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Square Engine, Round Car: A Backwards, Bonkers VW Beetle – Speedhunters



Players Classic 2022 Beetle-42

The dash display can be seen through the OMP race steering wheel, whilst an OBP pedal box takes place of the ancient top-hinged OEM pedals. Safety Devices harnesses keep Matt in his seat when he’s going all-out on track. And believe me, he does.

Players Classic 2022 Beetle-26

As much as it may look like a bit of a misfit, the Beetle can really shift. Matt’s drifting influence is evident in the choice of engine sitting at the front of the Bug. A Nissan RB25DET fits underneath the Beetle’s bootlid bonnet like a glove.

Players Classic 2022 Beetle-30
Players Classic 2022 Beetle-29

The 2.5L DOHC 24-valve turbo inline-six was built by Matt himself, and is now fully forged with a genuine GReddy intake manifold, cut to fit under the curved nose. Atop the 6Boost v-band exhaust manifold sits a Pulsar G30-770 turbocharger, in line with a TurboSmart ProGate 50mm wastegate.

Players Classic 2022 Beetle-31

Combined with a full-length 4-inch exhaust made using Vibrant tubing and a Vibrant intake, this crazy Beetle is running 510hp at the wheels. At the wheels! All of this power runs through the OEM Nissan gearbox to an E36 M3 limited slip differential.

Players Classic 2022 Beetle-27

In fact when viewed from the side, you can’t believe that the RB fits under there at all. The engine is such a tight fit that the OEM Skyline radiator with twin fans has been fitted to the rear of the car, under the bonnet boot lid.

Super-sized NACA ducts in the rear side windows are a direct cold air feed to the radiator, working their way over the harness bar to what was original the car’s the engine bay.

Players Classic 2022 Beetle-4
Players Classic 2022 Beetle-28

That’s alongside the intercooler in front of the engine and cutouts in the bonnet itself for airflow. On top of that, Matt has fitted a water spray system to the intercooler for when the turbo temperature gets really hot.

Players Classic 2022 Beetle-46

The cooling system is controlled by the ECU, not a thermostat; a Davies Craig 150lpm (litre per minute) water pump at the rear does a damn good job of keeping fluid moving around the system. That’s in addition to the OEM water pump, by the way.

Don’t forget, this is a car that originally ran an engine two cylinders long with no liquid cooling at all, right at the back of the car. To have made all of this fit underneath a (mostly) standard body shell is something of a miracle.

Players Classic 2022 Beetle-44

One of my favourite details on the Beetle is the fuel filler cap location – on top of the roof, behind the driver. There’s definitely no room in the front of the Beetle for a fuel tank anymore, and a fuel cell wouldn’t fit in the cabin with Matt’s driving position.

The filler therefore feeds the OEM BMW fuel tank under the boot floor, which really is an ideal solution for a build this tightly packaged.

Visually, Matt’s Beetle is not one for the faint-hearted. Take the chop top for start, which alone is enough to send some VW purists into overdrive. And how about those wheel arches? The rears are complete wide replacement units, but the front? They’ve been widened with the arches from a high performance coupe.

Players Classic 2022 Beetle-25

I’d tell you, but Matt made me guess, so you have to do the same. I’ll give you a clue, they’re relevant to another part of the Beetle which is mentioned in this article. Have a guess in the comments, and I will confirm with the first reader who guesses correctly.

I got it on my first guess (not a brag, I need to spend less time on the internet), and if any of you have come to know my taste in cars by now that’ll be a clue.

Players Classic 2022 Beetle-18

Add to that the custom front valance, side skirts, rear lid risers and the enormous wing and you have a Beetle with one hell of an aggressive stance. Not to mention the banded steel wheels with chunky Toyo Proxes R888R tyres, measuring 17×9.5-inch and 17×11.5-inch front and rear respectively. Behind the wheels sit an entire E46 M3 brake setup, callipers and all.

Players Classic 2022 Beetle-13

Cars like Matt’s Beetle really have no reason to exist. Seriously, less than zero. There are literally dozens of cars that would have been a more practical base to start from to make a track car out of.

Players Classic 2022 Beetle-19

Even the E36, before being peeled, would have made more sense to throw the RB25 into. But, and this is a large but, it’s cars like this which are the key to future-proofing our hobby. This is a big Hot Wheels toy, one that’s been ripped straight out of the pack and hurled around racetracks to within an inch of its life.

Players Classic 2022 Beetle-15

Cars like this are the spark that get girls and boys aware of modded cars, onto Need for Speed and into the questionably-modified first cars of their own. And cars like this do it a damn sight better than a hot hatchback with a ‘pop and bang’ map.

Matt’s Beetle is rough, it’s rowdy, and it’s absolutely perfect.

Mario Christou
Instagram: mcwpn

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