Put An LS In It! 1999 Volkswagen Beetle

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OK, I’m going to cut right to the chase. Just like every time there’s some endless rock jam going on and a disembodied voice proclaims, “play all night!”, the same thing happens when an unsuspecting forlorn, what-do-we-do-with-it-car surfaces. The cacophony of “put an LS in it” is resounding. Well, you asked for it and, you got it! Here we have a 1999 Volkswagen Beetle armed with a ubiquitous GM LS V8 engine under its boot. Wow, what a mashup! This imagination on four wheels that has run wild is located in Parkersburg, West Virginia and is available, here on TheSamba for $12,500, OBO. Rocco B gets the gold star for this outrageous discovery!

The thing that is most interesting to me is that the engine, which is a 5.3 liter V8, is located in the rear like a traditional Bug, and transversely mounted, though it is cooled by a front-mounted radiator with supply and return lines that traverse the length of the car – it’s said to run cool. There are no details regarding the transmission other than to state that it’s an automatic so I imagine it’s a GM front-wheel-drive transaxle, but that’s just speculation on my part. Oh, and it slips which is one reason for the supposed drop in price. Regardless, the engineering had to be substantial to pull all of this together and then make it fit, run and drive. Slipping slushbox or not, I take my hat off to the designer/fabricator.

Aesthetically, this is a fine-looking car. The rear fenders have been widened three inches to accommodate the larger rubber but they are well-integrated and not extreme or obtuse. As can be seen, there are tacked-on carbon fiber front fender flares which are OK, they work and they’re hardly a distraction compared to the beautiful, deep blue finish. I’m not certain of the make and model of the wheels but they were a great choice and really finish off the visuals.

The interior has had some custom gauge work applied and the triple add-ons nicely blend in with the overall character of the interior. I can’t tell for certain, but it appears that this Bug is a two-seater with the engine occupying the former trunk and rear seat area. As for the trunk, compact as it is, it has been relocated up front.

The seller suggests, “Dare to be different!!!“. Got that right, this is a first for me, the creator had to have a real imagination and then the skills and/or deep pockets to pull off this conversation. The price seems exceedingly reasonable considering the effort and expense that went into this creation – I really like this one-off Bug! Hmmm, I wonder, how bad a slip can that transmission have…?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. angliagt angliagtMember

    Needs a small block VW!
    If it actually works,this could be an interesting buy
    for someone.I just hope it isn’t prone to gross oversteer.

    Like 5
  2. bobhess bobhessMember

    If that engine is partially into the rear seat area the balance should be pretty good, especially with two people up front. Nice work on this one and the price isn’t outrageous.

    Like 13
  3. Troy

    This looks like something that after I had the transmission replaced or rebuilt would get me a lot of points on my license. Its tempting to get it

    Like 9
  4. Bill D

    As someone who grew up on MAD magazine in the 1960s-70s, the Alfred E. Neuman “What Me Worry?” badge makes it for me.

    Like 23
    • bobk

      That’s also what got me.

      Like 8
    • 370zpp 370zppMember


      Like 6
  5. Joe Haska

    I think it is very cool! The build looks to be well done and professional. Of course this is a car you would want to see in person, before you could be comfortable buying it.

    Like 4
  6. DavidH

    It’s a VW Beetle with a what?! It’s a V??? A VWV8! Very Well. It’s a Beetle with a V8. Why not.

    Like 3
  7. AnalogMan

    Is this a rear (or semi-mid) engine with FWD? As in, front wheel drive?? If so, that would make for very, er, interesting driving characteristics and handling dynamics. Yikes!

    Like 0
    • Ron

      Engine in the back, rear wheel drive, but the setup was sourced from a front wheel drive car.

      Like 9
  8. Big C

    I remember Hot Rod Magazine ran a story way back when about intalling an Olds Tornado 455 FWD in the back of a Porsche 911.

    Like 8
  9. PairsNPaint

    Drivetrain likely came out of a Pontiac GXP. Notorious for transmission failures when abused.

    Like 3
    • Allen L

      LS4, also available in the Monte Carlo SS and Impala SS.
      As you stated, the transmission is the weak point. The uncommon fix is to install a 4T80E transmission from a Northstar equipped FWD Caddy. Not cheap or easy, due to relocation of the starter motor. Spend big bucks on an oil pan that solves the problem, or make your own….

      Like 4
  10. RexFoxMember

    He dropped the price from $20,000 to $12,500 because the transmission slips? It makes me think that access to the transmission must require major disassembly or something extremely time consuming. I do like the copper coolant hoses (pipes) and could be fun it if is actually drivable. As already mentioned, more pictures would be very helpful, but not seeing a driveshaft makes me think this is rear wheel drive.

    Like 2
  11. angliagt angliagtMember

    Also,the perfect car to do this type of conversion to.
    NOBODY will miss these when they disappear (well,-
    almost nobody).
    At least the seller didn’t keep the flower vase.

    Like 7
  12. CraigR

    I saw a YouTube video about this thing and it included some rather insane on the road shots.
    Yes very very fast.

    Like 3
  13. Jakespeed

    The Engine-Transaxle should be a GM LS-4 5.3 L (front-wheel drive only specific block&crankshaft) with LS-3 heads and DisplacementOn Demand/Active Fuel Management (so you NEED to know if that has been disabled and if so what Camshaft replaced the DoD/AFM cam) and a 4T-65E-HD transaxle. These trans axles were stressed by the 3800Series II and III Supercharged engines, so it’s going to require service to clean the Trans cooler lines at the VERY LEAST and a large auxiliary transmission cooler to augment or (better) replace the stock in radiator unit. I’d suspect that if the transmission cooler remained in radiator that the run of the lines to the front of the car would be questionable at best.

    Like 2
    • Ron

      Yeah the 4t65 is a crapper. There is a variant used in some Cadillacs that is much more robust but I *think* it takes a wiring nightmare and separate controller from the Chevy trans. This unit in the bug is probably from an impala ss.

      Like 0
  14. BFjunky

    Wow!! Assuming this has the vulnerable 4t65 automatic (which has had a notably high failure rate behind the LS4) I would love to swap six-speed manual into this. A popular transmission with the LS-swap Fiero crowd would be the 6-speed F40 manual found in the Pontiac G6 starting in 2006. With a little more sorting (EFI, widened front fenders, rocker panels replaced) it would suit my tastes. Certainly asking less than it would cost to build this Mad Machine!!

    Like 2
  15. Howie

    I will wait a few days for another price drop when it does not start.

    Like 3
  16. Jakespeed

    P.S. My son’s Pontiac GTP Gran Prix with the Supercharged 3800 series II had the transmission start to slip. He sold it. ZZPerformance (ZZP) has cans of Transmission Cooler Line Cleaner for sale, BUT it’s probably a crutch at best.

    BTW, HD part if the 4T-65E is the differential. The transaxle in the Cadillac is a 4T-80. “LS4King (youtube)” has successfully bolted these up with some grinding to the Cadillac Transaxle Case, but if it were easy, I’d have already done it with my 1996 Olds 98 Regency.

    Like 1
  17. alan c hubbard

    The V8 LS kills the transmission in all the transverse installations, it might be a better idea to source a Corvette drivetrain. Mount the LS in the Beetle front sub-frame and the Corvette subframe in the rear. This leaves only firewall, drive shaft, and wire harness work. This is not an easy swap by any means. I have seen the Monte Carlo SS drivetrain swapped into the front of New Beetle at LS Feast, it was stock fuel injected, and looked like a factory installation (VERY Clean!). The builder of the Blue NB LS swap is clearly a skilled fabricator, has had his fun with the project and is ready to move on. My opinion is that the next owner should take the steep discount, rebuild the transaxle, and convert the LS back to fuel injection. Based on the fact the original builder chose to go Carburetor, I’m assuming the VW dash is lit up like a Christmas tree, and a lot of accessories like A/C and cruise control may not work. I certainly don’t have the fabrication skills it took to build this car to this point, and at my age I have lost the patience it would take to make the VW to GM electricals work, but it was fun to build it, and the Corvette NB version in my head. Good Luck to Buyer, and Seller of this wonderful project car.

    Like 2
  18. Lee Wells

    Speaking of the “play all night” comment, as a musician for 30+ years, the most disembodied voice requests have been, “Play Freebird”! 🙄

    Like 2
    • Jim ODonnellAuthor

      I have no doubt!


      Like 0
  19. David h

    I did one with a ls4 in the front..

    Like 2
  20. George Birth


    Like 0
  21. JoeNYWF64

    I would have gone with a later model bug with the much better looking chopped roof – plenty in the salvage yard with typical VW electrical problems.
    Too bad the car was discontinued – i liked how those looked.
    I wonder if fitting a v8(say buick aluminum block) up front & a solid axle in back would be easier to engineer than what we have here.

    Like 1

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