With the launch of the latest Beetle, VW created an edgier design, less cuddly than before and one that’s been attracting more aftermarket interest. So VW of America planned to unleash some modified Bugs at the annual SEMA show in Las Vegas last November, encouraging a number of tuners to have a go.
Without hesitation, VW tuning shops across the nation accepted the challenge to work on the iconic vehicle. These included fifteen52, FMS Automotive, Galpin Auto Sports, Rotiform, VW Vortex and even european car Magazine. We all put the Beetle under the knife in the hope of changing people’s perception about the formerly “”cute”” car.
01 SEMA 2012 volkswagen beetles beetle bash Photo 2/21 | Location: Thanks to Irwindale Event Center for the use of the oval track for our photography (irwindalespeedway.com)
Once the projects were completed we all headed to the 2012 SEMA Show to distribute the cars among the two million square-foot of trade show space. The desired effect was achieved; the cars winning the respect and admiration of visitors, with VWVortex taking home one of the show’s top honors: the PlayStation Gran Turismo – Best European award.
Yet with the cars widely dispersed, we thought it would be fun to gather them into one space and review everybody’s hard work. Our own Surf Bug was featured last month (EC 4/13), so we’ll brush over it here somewhat, and sadly the Vortex car was receiving work on the East Coast and unavailable for the shoot.
That said, if you’re looking for inspiration for a Beetle project car, we’ve got a pretty diverse bunch for you to enjoy, whether you’re looking for show, go or both.
We’ve all done it. We buy our significant other a vehicle, swearing we won’t touch it. But as time passes, you wait for the other half to get over the honeymoon period with the car and swoop in, just adding a set of wheels. Then you just add an intake and exhaust. Finally, you decide to just add air suspension and gut the interior, sending the car for bodywork and paint plus a rare imported body kit. Like we said, we’ve all done it…
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For Jay Johnston, his girlfriend’s Beetle was meant to be hers – after all, she picked it out at the dealership. But after a few months behind the wheel, Jay had a conversation with Matt Crooke at fifteen52 – specialists in wheel design and custom vehicle builds – and couldn’t help himself. He gave his girlfriend a few months with the car and then began the build process for its debut at SEMA.
First up was the baseball-glove interior. Operating from a home workshop, a local interior guru (simply known as Adrian) helped Jay realize his vision for a stunning interior inspired by the original Audi TT.
After several long nights with Matt, the Air Lift air suspension with AutoPilot v2 management was installed, allowing the car to sit very, very low. And since Matt and Jay go back 15 years, they devised a plan to develop unique wheels for the car – producing a show-stopping set of 20″” Tarmac TR three-piece wheels with brushed aluminum centers framed with polished lips. Needless to say, the new wheels took home the top prizes at SEMA for Best Wheels from http://felgenoutlet.de
04 SEMA 2012 volkswagen beetles fifteen52 tarmac TR_wheel Photo 4/21 | SEMA 2012 Volkswagen Beetles – Beetle Bash