Beetles in Bombay

When you think of classic cars one of the first cars that may come to mind is often the Beetle, they say you must have a Beetle to complete a classic car collection. Some people don’t stop there and try to pick up every single variant of the air cooled VWs possible.

What’s lovely about Beetles is that you can do various things to them. You could interchange parts to get the ‘perfect Beetle’ for yourself. You could swap the engine and put in a bigger one from a super beetle and with some classic racing wheels and a stiffer suspension you’d have a quick little Herbie that would be a ball to drive. You could also change the body, maybe get a Porsche 356 fiberglass body or a Manx buggy body and have something very unique and a complete showstopper. You could even lift the car up with an off-road suspension and have a dune buggy. But my favorite mod has to be a custom paint job with some classic accessories. It’s so simple with little to no irreversible modifications and yet it stands out so well.

In the recent years Beetles have gotten exponentially more expensive but this craze has led to these cars getting more attention than they did earlier. Cars which were considered scrap are now being restored and the quantity as well as quality is going up. It’s great for the history and heritage but horrible for the average Joe trying to get his hands on a classic.


1962 Beetle, classic blues.

I happened to have the evening free and went out to see a VW collection around the corner from where I was staying. Keith was glad to show me around and showed me all the beauties he had. The first car I saw was this 1962 Beetle which was his friends car which he was looking after. This had me awestruck, it was exactly the way I would want mine if I ever had a Beetle. It was an early model with oval headlights. It was restored about a year ago with this gorgeous two tone paint job, there are a few variations of two tone paint jobs on Beetles but this one has to be one of my favorites.

Even the steel wheels were detailed and painted two tone with white wall inserts to match, all these mods suit the early body style the best.

The over riders on the bumpers are often missing on certain Beetles so it was great to see all the chrome bits in place. Another thing to notice with Beetles is whether all the parts match. The front fenders on early models were often changed to accommodate round headlights as the oval ones were harder to get. The bodies weren’t exactly the same, so cars that are mixed and matched tend to stand out badly.

One of my favorite parts may be these classy looking luggage racks, they were sourced from Singapore and hand carried here.

The amount of effort that goes into any build should always be appreciated even if it doesn’t work out or it’s not to your personal choice.

1970 Beetle, the 1500

This was Keith’s own car which had a 1500cc engine plonked in. Although it was a mere 200cc extra compared to the 1962 one, the power was noticeably more.  Some people may say that the Beetle remained the same for decades but alot of things changed. The more time you spend with them, the more you notice these differences. Every couple of years things changed, minor things that will go unnoticed to the untrained eye. Wheels, body parts, bumpers, they all changed between years. Among the Beetles, the early pre 60s models and later, larger engined models tend to have the highest value.

Driving a Beetle or even just being a passenger is a different experience. The engine and exhaust sounds all come from the back. It’s a bit confusing the first time around if you’re someone who concentrates on these things. The sound is different too, it sounds like an old man with a deep voice trying to restrict his coughing as he drops needles periodically. I’m not sure why he does it but it’s an interesting combination, I heard he was a boxer if that explains anything.

Shifting gears in a Beetle is a bit different too, the gear knob and everything attached feels so delicate but it also has a notchy feeling. The brakes on Beetles aren’t the best, they aren’t power assisted like what I’m used to but all these things give them character. These are the things you fall for at the end.

As you drive down the road you notice how much attention these cars can pull. Between this and a brand new Beetle, this will always turn heads but it’s not just that, it brings out smiles. It’s a friendly looking car, approachable and fun loving too. And that’s the thing about classic cars, you can see them brighten the greyest of eyes. You can watch them bring back memories of another time, not just to the occupants but also to everyone that sees it pass by. It has character something modern cars just don’t have.

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