Some Crazy Russian Made a Beautiful Retro-Modern Zaz 965 Out of a Modern Volkswagen Beetle

Original, air-cooled Volkswagen Beetles were very popular in the kit car world because you could essentially just lift the body off and replace it with any fiberglass anything you wanted: fake Porsche speedsters, MG TCs, weird vans, whatever. This isn’t nearly as easy to do with a modern, Golf-based Beetle, but that didn’t stop this Russian shop from turning a new Beetle into a re-imagined Zaporozhets.

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The Zaporozhets ZAZ 965 was, essentially, the Soviet People’s Car, and fulfilled essentially the same role as the VW Beetle. While it seems similar to a Beetle, with its rear-mounted, air cooled engine (in its case a V4 instead of the Beetle’s flat-four) it was actually much more closely based on another rear-engined people’s car, the Fiat 600.

Unlike the Beetle, though, the ZAZ 965 never got a modern re-interpretation to satisfy the nostalgic cravings of its fans, like the Beetle did in 1998. That problem has now been solved with this beautifully-done car:

This is a nice, detailed video about the car, though I do think the soft-spoken shooter spends a bit too much time in the interior, which is the same as any stock 2012 and on Beetle.

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It appears that the ZAZ 965 body is fiberglass, and replaces nearly every body panel of the Beetle, save for the roof, pillars, and glass. The rear hatch opens as before, and the interior volume appears unchanged.

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I think this is a really fantastic project. The design feels exactly like what you’d expect a modernized ZAZ to look like, though a production model would likely have used more modern lighting.

Still, I love the vintage detailing with the clean, modern design vocabulary and the more agressive proportions and stance.

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I wish the 965 had the sort of following (I don’t think Russians have quite the same fondness for the old ZAZ, which was more associated with lack of choice and general crappiness, though, clearly, there are those who do remember it with affection) and parent company with enough resources to make something like this a production reality, but I don’t think that’s likely to happen.

Even so, this is a great one-off project. I’d happily drive a New ZAZ.

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About the author

Jason Torchinsky

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)