This Rusty Rolls-Royce With a Ramshackle Beetle Engine Should Be the Start of a New Car Modding Trend

First off, I want to be absolutely clear here: I love this thing. I think what’s been done here is fantastic, and I am behind it 100 percent. This kind of thing is exactly what the automotive world needs sometimes, to take the piss out of it a bit. Something crude and irreverent and just gleefully disrespectful of all the ridiculous pomp and arrogance that saturates far too much of the automotive world. I love this shitbox Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow with the ratty old Volkswagen air-cooled engine, and I don’t care who knows it.

I encountered this car on a few automotive Facebook groups, and found that the pictures were taken by someone named John Bishop, who does work at the same shop where this amazing beast was built, which I believe is in Puerto Rico.

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The builder is someone named Bobbie, and for the moment that’s all I know, but I’m working on hunting them down to talk more. Because this builder has become a bit of a hero to me.

Bobbie seems to have taken a very rusty and clapped-out Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow—a post-1976 one, I think from the larger bumpers—and has managed to re-power it by mounting a very muddy old Volkswagen air-cooled engine in the rusty remains of the Roller’s trunk.

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The engine isn’t so much in the trunk as it is hovering in the open chasm that was once the trunk; it’s less inside the car as it is sort of fenced in by it. There’s no vents cut in the body to provide air for the engine, but seeing as how there’s no floor in there, either, I suspect the engine breathes just fine.

Based on the filthy state of the engine, I suspect it was taken from an old dune buggy or sand rail. It’s not even a modified engine—it looks to be a very stock single-port engine, and based on the fact that it seems to have a generator instead of an alternator, I’d say its likely a 1500cc or 1600cc engine from a ‘70 or ‘71, making around 50 horsepower or so, though, looking at the condition, probably a bit less.

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I’m not as clear on how much more VW is in this thing; I’m sure the engine is mated to a normal VW transaxle, but I don’t think there’s any more VW chassis underneath—I think that just the VW drivetrain has been bolted onto the Silver Shadow’s rusty unibody, somehow. I think?

The car has also been lowered and sort of stanced, with a bit of fender flaring and modifications as well. The roof is especially fun, with the original vinyl replaced with some kind of patterned fabric:

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The seats and interior, while in rough condition, look to be original Rolls-Royce, too.

This thing is so terrible and wonderful all at the same time. It’s a perfect punk-ish jab at the whole concept of status and premium. That Rolls body has to be heavy as hell, and that little flat-four floating in the middle of the trunk there must have a hard time shoving this thing around, but I’m sure it moves decently enough to be driven, if not driven anything resembling fast.

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I hope this is the start of something; taking the remains of very high-end luxury cars, supercars, that sort of thing, that have reached the end of their lives, and recycling them into really shitty runners with the smallest, cheapest, most humble engines you can find.

I’d love to see a rustbucket Lamborghni Aventador puttering around with the inline-three from an old Geo Metro, for example. Or maybe a severely body-damaged Range Rover Autobiography with a Daihatsu Charade engine hovering miserable in that vast engine bay. Or a flood-damaged Ferrari 458 with the transverse drivetrain from a Ford Aspire jammed up front.

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I’d love to see a parade of these slow, loud, debased fallen angels rattling down Rodeo Drive, causing looks of dismay, disgust, and contempt by all they pass.

That seems like a pretty good time.

This potential modding movement needs a good name. What might be good? Has-Beens? Debasers? Anti-Sleepers? The Fallen? I’m open to hear some ideas!

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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!)