropped to give it sleek cruiser, Hot Rod look of the fifties. The motor was taken out, stripped down and totally re-done and together with the gear box given a coat of fi re engine red paint. This was to go with the narrow and wide steel rims. The motor was then dolled up with a chrome kit from FlatFour Racing. The motor was taken from a standard 1300 cc to 1600 cc. To complete the whole look, the motor was then given a twin tip exhaust system. We now had a rolling chassis with an awesome motor and new Whitewall tyres.
Now, for the body. Before we cut the roof, we strengthened the body by cutting out the heater channels and replacing them with boxed angle irons. This was done from the fi rewall to the back of the fl oor pan.
The firewall was strengthened from side to side and the same was done under the back seat. The front and the back of the Beetle body was cut and a new bonnet pan was made. Due to the loss of the fuel tank, a fuel cell is now housed under the bonnet. I bought a 1956 Beetle bonnet to change the shape as the ’56 bonnet is longer than the ’74 and it gives the Volks Rod an even sleeker look The front windscreen posts were measured and cut and the roof taken off. All rust was then taken out, the door handles removed and the Rod was prepped for paint. Once it was painted and basking in the sun, I knew that all the sceptics had been wrong about my colour choice.
Red oxblood leather against a powder blue with red wheels, motor and gearbox was an awesome choice. The front seats are mounted on Toyota Conquest runners and the seats cut down to get the right height. All the ugly black knobs where fabricated in white to contrast better with the blue of the Rod. The huge handbrake lever has been changed to a little push button just to the left of the drivers seat, similar to the foot brake system of a Mercedes Benz. Headlights and tail lights came from the United States and the mirrors from the United Kingdom. The little Volks Rod is a gem and a real head turner.
I would like to thank everybody that played a part in helping me realise my dream and completing my project. It has been nothing but fun and it’s a joy every time the Rod comes out to play…