Here's an Old Volkswagen Beetle with a Power-to-Weight Ratio Close to That of a Ferrari 458 Italia

Earlier this year, I went to the Airhead Parts Treffen, basically an excuse to gather up as many old air-cooled Volkswagens as possible and drive them around. We talked to some people about their cars along the way, like this proud owner of a genuinely bonkers 1957 Beetle that’s been heavily modified to be, oh, a bit more potent than originally built.

I really liked the Einstein-haired owner/builder of this old Beetle because the man really knew old Volkswagens inside and out and wasn’t so precious about them that he was afraid to have some fun, as you can clearly see.

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This is just a great example of well hot-rodded Beetle, with its NOS-injected, turbocharged 2165cc flat-four dual port replacing the original 1200cc, 36 horse lump. The owner claims it makes 280 horsepower at the wheels, and I believe him.

This thing can’t weigh much more than 1,700 or 1,800 pounds, which means it’s got about six pounds per horsepower, which is about the same as, say, a 2015 Ferrari 458 Italia, which makes 562 HP to move its 3,274 pounds, giving it about 5.8 pounds per horsepower.

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That’s pretty good.

This sort of thing is what I’ve always liked about the old air-cooled culture: taking a slow little economy car and making it do things it was never, ever intended to do.

I wish I had gotten a chance to really drive this thing. Those pants were expendable, anyway.

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!: https://rb.gy/udnqhh)

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DISCUSSION

You’ve now led me down the rabbit-hole of ‘spruced up’ Beetles that ultimately ended in me finding this ‘Bugster’:

https://www.vwheritage.com/blog/2015/01/27/270bhp-boxster-bug/

It’s basically the body of a Beetle welded onto the chassis of a Boxter S.

I want.

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