Adrenaline Rush And One Fast Beetle
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Adrenaline Rush And One Fast Beetle

June 1, 2016
10 minutes read

The need for speed! It’s like a horsepower-induced drug for the performance-minded, a full-fledged addiction satisfied when the forces of gravity pull your body deeper into the seat and your adrenaline switch is set at high. While speed is not typically characteristic of a Volkswagen (except for slow), Kurt Metzger is looking to change any prior stereotype. His street-legal 1968 Ragtop Beetle is as fast as they come, Volkswagen or otherwise.

Naturally built to the hilt, the engine compartment can barely contain its 2276cc, turbo-powered behemoth. The turbo’s snake-like plumping winds its way around the engine and out the compartment, as if shouting its performance potential.

Metzger purchased the VW several years ago after he found it parked in an old barn (yes, this really does happen) near his home in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Presented as a special Valentine gift for his wife Anne, the Bug was in good condition with 32,000 original miles.

After driving the car for many years, Metzger, the owner of Vintage Performance, decided to pump a little life into the stock 1600cc engine. The intent was to build a fast and reliable daily driver.

Through the course of rebuilding the engine in various stages of performance, he finally concluded with a turbocharged 2276–to say the least–a bit larger than originally anticipated.

Still utilizing the stock German VW Type I case, the unit was bored and cleared by Rimco Machine in Santa Ana, Calif., to accept Wiseco 94mm pistons/cylinders and a DMS 82mm, Chevy journal, full-circle crank. The shuffle pinned case uses 10mm savers and is additionally drilled and tapped for full flow oil distribution. Its bottom end is sealed tight with Crower rods, while Cima/Childs & Albright rings help keep compression at 7.3:1. Intake and exhaust valves are actuated with infinite precision by way of a Web-Cam special grind camshaft, further ensuring a rounded performance package.

To help build the best possible head combination, Metzger enlisted the reputable service of Performance Technology in Anaheim, Calif., Considering various elements of the engine’s configuration (including the later addition of the turbo), a pair of SHO series 3 heads were finely crafted, featuring 46×37.5 mm stainless steel intake and exhaust valves and cromoly 3-angle valve seats. K-800 valve springs were used in addition to Sil. Bronze racing valve guides, Scat 1.25 rockers and titanium retainers. Needless to say, critical areas were match ported for optimum performance. Effectively sealing the package is a pair of Performance Technology valve covers.

Last, but certainly not least, is perhaps the engine’s single, most significant component in terms of power, a Garret T04S turbocharger (built by Performance Techniques in San Bernardino, Calif.). Working in harmony with a modified Demon 750, four-barrel carburetor, custom intake and a MSD/Jacobs ignition (w/25-degree advance), the turbo, which emits spent fumes via custom 1.75 exhaust, runs at 25 lbs. boost pressure. The combination is said to provide the engine with an additional 250 horses, resulting with a grand total of an estimated 500 bhp at 7000 rpm!

In order to properly harness this amount of raw power and further transmit it proportionately to the wheels, Metzger knew a number of things must be tended to within the drivetrain, including the running gear and suspension. In doing so, the Type I gusseted transaxle, has been raised 4 inches and features a 3.88 ring and pinion (with 378, 221, 156 and 117 gearing) by Jim Kaforski at Der Trans Axle in Anaheim, Calif. The trans was additionally fitted with a performance-oriented Chassis Shop clutch and pressure plate before mating to the engine and its 12.5 lb. flywheel.

Lastly, to keep the car tracking smooth, the stock axles were shortened 3 inches, while the pan was dropped 4 inches with a Puma adjustable front beam and Sway-A-Way spring plates. Traction is provided with sizeable 26×11.50/15 Mickey Thompson ET street tires (DOT approved) in the rear and 22×4.5/15 up front. The tires are matched to sporty Weld Racing wheels measuring 4.0×15 and 7.0×15 respectively. Naturally, the brakes have also been completely rebuilt and appropriately equipped.

With passenger safety a prime element of concern, Albert Munoz, of Dominator Engineering in Monrovia, Calif., modified the pan/body with a full Pro 15/8 steel tube cage. The cockpit is surprisingly complete, not to mention comfortable, considering the car’s race bred configuration.

The predominately black J-Bugs interior features Sport seats (with Simpson belts), coordinating door panels, velour headliner and matching carpeting by West Coast Metric. Brad Somics of Boyertown, Penn., gets the nod for a smooth installation. Final additions include a Formula France steering wheel and an Autometer tach from K&G Speed (no radio needed here).

Utilizing a full range of talent, Metzger conceded to the body’s full paint and prep himself. Using original VW steel fenders and hood, the exterior features a solid shade of Guinea Blue PPG Acrylic Enamel. In addition to a fresh black cloth rag, various stock items, such as new handles, rubber and seals throughout, refresh the 33-year-old car, while H-4 headlights and T-bar style bumpers provide a unique custom blend.

Structurally intimidating, the large Pro Turbo-style wing serves a functional purpose by creating a sufficient amount of down force at high rates of speed; in other words, it keeps the car on the ground.

With all things stated in reference to the VW’s agility, it’s easy to ascertain that this car is no slouch. Fact is, Metzger’s ride is the fastest street Sedan we’ve ever seen. Just how fast is fast? Let’s do the math and put things into perspective. We’re talking about a full-bodied (pan) car that weighs approximately 2150 lbs. (which is a couple hundred pounds heavier than stock in lieu of the roll cage and other various additions).

Keep in mind, It’s also entirely street legal, DOT-inspected and registered. Now, take a race car from the PRA (Pro Racing Association), such as the record holder in the new Pro Mod class, which belongs to respected veteran racer Ron Lummus. His car is also as fast as they come, as it should be, given the fact it’s a full chassis Pro race car. Here’s the final comparison, Ron’s car weighs 1550 lbs. (w/Lummus) and is equipped with a 375hp, 2711cc nitrous-injected motor. His current quarter-mile PRA record stands with an impressive 9.83secs at 138.90 mph.

Even with a weight difference of 500 lbs., Kurt’s car recently recorded a best of 10.06 at 141.95 mph, eclipsing Ron’s mph and missing his e.t. by only 0.23 of a second. How’s that for fast?

Moreover, respected industry figure Fred Simpson of Performance Technology, among others, feels the car is easily capable of running in the upper 9s (at around 150 mph) with minimal changes.

What makes Metzger’s car so unusual is that it’s driven whenever and wherever he likes.

“You can’t put your race car on the street, but you sure can put your street car in the race,” said Metzger. In fact, after a race event, it’s not uncommon for him to offer a drive to anyone in doubt of its worthiness. Pay the bill, and we’re talking all the way to Philadelphia for a Philly cheese steak sandwich. Street worthy enough? Just take our advice and tighten your seat belt, you’ll be in for one hell of a ride!

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