1952 Zwitter Beetle

Die fette Fledermaus

This Beetle is currently being resto-built into a Zwitter (Split window with an Oval dash) and is without a doubt a massive endeavour!!
The rusted Oval shell (without a pan, doors, deck lid, apron & hood ) was bought from Ernest van Tooren (Classic VW in Benoni) and it was sent to Marius Raaths for sand blasting and primering. It was luckily saved from the dreaded tin worm and the damage caught just in time.  A ’62 Beetle has been sacrificed and its’ lower body cut & morphed with the ’52 upper body to build this project.
We have changed it into a left-hooker and switched the dash lay-out from right to left. This conversion is not a simple task as one might think. A great deal of pre-planning and template making has been spent in achieving this transformation. We secured an early, left set of pedals, as well as the correct Pitman arm for the conversion.
A Scat Long-Block Volksracer crate motor (2332cc) was imported and has been built by master engine builder & hot rodder, Peter Jackson from Bredell. Loads of extra pulleys, brackets and trick covers were designed by Peter and custom made by Ricky from Radfam Engineering. An EMPI side-flow full stainless steel exhaust system has also been fitted. A high-flow Porsche fan add-on kit was purchased from Bernie Bergmann, just to make it pop and lift it to a higher level!!  Dropped spindles, a front disc conversion kit, billet valve covers, K&N air filters, a Scat racing gear shifter, various oil coolers and fans, early Beetle moldings as well as a few extra little goodies were purchased while in L.A.
This HOT motor has been sprayed silver and the covers bright yellow, to oppose the grey colour of the body. Not only does it look damn fine, it performs, producing a whopping 200+ HP!!.
A rare ’71 pan with an IRS gearbox and diff was found in Zeerust and has been modified and strengthened to suit our project. The difference between the common swing axle and newer IRS type is that the swing arm suspensions actually use the axles as a suspension component, whereas IRS uses the combination of the spring plates and arms as the pivoting suspension components and the only function of the axles is to deliver power to the wheels. The front ball joint axle has been replaced with the older type king and link pin setup, with caster shims, (this to make use of the lowered spindle & disc brake kit I bought in 2017). 
Our aim is to have a serious lowered look, without the squatted, negative-camber style, of some swing arm lowered Bugs that are the current flavour of the month.
Extra strong rear components were also acquired while I was in America and they were given to Brian Bird from Primrose, who rebuilt and beefed our gearbox up. It now has 4-spider gears and the ‘super-diff’ fitted, the coarse 3rd and 4th gear conversion done, as well as the extra strong side cover fitted. It will now easily handle all the extra HP thrown at it. It too has been sprayed silver.
The turn-signal holes on top of the front fenders as well as the horn grill vents have been closed up. An ultra rare, working pair of semaphore turn signals have been found and will be fitted. We have sunken the starter button and our new Dehne vintage fuel gauge into the dash as well as fabricating a steel glove compartment box. I’ve also managed to find an original Bat-Wing steering wheel and fitted a 60’s turn signal mechanism (with headlight dip switch) to the column. Our VDO gauges and switches will be hidden behind the center portion and grille of the dash and a new Cronomac speedo/tach combo gauge was imported from Brasil to finish and give the correct 50’s look. 
The firewall has been cut & moved 10 cm forward. Extra custom-made louvres have been strategically welded in, to provide maximum airflow to the engine bay from the outside. Removable side louvres are also being placed on the inner rear wing panels. These additional ‘vented’ panels are there to aid engine access and to fine-tune the carburetors, if need be, as well as for increased airflow to the bay. It also gives that overlooked area a fresh custom hot-rod look.
Some friends have mentioned that all this work is overkill, but we believe that the more air available in the engine bay…the better!!!  
This major surgery has taken a lot of additional planning and pre-fitment, as these modifications change the inner rear window configuration & the inner trunk area behind the rear seats. A KDF-style rear inner panel (under the split window) has been painstakingly fabricated & fitted as well as complimentary interior side pieces. These panels will be exposed and sprayed body colour, and not covered up with roof-lining or upholstery. It will have a stock rear bench seat, covered in black leather to match the prefitted front Audi A3 seats.
All these trick changes are subtle, look original, and are not easily noticed or perceived.
A pair of 1951 side air vents or ‘Crotch Coolers‘ has been masterfully visualised and fabricated by Bern van Gass from various internet pictures only, as we did not have any specifications or a sample to copy. They have been retro-fitted to our Zwitt. Late model wiper mechanisms and arms have been custom fitted as well as the rare Oval hood, upgraded & improved, with late model hood hinges & springs.
This Bug has a fresh set of 5-lug (205 PCD) 15 inch Steelies. The front tires are 195/65/15 on stock rims (3J’s) and the rear rubbers are 215/60/15’s on two widened rims.(7J’s) with zero offset.The spare wheel has a modern space saver (Marie biscuit) tire fitted. They are painted gloss grey, to compliment the ‘period’ look and have stock VW hubcaps all-round. The steering wheel, column and handbrake lever has been sprayed vintage cream to match the knobs. It is being sprayed a Land Rover, non-gloss titanium-grey colour, to give it an industrial, no-nonsense appearance.
I have been inspired by both Fred & Stuart from Northern Bolt & Tool Midrand, and Garin & Sarel from Volkspares Jet Park. They are very knowledgeable about early Beetles and have kindly showered me with good advice & help. Also to Armand Botha from Klerksdorp for unselfishly sharing tried & tested Beetle experiences & hands-on knowledge.
This ‘FAT BAT’ will not be a classic or ‘back to original’ restoration, but a resto-rod with the latest internals and mods. We believe that it still has to be air-cooled to fit the bill.  We are aiming for that smooth, vintage ‘Californian’ look without all the extra roof-racks, paraphernalia and add-ons. We have not skimped on anything nor taken any short-cuts and believe it to be a build comparable to competitive, top class builds elsewhere in the world.
It will be super low… with lots of GO !!