A specially tuned Volkswagen Beetle hit 205.122 mph in the flying mile at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Wendover, Utah, setting a record for the nameplate. A few years back, we set the hybrid land speed record with VW in a modified Jetta Hybrid.
Of course, this was no ordinary Beetle. Called the Beetle LSR (for Land Speed Record), the purpose-built bug is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter EA888 four-cylinder engine tuned by THR Manufacturing to make 543 hp and 421 lb-ft of torque, or more than 600 hp at the crank. In accordance with Southern California Timing Association rules for the G/BGC class, THR installed new turbochargers, pistons, camshafts, and connecting rods, and also modified the heads. In addition, the suspension was lowered, a limited-slip differential was fitted along with special Salt Flat wheels, and the interior was gutted so a roll cage, racing seat and harness, and fire suppression system could be installed. Two parachutes were added at the rear to slow the car down.
The run was recorded at the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association (USFRA) 2016 World of Speed event, and driving the car was fellow journalist, and contributing editor to our sister magazine AUTOMOBILE, Preston Lerner.
"Exceeding 200 miles per hour in the Beetle LSR was a serious thrill," said Lerner in a release. "We had enough power to go even faster if the salt hadn't been so sketchy. But seeing 208 miles per hour briefly on the digital readout was an experience I'll never forget."
You shouldn't expect your standard Beetle to go that fast. A stock Beetle R-Line gets that same 2.0-liter turbo-four tuned to 210 hp and 207 lb-ft and has an electronically limited top speed of 130 mph.