VW logo
SuperPhaetonLandau logo

(the Phaeton body style has no side windows - a Landau is a roadster-looking non-removable roof)


Topless, fenderless volksrods such as the one above (builder unknown) have definitely influenced my thinking - more importantly, they've received "construction approval" from The Missus.

I wasn't sure, though, if Washington state allowed running fenderless until I read this section of state law:  " . . . a street rod vehicle that is owned and operated primarily as a collector's item need not be equipped with fenders when the vehicle is used and driven during fair weather on well-maintained, hard-surfaced roads."     [Reference: RCW 46.37.500(2)]

With that issue settled, I began imagineering a triple-row Super Phaeton Landau that would eventually look like this:

'74 SuperPhaeton - via PaintShopPro
late-1930's phaeton landau that might have been hand built in some foreign land,
but was converted at some point into a fenderless street-rod by some callous Yank.

(A Bulgarian tax disc for the grille - to enhance the illusion)


Ouch!We purchased a front-crunched 1974 VW 1303 SuperBeetle (right) in the fall of 2005, and we've begun doing what street rodders do - replacing bent mechanical parts with more modern, non-damaged parts, and lightening the vehicle by discarding non-essentials.  Sawzall a-cuttin'

Smaller version of Mustang II suspensionIn this case, the replacement mechanical parts will include part of the frame and the entire front suspension, steering, and 9" disc brakes from a 1980 Triumph Spitfire (left). 

Non-essentials removed include the fenders, bumpers, running boards, side and rear windows, roof and door tops, exterior door handles, carpets, radio antenna, and stock fuel tank.

Status 11/17/2007  DETAILS OF THE BUILD  
= Planned     = Done

 Stage 1 - PREPARE the SuperBeetle and Spitfire.

 The Spitfire frame was cut 2" behind the A-arm mounts and 2" forward of the swaybar mounts (right).

 The SuperBeetle's front suspension, steering, fenders, engine cover, trunklid, bumpers, fuel tank, seats, and all glass have been removed.

 The SuperBeetle's front quarter panels, trunk floor, tire well, etc. have been cut back to the front of the passenger compartment footwells (roll your cursor over status photo above right).

 The SuperBeetle's framehead was narrowed to 19.25" (to avoid interference with the Spitfire's lower A-arms).  

           If you've been here before, press Ctrl-R to make sure you're seeing the most recent update . . . .           

 Stage 2 -  ATTACH the Spitfire front suspension.

 subframe* ( light green ) will be welded between the Spitfire's framerails ( yellow ) and bolted to the SuperBeetle's framehead and track control arm pivot brackets (all bolts are shown in  fuchsia ).  The resulting offset of the front axle centerline will:
        - extend
the VW's wheelbase about 10", and
        - lower
the frontend several inches.

 Once the Spitfire frontend is verified as being centered and square, pair of brackets ( dark green ) will be welded between the Spitfire's crossmember and the front of the SuperBeetle's framehead, and all previously bolted joints will be reinforced with welds.

 Triangulating braces* ( red  and  orange ) will be welded to the Spitfire's framerails and shock towers at the front, and bolted to 1"x3" rectangular tubing reinforcements ( plum ) at the rear (the reinforcements will be welded to the SuperBeetle's  fuel tank support and wheelarch stubs).  This combination of welds and bolts will permit removal of the body from the chassis/pan, if necessary.

* 1.5" x 1.5" x 0.120" (wall thickness) square steel tubing will be used for the subframe; triangulating braces will be cut from rectangular steel tubing, 2" x 1" x 0.120" (wall thickness).

 Stage 3 - REINFORCE the body and ROAD TEST.

 To prevent the body sides from "taco-ing" inward or "parallelogram-ing" from cornering forces, an 11" tall Z-girt (stamped steel building girder,  blue ) will be welded between the door jambs - directly to the jamb at the bottom, and at the top to a longitudinal brace level with the door striker plate.

 1" x 1.5" steel tubing side rails ( aqua ) will be welded to the body where the stock running boards were.  With the permanent door jamb panel providing lateral stiffness and the permanent side rails providing longitudinal stiffness, I don't expect to need any temporary bracing prior to removing the roof. 

 Plumbing the Spitfire's front disc brakes into the system, locating the Spitfire's steering shaft through the dash, and installing a Jaz 12 gallon fuel cell will make a short road test possible before the body modifications are begun.

 Stage 4 - MODIFY the body beyond recognition.

1958  MG Magnette bonnet  The hood/bonnet (left) from a '56 MG Magnette ZA that I found on eBay will replace the SuperBeetle's front trunklid.

 The trunklid and bustle trunk section (highlighted right) cut from a '36 Chevrolet will replace the SuperBeetle's engine lid.

 The SuperBeetle's grossly curved windshield will be replaced with a '60 VW Bug flat glass windshield that's either been chopped several inches or leaned back at the top.

 The SuperBeetle's roof will be removed down to the bottom of the window posts.  To restore some body rigidity and establish the new "Landau" roof shape, I'll bend 1" square and " round tubing into a frame (left). 20 gauge sheet steel will be welded to the tubing frame and black Dupli-color truck bedliner will be rolled on to mimic a soft top (location of the "bows" will be evident from the outside).

 There will be no side or rear glass, but I will be resizing the highlighted area of an early VW Bus rear door/hatch (right) so I can see what's behind me.

 To barely comply with the law, a pair of old-timey top-pivot, manual crank wipers (left) will be added.

 A slightly rusty pair of Diest headlight nacelles was purchased (at a local All-British swap meet!), combination rear running lights and turn signals from cip1 will be mounted high on the sides just forward of the bustle, and for stoplights I bought a cheap pair of aftermarket truck clearance lights to flank the Washington (state) Collector Vehicle license plate.

 Shooting the exterior with a coat of epoxy sealer/primer will complete Stage 4.

 Stage 5 - PAINT the exterior and interior.

Empi wheels  I spray-painted a new set of Empi 8-spoke steel wheels (originally white, from cip1) with Rust-oleum Dark Pewter "fine textured finish" to mimic cast magnesium, then installed stainless steel trim rings.  Chromed center caps and chromed lug nuts will add a little "bling."
        - Blackwall 165
R15 tires are mounted on the 5" wide front wheels, and
        - blackwall 225/70
R15's are mounted on the 7" wide rear wheels (right).

 The exterior will be shot with Kirker Chassis Flat Black synthetic enamel. The lightning flash at the beltline (inspired by ZZ Top's deuce coupe) will be done in Rust-oleum Safety Yellow and its shadow line will be cut from red Scotch reflective tape (all the better to see us, especially in the dark).

 The floor and inner fenders (inside and out) will be covered with a rolled-on coat of black Dupli-color truck bedliner, and all other interior sheet metal will be brush-painted with black Hammerite.

 Stage 6 - ADD the final touches.

 Front seats from a '73 VW Sports Bug (left) - with the headrests removed for a retro touch - were bought because they will fit on the SuperBeetle's three-point seat rails.

 I bought a dozen yards of polar fleece material with a red Stewart plaid pattern (right), and The Missus and I will be making removable slip covers for all three rows of seats (the two Sports Bug front seats, the stock folding rear bench seat, and a small, removable jump seat between the rear wheelwells).

  It'll eventually need towbar mounts and a full cover to keep road debris out while being towed behind our Class C motorhome, . . . projects are never really done, are they?

For more info about volksrods, click on my Volksrods Coalition medallions (below).

                    Return to CARCENTRIC home page