German Anarchy: A Volksrod Spotters Guide


Over Pro Mods, Resto Mods, and Street Touring? Check out Volksrods, slick, stripped down street rods ingeniously built out of vintage Volkswagen Beetles.

Volksrods seem to appear to have no standard definition, but the elements that appear to be consistent are that the basic shell is a steel Type 1 body, and the engine flat four engine remains hung out the rear attached to a VW transaxle.

Vintage Ford-style front suspension

Front suspension seems to range from VW torsion bars, Model T solid axle, or even fully independent.  Interiors are typically austere, often to the extreme (a pad of rubber fastened to the top of the bare seat springs).

An example of extreme lowering – note the VW front beam

Body modifications appear, at a minimum, to require the removal of the bumpers and fenders. Chopping a few inches off the roof is somewhat commonplace, and some builders go to the extreme. Ride height is lowered from standard, and again here some builders go to extremes building show cars that would never be able to cross over a speed bump.

Some heavy-duty induction for this chopped Volksrod running on the Salt

While there are plenty of highly built motors residing in Volksrods (which can easily exceed the cost of a Chevy small block crate motor), the trend seems to be on on making incremental gains in power with a dual carb set up, bored and balanced internals, and open exhaust.

Gorgeous execution on the  concept proves that not all Volksrods need to be Rat Rods

The Volksrod trend actually came out of a place better known to the world for its designs of future cars than of modifying 50 year old imports. Martin Smith is Chair of the Product Design Department at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, a school that has graduated such famous car designers as Chris Bangle (BMW), Henrik Fisker, Chip Foose, J. Mays (Ford GT). You get the picture.

Fred Hidalgo with Stink Bug

Around the turn of the century Smith crossed paths with student Fred Hidalgo, who was building a VW based rod named Stink Bug. Smith assisted Hidalgo in working out some of the details of the Stink Bug, and is to doing so became inspired to build his own Volksrod with his two sons, naming his creation the Rodwagen.

Martin Smith’s Rodwagen

The well informed among you may be asking, why has he not mentioned Kent Fuller? Fuller, an extremely talented visionary of drag race chassis design in the 1960s created a miniature fiberglass hot rod  body to fit a Type 1 drivetrain, sort of a mini Ford truck as an alternative to a dune buggy. Fuller named his kit the Volksrod and unfortunately the current crop of custom VWs confusingly use the same name, though there’s little in common between the two.

Kent Fuller’s Volksrod

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