DON’T worry, you aren’t having a stroke – yes, this is a VW Beetle, and yes, it’s in Street Machine. But unlike your grandfather’s old clapped-out dak-dak, Reece Reynolds’s V-dub is a sweet little street cruiser with some party tricks up its sleeve.
This article was first published in the September 2020 issue of Street Machine
“The build started out as a typical ‘I’m going to leave it standard’ kind of story,” says Reece. “After lowering it and putting some aftermarket wheels on, I got the ‘bug’ and it began to snowball from there.”
Reece’s love for old-school, air-cooled German machines started with a joyride. “My brother Beau took me for a drive in his 1970s Super Beetle back in 2013,” the 23-year-old says. “I immediately fell in love with the early air-cooled cars and knew I’d eventually own one.”
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While the blue is a factory VW colour, the car wasn’t originally two-tone. “It looks like someone has painted it white when they’ve done some rust repairs,” says Reece. The rag-top also isn’t a factory piece of kit; Reece fitted that himself, along with the engine, interior and pretty much everything else
Reece’s car was a fairly standard and tidy example when he bought it, but he’d only been using it as a daily driver for roughly six months before things went south with the original donk. “I was coming back from a car show in Sydney one day, and the riveted cam gear in the factory engine – which is notorious for letting go – munched the motor,” he says.
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That mishap triggered a major overhaul in the driveline department, Reece deciding that another stock dak-dak wasn’t going to cut the mustard: “I wanted some more poke, so I turned to a good friend of mine, Peter Muhm, who has been building VWs since the 70s.” A plan was drawn up to take a standard 1600cc VW donk and throw almost all of it away, resulting in the 1916cc beast sitting in the Beetle today.
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The new engine comprises a CB Performance forged chrome-moly crank and H-beam rods, Mahle forged pistons, a CB high-flow oil pump and an Engle W110 cam breathing through a pair of CNC-ported 044 Los Panchitos heads.
The draw-through carby set-up is an unusual feature of the car, and that teamed with the built engine makes for a pretty interesting package. “It sounds burly when you first fire it up – which is easy to do with no exhaust!” says Reece
While the car was off the road for around six months awaiting a heart transplant, Reece also decided to renovate the suspension. “I decided to go with the Air Ride airbag kit, because I wanted to get the thing as low as possible,” he says. A Skinned Knuckles air beam (narrowed four inches) with through-rods and CB Performance 2.5-inch drop spindles live up front, while out back there’s Limebug 2.5-inch dropped spring plates. The Air Ride airbag system includes AccuAir VU4 air management and a Viair 480C compressor.
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To finish off the look, Reece then stepped it up in the wheel department. “I had seen the Rotiform wheels on a Porsche 356, but not a Beetle,” he says. “I wanted to put some on a Beetle, so we measured it up and custom-ordered the wheels from the States.”
With those mods done, Reece enjoyed the Bug for just under a year, but then the want for more power reared its head once again. “I started exploring the idea of doing the turbo conversion, and before I knew it we were fitting a bigger sump and fabricating all the gear to make it work,” he says. What resulted was a pretty neat draw-through set-up, using a ball-bearing T3 turbo on 10psi and a Weber 45 DCOE carby. “I went with the draw-through partly because it was an easy way to do it, but also because I love the look of it,” he says.
Reece still hasn’t had the little Beetle on the dyno yet, so power estimates are pretty hazy. “All I know is that it maxes out the 90mph speedo pretty easily,” he laughs.
The car was finished in November last year, and Reece has enjoyed every minute of motoring since then. “It gets a lot of good reactions, and plenty of ‘WTF’ moments when I pop the boot,” he says. “Sometimes it’s hard to start, but other than that it’s been perfectly reliable.”
The Beetle’s interior is largely standard Deluxe kit, re-trimmed in black. The biggest changes are the We Are Likewise gearknob and the Air Ride air management gauges with rocker switches to operate the ’bags
Now that Reece is super happy with the Beetle as it sits, he plans on focusing his attention on other projects. “I have another 1956 oval-window Beetle that I’m working on with a few twists, plus a 1984 Porsche 3.2 Carrera that I’m restoring as well.”
Das ist gut!
1967 VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE 1300 DELUXE
Paint: VW blue and white
Brand: VW 1916cc
Intake: Custom stainless steel
Carb: Weber 45 DCOE
Turbo: Garrett T3
Heads: CNC-ported Los Panchitos 044
Camshaft: Engle W110
Conrods: CB Performance forged H-beam
Pistons: Mahle forged
Crank: CB Performance forged chrome-moly
Oil pump: CB Performance high-flow
Fuel system: Standard, PULP
Cooling: Rod Penrose Racing balanced fan
Exhaust: 3in pie-cut dump
Ignition: CB Performance Magnaspark electronic
Flywheel: CB Performance lightened chrome-moly
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Front: Narrowed front air beam, Monroe Max-Air shocks
Rear: Limebug IRS, Air Ride airbags
Brakes: Standard drums
WHEELS & TYRES
Rims: Rotiform 356 forged three-piece; 17x7 with 35mm positive offset (f), 17x8 with 5mm negative offset (r)
Rubber: Toyo R888R 205/45R17 (f & r)
Peter Muhm for the huge hand in setting up and assembling the engine; Henry Kosef at IronKnuckles Fabrication & Customs for his help with building the turbo set-up; Marty Robertson at Robertson’s Tyrepower Dubbo for getting the wheel offsets and measurements perfect and recommending the Toyo tyres