It's always hard to tell what your own culture is like when you're immersed in it. That's why most of us never realized how stupid we looked wearing those ridiculous pants back in the '90s or whatever. Car culture is no different, and looking back at the '80s VW community is downright alarming.
This all became apparent to me when I saw the above image on the Custom VWs-The Golden Years Facebook page. It's from the February 1984 issue of Hot VWs magazine. Look at it. Just look at it.
This car from Florida (wow, even back then) is using some sort of modified Fox-body Mustang front end and Eklers Corvette aftermarket rear fenders, and what has to be some really potent and terrifying drugs. It sort of looks like someone parked a Beetle in a race car bed and then coated the whole thing in glossy black Plasti-Dip. It's fascinating in a lurid way, like reading the minuscule print in a madman's manifesto.
I mean, it's not like it's poorly done — the level of craftsmanship seems very high, which is especially impressive when you consider that the person who built this must have had eyes that looked like spirals, and had to pause every few minutes to erupt in terrifying laughter.
But we shouldn't just pick on this one bizarre Beetle — this kind of bonkersism was rampant. Check out this cover from a 1981 Hot VWs:
Holy shit, right? It has everything: "Can-Am" styling, chopped top, pickup truck stake bed, big-rig style vertical exhausts, and, if you look into the blacked-out headlights, you can actually see the swirling mists of manifested madness.
Of course, it wasn't all bad. Check out this cover from December 1980:
Not only is that tiny, gull-winged camper kit eleventy kinds of awesome, there's an article in there on how to convert your engine to two cylinders! I can't even imagine any enthusiast magazine today excitedly telling you how you could halve the number of cylinders in your engine.