Except in this special class of cars, they didn’t really look much like the classic VW ‘bug’
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Anyone walking through the gates at the 2019 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance would expect to see some great cars, cars like Auburns, Duesenbergs, Packards, Isotta Fraschinis, Delages, Delahayes, Rolls-Royces and Mercedes-Benzes. That’s what concours were created for. Elegant, wonderful cars.
But, Amelia plays by a different set of rules. Yes, all those cars were all there, but, over in the center of the field, under the trees, there was a wonderful display of Volkswagen Beetles, only two of which actually looked like a Beetle.
These cars all used the basic and classic Beetle rear-drive platform and an air-cooled engine, but they were customized or completely rebodied by some very creative, very skillful firms to look like something else entirely.
Several of the custom Beetles at Amelia were produced by the Berlin-based Rometsch company, all hand-built using steel frames and wooden pillars to mount aluminum skins, and many of them were designed by German genius Johannes Beeskow for Rometsch.
Several of the rest were originally built by another German coachbuilder, Dannenhauer und Stauss in the 1950s, and those all looked more like very early Porsches than Beetles.
To top it all off, there was a very rare VW Tempo Matador flatbed hauler built in Hamburg by the firm of Vidal und Sohn, a coachbuilder we had never, ever heard of.
The sleeper of the group was an innocuous tan 1956 Beetle that looked completely stock, but was in fact built by Southern California genius Dick Troutman of Troutman & Barnes. It was built using a hot-rodded Porsche engine, a 911 transmission, Porsche brakes, and every single removable panel on the car was hand-built in aluminum.
This was definitely not one of those car displays where you hear the guy with silver hair say to his wife, “I had one just like that when I was in high school.”
Hats off to Bill Warner and his crew for another great car display from the lunatic fringe.