To write an entire history of the Volkswagen Beetle would take 150+ pages of information, much of which has been covered extensively by Boldride.com, and also by author Keith Seume. So, this article will be as brief as possible on the subject.
The original Volkswagen Beetle or type I was designed, at least in concept, by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche. It was a ‘Peoples’ car which is roughly what Volkswagen translates to in German. It was designed to be a car for the masses. The first prototype the Genesis of VW Beetles dates back to 1934. The Type I went on to sell in the millions and production in the U.S.A continued from roughly 1950 through 1979. With a roughly 29-year production run in the US, it might make you wonder which models are most collectible. For the “Cal Look,” or California look most modifiers would say that the 1967 and earlier models make the best base car, and as a result are more collectible. For many years this was the case, and the 1968-1979 cars were sort of looked down upon by comparison.
In 1971 a variation of the original Beetle design came to fruition. It was called the Super Beetle. Essentially the difference between a “Super Beetle” and a non super Beetle is in the look and suspension. On the 1971-1972 models the difference was the front bodywork, and the introduction of MacPherson strut suspension in place of the original Beetles’ front torsion bar suspension. Arguably a more modern type of suspension, the MacPherson struts allowed the Beetle to handle like a more modern car from 1971 onward. In 1973 The Super Beetle received it’s second differentiation trait, which was a more aerodynamic curved glass front windshield, and slightly restyled bodywork.
Now while the “Cal Look” or “California Look” was a customization trend inspired by drag racing Beetles and straight line speed, the “German Look” was a customization trend inspired by Dr. Porsche’s later cars including but not limited to the 356, 911, 914, 924, 944, and 959. These vehicles were built to drive the curved turns of the Nurburgring in Germany. Essentially a German Look Volkswagen Beetle is a “Super” Beetle. A Beetle that has been tuned in engine and handling and braking departments to make it able to handle and drive at higher speeds with the some of the best Porsche’s ever built.
The typical modifications that are consistent with this “German Look” are larger disc brakes at all four corners of the car and larger wheels, preferably off of a Porsche model, adjustable or lowered suspension all around and not just at the front of the vehicle, smoked or darker lenses for the taillights, and Porsche inspired body colors. Finally the ultimate modification includes either building the standard type 1 engine to a higher horsepower output, or leaving it standard, or transplanting a Volkswagen Bus/Type IV Volkswagen/Porsche 914 Engine in it’s place. Other customizations include a racing interior similar to that found in a track car making for a Spartan interior, roll cages, and widened fenders to accommodate the previously mentioned larger wheel and brake combinations. Other customizations include aftermarket gauges in the dashboard to monitor the engines RPM, oil temperature, water temperature, and battery. The cooling fan off of a 911 Porsche can also be swapped in if a Type IV engine is installed.
So, to recap what is a German Look Volkswagen? A Wolfsburg with Stuttgart internal parts, or to simplify it a wolf in sheep’s clothing, or a Volkswagen Beetle or Super Beetle that can out handle and run with the best Porsches on the Nurburgring track in Germany.
The German Look is spreading worldwide as Volkswagens Beetles are a worldwide collector car, and due to the large supply of 1971-1979 Super Beetles or 1938-2003 Standard Beetles the number of cars to modify is relatively large. It’s no small wonder that a Bug could be such a Boldride even some 70+ years after the first prototype was produced, and seven years after the ultimate edition rolled off the assembly line in Mexico. It’s incredible that such a small car could leave such a large void. Small wonder indeed, but a Bold Ride most definitely.