Monday, September 10, 2012

Popular VW Beetle customizations/styles I

When I entered the Volkswagen scene, I was so much overwhelmed not only by the whole sub culture itself but also with the VW terminologies thrown at me as I went on with my journey of discovery. Being a newbie with only a 1973 VW beetle as my entry ticket to join this worldwide community of VW lovers, I had to learn my way around by asking questions and (thank God for the net and worldwide VW forums) doing my own research to understand more the culture and the language. One particular aspect that always comes up are VW Beetle customization/style terms like Cal-look, German–look, etc. which got me searching again on what the heck these labels meant. Below are some of the more popular VW Beetle customizations I came across with. The list is by no means complete as I come across new terms every time I start looking. I will add more moving forward. 

The iconic Beetle is popular with customizers because it is relatively inexpensive as a medium with an uncomplicated exterior that’s easy to personalize and a basic flat-four engine that can be worked on even by amateurs in their backyards during the weekends. It is present almost everywhere worldwide with an easily identifiable design which makes even minor customizations easily stand out satisfying every customizers craving for attention! Common customizations may include lowering the car's suspension, body shaving, trim removal, wheel alteration, bumper removal, replacement or modification (chromed, polished, painted, powder coated, etc.), modifications of the headlight, hood and trunk, taillight replacement, etc. The combinations of the customizations above (and more) are the bases for the different VW Beetle customizations developed throughout the years. Below are the more popular ones. You will notice though especially with the pictures below that the style characteristics usually serve only as inspirations for the customizer and not strictly totally adhered to as a template.

California Look.
This is one of the more popular styles that influenced the VW scene all over the world. Cal look originated in Orange County, Los Angeles at the end of the 1960's which gained popularity a few years later when the it was officially named as California Look by Jere Alhadeff in the February 1975 issue of Hot VWs.
The VW California Look
To put it simply, Cal Look is a subtle VW in every possible way except for a high horsepower engine! Since then, the Look kept evolving throughout the following three decades to present:

70's Cal Look
VW Beetle modified in 70s California Look Style
VW:     Any Beetle, Karmann, Type 3 or Bus with round bumper blades; also 1968 or 1969 Beetles with 
            square bumpers.
Trim:    Usually, all body trim  and window rubbers removed, headlight rings painted, the vent wings painted or omitted for one-piece-windows.
Interior: Racing seats used; dashboards changed fitted with more gauges; sport steering wheels and shifters 
Suspensions: front end lowering done to achieve nose down stance like drag race cars.
Wheel: Any wheel fitting VW or Porsche pattern allowed. Adaptors for other wheel patterns were frowned 
            upon, as were fully polished wheels.
Engine:Type 1 engines only! 2 liters engines were known as very big, small but wild high compression 1.8 
            liter engines were common.

80's Cal Look .
961 Bug, Old School 80's Cal look 2175cc
VW:     anything air cooled.
Trim:    removed, at least on the outside. T-Bars and Buggy-Bars were out of fashion, simple bumper blades
            without bumper guards were up to date.
Paint:    the more colorful, the better; graphics were in.
Interior:seats from other makes used; tweed cloth used; dashboards welded up. Suspensions: lowered at the rear end- the lower, the better
Wheels: focus was fully polished Porsche Fuchs wheel; also low-profile tires used.
Engines: a step backwards- performance unimportant, the look was all that counted; chrome and transparent plastics were usual.

90's Cal Look
The Cal Look now looks back to its roots-not the original Cal Look but the Cal Look of the 1990's. That's why most cars nowadays still have their chrome trim and sometimes even towel-bar bumpers.
90's Cal Look Beetle
VW:     any Beetle,  KarmannType 3  or Bus with round bumpers, but also 1968 or 1969 beetles with 
            square bumpers.
Paint:    color choice restricted to original VW colors or period colors.
Interiors: stock seats or upgraded with period racing seats. Dashboards are hardly altered; gauges are 
             located in additional pods.
Suspension: restricted to the front end, the rear end remains on stock height.
Wheels and tire:  follows 1970's- only period wheels are possible and no low-profile tires.
Engine: big type 1 engines up to 2.3 liters with 48IDA carbs commonplace; a hot 1600cc with 40 IDF, is 
     fine for some. Modern technology used like MSD ignitions94mm barrels and pistons and turbo mufflers.

German Look
The German Look originated in Germany and is a modern style resulting from people upgrading their VWs with Porsche parts to be used in the "Kafer Cup". These days the vehicles are still inspired mainly from Porsches, but also any high-performance circuit racing car. 'Form follows function' is a common German Look buzzword, though in reality the car doesn't have to perform as well as it looks (hence the 'look').
1972 German Beetle
VW:     can be applied to any VW though the 1303 is often chosen because of superior handling, and 
Trims: removing all chrome on the car and painting them the same color as the body
Paint:    modern monochromatic paint schemes: often colors used on Porsche cars.
Suspension: level stance-closer to the ground to stick to the road
Wheels and tire:  large Porsche or modern alloys with low profile tires as you would find on German race 
           cars; large brakes upgraded from drums to disk brakes
Engine: Type I engine is often swapped with a Type IV engine (from a Type 4 Volkswagen or a Porsche
          914) for more power.

Resto Cal/Cal Resto/Resto-Custom Look

The Resto-Cal look is a vintage style, resulting in a car that has a ground scraping stance but can be restored to stock relatively easily if preferred. It is predominantly based around a stock-bodied car (i.e - no body mods) that has been lowered front and rear. The general consensus is - the lower the better! One spline at the rear is considered the minimum!
It was described by as "a very cheap, ugly, unsightly & unattractive method of modifying air cooled VW cars". Some feature excessive rust on the main infrastructure, including the suspension and floor pan. It is the very opposite of what the California Look was originally intended for: tastefully built, fast, and nice looking fun to drive functional VW that could easily out accelerate most cars on the roads, even V8 powered units.
1966 Resto Cal
VW: air cooled Volkswagen cars which is not limited to only Type 1 models. Any model of aircooled VW
       can be given the Resto-Cal look (except perhaps for the MacPherson strutmodels). Pre 67 cars are
       more traditionally popular but late models are increasing in popularity.
Paint:    doesn't matter if the car has paint or like most examples primered.
Interiors: stock, except for the possible additions of a performance shifter or additional accessories (e.g - 
         Bambus parcel shelf)
Suspension: overly lowering to the point of decambering the rear wheels to extremely unfunctional angles, 
       which can hinder car handling properties which can also bring the front fender arches excessively over 
     the wheels/tires. Narrowed beams are popular too-narrowing the front track to enable the car to go 
     lower, giving a "tucked" look.
Wheels and tire: can remain stock, or other popular options are Polished/Chrome Empi 5s or Early Porsche Fuchs.
Engine: Big engines are not necessary, but it's also not unheard of for a Resto-Cal car to have a hi-po motor. Engine may remain stock or painfully slow.
Period accessories are popular - along the lines of fender skirts, roof racks etc.; installing and/or bolting on 
       every known car accessory to the car.

French Look.

French look Beetles will have similar customizations as the German Lookers with somewhat smaller engines as the French regulations allow less play in that matter. So the exterior styling will become where the twist and variation takes place, with wild graphic paint jobs in vivid colors typical of the early 1990's.


VW's are also being used as alternative to traditional hot rods and are quickly growing in popularity mainly because classic Hotrodding vehicles such as Ford Model Ts and Model As are becoming more scarce and more expensive. Their expense has made obtaining and modifying one not feasible for the masses. VWs are so much cheaper with easily accessible parts. It is also a 1930's design, which is "very important" in keeping with hot rodding's roots & tradition.
Red Volksrod with a beam axle showing, mounted on coilovers
One popular conversion method involves removing all body molding & bumpers as well as the fenders of the beetle, and then installing a classic Ford front axle to move the wheels forward and give the car a low, stretched look. It’s then finished off with a chopped top and a flat black paint job, original wheels & often with a pin striping.

Another popular customization is to move the stock VW axle beam forward or reverse the trailing/torsion arms and re-work the steering linkages. As with all types of car customization, lots of different modifications are practiced in different combinations. Usually built with little or NO expensive machined Aluminum or Chrome plated parts, the Volksrod is mostly handmade by the owner with simple mechanical tools and welding equipment. The Volksrod usually eschews an expensive paint job, utilizing spray can paint applied in their driveway. A common refrain, often heard, is "cut - weld - drive."
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No comments:

Post a Comment