Rear Wheel Drive 1973 Volkswagen Beetle!

As someone who has more than a few projects in pieces at the moment, I can feel the huge sigh of relief this seller is likely breathing knowing this chassis swap between a 1973 Volkswagen Beetle and a BMW Z3. Looking at this garage setting may make the neat-freaks among you cringe a bit, but the seller has been documenting his work on his YouTube channel which confirms an awful lot of custom work has been carried out. We can forgive some of the debris field surrounding this Beetle, which also comes with a Z3 interior and coilover suspension from an E36 BMW chassis. Find the Beetle here on eBay with bids to $820 and no reserve.

The chassis swap has necessitated widening the overall track of the Beetle, which I have to admit, looks pretty awesome. I haven’t watched the video series so I’m not sure what the end goal was, but older videos show the Beetle with a complete engine and transmission installed, all lifted from the Z3. The seller decided to pull all of those mechanical bits before listing the Beetle for sale, so you’re getting a rolling shell, albeit one with a working emergency brake. The bodywork is definitely amateur-ish, but I can’t speak for whether it’s usable as-is or if the next owner will have to fix the work that’s been done. The Beetle rides on Z3 wheels as well.

Now, here you can see where the next owner is going to have some decisions to make, along with why the seller is likely moving on. The Z3 steering column protrudes quite deep into the cabin, to the point that the Z3 bucket seats are pushed all the way back into where the standard Beetle backseat used to be. As someone who isn’t a fabricator, I can’t say whether this is a big problem or typical for a conversion of this sort. To me, it seems like the former category, as nothing about this looks remotely pleasant to drive. Still, the seller claims he’s whipped it around when the Z3 engine was still installed, and that it was a “…blast.”

Looking at the orientation of everything here, nothing about it makes sense. How do your legs even reach the pedals? The owner is on the tall side, so perhaps he’s able to reach the pedal box, but it still looks very uncomfortable. The seller claims he removed the drivetrain to swap in a different setup, but it never transpired and the project stalled when the Z3 engine was removed. Overall, I’m not sure where you begin with a custom creation like this, but I’d probably keep the wider bodywork while finding a different drivetrain to swap in, like an S52 from a Z3 M Roadster. How would you finish this one-off project?

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Comments

  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    Baffling.

    Like 3
  2. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    ‘ debris field ‘. Great line Jeff! Agree, that S52 motor would be fun. I wonder where that removed motor will end up in? Not a project for me, not that big of a V Dub fan. I know they have a lot of fans so it should find a home. I own a nice Z3 ragtop thats a riot to drive and looks way better than any bug imho. Pretty funny, $820.00 now with 79 bids!

    Like 2
  3. Cooter914 Cooter914

    Switch to an ls and the package should be almost a foot shorter.

    Like 2
  4. angliagt angliagt Member

    I always thought that Beetles WERE rear wheel drive.

    Like 29
    • DayDreamBeliever Member

      All of the air-cooled ones were….
      You beat me to it.

      Like 9
  5. alphasud Member

    It’s a big undertaking to modify a car. Knowing that I installed a single cam EJ25 into a 71 Super Beetle. Didn’t have to cut sheet metal as my intentions were to keep it stock looking. Worked out really good. Had a car that was fast with 160 HP and 1800lbs and got 30+ MPG cruising at 70+ MPH everyday back and forth to work. However this guys conversion on his 73 is probably the finest I have ever seen!
    https://youtu.be/1xyE8oU-s4c

    Like 2
    • DayDreamBeliever Member

      That guy is one heck of a craftsman, isn’t he?
      I ran across that build a couple of months ago. Outstanding in every way!

      Like 1
    • Larry

      Alphasud: that’s incredible!

      Like 1
  6. misterlou Member

    When Project Binky goes wrong.

    Like 1
  7. Rabbit

    IMHO, A waste of a perfectly good Super Beetle.

    Like 2
  8. Rex Kahrs Member

    And the Super Beetle, itself being a perfectly good waste of metal!

    Like 9
  9. Skorzeny

    I thought it was ok until I saw where the seats were.

  10. whmracer99

    It was done in Nathan’s garage. He had completed a string of this type of conversions (mostly pickup bodies swapped onto newer chassis) that were documented on his channel and were completed successfully. He’s had some “challenges” recently and his channel has kind of “gone off the tracks” and so this appears to be one conversion too far. It was (at one point) running and driving with the BMW drivetrain but this is one of those projects where the “devils in the details” and finishing it to match it’s original vision would be a daunting task. His latest video with a complete walk-around is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQV3Z3NtMHk

    Like 2
  11. Hemidavey

    Cool idea, engineering gone astray! “Debris field” is quite accurate. You will be looking through the B pillar while driving ??? Id put the dash seats and steering back where they need to be. Plenty of turbo 4 engines available to choose from. I like the wide body but may have looked at putting a WRXi plant in the rear seat.

    Like 1
  12. rustylink

    Lots of time and effort in the project and the person appears to be more then competent to undertake it. Sadly, few have that ability to finish this project out, so it’s a tough sell. I am also a little concerned about the wheel/pedal placement/arrangement and the fact you will have enough space between the windshield and the steering wheel for a parcel shelf to be installed…

    Like 1
  13. Gerard Frederick

    why?

    Like 1
    • DavidL Member

      Why not?? I guess. Probably seemed like a good(?) idea at the time.
      Kind of reminds me of the guys that were putting Cadillac V8’s in Nash Metropolitans.

      Like 1
  14. jmg

    Why not just shorten the steering column a foot or so? Back to the beetle location. And then make new shifter linkage to move it forward. Poof. What the heck was he doing here?

    Like 1
  15. JMB#7

    It is inspiring that he undertook this project and he is very capable. Hopefully someone will pick up where he left off. However, I don’t think much “engineering” occurred. Most of it appears to be “seat of the pants, cut & evolve”. There is plenty to be said for the “work will show the way approach”. I would consider this to be a “test-bed for prototyping”. I would like to see what it becomes after the next owner sets their hands and ideas to it. Kudos to Nathan, he has “vision”, something that has become a rare trait.

    Like 1
  16. Desert Rat

    Having built my 32 Ford roadster from scratch, I very well know what it takes to complete a project like this. I don’t get why he is going to all the trouble to make that steering wheel system work in this application, unless the steering has functions that he wants to incorporate into the car. I would have gone with an aftermarket tilt steering column and kept every thing in the stock location which would made life much more simple. The car looks cool with the wide track fenders and when done would be a fun 911 killer.

    Like 2
  17. JMB#7

    Sold for $1,025
    Makes me wonder if someone just bought it for the Z3 subframe & parts?
    From that perspective it would be a bargain.

    Like 1

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