When Bobby Nitro heard that not one but two classic Bugs were taking a cruise last weekend, he simply had to get in on the action and do a feature on the outing.
After all, the VW Beetle has always been in a class of its own, with one of the widest appeals in the history of motoring. Everybody has a story about a Beetle.
Both Grant Sampson, owner of the orange Bug, and Ameer Staggie, of the green one, say that you just can’t get those kinds of curves anywhere else; the Bug simply has no straight edges.
Obviously these cars have more in common than their differences, though each has its personal touch unique to the owner.
At first glance, those Bugs are laying serious frame. Both, for instance, have custom suspension set-ups done by Q Beams with custom air.
Ameer, who is from Blue Downs, describes his like this, saying: “The front has been fitted with a custom narrowed beam with dropped spindles and a single airlift airbag, the rear fitted with a custom frame, custom spring plates with single airlift double bellow airbags each side.”
What’s really cool is the Bluetooth air ride management that controls front and back independently, so there are no switches inside to detract from the original look.
Grant has taken it a little further, fitting a ragtop, redoing the seats old school style, as well as carbon fibre hydrodipping the bumpers, beading, trims, badges and door handles. He also got the Bug resprayed in pearl orange
Both cabbies are 1971 models with standard 1600 twinport motors that they have left in original condition. Both guys have a history with the marque.
Grant, from Brackenfell, says: “When I was young there were two brothers that lived in the area. They had a few Beetles and they loved customising theirs and then selling them off. I would admire them and beg my parents to buy one from them but my parents did not have the means to at the time. I guess that’s where it started, there’s just something about Beetles that does it for me.
Ameer, who has had other cars but always kept his Bug, says: “I’ve always been a big fan of Beetles and I got this car as a gift from my dad when I turned 13 back in 2009. It was only by 2014 that I got the motor sorted and in 2018 I got it restored from the ground up. Many of my friends worked on the car as I wanted to give them the business.”
Grant, who has a 13-year-old son (much like the story above), says he decided to buy the Beetle to encourage that bond between father and son. He says: “The build was for my son, we were after a show car but we didn’t know it would go so far. One thing led to another you know and now the pictures are travelling the world and that’s mind-blowing. Seeing my son’s smile every time something new is added to this car is priceless.”
They even have a scale model of the orange Bug done by Model Cars Tygervalley.
Ameer chips in, telling about the effect these cabbies have cruising solo, never mind in convoy. He says: “Although the car is well-known in my area, people react like they’ve never seen it before. Most can’t believe it can get so low and is the same car that has been my daily drive for years.
Grant descries the feel of owning a Beetle like this: “Some love speed but anyone in a Beetle loves going low and slow. I heard a guy say this quote and it’s the truth when it comes to getting in my car. He says it’s like a mini holiday, it just takes your mind off anything and everything going on in your daily life.”
Ameer is looking forward to fitting a new engine, not standard but still aircooled, while Grant is planning on some more custom bits near the end of the year for the Lovemore show in PE, followed by VW Camp Fest in Joburg.
One thing is for sure, and that’s that Beetle’s all come with stories. Even the battered old suitcase on Grant’s Bug, he says: “Comes from an old lady in Bellville who told me stories about that suitcase. It was her mom’s and is 90 years old so I decided to not do anything to it and just fit it to the back of my car. Like my car that’s a piece of history, that suite case has a history of its own.”