The original VW kit car was the beach buggy, made popular in the sixties. It embodied pretty much everything about that era, from the fun and freedom it inspired to the psychedelic paintwork that often decorated the body shell.
In the early days of the kit car scene it made sense to use the VW beetle as a donor, after all, they were both cheap and plentiful. But they were also pretty basic mechanically, which meant that even the most basic DIY mechanic skills would get you a roadworthy vehicle.
So it came as no surprise that the VW became the donor vehicle of choice for the early kit car manufacturers. However, thanks to the ingenuity of those early builders, the choice of styles grew to become the diverse range of VW powered machines we have today.
The beach buggy has developed from those early days, offering a breathtaking number of frame and engine options. Yet the original VW beetle floor-pan and air-cooled engine still features in a good number of kits on offer. Whether it’s the distinctive sound of the engine or maybe the ‘cool’ factor that the Beetle still has to this day, I don’t know; but I’m sure that in 10 years from now you will still be able to build a VW beetle powered beach buggy.
Porsche 356 Speedster Replica
One of the most iconic cars of the fifties and sixties was the stunning Porsche 356 speedster. Its classic looks are still much sought after today, as demonstrated by the number of 356 replica kits available on both sides of the Atlantic. Of course, many are based on the VW Beetle, including the gorgeous looking Chesil speedster seen here.
Again, the Beetle floor-pan is used along with the rear air-cooled engine although Porsche power can be shoehorned in if you prefer a bit more kick under your foot. Let’s be honest, the original VW lump is hardly a tarmac shredder, even though it does give a reassuringly authentic sound to the finished vehicle.
In my opinion the speedster is more about classic motoring with the top down, flashing along leafy country roads rather than the blatant balls out racing style of say, a cobra or lotus seven clone.
It comes as a surprise to many that the original Nova was based on a VW beetle! Like the speedster, the futuristic looking Nova used a VW floor-pan and engine as a base to build one of the most eye catching car designs of the seventies.
Overall, the VW kit car scene is alive and well and continuing to flourish in garages across the globe. And with the beetle still in production in Central America there’s no shortage of spare parts.
Add to this a large number of small engineering workshops that are experienced in repairing and altering the beetle floor-pan and you have a donor car suitable for a wide variety of kit car styles.