1957 Volkswagen Bug-Peter Servais

'57 VW Bug Featured in Swedish Magazines

'57 VW Bug Featured in Swedish Magazines

After a “career” as a go-cart driver, I realized at the end of the 1989 racing season that I hadn’t the time, economy, nor the energy to continue competing at the level I did. At the same time I had started my studies as an engineer at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. The go-cart was to be sold, but at the same time I wasn’t keen on not having anything to do in my spare time. Parallel to all this, I had also been dreaming about owning an oval bug for a lot of years.

The '57 as featured in VW Trends

The '57 as featured in VW Trends

After persuading my parents (I lived with my parents at the time), an ad was put in “Idrottsbladet Motorsport,” a Swedish motor sport paper stating “go-cart for sale OR trade for an oval window bug.” I was more than surprised when a guy from not far away called and said that he owned a ‘57 bug that he would consider trading for my go-cart. I was ecstatic! I was finally going to own an oval of my own, perhaps! Dad and I drove over to the guy a rainy, dark evening to look at the car. I ran around the bug while dad was inspecting it with a flashlight. I thought it looked great and had already made up my mind. THAT BUG IS MINE!!

A deal was struck and a couple of days later the bug found a new home in my parents garage. The body was quickly removed from the pan and I realized that the ‘57 needed a bit more work than I first expected. Much of the lower parts of the body was badly rusted and had to be sand blasted and replaced.

At an early stage it was also decided to try and locate a newer chassis in order to get the ball joint front beam, synchronized gear box, 12 volts and a bigger engine. A miserable looking ‘68 bug was parked a few blocks away from where I lived, so I just knocked on the door and asked if it was for sale. It was, and 1000 sek ($120) later it was mine. It was now beginning to be a bit crowdy in the driveway, so the body of the ‘68 was removed and thrown away, and the chassis of the ‘57 sold.

'57 Rebuilt Chassis

'57 Rebuilt Chassis

I started the rebuild with the chassis, and stripped of every nut and bolt and sent it all away to be sand blasted. As the floor of the pan was beyond repair, what was left of it was cut away and two new pan halves were welded in place. After being painted, totally rebuilt, assembled with a Puma adjustable front beam, and 2.5″ dropped spindles the chassis looked like new.

'57 Body Required Work

'57 Body Required Work

As mentioned, the body was in a bad shape. After the sandblasting, rust holes the size of pin heads had become the size of golf balls. Most of the lower parts of the body had to be cut away and new sections welded in place. Note the purposely built cart the body is standing on. It sure made the job a whole lot easier.

'57 Painted Body On Chassis

'57 Painted Body On Chassis

After the wedding between the body and the chassis, it was loaded on a trailer and driven to Autolack in Enköping. There, they painted the body in an original VW color called H2B. A color that I actually still think looks great. Is it orange or yellow? Be your own judge. Note that the hole in the deck lid is filled and has been punched full of louvers. A set of Ford ‘39 teardrop tail lights replaced the original ones.

ATS wheels & Saab 900 hub caps

ATS wheels & Saab 900 hub caps

I got hold of the wheels by a pure coincidence. A guy that worked close to my dad had a set of ATS wheels from a VW K70. I thought they looked ugly, but my dad persuaded me to buy them anyway (they were cheap). They needed some welding though, but after glass blasting and painting they looked like new.

The wheels didn’t include hub caps, but after measuring on a Saab 900 they turned out to fit like a glove. The tires were 135’s in the front and 185/65/15 in the back. So considering the price I paid for the wheels in the end, I think they looked pretty good.

'57 with 1600cc

'57 with 1600cc

The engine was the original 1500cc that came with the ‘68 chassis, but a friend had a beach buggy with a rebuilt 1600cc that the mandatory yearly safety inspection here in Sweden wouldn’t approve of. We simply swapped engines and the 1600cc turned out to have 041 heads, larger oil pump, a Bosch 009 distributor and dual Solex carburetors. The only thing I really did to the engine was a thorough cleaning and then “dressed” it with every chrome part available (even the distributor cap was chrome plated).

'57 VW Interior

'57 VW Interior

The interior is often one thing that people seem to put way down at the priority list (at least here in
Sweden), and mine was no exception. But after driving the car for one summer two Recaro seats from a Scirocco found a new home in my ‘57. They were modified to fit cut down stock sub frames, and reupholstered by myself in two shades of grey vinyl. The headrests were so ugly that I threw them away. The seats looked pretty cool without them, so I never fitted any. New door panels, headliner and a carpet kit (all from TMI) were installed. A wooden steering wheel and an aluminum gear shift knob completed the interior.

Peter Servais' '57

Peter Servais' '57

The year after my pocketbook had recovered somewhat, a stereo system was installed. Instead of throwing the back seat out and building a giant speaker box, I saw it as a challenge to use only the space behind the back seat. A box was built of plywood and into it I managed to squeeze two 10″ bass speakers, two 5 1/4″ mid range speakers, and two 1/2″ horns… all made by Coustic. In the front, I built two panels using glued together sheets of MDF boards into which I installed two 6″ mid range/low base speakers from Coustic, and two 1″ horns from Pioneer. I also mounted a center speaker behind the speaker grill in the dash board. A CD player mounted in the glove box compartment was connected to an electronic equalizer which in turn was connected to two amplifiers, 2×100W for the bass and 4×65W for the mid range, horn and center speaker, all made by Panasonic.

The bug was driven a couple of summers and got some attention at meets. That resulted in a couple of show trophies and features in four magazines; VolksWorld, VW Trends, VW Entusiasten and Bilsport. The car was sold in the spring of 1996 to Hans Ljunggren from Borlänge.

Posted by Buggs on Feb 27th, 2009 and filed under Readers' Rides. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response by filling following comment form or trackback to this entry from your site

Leave a Reply