Welcome to this week’s FC Throwback, where we take a look back at some of our favourite previous feature cars. This week it’s Jochen Tack’s modified 1965 VW Beetle on air from back in 2012…
Four years in the making – two of which were spent painting it – with 17-inch Radars, Jochen Tack’s air ride Bug is one we love.
It’s been said many times before, but wheels define a car. Make the wrong choice and no matter what else you’ve got going on or how mad your power plant might be, the chances are no one else will give a rat’s ass about your ride unless the wheels draw them in from afar. Make any car low enough and fit the ‘right’ rims and the reaction from the public can be rather surprising. Throw an iconic and much loved car with a huge slab of personality into the mix and things just get better from there on in.
That’s probably why Belgian Jochen Tack from Vichte (just south west of Gent, geography fans!), decided to indulge his long term air-cooled VW affliction some years after he began driving in a ‘67 Bug.
“I’ve owned many watercooled VWs since, most of which I have dropped on air ride, but I also have a 996 Porsche 911 and a T5 van for my daily transport,” Jochen tells us. Having worked his way through three Beetles, a Mk.3 Golf, Audi TT, Audi A3, Audi A4 cab, Audi A5, Mk.2 Golf and his current crop of posh Germanic motors, he felt the need to return to his air-cooled roots.
“Everyone should drive or own a Beetle before they die. Once you drive a Beetle you’ll always want one,” Jochen reckons, “So when my friend Christof, who owns a few old Bugs, said he had this ’65 in his garage, I couldn’t resist going to have a look.” But before the four years of hard work, it didn’t look like it does now! “My first reaction was, ‘Shit, what have I done’, as I towed it home.”
With the body separated from the chassis it was media blasted to get rid of the huge amount of corrosion. Two years was spent welding, grinding and patching up, using genuine New Old Stock panels. Being a ‘65 model means that many of the panels are caught between a transition of body styles so getting the unique parts was far from easy.
The car was then handed to David from Carrosserie Vandewoestijne, and three months later it emerged in pure Alpine white. Meanwhile Jochen sandblasted the chassis and painted it to match the bodywork. With such a pristine body and chassis, the re-fit wasn’t fun, “It took myself and my friend Domien two months to do the rebuild, it was not much fun trying not to damage anything,” says the air-ride suspension supremo, Jochen Tack.
Fully refurbed chrome trim, bumpers, lights and door handles now support those swan neck mirrors, to fully accentuate the nut and bolt rebuild.
Unlike most Beetles, this one has also got enough go to keep pace with modern traffic, and outpace most of it as well. Jochen enlisting the help of his mate and engine builder, Dominick Steve Alan. He put together an 1835cc machined and clearanced AS41 crankcase with reworked 044 cylinder heads. There’s Dual 40IDF Weber carbs, a CSP Python exhaust, and full flow oil system with remote cooler. It’s good for around 110bhp. “I picked up a stonechip at 120mph on the autoroute while chasing my Porsche the other day,” laughs Jochen.
The all important rolling stock is 7.5×17-inch Radars out back, but up front Jochen decided that 7.5s were just too wide to squeeze under those bulbous wings. Despite narrowing the front torsion beam by 4 inches, he cut the wheels up, shaved an inch out and tig welded them back together! Fitment up front is now dialled and the stance is beam dragging to perfection.
Talking of which, as one of Belgium’s foremost air ride experts, conspiring with gravity was second nature,“I used an Air Kewld kit which came with all the valves, bags with shocks, rear bags, tank and a Viair 550c compressor, and we wired in using a G.A.S management system,” explains Jochen. This car is all about the details.
Stopping the old timer is left to a set of CSP disc brakes while Nankang’s finest rubber bands make it handle the twisty stuff rather well.
Due to some strange EU regulations, Jochen’s Bug – being over 30 years of age – is classified as an old timer, but from where we’re standing it looks better than a lot of cars that have just rolled off the production line. Maybe that moustached fellow from the Nuremberg rally did have one good idea after all.
TECH SPEC 1965 VW BEETLE
1835cc (92mm x 69mm) flat four; machined and clearanced crankcase; twin 40IDF Weber carbs, 044 cylinder heads; full flow oil system with remote cooler; carbon details throughout; Bosch 009 distributor;
CSP Python exhaust system; cleaned and painted throughout.
4-inch Narrowed torsion beam; Air Kewld air-ride system; notched spring plates out back; rear bellow bags; Air Kewld front struts, 5 gallon tank; 4 x ½-inch valves; Viair 550c compressor; narrowed 6.5×17 and 7.5×17-inch Radar wheels; CSP 5×205 disc brakes.
Restored and re-finished in Alpine white; Albert Swann mirrors; original chrome trim refurbished; NOS panels throughout; original popes nose decklid.
Original ’65 seats cleaned; TMI door panels; air-ride gauges mounted beneath Wolfsburg steering wheel.
My brother, Diego from DPolish for the tyres; Carosserie Vandewoestijne for the painting; Domien, Gregory for the welding
and special thanks to my wife Valerie and daughter Freija for their patience.
Word and photos Jimbo Wallace