Hooniverse Asks: What Was History’s Greatest VW Beetle-Based Kit Car?

Have you ever seen people try and reinvent themselves when going away to college. Maybe they want to erase an embarrassing chapter of their life that spanned high school, or maybe they wish to set the stage for anonymity so they could mastermind crimes down the road.
There was an era—one that peaked in the late 1970s—where a lot of Volkswagen Type 1 owners attempted to do the same thing with their cars. Well, maybe not the whole crime spree thing, but you get the idea. During the golden age of the kit car you could have turned your VW Beetle into anything from a faux MGTD to the most flamboyant-looking supercar imaginable, and pretty much everything in between.
What we’re interested in discussing today is your opinion as to which of those VW-based kit cars was the best, and by best I mean—in some way—most desirable.  What do you think, what was history’s greatest VW kit car?
Image: e-volks.com

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39 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: What Was History’s Greatest VW Beetle-Based Kit Car?”

    1. P161911 Avatar

      There was this “Skyline” from Fast and furious too: https://c.slashgear.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/gtr-3.jpg

      1. Hillman_Hunter Avatar

        As a kid growing up in Europe, I had a toy car like this. Never imagined it was a real thing.

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      I’d have to give preference to the Ark Roamer version that Brubaker built for “Ark II.”

    2. desmo Avatar

      VW only pulled the plug off the Brubaker project, because they feared safety discussions. Worldwide approx 20 did survive and all of them are registered as Volkswagen.

      1. nanoop Avatar

        These were a VW endeavor? They (VW that is) were cool in the 70ies?!

    3. Manxman Avatar

      I read about the Brubaker Box in one of the cars mags and always had the jones for one. Was the windshied the rear window from a Pinto?

    4. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1

      Undoubtedly the knowledge of this led to the Matra/Renault Espace. Some styling elements are shared between the two, but this is on a Fuego floorpan.

    5. boxdin Avatar

      Here’s my Brubaker Box brochure along w my Vandetta brochure from when I was thinking about buying one or the other. Wish I had bought a Box…. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/15e03e7d4f8f9f4e1448396cd4b26c83d6efe47bf8b3622e26ef6a937b04e662.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ee110a1a600120544021245feee84c4a32b3fa6b5b47700d113550e030c964a0.jpg

  1. P161911 Avatar

    I’m still convinced that all 911s still have some KdF parts hiding in them somewhere.

    1. Maymar Avatar

      As a serious take on the same idea,there are some pretty great VW-based 356 replicas that allow the experience without having to shell out the expense for the supply-limited real thing.

    2. nanoop Avatar

      I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that, e.g., some bushing in the gear lever is right off the Mexico bug.

  2. GTXcellent Avatar

    Sterling – Just look at that sweet lift up canopy

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      Interesting, We knew it here as the Nova.
      I’ve thought these awesome ever since one was exhibited by its builder at a local air display when I was a kid. At that point I was oblivious of and unfussed by the Beetle lurking beneath, I just loved that canopy.
      But right then I also thought Moonwalker was the coolest thing ever.

      1. Rover 1 Avatar
        Rover 1

        And in Australia as the Purvis Eureka.

    2. salguod Avatar

      I recently learned that they are back in business, set up for any 4 cylinder FWD drivetrain, I think.

  3. Alff Avatar

    A kit that doesn’t pretend to transform your Beetle into something it isn’t… https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5e2a9e501cddd2abfc498fb66166d42504cad4bd44a10f832fd950e6a02116f1.jpg

    1. outback_ute Avatar

      Despite having upvoted a few responses here for good VW kit cars, this is the greatest in my opinion too

    2. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

      Yeah, my first thought was the Meyers Manx

  4. mdharrell Avatar

    I want a Mini 18 just so I can continue to miss the point at meetings of the Seattle Area Mini Owners Association.

  5. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    As a rule, I despise fake versions of other cars, but there are a select few that through their ubiquity, have earned their own place of respect. People with Cobra replicas aren’t (generally) trying to fool anyone. It’s not a fake Cobra; It’s a real Factory Five.
    That’s how I feel about 550 Spyder replicas. If you have a Beck 550, it’s a real Beck as much as it is a fake Porsche.

    1. Manxman Avatar

      The Becks are nice cars – well thought out and nicely finished. They remind me of the early German specials built on the VW chassis.

      1. boxdin Avatar

        Beck is in a class by itself. Far above any kit car, a replica yes, and probably better then the original.

    2. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      Honestly, some of the 911 reps, such as this Covin, are damn convincing.

      1. nanoop Avatar

        Wow, that’s really a flat bug. It probably looks like a 7/8th scale model in person.

  6. tonyola Avatar

    It might be the silliest rather than the greatest VW kit car, but the Laser 917 is never to be forgotten. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d832c4173a376fbab8f17f8a43dfe5b18875fea4b6ae2bbf09104acd2fa744d3.jpg

    1. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1

      A 917 for ‘Wacky Races’

    1. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1

      Not really a kit car. Weren’t these production?

      1. Bruno Balestra Avatar
        Bruno Balestra

        Sort of. Down here they were called fuori serie-irregular series production, if you will. The thing is, even if they were assembled in a production line, the way it all worked was very similar to a kit car build. They used all original vw components and barring the body and trim inside and out, all the mechanical and electric stuff was oem. They were neat, surely, but the Brubaker box was more elaborate in its production.

  7. Zentropy Avatar

    In my opinion, the Beetle is superior to anything anyone has attempted to build off of its chassis. And that’s not saying much.

  8. Fred Talmadge Avatar
    Fred Talmadge