Spotted: 1963 VW Beetle Cabriolet


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?





P.H. O'meter

Join the PH rating wars with your marks out of 10 for the article (Your ratings will be shown in your profile if you have one!)

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Rate this article

Comments (51) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Stevie Mojo 08 Jun 2011

    Boobonman said:
    Volvette is more my cup of tea.

    Watch this....

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f86bsY1Iv9I
    Nice engine. I could think of better uses for it though.

  • Yeloperil 06 Jun 2011

    Mr Newman has never been known to do things half heartedly. The power train is Ford GT40

  • Chunkychucky 05 Jun 2011

    I want that, but not at that price frown. As previously mentioned, the bonnet is a bit of a shame, but in the sleeper stakes I would rather have that to keep things cool rather than two massive vents in the rear wings

  • bobberz 04 Jun 2011

    ollyprice87 said:
    Running drum brakes confused
    Well, I'm guessing it was built in the '60s, and that was status quo at the time, excepting higher performance stuff.

  • ollyprice87 04 Jun 2011

    Running drum brakes confused

View all comments in the forums Make a comment