Meet the Speed Demon Beetle: VW's Record-Breaking Adventure at Bonneville

by AutoExpert   |  26 December, 2023

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Hey car enthusiasts! Ever heard of a Volkswagen Beetle that could practically fly? Get ready, because we're about to deep dive into VW's quest to transform their cute little Beetle into a record-smashing speedster.

Back in the 2010s, VW's third-gen Beetle was struggling to find fans. So, VW had a wild idea: prove the Beetle’s hidden power by setting a speed record at the iconic Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. If you're not familiar, this is the go-to spot for breaking land speed records, thanks to its crazy long and flat surface.

Beetle

Now, turning a Beetle into a speed demon was no small feat. Enter Tom Habrzyk, a seasoned Salt Flats racer, tasked with making this dream a reality. The goal? Hit over 200 mph and smash the gas coupe class record.

Beetle

The transformation was epic. Under the hood, the team worked magic on a stock R-Line Beetle coupe. They couldn’t tweak the car’s cute exterior, but everything else was fair game. They beefed up the engine from a respectable 210 hp to a jaw-dropping 543 hp. We’re talking dual turbochargers, forged pistons, a revamped powertrain, and a new suspension system. Plus, they added a roll cage, racing seat, fire suppression system, and special tires for that salty terrain.

Beetle

The first test driver, automotive journalist Preston Lerner, had a couple of hiccups in 2014. But in 2016, he hit an incredible 205 mph! There was a tiny hiccup with the water pump, but that didn’t stop the Beetle from later hitting 200 mph in California.

Beetle

Despite not officially breaking the record, VW was stoked. They proved that the Beetle, not known for its aerodynamics, could hit insane speeds. It was a testament to sheer power.

Beetle

And guess what? This isn’t the only speedy Beetle out there. There's the rare Beetle RSi with a 3.2-liter V-6 and a rallycross Beetle that packs 560 hp. But none can hold a candle to the blistering speed of this Bonneville Beetle.

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