Chopped, dropped and topless,...
Chopped, dropped and topless, this '68 rod is truly one of a kind.
Various custom exterior treatment...
Various custom exterior treatment includes specially crafted billet aluminum windshield wipers, side- and rear-view mirrors, street-rod-inspired teardrop taillights and fog lights located behind the stock horn grills.
The open-air cabin is fitted...
The open-air cabin is fitted with Honda Prelude buckets covered with charcoal gray tweed throughout. The handcrafted dash features a billet aluminum steering wheel and a row of VDO white faced gauges.
A set of chrome Porsche cookie...
A set of chrome Porsche cookie cutter wheels proved an appropriate selection, looking as if they belong on a Volkswagen.
The car's one-off interior...
The car's one-off interior styling was integrated into the trunk compartment, which also features the VWTrends magazine logo incorporated into the dash cover upholstery.
Motivation for the car is...
Motivation for the car is provided by a small, yet reliable 1641cc power plant. Highlights include modified 42x37mm intake/exhaust heads, a Comp-fire ignition and a set of 40mm Webers with polished manifolds.
Covered in no less than eight...
Covered in no less than eight coats of paint, the Canary Yellow VW features a classic ghost flame job along the hood and front fenders.
A one-off billet aluminum...
A one-off billet aluminum fan belt tensioner is said to perform as good as it looks. Chrome engine tin and yellow trim is accented with blue spark plug wires. This adds flavor to the overall engine package.
As the popularity of vintage restoration continues to build, custom VWs of any year or model have become increasingly less common place. In most cases, fully customized VWs are more scarce than their vintage brethren.
The custom VW craze hit its peak in the mid-to-late '80s, and since then, the vintage and Resto-Custom alternative has taken center stage. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons why this beautifully customized '68 Beetle appears so refreshing? Chopped and dropped, the brightly painted rod is anything but the norm.
The brainchild of Jeff Graham--a veteran VW enthusiast of 18 years--the Sedan was in dire straits when purchased. The Yorba Linda, Calif., resident quickly began work on a complete custom assignment, which consisted of a considerable amount of body modifications, including the complete removal of the top, chopping the windshield by four inches, eliminating all exterior chrome and permanently sealing the driver and passenger doors. The door seams were welded together and smoothed over, creating an attractive seamless panel. Custom rubber and glass was used for the altered windshield dimensions, cut by Brown's Auto Glass in Azusa, Calif.
Although having completed various difficult steps in the process, because of financial constraints, Graham reluctantly shelved the project, and the car sat in storage for nearly 10 years.
Welcoming the dawn of a new century, Graham resurrected the sidelined project in 2000.
Now desperate to make up for lost time, construction on the VW picked up to a rapid pace. The goal was to complete the vehicle in time for the Second Annual VWTrends Charity Cruise. This time, Graham was confident that neither time nor money would stand in the way. Roughly two years later, those sentiments were ultimately confirmed as any remaining finishing touches were completed and just in time to attend the Cruise.
Perhaps, the most fully modified vehicle on hand, the '68 is an easy magnet for attention.
Covered in no less than eight coats of paint, five of which is made up of Canary Yellow and clear for the remaining three, the VW shines brilliantly at every angle. Graham takes the credit for most of the paint and body work with exception to the work done by Chuck Young of Orange, Calif. Young is also responsible for the expertly painted ghost flames along the hood and front fenders.
To further accentuate the theme, Graham installed various custom exterior hardware, including specially crafted billet aluminum windshield wipers, as well as side and rear-view mirrors. Other exterior components include ribbed billet front and rear bumpers, upholstered German running boards and street rod-inspired teardrop taillights. To compliment the look of the factory replacement headlights, Graham tucked away custom made driving lights located behind the stock horn grills. It's quite an effective use of space and the end result is very impressive.
The open-air cabin is as impressive as the car's exotic exterior, wonderfully customized, while retaining an element of simplicity. Because of the handiwork of Littl' J's Upholstery in Riverside, Calif., the Bug is fitted with Honda Prelude buckets covered with charcoal gray tweed. Matching gray upholstery was further used throughout the interior, including along the sides, as well as a custom-designed rear wraparound compartment area. German gray carpeting rests beneath and nicely compliments the upholstery. Wolfsburg West gets the nod for a pair of matching gray seatbelts.
The dash was handcrafted by Graham and features, what else, but a billet aluminum steering wheel. Other dash items include a row of VDO white-faced gauges, each of which are accented with a chrome rim.
The cabin also features an impressive sound system installed by Al and Ed's in Brea, Calif. The Eclipse CD head unit is powered with nearly 800 watts from Eclipse and Rockford Fosgate amps. An assortment of speakers, including a pair of 10-inch Kicker Comp Pros are appropriately displayed in stealth locations throughout.
Somewhat reminiscent of a street rod, Graham had the trunk compartment completely covered as well, even incorporating the VW Trends magazine logo into the dash cover. [Major brownie points there.--ed]
The custom theme was also carried out to the engine compartment, where you'll find a small, yet wonderfully displayed 1641cc power plant. Since Graham intended to drive the car as often as possible, having a reliable, well-mannered engine was a number one priority. Built by Ed's Buggy Shop in Riverside, Calif., the engine case was balanced, ported and polished for optimum performance.
To this end, a pair of modified heads featuring 42x37mm intake and exhaust valves were bolted to the engine as was a Compufire ignition and a set of 40mm Webers with polished manifolds. Installed by John McLoud, a Flow Master muffler channels exhaust through a single chrome tip located just below the rear of the passenger running board. Once again, unique, clean and simple.
Additional custom handiwork includes the installation of a one-off billet aluminum fan belt tensioner, expertly machined by Rex McLoud, the same person who crafted virtually all of the car's billet equipment. According to Graham, this unique component works as good as it looks.
Chrome engine tin, color-coordinated with yellow accents, blue spark plug wires and polished aluminum only adds to the overall presentation.
Bolted to a rebuilt stock trans from Rancho Performance Transaxles in Anaheim, Calif., the engine creates more than adequate power for the lightweight Vert.
In addition to a beefy clutch disc/pressure plate and shifter, the remaining drive train consists of rebuilt axles, suspension and brakes. An adjustable front end provides an ideal lowered ride height, while a set of chrome Porsche five-spoke wheels complete the overall custom look.
Even though the project began a decade prior to its full completion, the final look appears somewhat timeless. "This car is a kick in the pants to drive," says Graham. "Half of the fun is simply jumping in."