Normally, when you think about a body kit for a car, the goal usually seems to be seeing just how many plastic fake vents you can cram on a given vehicle, or how you can half-assedly make it look like something exotic. But it doesn’t have to be that way! A reader sent in pictures from Peru of a Beetle with a body kit that can only be described as practical.
Tyler, our Peru-traveling reader, snapped some photos of these Beetles (these appear to be Brazilian-made Fuscas) because he correctly realized that I’d find these fascinating. Both the Beetles shown here seem to have similar – but not identical– aftermarket body kits installed, and I’m pretty sure these are examples of that very rare sort of body kit that’s not designed for aesthetic reasons.
The kit (in both cases) seems to consist of a replacement hood and front valence, as well as a sort of “filler” panel that makes up the new nose of the car. Essentially, where a stock VW Beetle hood dips down dramatically, this one manages to roughly square off the front end, for the goal (I think) of providing a good bit more trunk room.
Essentially, it’s like holding a stock Beetle hood open by maybe a foot or so, and filling in all the gap areas. These kits also include a little pair of yellow foglights in them, because why not?
The kit on the blue car seems to have a hood that dips a bit lower, and maybe provides a little less interior volume than the yellow one, but it’s hard to be sure.
It’s really a very clever kit. The usable volume in the front section of the trunk has to be increased pretty significantly. On a stock trunk, most of the very sloped area at the front is taken up by the spare tire. Here, even with the spare sitting nearly vertically in the very front, a good amount of usable extra room should be in there. I’m guessing that these kits may give between 35%-45% more trunk room?
If a Beetle like this is your family car, and there’s four or five people involved in this hypothetical Peruvian family, that probably makes a huge difference in comfort and usability of the car.
The kits look pretty well made and installed; could these have been a dealer option? If so, I haven’t been able to find any information about them.
The idea of a body kit for practical purposes is fascinating, and I wonder why this sort of thing is so rare. We had plenty of fun and goofy Beetle body kits back in the day in the U.S., but they were all about making a Beetle look like a Rolls or old Plymouth.
There’s a huge and bizarre Beetle/Fusca customizing scene in nearby Brazil, but those are all about aesthetics and not practicality like this forthright little thing. Even the kits that turned Beetles into little trucks usually were more for fun and shock value than actual utility.
I’ve always thought that there should be kits that can easily turn a hatchback into a little wagon or something, by propping the hatch up horizontally like a roof and filling in the gaps with some sort of body panels. The closest thing I’ve ever really seen are maybe those Saab hatch-to-camper things. Sure, those are cool, but are a bit much for what I’m thinking.
I’d love to know more about these kits. The idea of a simple aftermarket kit that you’d buy to address and solve your car’s design shortcomings is a really interesting concept, and one that seems almost impossible to imagine in the modern U.S. market.
That’s kind of a shame, right?