Featured: A Volkswagen Beetle Reborn To Keep Up With Modern Life

A Volkswagen Beetle Reborn To Keep Up With Modern Life

Petrolicious Productions By Petrolicious Productions
July 22, 2015
24 comments

Photography by Christian Baumann

Volkswagen Beeltes are different from most cars. They never seem to go away, and yet, we’re sure that years of service have relegated most to the scrap heap—leaving fewer survivors each year. This fully restored 1956 oval window example, owned by Nicola in Bergamo, was recently tracked down by photographer Christian Baumann.

What’s so special about the car?

Originally from the Netherlands, the car is the manifestation of the owner’s desire since he was young to own an oval window Beetle. Bought in 2010 in very poor “almost scrap metal” condition, Nicola spent every night for six months carefully reconditioning the car in his garage, and upgrading certain things along the way.

He rebuilt the transmission, put a new 1,835-cc engine in it, added 4-wheel disc brakes, converted the car to 12-volt electrics, and installed adjustable suspension—all items to improve performance in modern traffic…plus make it look more attractive when stationary.

Resprayed in its original color and with the same interior, the car looks like a time warp back to 1956, enhanced by its period accessories including roof rack and VDO rev counter.

Running a fashion boutique as a day job, Nicola’s store, says photographer Baumann, is very much influenced by his hobby and passion for cars and motorcycles.

Baumann has been trying to photograph this car for more than two years, too! “Two years ago I saw the Beetle for the first time in front of his boutique, and immediately I fell in love,” he says. “This was also the reason I wanted the shoot around his shop. All the pictures are shot between Sant’Alessandro and Piazza Pontida of Bergamo. So I hurried up the shooting and we ended up with a nice espresso and brioche in a bar at Piazza Pontida!”

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Bruce
Bruce

WONDERFUL! Congrats.

Wagoner
Wagoner

@EdL- Well stated in your last post, and I agree. This car is a good middle ground as a resto-mod. It’s not going to win any awards as a restored car, and VW purists can be as exacting as any in the hobby. But it would find favor with people who love the simplicity of the early cars and yet understand that keeping them in regular use is not so easy or practical if they are bone stock. I think if anything, the mods here have made for a dynamic car that is competent in any situation today and yet… Read more »

Tom DesRochers
Tom DesRochers

This Beetle restomod is very similar (in concept) to what I have planned for the Maverick. Keep it looking substantially original but with a much improved driving experience. Upgrade springs / shocks / swaybars. Upgrade the rear end with disc brakes and limited slip. Toss on some 15*7 period-correct aftermarket wheels (because hubcaps fall off). Repaint the body in original Metallic Brown color. Interior mods kept to a minimum. Extra gauges, modern radio that fits the old dash, and an alarm system would be the entirety of inside changes. Modifying the inline6 is a no-go in CA so I’d swap… Read more »

saxon bell
saxon bell

Beautiful. It looks like diamond green, one of my favourite colours. Ive owned several 50s beetles, they are classic simplicity at its best. Ovals are amongst the best visually of all the years. I now own a 71 deluxe bus (natural progression for many)
The best things about classic VWs are they are so affordable, parts are generally easy to find and they are made so well
Hope this car gives you years of satisfaction. Well done on doing the work yourself!

Willi Vogt
Willi Vogt

Great rebuild! Great shots! And proof that vw build one of the nicest keys around in the former days!,

Edward Levin
Edward Levin

Resto-mods like this aren’t classics; they’re modern cars in drag.

And that’s fine if–like many people–you want classic style and don’t care about classic driving experience. And with the increased reliability of modern components, there may be plenty of reasons to [i]not [/i]want a classic driving experience. As an retro-chic urban commuter for everyday use, there’s a lot to like here. And as an exterior accessory for the owner’s fashion boutique, it’s hard to argue with it. But let’s be honest and not refer to this as “fully restored”.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Hate to be the bearer of bad news not to mention raining on your parade but as long as there are cell phones , repair shops around every corner , GPS , broom wagons and support vehicles , tow trucks on demand , email . social media etc it doesn’t matter what you drive be it classic [ restored ] , resto mod or brand spanking new you are not nor have you ever had a classic driving experience regardless of the delusions involved unless you actually lived and drove back when it was authentic and real . Fact is… Read more »

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

…… or to quote the late great and world renowned sage and guru of all things Vincent motorcycles [ even Phillip Vincent himself paid homage to the man back in the day not to mention the entirety of the VOC ] Big Sid Biberman ;

” Stock is a can of beans on a shelf “

Nicolas Moss
Nicolas Moss

Hey, it still has all the crash-worthiness of the original. Heck, it might be even more dangerous given that the larger engine makes it go faster. Drive tastefully, hit nothing.

Nate
Nate

What you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Edward Levin
Edward Levin

I put as many miles on my 1970 Lancia as my ‘daily driver’. Yes, it pollutes more than my modern, but it absolutely works just fine on modern roads and highways, and there’s no reason to believe it’ll be legislated off the road any time soon. I’m not arguing that we can completely replicate the driving experience of decades past, nor that we’d want to. But there’s a world of authenticity between that and dropping modern motors, gearboxes, a/c, power windows, &c into every classic shell because it’s easier and more convenient to drive that way. The Robert Johnson analogy… Read more »

Wagoner
Wagoner

EdL, I get what you’re saying about resto mods, but I don’t think it applies here. The loss of authenticity in this case is minimal, and the mods take nothing away from the Beetle driving experience. I’ve driven quite a few miles in a ’56 Beetle with its original 36-horse engine, and long drives in modern traffic were always dicey. The maintenance cycle on that car was also intensive and the availability of quality parts could be a challenge. Is it a concours, factory correct restoration? No. But neither is it a modern car in drag. That would make it… Read more »

Edward Levin
Edward Levin

Guys–I think some of you are over-reacting here. If you actually read my first post, I said “[i]And with the increased reliability of modern components, there may be plenty of reasons to not want a classic driving experience. As an retro-chic urban commuter for everyday use, there’s a lot to like here. And as an exterior accessory for the owner’s fashion boutique, it’s hard to argue with it[/i].” You’ve got a problem with that? This obviously isn’t a car I dislike. And the first sentence in the quote clearly acknowledges that resto-mods have their place. I just don’t want us… Read more »

Wagoner
Wagoner

Ed, are you talking to me? I hope you’re not accusing me of knee-jerk responses and not reading what you wrote. Actually, I read it very carefully. But you did say “Resto-mods like this aren’t classics; they’re modern cars in drag.”

I know you were taking exception to the use of the word “restoration”, and I agree it’s conflated and overused. But this is not a modern car in a classic wrapper.

Edward Levin
Edward Levin

Wagoner, no–I was absolutely NOT directing that comment specifically at you. Resto-mods and perfect, untouched original cars are two ends of the same spectrum, with neither extreme actually being achievable in practice. So with a car like this one being somewhere closer to the center of the spectrum, it’s possible to argue it either as a resto-mod or a modified classic. And that’s particularly true in this instance given that the engine is the same basic architecture. Unlike the straw-man argument made earlier (not by you), I’m not arguing that we can recreate the “as-new” driving experience of a 40-… Read more »

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Good god in heaven I love it ! An excessively tastefully done from stem to stern Beetle Resto – Mod ! Brilliant . With every change he made being the most logical and functional ones he could of done while maintaining the original appearance .And again I say [ with gusto ] Brilliant ! Personally I doubt he or anyone else could of done it better ! If only Nicola was here [ US ] instead of Italy I’d be knocking on his door to see about him doing me up a Resto – Mod Beetle Bus ! Dang but… Read more »

Phil Huffstatler
Phil Huffstatler

@Franje:
That is a semaphore, otherwise known as the turn signal. 🙂 Very desirable for Bug fans.

It’s a really nice car, or at least very well presented. Nothing like a big motor to keep up with the new stuff too. Wonder if he changed the gear ratios to take advantage of the power. Makes me want one again, though I’ve had my six of them.

P

Franje
Franje

Lovely photos, and the car has a very nice colour. In the last row of photos, i.e. at the very bottom of the article, there is an orange thing sticking out of the car. What is that?

Ronnie M
Ronnie M

That’s an older style turn signal.

Jake Jacobs
Jake Jacobs

A Motor Trend article listed them as “non-cancelling trafficators”. Signals that have to be manually canceled. I am now curious as to how they actually operate.

Jake Jacobs
Jake Jacobs

A Motor Trend article listed them as “non-cancelling trafficators”. Signals that have to be manually canceled. I am now curious as to how they actually operate.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trafficators

Jake Jacobs
Jake Jacobs

Darn double posts. Not manually canceled, but by cable?

Todd Cox
Todd Cox

The others are correct, it is a turn indicator. That style is called a semaphore.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Got to be honest here . I’m a bit surprised as well as dismayed everyone here doesn’t already know that ! Hmmmn .