John’s New Beetle Cabriolet

Cars Volkswagen

About me:

I think my passion for cars came from going to the Doncaster custom car shows in the late 70’s, early 80’s.

I loved to see all the wild paint schemes on all the yank cars, but for me it
was seeing an everyday car that was on every street corner made to look cool and go faster than they should.

All my friends were into their fords so I naturally went down the VW
route haha.

I bought my first VW at 17 years old (1988). I was adamant I wanted a beetle, so I bought a 1972 fastback. The first thing I did was to rip the bumpers off, shaved to indicators and took off the injection system in favour of twin carbs.

I eventually sold that and built a
Wizard roadster. This was my daily driver for many years. I was lucky enough to enjoy the UK VW scene through the late 80’s and 90’s which I feel was the pinnacle of the scene in this country.

I’m one of the owners of a 3 day vw extravaganza held at Harewood House just outside Leeds. 2020 would have been our 16th year (damn you covid!) and we regularly get around 20,000 people attending over the 3 days.

About the car:

New Beetle Cabriolet 2004

I purchased this car as a standard 8v 2.0L Cabrio back in 2008 as a christmas present for my wife. i collected it in the sept of that year and hid it in the garage until Christmas day!

By the time the 25th December came around I’d already changed the alloys and lowered it LOL.
Well it wasn’t long before my brain started ticking over. “What don’t people modify new beetles” I thought? At this point in time there were no quality Newbee’s on the show scene.

If I’m honest they have the stigma of being seen as a “girls car” or not a “real” beetle. So I set out to prove the ugly duckling could be turned into a swan!

The first part to change was the hood, i swapped it for a genuine VW red hood. This immediately set the tone for the rest of the build.

The list of modifications is extensive but the brief was to keep it subtle and smooth.

Front bumper was swapped for a Votex which alters the profile of the front slightly. The rear bumper was custom made by welding 2 standard bumpers together, and a pair of Votex skirts were added. I ran it like this for a short while until things got serious!

Enter John Hinchcliffe at JW Pro panels in Sheffield. Jon is well known for turning out some of the best show cars the UK has seen in the last 5 years.

He tore the exterior apart. modifying the already modified from bumper, widening, re profiling, and blending all four wings into the front and rear bumpers. No mean feet I can tell you!

A one off custom bonnet extension was grafted in which covers the scuttle panel. All the mods help to create an incredibly smooth body.


Where to start? The car came stock with a grey cloth interior. Taking cues from the hood, I decided to follow the red theme inside. The seats were swapped for Porsche 996 hardbacks which were trimmed and painted to match the body.

The rears were also re-trimmed by MJ interiors. New subframes needed to be sourced, they came from an Audi S3. The steering wheel is from a Scirocco.

The dash and door tops have been trimmed in leather and alcantara. Parts of the dash have been modified to accept the Audi S3 Vents and get rid of the oval head unit aperture that beetles have. The speedo face has been re designed in cream and red with a FOOSE logo (more about that later).

Under the dash you will see an Ipad install, This gives me the option to run sat nav, spotify, on a large screen but the best thing is it controls the air ride via the accuair I-level.


I’m running Accuair E-level with i-Level, Airlift bags and the brakes are Tarox 6 pots.

Wheels were a pain in the arse. I really wanted something different, everyone seemed to be running BBS or Rotifroms so I went looking over the pond.

I’ve been a fan of the US custom scene for years and people like Coddington and Foose have always astounded me with their talents. So it was only right to go for something west coast. I decided on a set of 20″ Foose Legends as they reminded me of the original empis on the aircooled beetle.

Only one issue. There was no Foose dealer in europe! So I had to sort everything via email and go direct! 6 months later and hundreds in import tax I had them. The first time I fitted them I held my breath, if they didn’t fit I was stuck with 4 paper weights, but luckily all was good. They were promptly stripped of all paint and repainted in a candy red.

This is pretty much where we are up to with it at the moment. It has been very successful on the show scene, winning many trophies and even grabbing a few best in shows!

I really hope i’ve managed to achieve what i set out to do which was change people’s perspective of the “Golf in a posh frock” LOL

Feature written by the owner, John Cunningham

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