By on January 26, 2010

Now here’s a well-preserved flash from the past. VW kits of every possible permutation were the rage in the seventies and into the eighties. The Beetle’s construction lent itself superbly to the task. A few bolts released the body from the platform, which could also be quite easily cut and shortened. The resulting short bed pickup variation makes the perfect little hauler, like this one. Ride and handling? Don’t ask. Although this profile shows off its best side, there’s a bonus or two or even three in the other shots:

No self-respecting kit car from this vintage would be authentic without a grafted-on grill; either a gen-u-ine Mercedes number like this one, or a fake Rolls Royce unit.

Load capacity is a bit limited, but easy to get to. As is the engine. But the best vintage piece on this ‘dub? The steering wheel.

That’s quite a nice Empi wheel, and one I haven’t seen in decades. The frost on the window is what it’s like driving a beetle in cold weather, except it forms on the inside, from your breath. And as a shorty bonus, I give you this shorty gem, filched from the internet, but irresistible. Looks like a Chrysler Le Baron or Lancer. The urge to shorten lives on!

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23 Comments on “Curbside Classic Outtake: Get Shorty Edition...”

  • avatar
    Brian E

    That car doesn’t just ride the short bus. It is the short bus.

  • avatar

    Lebaron GTS; I had an ’85. But even the nose appears to be grafted on. Could also be a Lebaron Coupe, but the absence of a rear end makes that speculation moot.

    With the 90/10 weight bias, it has very responsive steering.

  • avatar

    I think that’s a spy photo of a new Chrysler in development (development budget being somewhat restricted these days). Maybe that’s the next generation Viper. Or Enzo.

  • avatar

    That Bug truck is very cool … right up until the grill.

  • avatar

    The best VDub kit ever was the replacement hood and trunk lids that made it look (kind of) like a Morris Minor.

    I painfully remember driving my ’65 Beetle during midwest winters with a blanket over my legs and a windshield scraper at hand to scrape frost off of the inside so I could see to drive. Conversation with a passenger had to be kept to a minimum to avoid excess moisture in the car. What’s that thing hanging under the dash in front of the shifter? Is that a space heater?

  • avatar

    Like the Bug, I actually like the kits to make the whole thing look like a Rolls. Upright grill and engine cover that had a fake spare tire hump.

  • avatar

    Looks like someone put a lot of time and effort into the VW bug, so I have to admire that. As for the Chrysler, I’d hate to get rear ended in that thang.

  • avatar

    Volkswagen with a Vandetta.

  • avatar

    Man, I’d hate to be driving behind that bug in the rain. In Cali, the CHP would probably insist the owner invest in a set of mudflaps, whether naked lady or Yosemite Sam. They might include a few comments about the rear bumper too.

  • avatar

    I had a 1961 Bug that had the gas heater. Yes, I mean gasoline. It tapped the gas tank and used a very small amount to power the heater/defroster. It worked great. Almost instant heat and defrost in about 10 seconds. This was the last year for no gas gauge.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    I remember blue-gray exhaust coming out of the heater vents after I patched the outer heat exchanger skins.

    The headlights on this are aimed a bit high.

  • avatar
    Cerbera LM

    The Le Baron looks like an early prototype of the CR-Z.

  • avatar

    Would it not be cheaper just to get one of those Japanese kei trucks? There’s a couple places here in the Toronto, Ontario area that specialize in selling them… they’re kinda neat, especially for urban commuting… but that LeBaron looks like maybe the rear end just rusted off

  • avatar

    The Lebaron GTS and Dodge Lancer was the pinnacle of the K body/H body platform. Chrysler wrung about as much as they could out of it with that “BMW” beater. I’d love to see a curbside classic devoted to it.

    I much lamented Chrysler killing it for the smaller, more bulbous, less attractive P-body (Shadow and Sundance.) Would have loved to get my hands on one of the few Shelby versions. Bet not too many of them are left on the road.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree. My 85 GTS was a 5-speed stick with the non-turbo 2.2L. I bought it 3 years used, kept it 12 years, and parted with it at 206k miles. I just couldn’t keep ahead of the rust at the end.

      Very few are left today. I still think they were beautiful cars.

  • avatar

    Nice ICC bumper in shot 3. Is that a little space heater I see mounted under the dash?

  • avatar

    Looks like an old DKW with those headlights mounted where they are and the grille. Priceless

  • avatar

    I wonder what the owner tows with this?

  • avatar

    Dave7….As a 23 year Mercedes employee I can tell you the front grille is the best part of that monstrosity.

  • avatar

    For anyone interested, it is now for sale (I’m not the owner):

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