Late last year, German tuning companies Prior Design and JP Performance hatched a fantastic idea to build a late-model Beetle body kit styled like the one on the fictional Beetle Gr. 3 (Group 3) race car from Gran Turismo Sport. The companies announced just 53 kits would be made, an apparent nod to Herbie. Making good on their promise, they showed off the first example in a recent YouTube video.
For a little background on what the Beetle Gr. 3 is, GT Sport has a racing category called “Group 3” that is basically the game’s stand in for GT3. It includes real GT3 cars, as well as fictional Gr. 3 cars from manufacturers that don’t make an actual GT3 car. Many of these fake cars, like the Alfa Romeo 4C Gr. 3 and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X Gr. 3, honestly look better than a lot of actual GT3 cars. This Beetle is another example.
Historically, the Beetle name certainly has racing pedigree. But that doesn’t apply as much to the newer Beetles, which never quite took to competition as readily as their predecessors. There was the old New Beetle Cup Car (as well as the RSi related to it), and then rallycross versions. But this imagined GT car would’ve easily been the zenith of Volkswagen’s most iconic race car, had it actually existed.
In that sense, the Beetle Gr. 3 kit is just a cool idea. But it also looks ridiculous in all the right ways. Those bulges behind the front wheels, for example, house the car’s quad exhaust pipes. The sills and fenders are dramatic, the vents are copious and the rear wing is gigantic. What’s not to love?
Both Volkswagen and Gran Turismo developer Polyphony Digital have reportedly approved the project, and offered assistance where appropriate. For example, the companies retrieved data from Polyphony to make the kit as accurate as possible, according to GTPlanet.
That hasn’t resulted in a perfect match. The virtual Beetle’s roofline is an inch-an-a-half lower, for one — something a body kit ain’t going to help. Also, the DTM-esque vertical planes at the corners of the rear bumper carry LED strips facing backwards in the video game. For the most part, though, this is the fiction made real. The differences are extremely minor.
As for what’s going on inside the particular Beetle in the video, JP Performance pulled out the old Volkswagen four-cylinder and replaced it with a healthier 2.5-liter Audi turbocharged inline-five. It’s unclear how that motor’s been spruced up for this car, but in the Audi RS3 it produces 400 horsepower.
The kit itself can apparently still be ordered from Prior Design at the time of writing, for 5,990 euros. That’s about $7,030, which I think is completely reasonable for parts that transform the dowdy Beetle into what we see here. Of course, if you want to also make it go as fast as it looks, that’s going to require yet more dough and elbow grease. To anyone embarking on that challenge, you have my full endorsement and well wishes.