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Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
8/27/22 4:33 p.m.

I've been into air cooled VWs for a long time and have had this 1966 Beetle for about 15 years.

When I bought it, it was cosmetically very nice with fairly recent paint and a new interior.  There's evidence of some collision damage to the left rear, but it was fixed fairly well. The car needed some mechanical sorting and after I did that, it's been a super reliable and enjoyable car that is pretty close to my daily driver in the summer--probably 3-5 days a week. It's completely unmodified and still has its original 1300 single port engine and is still 6 volts. I occasionally get the urge to modify it, but unmodified Beetles are so rare.  Plus, the driving experience is excellent, just as VW designed it. It does run 165R15 radial tires and I put LED bulbs in the taillights to brighten them for safety, so I guess those could be considered modifications. But it's still a pretty pure 1966 Bettle.

Then, maybe a year ago, I started following this guy from Germany on Instagram:

He's built these two Beetles with a European rally theme and I think they're really cool. 

I've been a fan of Emory Outlaws for a long time. We fix a fair amount of 356s at Eclectic, and while they're cool, I've always thought that an Outlaw Beetle would be just as cool, maybe cooler.


Speaking of Beetle Outlaws, I got a private tour of the Collier Collection in Naples, FL about 10 years ago and say Miles Collier's Outlaw Beetle, which featured a 356 engine and brakes along with some other subtle modificaitons.

Then, some ads from a wheel company called MobelWagen started popping up on my phone from time to time, several featuring this Beetle with more of a hot rod/drag race look to it. And some really cool wheels.


The blue car above runs black versions of the wheels, but I like these silver ones better, so I ordered a set.

They're styled like a Porsche 356 wheel but in aluminum. I think they're beautiful and subtle and it made me think about building my own version of these cars I've been admiring.

I ordered two 15x4.5" for the front and two 15x5.5" for the rear and waited for a few months for them to arrive. That was okay because I needed to find another Beetle to put them on. I'm keeping the current Beetle unmodified.

Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
8/27/22 4:39 p.m.

Yes!!! I love this! I want a bettle BAD. 

Joey Bautista's beetles is what I would like to recreate. 

Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
8/27/22 4:54 p.m.

In reply to Slippery :

We're on the same page and that's the direction I'm heading!

Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
8/27/22 4:55 p.m.

I'm always a bit worried about making the start of a build thread too long and boring, so the TL;DR version is that I bought this car:

It's another 1966 Beetle that's super solid and has been modified, so I can modify it more. It has a 1600 dual port with an alternator, so it's obviously 12V upgraded too. I've always liked and wanted a set of the EMPI five spokes that came on the car.  Ironically, they'll be the first thing I remove...

The longer version of the search for a car involves a trip to California in February.  My father-in-law lives in San Diego and we visit most winters. This winter, we timed it to coincide with the Pomona Swap Meet so we could look for bits for our Zink Formula Vee and maybe find a Beetle to ship back to Michigan.  We also looked at many Beetles on FB Marketplace as Craigslist as we could get to. We found prices really high and most of the cars needing more sorting or work than I was interested in taking on.

Projects like these were in the $12-20K range and most needed full interiors (including headliners), had quite a few sketchy bits, and had minor rust or other body damage.

Nice ones like these were $25-35K and probably worth it for the paint quality alone, but I didn't want to pay anywhere near that for a car I was going to throw more money at to make my own.

I do have to say that it was pretty cool to look at so many VWs for sale in one place at the Pomona Swap meet. There must have been 50+, but I felt like prices were about twice what they had been just a few years ago. Maybe it's the Covid effect, maybe it's that the VW market has finally gotten some respect.  Anyway, I started searching for Beetles closer to home and found several promising options that had come from outside of the rust belt and prices seemed about 30% lower than in California. So I came home and made some searches on FB Marketplace, Craigslist, and the Samba, looking for 1958-66 Beetles within 300 miles of West Michigan.

I found my new project on the Samba near Madison, WI. The owner had it for about 15 years, who bought it from a friend who had it for about 10 years, and thought it was an Arizona car. After many pictures were exchanged, I made the four hour drive and paid a little more than I would have liked, but quite a bit less than I was seeing in California.

The Arizona story is completely believable as it is only one minor rust issue in the right front wheel well. The paint has a patina that my friends will insist I keep intact (I will for now) and it has a nice interior, so it's the perfect start for a rolling evolution toward something more like cars that inspired it.

Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
8/27/22 5:23 p.m.

This is going to be one of my favorite threads here. 

preach (dudeist priest)
preach (dudeist priest) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
8/27/22 6:39 p.m.

In reply to Slippery :

You are not the only one.

My dogs are Karmann and Ghia, amongst other tells.

jimbob_racing SuperDork
8/27/22 6:51 p.m.

Nice car. I've always wanted one. But prices have gotten really insane.

Datsun310Guy MegaDork
8/27/22 7:39 p.m.

I'm behind this project 100%.  I can't afford a 911 but can we juice up a '67 Beetle and make it Porsche underneath? I'm thinking do.  

I'd love to get an engine from that builder in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Here's my credit card - do whatever it takes......

californiamilleghia UltraDork
8/27/22 8:20 p.m.

Among the VW crowd , 67 and earlier are the wanted bugs , 

but there are good deals on the 1968 and newer bugs that are still over 50 years old !
and with the late model bugs you get 12v , 1500-1600cc motor ,  IRS suspension on 69 and up , better brakes and just a nicer driving car.

Have fun 

Appleseed MegaDork
8/28/22 12:38 a.m.

Think of it as a restomod. Make no permanent changes. Save every removed piece for a potential return to stock. Absolutely nothing wrong with that.

preach (dudeist priest)
preach (dudeist priest) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
8/28/22 7:28 a.m.

In reply to Appleseed :

Most of the community is OK with modded cars. Been doing it from day 1 pretty much.

Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
8/28/22 9:01 a.m.

I was really targeting a 1958-64 Beetle.  Pre 1958 are oval and split windows, which are cool, but a lot more money. I had a 1957 oval project that I sold last year for more than I paid for the 1966. In 1965, the windows all got a little bigger the front beam changed from kingpins/linkpins to ball joints. It's an easy swap to put 356 brakes on the earlier front end. I considered passing on this car because it has the ball joint front beam, but it checked so many other boxes as a good foundation for a rolling project that I bought it.  I may have to give up on the 356 brakes, which will make the car a little less cool, but will also save a few thousand bucks.

Anyway, I like to work with a theme and goals, so I'll state my theme and goals for this car:

I'm building it like someone would have built it in the late 1960s/early 1970s, primarily with bolt-ons from the VW/Porsche parts bin. I've already talked about the 356 brakes as an ideal, and the Mobelwagen wheels are styled after 356s. I doubt I'd want to spend the money for a 356 engine, but a 912 engine might be an option. It's going to have a slight rubber rake with period-correct tire sizes and get lowered slightly. On the exterior, it will lose the bumper guards but still run the blades and maybe get some fog lights like oldschoolaircooled's green car.

My other goal is to take my time and gradually tranform the car as I aquire original parts, trying not to just buy new parts from the VW suppliers. The wheels are the current exception--I need a  little instant gratification.  The car has a great pantina, and patina is king right now, but I may paint it at some point as I have enough patina cars in my hoard. 

The hunt for parts and the conversations with the sellers is likely going to be a huge part of the fun in this project. I have plenty of big projects, so I don't this car to be another one. I'd rather have it be a lot of small projects that are fun as the car evolves over the next few years.

So the first few posts of this build thread are coming out quickly, but it's likely going to progress slowly after that.

Thanks for your support, ideas, and following along!

preach (dudeist priest)
preach (dudeist priest) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
8/28/22 9:19 a.m.

I passed up a '57 oval to buy a '65 21 window deluxe. Sold the 21 window for $2500. FML.

sevenracer HalfDork
8/28/22 10:17 p.m.

Cool project. I really like that color blue on the outlaw candidate!

Saw this at our cars and coffee this morning. Not sure how outlaw it is, but had some cool vintage rally timers on the dash. Actually, the C&C for us this morning turned into me pointing out cars to my wife and saying there's a guy on GRM that just bought a car like that. This VW,  a Mondial coupe, an e30 wagon, a TVR,etc. laugh


Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
8/29/22 10:14 a.m.

In reply to sevenracer :

I follow the owner of that car on IG. That car is awesome, Porsche 356 engine and all. 

He also has a cool bus. 

Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
8/29/22 10:46 a.m.

In reply to sevenracer :

That car was in the July 2021 issue of Hot VWs and is another one of the inspirations for mine. The engine is actually based on a 36HP VW motor, but is dressed with a bunch of 356 parts to look like a 356 engine. It has 356 brakes on it as well. It's cool you got to see it in person!

That same issue has a Joey Bautisa split window Beetle built along the same theme with a 356 engine and brakes. I couldn't find a good picture of it online, except for this cover shot of the magazine:

californiamilleghia UltraDork
8/29/22 11:55 a.m.

The VW bug at the Collier museum is unique , 

It was built in SoCal by a Porsche shop , 

4 cam motor and aluminum fenders and hoods .

A friend of mine did the interior decades ago.


Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
8/29/22 1:59 p.m.

In reply to californiamilleghia :

Yea, the Collier Beetle is over the top.

Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
8/29/22 2:02 p.m.

Tire decision time.  It's generally accepted that 165R15s are the closest radial to the original tires.  They are 25.4 inches tall.  I want a little bigger tire on the back and was thinking a little smaller on the front for a rubber rake. I want to stick with old-school sizes, which are generally 80 aspect ratios (i.e., 165R15s in a modern size would be 165-80R15). Vredestien makes a 185VR15 which is 26.5" tall and a 155SR15, which is 24.8" tall. I had a 185R15 from a TR6 at the shop and a friend loaned me a 145R15 from his stash.  The 145R15 is 24.3" tall--close enough to the 155 for test fitting.

Here's the car on the 165R15s on the Empi 5 spokes.

And here it is with the test wheels/tires. I had Brent sit on the bumper to bring the front end down a little bit and simulate the future lowering.

I really like how the 185 fills the rear fender, but I think that I'm going to stick with a 165 in the front. A lot of the Cal-look guys run the small tires in the front, but they're generally in a drag race genre/look. I want to fill the front fender as nicely as the rear.  Plus, a rally/road race guy wouldn't put smaller tires on the front.  So I'm ordering a pair 185VR-15s and a pair of 165SR-15 Vredesteins from Tire Rack.  

buzzboy SuperDork
8/29/22 5:10 p.m.

Man do I love Beetles. My first car, my first engine rebuild, my first blown engine, my first engine re-rebuild were a 74 Standard. I wouldn't mind re-doing that build with my current taste and knowledge. Always preferred the mechanicals of the newer cars but the look of the older.

Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
8/29/22 7:52 p.m.

Don't mean to derail the thread, but here are some pics of Joey's and Erik's Beetles. Their IG are joeybau59 and big_e_deluxe, worth a follow.


cfvwtuner Reader
8/30/22 7:52 a.m.

becareful with the 165's up front.  You wont be able to lower the car much before they hit the headlight buckets.  Also depending on wheel offset, you might be hitting the fender edges.   Most Cal-look cars go with the 145's or 135's not for the drag look, but because that's what fits inside the fenders when lowered.

a 2.5" drop spindle will almost definately cause issues.    You might have better luck with a 2" narrowed beam and adjusting it to close to stock height

Lof8 - Andy
Lof8 - Andy GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
8/30/22 8:13 a.m.

yeah, this is cool! 

Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
8/30/22 8:48 a.m.
cfvwtuner said:

becareful with the 165's up front.  You wont be able to lower the car much before they hit the headlight buckets.  Also depending on wheel offset, you might be hitting the fender edges.   Most Cal-look cars go with the 145's or 135's not for the drag look, but because that's what fits inside the fenders when lowered.

a 2.5" drop spindle will almost definately cause issues.    You might have better luck with a 2" narrowed beam and adjusting it to close to stock height

I'm only going to drop it 1-1.5" in the front, so I hope I'll be okay.  I may  go with a narrowed beam when the time comes, too.

Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
9/2/22 11:41 a.m.

The new tires are here but I'm waiting on studs and lug nuts. In the meantime, I pulled it in for a little deeper inspection and the start of sorting.  Here are some more pictures of the car.

I'll post some more detailed pics of the paint. It looks like it had a glass-out repaint 20+ years ago. There are a lot of cracks and blemishes.  The right rear fender and decklid have newer paint, and the decklid should have a 1300 logo on it.

It has a stock 1600 dual port engine with an alternator that seems to be in good shape so that's I'll run until I decide on how I hot rod things.

The dash is a bit of a bummer. First, it's not the original paint as a lot of these have. This is one of the reasons I think it's had a glass-out respray. Second, someone hacked the dash to put that head unit in there, then put that bezel thing around it to cover up the sins. The clock and thermometer do have a bit of a rally look, but aren't near as cool as the setup in the black car in previous posts. I will probably fix the dash at some point in the distant future. 

I think the interior is reproduction and everything looks pretty good except someone put way too much stuff in the map pockets and stretched them.

Pretty clean in the trunk without too many wiring sins.  There are several electrical issues to sort out and I'll get into those in the next few weeks.

Except for some minor dents and a jack point that has been torn off, the pan is really nice.

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