Volkswagen Beetle – The Peoples Car

The Volkswagen Beetle is one of the most instantly recognisable cars in the history of automotive manufacturing, and just as interesting as the silhouette of the iconic bug is the story behind its concept. In this article we will take a quick look at the history of the Beetle and delve into its Australian connection throughout the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

The origins of the Volkswagen Beetle date back to the early 1930’s when a Fuhrer by the name of Adolf Hitler proclaimed that the automobile, an at the time luxury afforded to only the very rich, should be available to the masses. Hitler specified that the ideal vehicle must be suitable for carrying 2 adults and 3 children at 100 km/h, while consuming no more than 7 litres of fuel every 100 km. Tasked with creating a vehicle to service the needs of the masses was tasked to Ferdinand Porsche. Porsche set about designing and building three prototypes, branded only ‘Volkswagen’ (“The Peoples Car”), the very round, bug-like appearance of the car ensured it was colloquially referred to as the Beetle.

Throughout WW2, Porsche developed a number of military spec Beetles that served as the first to leave his Wolfburg factory. With it’s now distinctive rear-mounted air cooled engine, the military spec vehicles were near on indestructible and were even designed to float for a short period of time in case of emergency!

By 1945 production was in full swing and the first customer vehicles were spreading throughout the streets of Europe. Armed with a 19kw flat four engine, the early Beetles proved a massive hit with the public and at a price of only 990 Reichsmark, which was similar to the price of a small motorcycle; the Bug was a genuine option for almost all families.

Fast forward 8 years and importation of the Beetle commenced into Australia, with assembly of the Peoples Car commencing in Melbourne by 1954. Throughout the 60’s locally manufactured parts and panels were being utilised in Melbourne built Beetles, with work being undertaken at the now HSV owned Clayton manufacturing plant. As we’ve become all too familiar with in recent times, sales of the Beetle eventually began to decline and in 1976 all Australian Volkswagen manufacturing efforts were ceased and the workshop was sold to Nissan Australia.

It wasn’t until 1998 that the first major re-design of the beetle took place and a look at the current Beetle finds a significantly different car to what was established way back in the 1930’s. The engine has been moved to the more traditional front mounted layout while power figures have increased with range topping models featuring in the area of 150kw. The unmistakable shape is still present and although not everybody’s cup of tea serves as one of very few modern cars that pay homage to their historical ancestors.

Do you own an early model Volkswagen Beetle? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know about it in the comments section below.

Sinful Conversions - Engine Conversions That Cause a Stir

In the automotive community, we’re no strangers to engine conversions. Whether it be a neat LS-swap or dyno warping Barra-swaps, we tip our hat to clean and well-engineered engine transplants. However, not all engine conversions make the automotive gods happy, some are downright riot-inducing, with enthusiasts from all corners kicking up a stink. In this article we will take a look at a handful of controversial engine conversions.

Ford Barra Powered HG Belmont

Searching for something a little different from the tonne of LS-swaps around these days, this owner decided to take the ever-popular Barra engine and slot it into the early 70’s Holden. With a sub-11 second quarter mile time the old “Holden” will towel up many popular sports cars, whilst still being used by its owner as a daily driver!

 

Skyline GTR Powered Torana

Dropping powerful engines in smaller cars has been a passion of many a person since the dawn of time. As automotive enthusiasts, we can’t help but look at a car, bike or boat and wonder what we can do to make this faster? Well, in the case of the LX Torana, dropping a twin turbocharged RB26 under the hood is sure to make the trip from A to B in quite a hurry! There are of course a few Holden enthusiasts who are none too happy with a Japanese heart beating in the Aussie legend.

 

LS1 Powered XY Falcon – XYYNOT

This XY Falcon will surely cause a stir amongst both Holden and Ford fans, with one of the most iconic Falcon’s receiving a Chevrolet heart. Featuring a Harrop blower, the cammed, near stock LS1 is producing a solid 458 rear wheel horsepower and is used throughout the Australian drifting circuit!

 

1967 Pontiac Firebird with Toyota Prius Hybrid System

Coming completely out of left field is this Prius-powered 1967 Pontiac Firebird. Enough to make any rev-head cringe just a little bit, this engineering marvel has set the owner back just over $10,000US to date and is expected to be on the road by 2019.

 

LS1 powered Porsche 911 

Porsche fans – turn away now! Replacing the iconic flat six in the rear of this 1986 911 is the tried and true LS1, resulting in a horsepower gain of over 170hp! From a purely performance point of view, when you take into consideration other upgrades including wheels, tyres and suspension, this Porsche is a bit of a weapon. However, the purists still cringe at the thought of anything other than the flat six gracing its engine bay.

Have you heard of any crazy engine swaps that make purists cringe? Or maybe you’re in the process of your own engine swap? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments section below.

Seeing Stars – Superstars and their Cars

When it comes to the automotive bug, it seems that no one is immune. Although our cars can all vary by value, we all have one thing in common, a passion for machinery on four wheels. Whether it’s the way they drive, the nostalgia or even pure style of a ride, we all have a soft spot for mankind’s arguably greatest invention. Here we will take a look at a few of the entertainment industries most notable characters and the breath taking fleet of cars that they have in their arsenal.

It’s probably best to start this list with the one person we would probably all put our hands up to trade places with. He may not be known for his outgoing dress style, but this American talk show host’s car collection is something of a childhood fantasy. Jay Leno possesses more supercars than most museums, holding some incredibly rare (and expensive) pieces in his collection such as the 1994 McLaren F1, 1969 Lamborghini Miura S and even the timeless 1955
Mercedes 300SL. Not a supercar snob by any means, Leno also a 1970 Mazda Cosmo, 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T and a 1963 Corvette Stingray hiding around in his 130 car warehouse!

He may have single handily ruined top gear and take the award for the most annoying bloke on the planet, but UK car fanatic Chris Evans has a few rides that easily makes him the envy of many car nuts across the world. His collection over the years has included a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder which was previously owned by Steve McQueen, the original Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car, a 1972 VW Beetle and even a Porsche 944 Cabriolet, talk about a varied taste.

Jerry Seinfeld has been a comedy mastermind for many years but most car lovers know him for something else. Seinfeld’s collection is known to almost rival that of Leno’s and with more than 60 cars under his wing, he is always on the lookout for the next thing to catch his eye. When looking at his collection, you can see that each car has been personally selected out of pure passion and the man clearly has an undeniable draw to Porsches. His fleet includes a 1957 Porsche 356 A Speedster, 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0 IROC RSR and an incredible 1990 Porsche 962C. He even has the first air-cooled Porsche 911, which he still considers his favorite.  

Bringing it back to home shores who could not include Eric Bana. The Aussie acting legends roots had been clearly grown from the blue oval, with his first car, a 1973 Ford Falcon XB Coupe, featured in his stand out films for car lovers, Love the Beast. Add to that the fact that Bana races in the Targa Tasmania and it’s clear that this actor has earned the title of celebrity gearhead.

With such a broad automotive spectrum, sometimes we can feel pretty envious of people who have mass collections of dream cars. However, we think as long as you have something you can call your pride and joy sitting in your driveway, then you are just as lucky.

Who would you like to swap spots with for a day? What would you have in your dream collection? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments below!