What Porsche engine fits a VW Beetle?


Back in 1939, Ferdinand Porsche, one of the leading engineers in the entire German car industry has completed a special version of the people’s car – VW Beetle 39. This version of the Beetle was for all intents and purposes a Porsche.

The VW 39 used an engine straight out of the Porsche Type 64 Berlin to Paris race car. It is rather easy to overstate the importance of various different Porsche models throughout history, but the Type 64 is most definitely one of the oldest surviving Porsche models in the entire world.

The VW Beetle 39 used many next-gen car manufacturing methods such as machine press tooling, which was later put into widespread use for the entire car industry. The VW 39 offered a top speed of 90mph, which in 1939 was nothing short of spectacular.

VW 39

Ferdinand Porsche has constructed 14 VW Beetles, but back in 1939 Germany was a bit too serious and only a single VW 39 now remains stored in the Hamburg museum after a few years worth of effort to seek out the only remaining VW 39.

Chassis # 1-00003 is the only remaining original Porsche engine swapped Beetle, and this very model was used to shuttle Ferdinand Porsche and his sons between production locations in Zuffenhausen in Wolfsburg and the capital of Berlin.

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The VW 39 was later sold to a private collector in Hamburg in a rather poor state, but Thomas König and Oliver Schmidt, the founders of the Hamburg Prototype Museum purchased the VW 39 and the Porsche Beetle was completely restored by an early VW specialist.

The VW 39 is now proudly showcased in the Hamburg Prototype Musem and it serves as a vital part of all the future modifications of the iconic Volkswagen Beetle.

Porsche Cayman 982 flat-4 turbo inside a VW Beetle

Back in 2016, Porsche went back to a flat-4 engine, but this time the reason was not backed by race pedigree or sonorous engine appetite, but rather the effort of making a more efficient Porsche engine that can withstand the ever more rigorous emissions and efficiency regulations.

Even though Porsche has a long-standing history of making flat 4 engines, like the one found in the Porsche 356, the one found in the 982 Cayman/Boxster models had a rather unsatisfying reception between the enthusiast as it was a bit too tame, not very good sounding, nor as high revving as a regular naturally aspirated flat 6.

But some, rather overly enthusiastic petrolheads wondered if it was possible to fit the new flat 4 in a VW Beetle, and after a while, some experts came to the conclusion that it was indeed possible. You need to flip the drivetrain 180° though, because the Beetle is rear-engined, and the Cayman is a mid-engined sports car.

You will also have to significantly upgrade the cooling properties of the Beetle, a new exhaust system, lots of cutting and bodywork adjustments, and a bunch of ECU remaps. Fitting a flat 4 inside a Beetle is not all that uncommon as many people engine-swapped a Beetle with a Subaru flat 4 for an ultimate sleeper Frankenstein.

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A 911 engine in a VW Beetle

But what if a flat 4 simply is not enough for your ultimate Beetle racer aspirations, and you actually wanted to use a flat 6 engine from a 911? Well, first of all, why? Second of all, of course, it is possible, but it takes a considerable amount of effort, money, and time.

It’s worth mentioning that cramming a flat 6 engine in a Beetle is likely going to need lots of mechanical improvisation because a flat 6 is too big for a compact Beetle chassis, which means that you need to sacrifice either the rear seats or you are more a type of guy that prefers an engine sticking out the back.

Many enthusiasts believe that it simply is not worth the effort, that you are better of just putting a Subaru flat 4 which is a lot cheaper and less time-consuming due to the smaller dimensions of the Subaru flat 4. But, if you are overzealous about a flat 6 Beetle, there is not much one can say for you to reconsider the idea.

FAQ Section

What is the most iconic VW Beetle of all time?

If you consider the entirety of the car industry throughout history, not many cars have ever been so iconic as a VW Beetle. And choosing the most iconic model of the most iconic car ever is rather difficult, and it might stir up a bit of an argument between die-hard Beetle enthusiasts.

In an honest effort of deciding the most iconic Beetle of all time, The Bug certainly does seem like the one to consider for such a prized position. The classic Bug is equally loved by the car community and regular folk that don’t really care about cars. The original Bug is definitely a firm favorite of the entire VW car history.

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What is the fastest VW Beetle of all time?

Some shapes are unmistakable, the Eiffel Tower, the pyramids in Egypt, and the Volkswagen Beetle. And all such legendary icons need is 500+ horsepower, 543hp to be exact. That’s the power output of the Beetle LSR or in other words a 208mph Volkswagen Beetle.

Such a record has been achieved and confirmed a few years ago at Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats on September 12, 2016. Preston Lerner, a contributing editor for Automobile Magazine was the one behind the wheel, and at one point he even reckoned that the Beetle had more to go, but the salt surface way too sketchy to even try.

 

What is the most expensive VW Beetle?

Icons don’t come cheap, that’s a given. But in the world of $30-40 million cars, the Beetle is rather a bargain at $128700. That was the price of the well-known 1963 Herbie VW Beetle movie car from 1977, made famous by the movie Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo.

But if the VW 39 ever goes on sale (which is highly unlikely), it would most definitely fetch the highest amount of dollars in the history of the VW Beetle, and what a glorious history it certainly is.

What Porsche engine fits a VW Beetle?

Marko Mikulic

Why do you love writing about cars? I love writing about cars as cars are a huge personal interest of mine. I was raised in a car enthusiast community and ever since I was young, I always wanted to do car-related work.

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