Crazy Corvair-Powered 1962 Volkswagen Beetle

This is an absolutely wild Volkswagen Beetle that the seller claims is a one-of-one example with a Corsa Racing Corvair engine out back mated to a GM 4-speed transaxle. With 140 horsepower, it is very fast, and was built by a mechanical engineer in the 1970s. What I love about this car is it is not only a wicked cool build, but it’s also something that was built in period when Beetles were just as likely to be modified as any other Mustang or Camaro. There’s a ton of custom work and fabrication behind this build, and the rear end looks like it took a page from the Fiat 595 Abarth with its raised engine lid. The seller has listed it here on eBay with a reserve, and there’s one bid at the moment to $13,500. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Larry D. for the find.

What a bonkers conversion. With 140 b.h.p. in an air-cooled Beetle shell, this thing must absolutely scream. The paint job leaves no illusion that you’re not blending in with a car like this, and who’d want to? It’s a rocket ship, and one that can be maintained and improved with off-the-shelf Corvair parts. Now, I suspect the rear suspension is just slightly customized, and the bodywork certainly is with that unique hinged engine cover that accommodates for the added length of the hindquarters. Some of the other keys stats from the seller include that the kit “...utilizes 140hp 4 carb intake with a 3:55 positraction GM 4 speed trasaxle, front suspension is a hybrid assembly featuring nitrogen dampening with complete adjust ability for height and spring rate.” 

The listing mentions the Transvair kit, which was indeed an actual set of parts you could buy to equip your Type 1 Beetle with a Corvair powerplant. While the Corvair engine wasn’t necessarily a powerhouse right out of the gate, it had numerous options courtesy of the aftermarket for increasing the engine’s performance capabilities. According to a post on The Samba website, the TransVair kit was supplied by a company called Hadley Engineering that allowed the installation of a Corvair engine, transmission, axles and rear brakes into your standard Volkswagen Type 1 chassis. The installation looks quite clean in the photos, with no evidence of it being performed by a hack or in someone’s backyard after a few beers. The closer to factory that it looks, the better you can feel about owning such a highly customized car.

The interior is also reassuring, with what looks to be a very nicely preserved cabin. The seats aren’t perfect but you can tell they were refurbished at some point. The seller notes there’s a tear in the back seat, but that’s hardly a concern. The parking brake doesn’t work and the seller had plans to replace the headliner, which are minor fixes at the end of the day that don’t demand your immediate attention.

What may be more important is signing up for a few high-performance driving classes to make sure you can keep this high horsepower Beetle on the road! The paint is said to be decent but not perfect, but really, anyone who walks up to this car isn’t staring at the paint job. This is a conversation piece-and-a-half if you’re an air cooled VW collector, but I’m sure anyone who just likes to go fast can appreciate a creation like this.

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Comments

  1. alphasud Member

    That’s no longer a 140hp Corvair engine with the intake logs machined off and adapters made to mount the triple choke Weber carbs from a 911. Most likely they are running a cam to get the most out of the induction system and are probably running higher compression. All the weight hung out there can’t help in the handling department. Nice execution though! Here is my VW with the 2.5 SOHC engine and 150hp.

    Like 27
  2. alphasud Member

    Hopefully the administrator can rotate the picture for me.

    Like 2
    • DayDreamBeliever Member

      I can… Here you go.
      Nice, BTW.

      Like 1
    • DayDreamBeliever Member

      Arrgh…

      Like 1
  3. doug

    That’s a lot of work to go through to make a VW ugly.

    Like 22
    • Poppy

      and even more dangerous in the handling department..

      Like 10
      • Steve R

        It’s not likely to be driven hard on the way to or from the local coffee and cars.

        Steve R

        Like 8
    • Steve Clinton

      This is the result when a customizer does too many drugs.

      Like 3
  4. kahuna

    Yes honey, this does make your butt look bigger!

    Like 29
  5. Terrry

    There’s much better conversions than this, that are way faster and don’t require a big butt in the back. Check out the Subaru kits and even SBC conversions. No longer available on eBay.

    Like 4
  6. KC John

    Why didn’t he just hot rod a corvair instead of making a bug look silly.

    Like 8
    • Dave

      Because, there is no Custom Corvair in the original Sweet 16 Hot Wheels car lineup, but there IS a Custom VW!

      VWs were subjected to all manner of things to make them faster, but the pinnacle was the Turbonique Black Widow.

      Like 8
  7. Mike

    The back end looks like a loaded diaper.

    Like 18
  8. BigBlocksRock

    Ralph Nader would not approve of this nonsense.

    Like 4
  9. Charles

    SOLD, no bids

    Like 1
  10. Danny V. Johnson

    Okay, after all of the comments, I have some more. Again, that was a lot of work. I can imagine how bad that thing handles. Also, why go to all of that works still had reupholstered stock seats with no lateral support? Oh, and the fire extinguisher isn’t going to big enough for the fire.

    Many years ago, I had a friend with a hot rod VW Type One. He had a Chevy 327, mounted rear mid engine, where the back seat use to be. I’m still not sure what he used for a transmission and dif. Yes there was a firewall, with a Lexan window. The radiator was up front, with an electric fan. I drove it, in the San Bernardino Mountains. It handled pretty well, except for a bit of understeer and NOT near enough BRAKES.

    Like 3
    • Steven Ramos

      A buddy stuffed a V8 into a VW beetle but he put it up front not the back..

      Like 1
      • Dickie F

        Actor & racing driver Paul Newman had one of those. Looked quite original, except for the rear seat area.

        Like 1
  11. Richard

    Sorry guys but I love it!! I’d like to try it. Maybe a couple of 100# weight plates in the front.

    Like 3
    • Richardd Adams

      I would too if it was all mid mounted.

      Like 1
  12. Jasper

    Interesting. The fenders and engine lid look nicely fabbed and design wise are cohesive in their own right. Kind of like a Lotus 7 MK4.
    Doesn’t seem a whole lot scarier than a lot of sacred Abarth creations.

    Like 3
  13. gaspumpchas

    VW and Corvair had opposite rotation direction, and the urban legend was that GM made the corvair run in the opposite direction so they couldnt put the corvair engine in a VW, Alas, yankee ingenuity won, and one simple adjustment to the ring gear in the tranny, and some over the counter adapter parts and you were in business. Never underestimate the power of the American Hot rodder!
    Cheers
    GPC

    Like 3
  14. T A Ingram

    There is/was an adapter to mount the Corvairs engine to the VW tranny. I believe there was also a mod available for the tranny. I was also told the VW van tranny did NOT need reversing rotation. Corvairs had a kit available to do a mid-engine V8 made by Crown. On another note, I have an old Chevy book showing a 61 Porsche with a modded 140 Corvairs motor with 3-barrel Webers from a racing Careers on each cylinder bank!

    • Gerald Godec

      My Dad had a 66 Corvair that had the Crown conversion kit and a 350 horse 350 in the back sit. Holy Hell was it fast….if it held together. He used to daily it. Was the only car he ever had that could break parts on demand. He picked me up from High School one time and got on it. It pulled the front wheels 6 inches off the ground….before we had to coast into the closest parking lot and call my brother in law to tow us home. It ripped the tranny input shaft in half!

      • JOHN Member

        I own a Crown conversion mid engine 65 Corsa. The stock transaxle can hold up, but not to hard tire-spinning launches. Most cars still running the original Crown type conversions have had upgraded input shafts that run larger roller bearings and other mods, 4 spider differentials, and perhaps the most important issue is to dial indicate the bellhousing. Easy launches and shifts ensure long life. Remove the 4 speed and add a beefed up Corvair Powerglide and you can drag race with less fear of breakage. There are numerous cars with Corvette differentials, Porsche transaxles, etc.

  15. Bill McCoskey

    I was a party to a team who raced a ’57 bug in dirt track racing in central Germany in the mid 1970s. We ran in the unlimited class with a SBC 327 hanging out the back & the radiator on the roof. Problem was, the unlimited class was the last class of the night, and by then the track was pretty rough. Everytime the V8VW hit a bump, the weight of the motor would cause the front end to come up off the ground, making it damn near impossible to see ahead, and impossible to steer!

    Like 1
  16. Frank

    It would have been better with a Porsche Hot Rod engine. Its been done in the past. We could also go electric and drive around looking for a charging station and then hang around for a hour waiting for full charge.

  17. Glenn C. Schwass Member

    I like the rear fenders and how the VW tailights worked horizontally. To each their own as usual. Since I can’t do that kind of work, I am impressed with those that go for it and can…

  18. bowmade

    I friend in HS had a Corvair parts car and a VW Karmann Ghia with a plan to put the Covair motor in the VW. Project fell to the way-side but would have liked to see that done.

    • JOHN Member

      Stuffing the Corvair into the Ghia is slick… everything fits (with some trimming) under the stock engine lid.

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