Homebuilt, Rally-Inspired Super Beetle Fits Just Right
Owner: Dave Hord
Year, Make, and Model: 1971 Volkswagen 1302-S “Super Beetle”
Location: Squamish, British Columbia, Canada
Photographer: Andrew Holliday, Andrew Snucins, and Dave Hord
When I was growing up my Dad always had a project car. Typically VW Beetles, but later expanding into Triumphs, Audis, and motorcycles, Dad always had something on the go. He would buy damaged or worn down cars, fix them back up to factory spec and then flip them for the next project. It’s in my blood I suppose. The first thing I ever drew was a Volkswagen Beetle, and I guess you could say that I’ve had a strong love for them from the very beginning.
In my teens and early twenties I was heavily into rallying, and due to harsh east-coast winters, I was playing with and modifying Audis. They were all-wheel-drive, galvanized, and had a whole lot of rally pedigree. After a few years of living on the west coast, however, I wanted something different. I returned to my original love of classic cars, and Beetles in particular, and thus was looking to build a classic-esque rally car. While researching ’60s speed modifications and period correct rally changes I stumbled upon the Salzburg Rally Beetles of the ’70s. I had never heard of them! No-one, it seemed, in North America had heard of them. I was hooked, I had to have one!
My car is a tribute to the little-known factory rally cars of the early ’70s. In 1971, when Volkswagen introduced the Super Beetle, Porsche Austria (importer for VW at the time) was looking for a way to stop the Beetles’ slipping sales. Being European, I suspect, they naturally selected rallying as an obvious choice for improving the marketing of the new Super Beetle. My car is an exterior replica of the 1971 1302s factory rally car, but a completely modernized or “my choice” performance vehicle under the skin.
I worked out the plan over two years, building a notebook of each and every modification that I was going to do. I researched the original factory cars endlessly, and determined the exact factory items I’d have to include, those which I would closely tribute, and the modern day equipment or changes I would use to improve upon their efforts. By the time I decided to start building, it was more of a shopping list and set of assembly instructions then a traditional project car. Ironically, the hardest thing to find was a rust-free ’71 or ’72 Super Beetle. In order to end up with a full set of German Factory sheet metal for the car, I bought three 1971 super beetles and a 1972 super beetle. Eventually they became what you see here!
During the initial build, a friend of mine came and helped weld in a new heater channel, and (having tried once on a previous car) I had some other friends with experience lay down the paint. For safety reasons I had Rocket Rally build and install the roll bar, and Gord there helped me out with the lower shock mounts. But outside of those these items, I’ve done everything myself. Every nut, bolt, weld, and modification. Recently, however, I did have the new 2.1L motor professionally built by a friend and local engine builder. I was using high-revving 1776cc engines I built myself for the first two and a half years, but, having experienced more then a few engine failures, I figured I would eliminate the builder as a possible cause!
The thing I love most about my Super Beetle, is that it fits me. I don’t just mean in a physical sense, but in a philosophical sense as well. On the physical side, I’ve built and modified everything to be just the way I want it. It feels right, like getting into your favourite pair of jeans, and I can’t think of anything else I’d rather climb into on a daily basis. From a philosophical side, it’s the evolution of everything I’ve grown up loving and wanting in a car. I used to read Dad’s Hot VW and VW Trend magazines in the ’80s, looking at Class 11 and 5000 Baja Bugs, imagining how I would modify my future car “just a little.” Combine that with my teen-aged love of rallying, and I’ve managed to blend the two into the perfect vehicle that suits me. I look at it parked on the driveway, and I smile. I get in it, and I smile. I drive it, and I really smile. Three years, multiple blown-up racing motors, and I’m still smiling.
Where I live, we have one of the top rated “must drive” roads in North America; the Sea to Sky Highway. Most famous for the section from Vancouver to Whistler, it’s the Northern section from Pemberton to Lillooet thar is to die for. While I originally built the car to enjoy winter TSD rallies, gravel rallyX and track days, I’ve found the most pleasure comes from driving in our Classic Car Adventure events. About six years ago, a great friend and I were planning a weekend of mountain driving in our classic cars together, when the thought dawned on us…”If we are excited to do this, wouldn’t other people!?!” Classic Car Adventures, and the Spring Thaw Rally, were born. In year one we figured if we found fifteen other cars we could build on it. We had forty-three enter, and we’ve sold out with a waiting list each year after that. Blasting through mountain passes and remote sections of road with other period correct cars simply can’t be beat. So while I’m still adding to the stone chips by sliding it sideways through gravel, I’ve really come to appreciate the twistiest tarmac roads I can find.
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