1978 Rolls Royce “Wannabe” Neoclassic Car

Neoclassic cars are a strange breed. These cars combine classic design elements (waterfall grille, round headlights, swooping fenders) with a modern powertrain and chassis. The idea with most neoclassic cars is to create a tribute or modern interpretation of a historic vehicle, such as the Mercedes-Benz SSK.

This car takes a different approach. Built on the chassis of a 1978 Chevrolet Camaro, it has a 305 V8 engine, automatic transmission, and rear end. But instead of a custom fiberglass body from a coachbuilder, this car has the modified body of a 1973 Volkswagen beetle convertible. The doors, windshield, seats and floor pan are all VW. The front end has received some custom treatments, which resembles a certain brand of British luxury car without infringing on any trademarks.

A paper on the car’s window described itself as a “Rolls Royce wanna-be.” Indeed, the car’s body lines are designed to resemble the Rolls Royce Silver Cloud drophead coupe. The wide fender flares and wire wheels are common design elements of neoclassics, seeking to recreate that vintage motoring experience.

According to the paper, the car was titled as a Special Construction vehicle in Minnesota in 1991. “Has A/C, AM/FM Cassette, cruise control, everything works! Runs and drives like new. Professional workmanship.”

There’s no hiding that 1970s GM interior, and no mistaking this ride for a luxury car from any angle. Though I will agree that the workmanship looks good, the proportions are a bit awkward – especially with that bulge behind the convertible top.

This car also suffers the awkward work-arounds common to other Neoclassic cars, such as the strange placement of the fuel filler door, the lack of a glove box and a working trunk. These compromises make the car a weekend cruiser and not a daily driver in my book. The location of the instrument cluster in the center of the dash is also strange – perhaps a clearance issue?

Another interesting feature is the split front and rear bumpers – was this done as a nod to the 1960’s era Corvette? Your guess is as good as mine.

For some reason, it really interests me when people who are not automobile designers by trade endeavour to build their own custom cars. Though not my favorite neoclassic car, I can respect the effort that was put into building the Wanna-Be Rolls Royce.

1967 VW Karmann Ghia V10 ‘Blue Mamba’

It is a common practice in the auto industry to name a sporty car after a fearsome or powerful animal. Cars like the Mustang, Impala, Cougar, and Shelby Cobra all borrow their names from the animal kingdom.

Along those lines, Keith Goggin decided to give his 1967 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia the nickname “Blue Mamba.” It’s a reference to the black mamba, a venomous snake found throughout central Africa. They are some of the fastest-moving snakes on earth, and also extremely deadly.

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1984 Volkswagen Scirocco Mk2

For decades, car makers have turned to the “wedge shape” whenever they wanted to make a car that looked sporty, cool, or futuristic. There were an abundance of wedge-shaped cars in the 1980s: the DeLorean DMC-12, the DeTomaso Pantera, the Pontiac Fiero, the C4 Corvette, the Lotus Esprit, and of course, everything in Ferrari and Lamborghini’s lineup.

Another automaker to jump on the “wedge shape” bandwagon was Volkswagen, who went all in with the Mk2 Scirocco that was unveiled in 1981.

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Volkswagen Beetle with Chevy V8 Swap

As one of the most iconic cars in history, the Volkswagen Beetle and its air-cooled engine are revered around the world for its utter simplicity. These cars are small, efficient, and easy to work on. But when it comes to power and acceleration, they are severely lacking.

This enterprising car owner took it upon himself to do something about it. What he’s done is removed the original flat-four engine in the back of the car and replaced it with a big American V8 in the front! From my eye, it looks to be a small block Chevy motor – probably a 305 or 350.

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1989 Volkswagen TriStar DOKA Synchro

Several years ago, there was a small automotive shop by my house in Phoenix called Exklusiv Motorsports that specialized in modifying Volkswagens. They had a pair of these big red trucks outside, so one day I took a picture of them. It wasn’t until recently that I learned how rare these things are!

These double-cab Volkswagens were sold in Northern Europe as very basic work trucks, but the TriStars were top-of-the-line models with full interiors, cruise control, power windows, heated seats, and armrests. Even rarer still, both of these trucks are the Synchro models (4WD)!

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