John’s Volkswagen Beetle “Whale Tail” (1972)

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You don’t need us to tell you how important the Volkswagen Beetle was, is, and continues to be. We’re also not here to give you a history lesson, as when it comes to the Beetle, it would be a long one… so we’ll try and keep it brief here.

The Volkswagen Type 1 (as it is officially known) was a car conceptualised at the direction of Adolf Hitler, and under the guidance of Ferdinand Porsche to be the “peoples car” of Nazi Germany. However, despite many promises, during the Nazi occupation only a few thousand units of the “Type 1” were produced, and were mainly used by Nazi officers, and close allies of Hitler… some “peoples car” eh.

It wasn’t until the end of the 1940’s in post-war Germany that civilian cars were really produced en masse. The opportunity to take over the Volkswagen factory was initially offered to the British, who true to form turned it down stating “the vehicle does not meet the fundamental technical requirements of a motor-car… it is quite unattractive to the average buyer… to build the car commercially would be a completely uneconomic enterprise“. Ahem…. we’ll say no more.

As soon as the humble “Type 1” got into the hands of the general German public, they affectionately named it the “Käfer” (Beetle in german). The car was a roaring success providing cheap, reliable motoring to the masses. It was produced virtually unchanged for a staggering 65 years (1938 – 2003). Its simple design (a flat-four, rear engined, rear-wheel drive layout) was key to its success – production was cheap, parts readily available, and maintenance was something any home mechanic could carry out with ease.

The Beetle’s success as a car simply cannot be overstated. Throughout its lifespan an estimated 21 million units were sold worldwide, and few cars before or since can claim to have had such a fundamental impact from a cultural perspective.

The Owner: John, Age 32, Lives in Rotherham, UK
The Owner: John, Age 32, Lives in Rotherham, UK

Visit John’s Facebook GroupSouth Yorkshire Beetles

The modification scene for Beetles is an active one to say the least. A few minutes of Google searching will show you there is no end to the different approaches people take when putting their personal touch on these cars. John’s take on his Beetle is probably best described as LOUD! Featuring eye-catching orange paintwork, and a monster whale-tail on the rear, well you can’t really miss it can you!

We think John’s Bug is a cracker! So we reached out to him to find out what exactly he’s done to this car, and why he chose a Beetle as his trusty steed – read more in the “owner interview” below!

Please note – photo credit on many of these photos goes to Armands Olsevskis.

5 from 2 votes

Volkswagen Beetle “Whale Tail” (1972)

When the "peoples car" was envisaged back in the 1930's, it probably didn't include a "whale tail" …. but we love it!
Model Year 1972
Model Beetle
Make Volkswagen
Keywords Beetle, classic car, classic german, German, Modified, restomod, Volkswagen, VW

Highlights

  • John had always been into VW's, then after seeing a classic Beetle at a local car meet he set out to find one! He found this beauty close-by and at a very cheap price, so it was a done deal.
  • When John got the car it was pretty much standard (apart from a set of after-market wheels) but as you can see, he had big visions for this car.
  • He's has done all the restoration and modification work at home in his garage – including doing the respray!
  • John's children have a mini version of his beetle, fully electric and colour matched with the same reg plates! (it's brilliant – check out the pictures)

Modifications

  • Engine change – The 1200cc standard engine was swapped out for a 1600cc twin-port lump.
  • Suspension modifications include a front adjustable beam with dropped spindles and seriously lowered on rear too. The car also has a skid plate on front… it needed it.
  • Bodywork changes include, de-bumpered, wider front wings, a whale tail spoiler, and changing some of the chromework to black.
  • The car was resprayed in orange – done by John (with help from his neighbour Philip Roberts) at home in his garage… impressive work.
  • Other mods include "Smith Turbo" alloys, brown leather seats, LED headlight conversion, "Cartune" exhaust tail pipes and a hide away speaker.

Interview with the owner

  • Well we love the car John – when did you first purchase it?
    7 years ago.
  • And what made you buy a VW Beetle?
    I've always been into Volkswagens and then after seeing a classic Beetle at a local car meet I set out to find one. Eventually I came across this Beetle that was close by and cheap so I had to buy it!
  • What's it like to drive?
    Ummmmmm fun but not fun haha!
    No power steering, no traction control, no ABS, drum brakes all round!
  • Has the car been restored / rebuilt?
    Yes partly.
  • Tell us more about that…
    The Beetle was mostly standard when I got it. It came with the current alloys but I then removed the front and rear bumper, fitted 2.5" wider front wings, LED headlights, lowered it all round and fitted a front skid plate.
    I've also fitted LED under glow lights, a pair of "Cartune" exhaust tailpipes, a whale tail spoiler and some other bits.
    In 2020 it had a full respray to get it all the same shade of orange (as it was different colours and in primer in some places).
    All the work has been done at home in the garage including the respray.
    My kids also have a mini version of my beetle, fully eletric 2wd 12v, colour matched with same reg plates!
  • So in terms of modifications, you've done a lot then?
    Yes, it's had bits done to the Engine, the Suspension and Bodywork, the Paintwork, Wheels & Tyres and made a few changes to the interior.
  • What have you done to the engine?
    Well this was done before I got it actually – it has had the 1200cc standard engine swapped out for a 1600cc twin-port.
  • What have you done to the suspension?
    Front adjustable beam with dropped spindles and lowered on rear too.
    Also has a skid plate on front!
  • What have you done to the bodywork?
    Wider front wings, a whale tail spoiler, I've changed some of the chrome to black, and fitted LED upgraded headlights.
  • The wheels are cool, what are they?
    They're "Smith turbo" alloys, these came with the car when I bought it.
  • So do you plan to do any further modifications to the car?
    Yes, next on the list is air-ride to help get over speed bumps!!!
  • Is the car a "keeper" or will you sell it one day?
    I'll take it to my grave!
  • Ok final question – ignoring cost, and assuming you couldn’t go and sell it for profit… what’s your dream car and why?
    I would like a old VW Camper Van to go camping with the family.
Owner: John
Model: Beetle
Make: Volkswagen
Keywords: Beetle, classic car, classic german, German, Modified, restomod, Volkswagen, VW

Join the Conversation

  1. 5 stars
    Thanks for the write up, very happy with it.
    Hope everyone likes my beetle.

    1. 5 stars
      Hey John! You’re more than welcome! It’s an awesome looking machine and we’re glad to have it on the website !

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