VW Super Beetle - Our Shed

By: Glenn Torrens, Photography by: Glenn Torrens

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After three years without a track attack Dak-Dak, Glenn Torrens gets busy with his new super bug. Again...

It's been three years since I sold my bright yellow VW Beetle tarmac/hill climb car. Built initially to a $5k budget, I owned it for a decade and – after spending plenty of extra to put more cracker up its clacker – I scored myself a couple of trophies in the NSW and Australian Hill Climb Championships.

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With my new Super Beetle, I’m hoping to improve on the performance of this – my previous hill climb Beetle that I raced for a decade

It was a reasonably successful and terrific fun car – and a source of great pride – but I wanted to build a new Super Beetle (yes, that’s a thing!) with better performance.

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GT doing a spot of colour testing before painting in its final hue

Prior to selling the old one, I bought a Super Beetle and began work. My ambition was to have my new car track-ready by early 2018.

Then by early 2019… Then… ummmm…

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I’ve been working-on and planning other aspects of the car, too, such as the instrument binnacle: a wide fibreglass replacement will allow me to install extra instruments

In three years, I have hardly touched the Bug – except to display it at the Unique Cars event at Sydney Motorsport Park in mid-2019 (but please don’t think I’ve been lazy – I’ve been working on my Commodores, my Pajero and another Bug!).

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Call me a hippy… I reckon using the same colour as dad’s 1980s family Commodore is happy karma. And it’s a single-stage colour, not a clear-over-base, so can be easily repaired

I had a fresh flash of inspiration about my new race Bug early this year. After three years, I didn’t want to miss any more terrific events such as Sydney’s Twilight Tarmac Rally Sprint, the great club-run weekend hill-climbs at Ringwood, Cooma and Gunnedah, the Leyburn Sprints in Qld, and some fresh events such as the re-established Speed On The Tweed in northern NSW. So, I rolled the Bug out from its hidey-hole in my garage and got stuck into it!

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The remains of the Beetle’s dash after a fierce battle involving a grinder

Three years ago, I’d fixed the rust in the turret, in the wheel-arches and the Super Beetle’s infamous hidden rust zone behind the dash. I also added some stitch-welding to the body. Earlier this year, a few late-summer evenings and weekends were spent grinding the welds and working on the body before its underside, engine bay and wheel arches were hit with fresh white paint.

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My Bug’s spine-like chassis had some rust in the nose. A section from a donor car was sourced for a transplant/repair

I was keen for my new car to be yellow but I wanted something a little more subtle than the ‘Warning! Hazardous!’ hue of my previous car. I looked at various late-model Toyota, Porsche and Hyundai yellows. But… In the mid-1980s my dad owned a Cameo Yellow VH Commodore; it was the car I received my licence in. I test-painted one of my Bug’s front guards to see how Holden’s famously pale yellow grooves and moves on the Bug’s rounded surfaces… and I love it!

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What Bug freaks know as the ‘hammerhead’ has been repaired, as has the also rust-prone ‘Napoleans Hat’. Those names, eh?!

Then, in March, The Virus arrived… that meant little chance of any motorsport events in 2020. Not being able to race my Bug this year dampened my desire to keep working on it: my ratty farm-find 1979 Commodore V8 became my priority as it would require less effort and dollars to enjoy driving again.

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Thanks to the Beetle’s enduring popularity, the chassis’ pan halves (the flat floor sections) are available brand-new. Here, I’m checking the fit before welding

So, for now, I’ve rolled the Bug back into its place in my garage. I’ll get back to you later… I promise it will be fewer than three years!

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GT’s old racer in good company back in 2014

 

From Unique Cars #447, December 2020 

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