When LS-swapping such a spartan, economical, and “sensible” rear-engine vehicle as Volkswagen’s iconic “Beetle,” there is a LOT of room for interpretation. In the case of John Bridges’ 1970 bug, a lot of personality is also tossed into the mix. The folks at Holley caught up with John and his bug at LS Fest East recently and put this video together so the world could experience this high-powered people’s car.
John clarifies the reason for building this car right from the get-go. “I built it so I wouldn’t have to wash a car every time I wanted to go to a car show,” he says. Looking at the car, you can see he’s more interested in having fun than polishing chrome, and we like that! He confides that as he was building the car, he didn’t have a definitive set of plans showing how the car would look when finished. So he had the body in one part of his garage and began building the chassis in another area. He tweaked the build until the two components came to an agreement.
In the car’s first iteration, he had a Cadillac engine powering his ride, but now he’s seen the light, and a 6-liter engine out of a 2008 Chevy Express van now does the duty. The fact John’s ride doesn’t even try to stuff that V-8 under any hood makes it very easy to see that he didn’t keep that engine stock. Besides the custom-fabbed twin-turbo system, John admits the engine still has stock heads. John also lets us know that the “good stuff” that currently resides in the engine is out of necessity since he “blew the stock stuff up!”
That good stuff includes a Brian Tooley Racing camshaft, forged rods and pistons, and a twin-turbo setup featuring two 70mm turbos feeding around 14 pounds of boost into a truck intake. The bug hasn’t landed on a dyno yet, but estimates put the engine’s output right around 900 horsepower. That’s exponentially more than the 57 horsepower of the original rear-mounted bug motor!
John’s Beetle has so much character that we couldn’t do it justice by spelling it out here. So instead, we suggest letting John do the telling, and you’ll quickly see how John and his ride are so perfectly suited. This bug and its owner are non-assuming powerhouses in their own right, and we’d love to sit down and spend more than just a couple of minutes with both of them. Check out this video, and you’ll agree!