Classic Beetle racer goes Stateside

A beautifully prepared Oldspeed 1953 ‘Zwitter’ racer which has been featured in a number of magazines both here and abroad has gone to a buyer in the States.

The retro racer belonged to Matt Wilson from Leicestershire who bought it about two years ago from a Norweigian enthusiast who was heavily into the Oldspeed retro racing scene, dedicated to vehicles fitted with period performance parts that aren’t available off the shelf. In fact, we understand the vehicle actually won such an event.

front Zwitter racer

That explains why the spec list in his advert was so impressive; 15in Porsche wheels, hand made alloy speedster seats, Porsche RSK Werks steering wheel with 356 horn push, Porsche 917 wooden gear knob, Messerschmitt ME109 stop clock with matching rev counter, fuel and temperature gauge, Bosch spotlamps, leather bonnet straps and various other custom old school goodies.

The car gets its ‘Zwitter’ (or hybrid) nickname by virtue of the fact that models made between October 1952 and March 1953 used the split rear window bodyshell with oval window chrome trim, front quarterlights and dashboard.

side cabin largecabin 225 375bonnet 225 375engine 250 375

Soon after becoming its custodian, Matt swapped the original Abarth tuning components for a Pepco supercharger which effectively increased the power output of the original 30bhp engine to nearer 50 horses so, as Matt puts it, “It just keeps revving.” He also fitted a through-the-bonnet fuel filler which would obviously save time in a race situation.

Sadly, family commitments and a new interest in Italian exotica forced Matt to reluctantly put the rare race Beetle up for sale at £19,950.

Zwitter racer main

Said Matt when we spoke to him as he was preparing to take it to the docks en route to its new home in the States: “It was just sitting in the garage, but it’s a complete one-off and it’s gone to a good home. No doubt people will see it at the US shows this year.”

Let’s hope so!


A big thanks to Lyndon McNeil for the excellent photos.

The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of VW Heritage

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