I had always had the dream of owning a ‘Hot Bug’ from since I was young. Even back then, as a 10 year old I got taken around VW shows on summer holidays. A standard model just didn’t quite do it for me. It was the big engined, loud paint job that attracted my attention.
Fast forward 20 years and my tastes had matured. Gone was the desire for the loud paint and 80’s graphics, but the big engine and a car that would get the admiration from pretty much all passers by, was something that was still there. Back then I was not aware of my attention seeking characteristics but boy, I am now!
I had made the decision, I was going to have my dream car! I talked to the bank, secured ‘some’ finance for modifications (I’d like to come back to the term ‘some’ later). The one thing I couldn’t find was a car I really liked. I decided to head down to Sandown Park for the Volks World show. After trawling through the For Sale section, which wasn’t up to much, I decided to head into the show for inspiration.
Upon walking into the paddock area, the sun broke through the clouds and hit the paintwork of the car you see above. It was like something from a soppy movie. Everything was a blur apart from this gleaming example. And it was for sale! I chatted with the owner and decided that if the test drive was ok then we had a deal.
I don’t know if I assessed the car the way I should have. It was more akin to being in a nightclub and an extremely pretty girl starts talking to you.
A. Look around the room the see if this is your best offer? Or do you
B. Be so happy that she wants to come home with you, that you jump in with both feet.
I went for the latter!
Sure enough, a week later I was handing over the money on a dark, wet March evening in Worcester Park. Before I left I got the obligatory random box of left over bits and Halfords dog blanket to protect the seats. It was a long drive back to Streatham in the wet. I didn’t notice back then how the wipers didn’t clear the screen or the fact that the heating had been on full all the way home but had actually not even warmed the car slighty. I was on a high. I had a car that I could now start to make mine.
I woke the following morning like a child on Christmas morning. But suddenly came crashing back to earth when I realised I had to go to work and couldn’t play with my new toy. Before leaving I made some excuse that I needed something out of the car. Only to open the door to get a smell of petrol and oil that only old cars have.
I pretty much spent the whole day bookmarking forums, parts companies and engine builders. My mind was running overtime with ideas for what combinations of gearbox, engine and suspension I was going to go for.
When I turned the corner of the street I realised after spending the day looking at other Bugs online, I had to change the ride height. I wanted that nose down, bum in the air look. I knew I needed what had been listed on the forums as a ‘narrowed beam’ I didn’t even know what a beam was!
This ended up being my first purchase at £450 shipped from Canada, custom made to my 3″ narrow spec. I felt like I knew what I was talking about. This took nearly 8 weeks to turn up. I should’ve know then that bespoke parts take time. Next came the disc brake conversion at £375. Part after part came delivered to my work. I got more and more excited opening boxes full of shiny metal parts which seemed to be getting delivered every other day. My bedroom now resembled a car parts warehouse…