To mark the launch of the new 2012 Beetle, Volkswagen chose to work with a few companies to build several cars for the SEMA show. You can see some of the examples in our full SEMA report elsewhere in this issue and enjoy the car we built here.
In one of the final issues of eurotuner Magazine we ran a vehicle design competition and the guys at Volkswagen of America liked the entries so much they asked us to build a Surf Beetle based on several of the renderings.
Armed with plenty of ideas, we contacted illustrator Jon Sibal to visualize them in a realistic way, developing a military paint theme, unique body styling and Fuchs wheels with a lowered ride height. We then teamed up with some key partners to build the car before the SEMA show - let it be known, that no matter how early you start a SEMA project car, it usually all comes together at the last minute.
The car was first delivered to Revo Technik's North American HQ it shares with Stasis Engineering at Summit Point racetrack in West Virginia. Although the car had a laid-back surfer theme, it would deliver the goods with a 400hp big-turbo conversion thanks to a new Revo stage 3 K04 turbo upgrade that included the appropriate software, fuel rail, exhaust system, cold-air intake and front-mount intercooler.
With the schedule being so tight we've not had a proper chance to drive the Beetle but everybody who's got behind the wheel has loved the throttle response, lightning acceleration and sound of the exhaust. We've also had good reaction to the new Revo four-piston front brake kit and its prototype coilovers that featured race-style remote damper reservoirs.
We'll have a feature on these parts and will hopefully get full performance figures from our friends at Motor Trend, who will test our Surf Bug.
After returning to California, the car was delivered to our friends at FMS Automotive in Cerritos. They would take our rendering and turn it into reality. Of course, the task at hand was no walk in the park. Every exterior design feature had to be created from scratch but this is what they do. FMS is charged by several carmakers to fabricate and fit their dealer styling kits, including VW of America itself.
The front lip, rear bumper and tailgate spoiler were all sculpted by hand in foam and then molded before paint. The guys also created the roof rack, which makes the Beetle unique because it's almost impossible to mount a rack on the new car. Not only is the roof plastic, but it doesn't have rain channels or mounting points. Therefore, the rack had to be fabricated by FMS and permanently bolted to the car's structure.
Once fitted, the rack would secure our short board from Lost Enterprises as well as the water cans. With traditional metal Jerry cans now illegal for sale in California, we grabbed the last four we could find and FMS created two large cans by combining pairs. These would provide the water for our custom shower system to make the Beetle more practical for surfers.
Using a Viair compressor to pressurize the cans, water would be pushed to the tailgate-mounted showerhead, while the surfer is concealed behind a shower curtain hung from a frame mounted to the underside of the tailgate.
While we had the shower system displayed at SEMA, we chose to complete the car rather than every aspect of the water delivery, so it's not fully operational at present...
After several weeks of construction and painstaking fabrication, the FMS team sprayed the car in our two-tone heritage paint scheme. The rendering featured a DuPont military green with Carrera White door panels. However, the green mysteriously became beiger during the painting process, which meant it no longer matched our Katzkin interior. With only days before the Beetle had to be on the show floor in Vegas, we carried on regardless but wish the dyslexic hadn't messed up the paint code.
Again, we'll investigate the bodywork in a future feature and look at everything that went into creating our SoCal Surf Bug.
Finishing off the exterior was a set of gorgeous wheels from Fuchs Performance Group. The California company manufactures the most desirable Porsche wheels on the market that perfectly matched our retro theme. and while the car was designed before we even knew if it would be possible to fit them, a set of H&R adapters and spacers gave us the look we were after.
With the Beetle's large wheel wells, we could have probably fitted a set of 19x10" Fuchs Porsche rear wheels, but limited availability of the multi-piece billet wheels meant we fitted a set of 19x8.5" "fronts" on all four corners.
Again, we weren't blown away by the paint color that was applied to the wheel rims as well as the centers. However, they were wrapped in relatively tall 235/40 R19 Continental ContiProContact tires to preserve the retro feel.
Despite the 5x130mm Porsche stud pattern, we were able to adapt the Fuchs to the VW hubs thanks to H&R adapters. We also added 25mm H&R spacers to achieve the correct offset but the result was stunning. And with these parts, it's possible to adapt the Porsche wheels to almost any VW/Audi or other European application. In fact, H&R's website can help you calculate the size of adapters and spacers you'll need. Or you can phone them and they'll try to help.
Inside the Bug we kept it simple. The Beetle Turbo is well equipped with sports seats and carbon trim so we sought the expertise of Katzkin Leathers. After a consultation we selected a set of bespoke covers with Midnight black leather outer panels from their Tuscany selection, matched to Shamrock Green suede inserts and matching Shamrock topstitching. As we said, this would have matched the army green paintwork nicely if everything had gone to plan but that doesn't detract from the quality of the covers.
When you visit the Katzkin website, they have the different colors and materials for you to view, or you can request a swatch chart if you want a more precise match. The company then stitches the seat covers to your custom color combination of center, outer, stitching and piping preference. These can be quickly fitted by a trim shop in a few hours, as demonstrated by local company Coach Auto Restyler in Orange, CA, that quickly installed our covers on the Beetle seats.
Since our Beetle was equipped with the factory Fender Edition audio system it was unnecessary to upgrade it. After all, the system rivals many aftermarket components and features Bluetooth connectivity, navigation, etc.
Anybody involved with a SEMA project will verify that no car gets built without its share of drama. Parts not arriving on time, finicky prototypes as well as a grueling schedule can take its toll on everybody concerned. But we were fortunate to work with some of the best names in the industry to create a car we can all be proud of, particularly once photographed in its natural surf surroundings.
We were very happy to discover that the result of the entire team's efforts was a warm reception at SEMA - our Beach Battlecruiser Beetle was listed by many visitors as one of the "must see" cars...
It'll be coming to the shows and surf of Southern California in 2013, and hopefully will make it to the East Coast as well - we'd love to see it cruising Ocean City next September!
2012 VW Beetle Turbo
Engine 2.0L four-cylinder 16v TSI with stage 3 Revo Technik K04 turbo kit, turbo-back 3" exhaust, cold-air intake, front-mount intercooler and software
Transmission six-speed DSG transmission
Brakes 355mm Revo rotors and four-piston calipers f, stock r
Suspension prototype Revo coilovers with remote reservoirs
Wheels & Tires 19x8.5" Fuchs Performance wheels, H&R adapters and spacers, 235/40 R19 Continental ContiProContact tires
Exterior FMS Automotive front lip, side moldings, rear diffuser, tailgate spoiler, roof rack, water cans and two-tone paint, Lost Enterprises surfboard
Interior Katzkin Leathers seat covers, FMS Automotive shower system, OEM Fender audio