…And now for something completely different!

*** Spring 2016 update. Re-worked steering, driveshafts, exhausts, floorpans, bonnet etc. etc all under construction for 2016.  ***

We’ve been hankering after some kind of dirty Rat-Rod for some time here at Lyle’s. Ever since returning from a stag-do to the 2014 Hot Rod & Custom show at Chimay, Belgium. We took a horrible ‘flamed-up’ Ford Dorchester Limo, which was great for a stag-do, and definitely got a few laughs, but a real hot-rod it was not!

We were approached by our good friends at Fat Bobs Emporium (who are always up for an automotive-based laugh or two) with a little idea. The conversation commenced roughly as follows:

L: “Hey Fat Bob. We should do something with that old Beetle chassis you’ve got kicking around…”

FB’s: “Yup. The one we used to build the pirate ship for VW Action” (pics of that in ‘other stuff’)

L: “Well I think we may be able to kill a few birds with one stone here… You want your name on some kind of VW-based promo vehicle, right? And we’d love to build one. And you and I both want a Rat-Rod for summer ’15, right?”

FB’s: Big cheesy grin

L: “Cool. I’ll bugger off and do a sketch… see you soon”

And upon returning to the ‘shop, this was scribbled down in the notebook:

Original sketch

Yeah, it’s a scruffy, crappy looking picture but you get the idea!


Here’s the Beetle chassis with all the unwanted front end removed. We’re just laying out a few of the bits we’d acquired here to get a rough idea of layout & dimensions


Next we made a frame for the chassis -this extends the remaining Bug chassis out past where the motor & trans will sit, and hooks up to the front and rear axle-beams, so they effectively become subframes.

An adapter plate was cut to our own design from 10mm steel to mount the VW engine to the Mazda 5-speed ‘box. This also incorporates transmission mounts to hold the front end of the trans between the chassis rails. A Beetle 200mm clutch is used, but with a modified Mazda friction plate, and modifications also to the VW flywheel to get everything working together. The beetle IRS rear end was the hooked into the rear of the chassis rail & welded into place. Custom mounts hold the rear of the ‘box onto the crossmember, and we raised the Beetle tunnel enough to feed the Mazda prop-shaft through. The Mazda diff is then mounted to the Beetle rear end on its original mounts via a cradle we knocked up from steel stock/scrap/old axle-stands! The driveshafts had to be cut and sleeved & welded together for now, until time permits some ‘more proper’ engineering *now removed for re-work March 2016*, giving us Mazda inner ends and Beetle IRS outers. This way we got the length we needed, and made it possible to drive Beetle hubs from the Mazda diff. Brakes & suspension are all standard Beetle; drums front and rear for that ‘old car’ look.

body construction

The body is constructed from scratch; just some 3/4″ tubing for the frame, and 1mm sheet steel for the panels; wrapped round & rivetted on. Up-front we’ve used a 70’s bug axle beam mounted in reverse to throw the front wheels (soon to be changed for something more suited) way out in-front. Just because we can!

rusting the shell

Those who went to Viva Skeg-Vegas 2015 will have seen the car almost completed. We still need a handbrake assembly, better wheels, adjustments to the steering geometry, a bonnet-rusting session … well, actually it’s a big list -you’ll see. We aim to get the beast fully road-friendy sometime soon

More build details & updates to follow throughout Spring ’16.

Volkstub and k70