Home Car BugRod: The Beetle That Got here Again

BugRod: The Beetle That Got here Again

BugRod: The Beetle That Got here Again


This can be a story of historical past, desires and concepts, dereliction, coincidence and resurrection. This can be a story of a ’66 Volkswagen Beetle that resurfaced after greater than 50 years dwelling out a lifetime of its personal. The story begins at our small, impartial auto restore store in Alberta, Canada.

Bowest Motors has a 65-year legacy within the Bowness group. Over that point, Bowest has been many issues in addition to a neighbourhood restore store, together with being a VW dealership within the Sixties. At present, I personal Bowest Motors, together with its sister firm, Rusty Speedwerks, which builds one-off patina customs. It’s via RSW that the ‘BugRod’ got here to life.


Again in November 2020, I received a name from my pal Dominique. “Les, take a look at this Beetle on the market… take a look at the door!” There may be was, plain to see – the hand-painted signage of ‘Bowest Volkswagen’. This was an unique courtesy automotive from the store.

The following day, I used to be on my method to the agricultural farming group of Vulcan to select up the derelict VW from its long-time resting place in a farmer’s discipline. I might have purchased any variety of different Beetles in higher situation for lower than what I paid for this one, however I had mistakenly instructed the farmer I used to be from Bowest Motors and from that second there was no additional negotiation on the value. The Volkswagen was loaded onto our automotive trailer with a tractor, and I introduced it again to city not too positive what I used to be going to do with it. I simply needed to have it.


The Beetle was in very poor form. The highest half had some fairly good patina, however the flooring had been rusted via and there was no engine or transmission. There was, nonetheless, a Chevy S10 axle out again and a seized 305ci V8 with a gap within the block and a 3-speed GM transmission sitting loosely within the frunk. The unique firewall had been reduce out, the passenger seat was pushed again to across the B-pillar, and there was a sketchy-looking firewall/transmission tunnel protruding into the cabin the place you had been initially supposed to take a seat. Remarkably, whoever had deliberate on constructing this imply machine had – fortunately – determined to maintain the unique ‘Bowest Motors’ logos painted on the motive force’s door, fender, and rear engine cowl.


As issues normally go within the customized automotive world, as soon as the phrase’s out that you just’ve received a brand new venture on the go, attention-grabbing alternatives start presenting themselves. A number of months later, a pleasant chassis which had already been modified with a lowered beam and rear axle, four-wheel disc brakes and a transmission, got here up on the market. Being most enthusiastic about classic Japanese automobiles (not air-cooled VWs), your complete Rusty Speedwerks crew started dreaming about what kind of Japanese liquid-cooled engine may match out the again. The pure alternative, in fact, is a Subaru energy plant, however there have been already quite a few similarly-swapped Beetles on the town.


For a short while, we additionally thought of protecting the entrance swap structure and throwing in an LS motor. The final LS swap we did (Fargo Farm Truck) turned out to be very enjoyable to drive and the staff already had the expertise of constructing a turbo LS venture. Nevertheless, the Japanese name was robust.


The 1NZ-FE is a modest little 1.5L, 105hp four-cylinder workhorse present in a number of small automobiles in Toyota’s lineup, most notably in North America, the Yaris. The Yaris is just not considered as a sporty or enjoyable automotive, however the 1NZ is broadly used internationally, and in lots of different international locations (Jamaica, Thailand, South Africa) folks swap these motors into the whole lot. In some instances, they get respectable energy with compelled induction. TRD, HKS and Belief/GReddy had turbo kits for this motor, and Blitz supplied a supercharger.

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Contemplating the manufacturing facility air-cooled motor that got here within the Beetle in 1966 had 50hp (a whopping 25% improve from the yr earlier than), the staff could be making twice the horsepower of inventory with out even modifying the 1NZ. On prime of that, the Toyota motor is definitely about 50lbs lighter than the unique VW motor. Whereas we will’t make certain, this might very nicely be the primary 1NZ-FE-swapped Beetle.


A fast name to the oldsters at Kennedy Engineering confirmed that they might ship out an adapter plate and flywheel to mate the Toyota motor to the VW transmission. Now there was a plan – the physique, a chassis, and an influence plant. Getting all of it to work collectively was the problem of the subsequent few months.

Taking a motor initially designed for a FWD utility and placing it backwards, inline on the rear of the automotive, meant customized manifolds could be wanted. Fascinated by stinger pipes on Californian sizzling rod Beetle and the symmetry of the inline-four, the staff determined that matching log-style consumption and exhaust manifolds sticking straight out the again could be the suitable match. The 90-degree turns within the manifolds aren’t essentially the most environment friendly design, however the impact works for this automotive. Completed off with a SuperTrapp muffler and an outsized Ok&N filter, we had been good to go.


As a result of the BugRod wasn’t deliberate as a high-horsepower construct, the staff elected to retain the manufacturing facility Toyota engine administration system. In hindsight although, it might have been simpler to put in a Haltech, as tracing all of the wires and eradicating something pointless turned out to be a large job.


Rusty Speedwerks is understood for its patina restomod builds with a give attention to rat rod and classic Japanese builds – not a lot conventional Beetles. So we determined to present the automotive slightly rat rod, Japanese and basic muscle automotive therapy with some fender-less Californian ‘Volksrod’ type for good measure. With its large steelies wrapped in basic white-letter Cooper Cobra tyres, the BugRod is true at house at automotive meetups subsequent to basic Camaros and Chevelles.


The staff is pleased with the way in which the automotive turned out, though we’ve undoubtedly managed to upset a couple of Volkswagen purists. We’re the one one at VW meets who’ve combined up the genres a lot that traditionalists simply don’t perceive what’s occurring with the automotive. It’s enjoyable listening to people attempt to determine what engine it’s – we’ve heard it all. It’s not the quickest Bug on the town, however it’s enjoyable to drive and turns heads wherever it goes.


Now for the ultimate chapter; the BugRod is being despatched again out into the world for brand spanking new adventures. Perhaps it’s going to come again to the store in one other 50 years with extra tales carved into its patina.

Les Tuck
Instagram: rustyspeedwerks
Web site: rswcustoms.com

Images by Max Krewiak
Web site: maxkrewiak.com



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