Armed with overwhelmingly ambitious modifications, this darting blue '58 Sunroof Beetle is a peripheral window to the more wild side of its owner, Bruce Fredriksen.
More mild than wild in manner, the 29-year-old, Everett, Wash.,-resident livens up, however, to the highly distinguishable exhaust note of a VW engine.
"I guess you could say I'm a real Volkswagen junkie," said Fredricksen, who has spent the past seven years completely modifying the Sedan throughout and performing most of the work himself --a considerable feat, considering the Bug was once a complete wreck.
Now, striking in appearance, its panels are beautifully coated in no less than eight coats of glossy PPG Medium Blue paint. The closer and longer you look, the more you can appreciate the intricate detail and extensive custom bodywork, most notably a pair of expertly installed suicide doors with one-piece windows. As with the rest of the body, both doors are chromeless and feature shaved handles with mechanical remote entry.
Another major aspect regarding the Sedan's exterior mods include a one-piece, fiberglass front end. The hinged unit allows total access under the hood and was installed so well it appears nearly seamless when closed. Since virtually everything is exposed when open, Fredricksen meticulously painted and detailed each and every part down to the pan in contrasting Canary Yellow and Medium Blue. As well, every nut and bolt was replaced with new stainless steel units. Nearly everything else is chrome or polished, including the entire front beam, suspension and spun aluminum gas tank. Braided stainless steel lines also add to the mix.
While these under hood features are quite impressive and brilliantly executed in terms of their application, it is what's on the reverse side of the hood that really catches one by surprise. Painted by good friend Jeremy Tintle, a nightscape of the Seattle skyline is beautifully featured with the Bug prominently displayed under a full moon.
Resting on fully polished Empi eight-spoke 15x5-1/2 wheels with 135/165 rubber, the Aedan sits roughly four- and six-inches lower in the front and rear respectively. The lowered suspension, complete with KYB shocks is flanked at the corners with chrome brake drums, adding further detail to the flawless undercarriage.
As if not enough, other areas featuring chrome components, include the front and rear bumpers, running boards and headlight bezels. Even the taillight assemblies are chrome plated.
Interior wise, Fredriksen kept the custom theme flowing, using a number of hand-crafted components, including a smooth, cloth-covered dash and specially made door panels. Two-tone in black and gray velour, the driver's door panel features a large mirrored "V," while the passenger side features, you guessed it, a large "W." As Fredricksen implied, this special feature is best appreciated while viewing from the rear of the car with both doors fully opened.
Other interior features include a pair of matching two-tone velour front seats (less headrests) borrowed from an '89 Mustang. Aside from the seat upholstery, which was handled by Re-New Upholstery in Everett, Wash., Fredriksen completed the remaining interior mods himself, including the ragtop, black velour headliner and matching carpet.
A black Grant GT steering wheel with a chrome three-spoke center complements the dash, as does a slew of Sun Tune digital gauges.
The audio/video system was also built to impress, featuring a Kenwood V2907 CD/head unit with a built-in 5.8-inch TV monitor, complete with Sony Playstation. Boston 4-1/4-inch speakers and one-inch separate tweeters are displayed up front, while MB Quart's with tweeters are located in the rear. Ample base is supplied with the use of two 12-inch Kickers. The system is powered through a pair of PPI amps, good for a total of 900 watts.
While only displacing 1641cc, the dual-port engine housed within the '58 provides responsive, reliable power. "Big or small, stock or built, there's not a more recognizable engine sound than an air-cooled VW," said Fredricksen, who magnified the engine's exhaust note through the use of a chrome stinger tied to an Empi 1-1/2-inch header system.
The effective engine package is, in part, attributed to a stock, balanced 69mm crank, a set of Cima 87mm pistons/rings and an Engle 110 (284-degree duration/392 lift) camshaft.
Ported and polished stock heads are sealed with stock, chromed valve covers, while a pair of Kadron 40mm carburetors with K&N filters sit atop Kadron manifolds.
Although quite responsive in terms of performance, what really sets the engine off is the attention to visual detail. Virtually every external engine component is either chrome, polished or detailed in lavish color, including the engine block, itself, which is powder-coated in coordinating yellow.
Dressed for show, additional components within the immaculate engine bay include a fully polished aluminum degree crank pulley, chrome alternator pulley, 12-volt blue coil with chrome sleeve, polished CV breather box, polished aluminum doghouse cooler and matching surrounding tin. As well, a Bosch 009 distributor with a blue cap is wired with color-coordinated yellow Bosch 8mm wires.
Through the use of a hefty Kennedy 1700lbs. clutch, an Empi dual handle shifter sort the gears of an IRS trans -fastened with solid performance mounts. Again for detail, the axles were chromed, while the case was color-coordinated in yellow.
While seven years is a long time, Bruce and his wife Rebeckah say the project's end result was well worth the wait. Although built to show, the couple drive the Bug often, including romps to nearby Seattle. Bruce thanks Rebeckah, as well as good friend Frank Rubitino for years of help and support.
VWT: First VW owned?
Bruce Fredriksen: This is it. In fact, it's the first car I've ever owned. I bought it when I was only 14.
VWT: How often do you drive your Bug?
BF: Fairly often. It's not just a show car, I actually drive it too. My wife Rebeckah and I enjoy driving it mostly on weekends.
VWT: What do you drive daily?
BF: My daily ride is a 2001 Volkswagen Passat. It keeps things in the family.
VWT: What are you most memorable experiences involving your VW?
BF: Most memorable? Well, so far, seven long years of building the thing.
VWT: What is the best aspect of owning a custom VW?
BF: That's easy. The fact that it's one of a kind. No other one like it. Also, Volkswagen enthusiasts are a strange group of people, makes for a different atmosphere.
VWT: Are you a member of any VW clubs or organizations?
BF: Yea, we just started a club here in Seattle called Eastside Aircooled. We're really involved and continually growing.
VWT: What part or component on your VW is your favorite?
BF: It's really the total package, but then again, it's hard to over look the Playstation 2.
VWT: In your opinion, what is the ultimate VW to own, regardless of year or cost?
BF: I would say a late '50s Vert. That's what I would like to own. I also currently own a '67 Sedan, but I'm not sure what I want to do with it, perhaps completely race it out. Give a little hell to the Honda boys.
VWT: Do you consider yourself a Volkswagen nut/fanatic, a VW purist or just someone who loves Volkswagens?
BF: Are you kidding? All three! I'm a VW junkie.