As many of you know, I have a long list of connections to the VW brand. I first caught the Bug in high school auto shop in the 80's and the infection has never left me. Its not an uncomfortable infection, I have never felt the need to go to the doctor and have it treated or anything, but as I have navigated the world of automobiles, regardless of where I am or what I am doing, there will always be a very special place in my heart for the VW.
I have also always dreamed of having a Rolls Royce. The Rolls is in my eyes, the height of class. Kings and Queens and the aristocracy of the world have been chauffeured from palace to palace behind the doors of Rolls Royces for decade upon decade. When you pull up in a Rolls, it tells the world that you are someone of consequence, you are a person that matters. There is a definite ego to this of course, and its a funny one in our world today as buying a Rolls is attainable for a very wide range of enthusiasts. While a new Rolls Phantom with the standard wheelbase starts at about $450,000 and the "average" order price with options is closer to $600,000 , I can also do a 5 minute scan of Craigslist here in Southern California and find used Rolls Royces as cheap as about $3500. Granted, the bottom of the barrel is a non-running rattle can primer 70's Silver Shadow with a missing grille and hubcaps, but even if I wanted to find one clean enough to proudly pull up to the valet at a nice restaurant, I could have my pick of a variety of 70's - 90's sedans for $20k or less.
Back in the 70's though things were a bit different perhaps. You still needed to be a fat cat with the bankroll to match to buy a new Rolls, but there were other options available for those on a more meager budget. This brings me to the subject of todays article for which I am ever so proud to present to you. Behold the unbridled beauty and splendor of the Elegant Beetle. (the crowd gasps and fills the air with "oohs and ahhs" and a quiet respectful applause.)
Now I know what you are thinking, this is NOT an actual Rolls Royce (well duh!) but it was enough of a Rolls Royce in the eyes of Rolls Royce that they eventually sued the manufacturer and forced them to stop production. https://www.leagle.com/decision/19761117428fsupp6891976.xml is a link to the actual lawsuit, and it is a pretty interesting read if you have the time to fall down that rabbit hole. The kits were a joke of course, a fun lampoon of the automaker and just another of a long line of fiberglass bodies and parts that were being made for use with a VW as the basis. Bell bottom style wide fenders and scooped hoods or even sexy sports car bodies that you could bolt straight to the VW chassis to transform your ugly ducking into a graceful swan.
The car here in these photos was a past adventure in Carchaeology for us and was a very fun project and build. The car was located in the state of Indiana about 15 years ago and the base Beetle was a bone stock beige 1966 model. The car was never really "completed" apparently as the fiberglass parts were never painted to match the car. It had spent many years sitting in storage and was in need of rescuing. The car was hauled out here to our facility and we set out to finish it off and have a little fun. A two tone paint job in a very classy silver with maroon sides was chosen and swanky leather straps applied to the "boot". We even gave the dashboard a bit of a faux woodgrain finish and put a jar of Grey Poupon in the glove box just for laughs. It was a quickie job on a low value vehicle but the whole reason for it's existence was to make people laugh and smile, not to bring home the gold at the Concours D'Elegance.
Nobody was fooled by the charade of course and while the "Spirit of Ecstasy" held her wings proudly at the top of the grille, I did not cross off the name "Rolls Royce" from the bucket list of cars I must own some day.