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BangShift Question Of The Day: Could You Get Down With A VW Beetle-based Roadster?

BangShift Question Of The Day: Could You Get Down With A VW Beetle-based Roadster?

I’ve often said that the only vehicle series I cannot tolerate is the Ford Granada/Mercury Monarch/Lincoln Versailles trio, and I haven’t wavered yet…still don’t like ’em. But a close runner up is just about any air-cooled Volkswagen product. Name them, not a fan of ’em. I don’t care if it’s a Type 1, Type 2, Bus, Squareback, 412, Karmann Ghia, whatever…as a kid I hated that tweeting exhaust note and that one nagging fault has morphed over the years into something even stronger. They were slow, they were horrifically underpowered, and their driving dynamics didn’t do it for me at all….and that’s not counting the Karmann Ghia that had the seat stuck in full-forward position that I got to drive in Texas. And don’t get me started on a Beetle, at all. Don’t like the shape at all. Nope, not for me.

Then there is this thing, which I found on Autoblog: the Memminger Roadster 2.7. Memminger is a VW restoration shop that does great work on pretty much all of the air-cooled models, but this is a custom deal. It looks more like a twin to the 356 than a chopped-up Beetle, doesn’t it? It’s a tube-frame chassis with MacPherson struts up front and trailing arms out back, supporting a 2.7L fuel-injected flat-four that’s good for 210 horsepower and 182 ft/lbs of torque. A five-speed manual runs the gears and chances are that this is a one-off exercise to have a little fun before another small-window car comes in to be returned to better-than-original condition. Like I said, normal Beetles don’t do it for me at all…but this one does. It fits somewhere between a classic Euro roadster and an outlaw Porsche, from where I sit, and I bet it runs corners like no Type 1 ever should. If I fit when I sit, I might even be convinced that it’s alright. But that’s me…what about you?

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13 thoughts on “BangShift Question Of The Day: Could You Get Down With A VW Beetle-based Roadster?

  1. Gary

    McT, if you can’t have a blast driving any one of the aforementioned VW’s, you simply aren’t a real car guy! A real car guy learns a great deal about energy management driving under powered cars like that, learns to drive smoothly, quickly, using momentum rather than just horsepower. A simple header eliminated the tweeting exhaust note, and made them sound pretty badass. For me, the newest Beetle does it, although I’d rather it was a true rear engine car rather than the cookie-cutter FWD thing it is. We don’t have cars today that are just total, impractical, cheap fun anymore, like the original Beetle, the Corvair, old Renault’s, etc. It’s all safe, smooth, and no one learns how to drive, the car does all the work for them. This thing? This thing rocks!

  2. john

    BMT…the only VW I owned was the type 181 “Thing”. Ordered and bought it “sight unseen” one of 5 brought to the northeast in late ’72-73. Managed to put every VW oem add on short of the hardtop plus wide fenders, 8″ & 10″ Jackman steel spoke wheels…on and on. It was a blast…you would have loved it! 🙂

  3. RK - no relation

    When VW showed pics of the New Beetle concept nearly 20 years ago, the response was strong enough to cause a new car to go into production. Some people saw it as a bit of a girls car, but you cannot argue with success. The next one was an improvement and now this. It really looks more like the seventies beetle with the lines. I see this is a custom build so thats why, but VW could build more high performance versions of the current car and they would sell.

    Gary is right, those of us who learned to drive on underpowered cars really learned a lot about cars and driving. Especially three pedal units. People today don’t even know how the car works; if they take their right foot off, they think the car will just stop. Just look at how many drivers (most of them) accelerating to the red light and then jamming on the brakes. Brainless

  4. Robert

    In a lot of cases it is more fun to drive a slow car fast if that makes sense. It forces you to focus on turns and keeping momentum.

  5. Scott Liggett

    For a very long time, VW knew how to build cars that were so slow, but so much fun. If you can’t have fun driving a bug, a Ghia, or a minibus you need a certain something removed from a certain dark orifice.

    1. Bryan McTaggart Post author


      I’d get the R5P7 and Tremec for the Imperial, have cash left over, and not feel bad one bit.

      Forty grand for a Granada…hell naw.

  6. Brendan M

    I never cared for anything VW. I do get the fascination with the old ones.
    Though I have owned a Granada. Sorry BMT.

  7. Eric

    I love old Air Cooled VWs, they were what I first wrenched on as a kid and made me enthusiastic about cars, loved my old Baja Bug!

  8. Doug McHenry

    I seem to remember when Kent Fuller built “VolksRods” than were pretty nice and because of their light weight , could hold there own pretty well. Tom (Stroker McGurk) had one and drove it cross country to the NSRA nationals and back without a hitch. I remember Kent having his for sale at Turlock a few years back. Beautiful car! It wouldn’t take much to upgrade one to Porsche power either.

  9. Chevy Hatin' Mad Geordie


    Now make a sedan version as it will be much better than the current VW Golf in Beetle drag that we are currently inflicted with.

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