Thursday 2nd June 2011


SPOTTED: 1963 VW BEETLE CABRIOLET

Ex-Paul Newman Beetle hides a special secret in its rump


A soft-top Bug? Have we gone mad? In a word 'no', because the Beetle in question has had its asthmatic flat-four replaced long ago by a small-block Ford V8 and ZF 5-speed transaxle. At the request of none other than film star, racer and salad dressing magnate, Paul Newman.

That Newman was a serious and accomplished racing driver is probably not news to anyone, but what may come as a surprise is that on the street he liked to roll in a 'sleeper' at least as much as in his exotica. The story goes that he liked the looks of the Karmann Convertible Beetle (after featuring in an advert for one), but was more than a little unimpressed by the measly amount of snort it had in standard form.


Enter Indycar builder Jerry Eisert, who fitted the V8 and made a load of other modifications to the steering, suspension and brakes in order to help keep Mr Newman's head attached to his neck (...it still ran drum brakes though!).

Later in life the Beetle was actually given away to a local college's automotive department and then found its way into private hands where it was eventually restored to the condition you see here.

But Newman wasn't done with his sleepers, oh no. Apparently one of his favourites was a 'Volvette' - a Volvo 740 with - get this - a twin-turbo Chevy LS1 V8 which was reputed to deliver in excess of 500bhp. He even talked his good friend David Letterman into buying something similar, although we think his was a Volvo 960 with a supercharged Ford V8.

Despite the provenance, we reckon the asking price of $250,000 is over the top by a long, long way. But then again, surely no PHer want one of these anyway (we say, tongue frimly lodged in cheek), V8 or not...or would you?





Author: Riggers
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