12 Cylinders Of Fridolin Madness

Ever since I returned from this year’s Bilsport Performance & Custom Motor Show in Sweden, I’ve been trying to find the time to show you one of my favourite machines sitting under the ever-present show lights at Elmia.


I was impressed by Ruud Janssen’s ex-Swiss postal service 1969 VW Type 147 Kleinlieferwagen from the moment I saw it – even though it was a good hundred meters away and my eyesight is certainly not what it used to be. The bright white and brown shape off in the distance screamed, ‘I’m awesome, come take a closer look’. So I did, and I wasn’t disappointed.


Although over 6,000 examples of the 147, commonly known as the Fridolin, were produced for the German and Swiss postal services (as well as a handful for Lufthansa airline) between 1964 and 1974, only a few hundred have survived and Ruud’s example is surely the most impressive.


Built over the span of 10 years, the 147 is an absolute work of art. Externally, many panels have been custom made from sheet metal, worked and then painted to absolute perfection, but it’s what’s underneath that really blew my mind.


Ruud had planned on fitting a Audi 20-valve four cylinder turbo from an A4 into the original chassis, but once he started work on the project, he realised the stock van just wouldn’t be able to handle the power. So he instead decided to build his own tube frame chassis and integrated rollcage to sit the body on top of.


This meant a few things – firstly, he could put together the perfect suspension set up that would both handle like a modern race car and allow for an increase in weight. Ruud opted for double wishbone pushrod set up front and rear, which he of course fabbed himself.


The setup uses AVO remote reservoir adjustable coilovers and looks absolutely stunning when you open the hood or boot.


Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, it also meant that engine choices had now opened up for Ruud, and he could now decide what, where and how this VW would be powered.


As he was no longer constrained in anyway, Ruud decided to go all-out and source a huge 6.0-litre W12 from a VW Toureg. After crafting a beautiful set of exhaust manifolds and adding the appropriate ladder bracing and mounts to the Fridolin, the monster 12-cylinder was mid-mounted very low, giving the van great weight balance and around 450hp and 440ft-lb of torque. The motor is backed up by an Audi A6 diesel 6-speed gearbox, Tilton triple-plate clutch and Quarter Master flywheel.


Although Ruud doesn’t clock up too many miles in the Fridolin, which weighs a little over a tonne, he says that it is an extremely exhilarating trip. Huge Brembo calipers and Audi RS4 discs front and rear, hidden behind 20×8.5-inch American Racing Equipment wheels claw the 147 back down from warp speed.


Ruud tells me that the Fridolin has won over 20 trophies since its debut last year, and somewhat unusually for people I speak to in this sort of context, he also says that he’s entirely done with the car, with no further plans to modify it.


I guess when a machine is this awesome, and built this well, what else is there to do?

Peter Kelly
Instagram: speedhunters_pedey



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Where there's a will, There's a way


Where are the radiators?


Is that interior photo of a different car? 1st interior photo has momo steering wheel 2nd photo has sparco steering wheel.


MAXIMUMatttack just saw that the 2nd foto is from a completely diff car, most be a mix up or somit.


The dry sump takes up more space than the wet sump?


MAXIMUMatttack Excellent spotting - what a facepalm moment! I just had a look through all my images and it turns out I grabbed some shots of an awesome white Escort just after checking out the Fridolin and confused the two.


@dickbutt thanks, slight communication error there, fixed!


AEROHUNTER It reminds me of the classic questions "can you put a X into an X?" Or "Will X wheels fit on X car?"

Sure, nearly anything is possible if you've got the time, expertise and money!


dam! that just raised the bar!


That's awesome! I remember seeing these PTT (Swiss Post) vans as a kid in Switzerland, they were used for bigger packages and registered deliveries.


Absolutely barking!

The average guy

Jesus christ!


Crazy stuff! Never heard of this van, first time seeing one and it's this kind of awesomeness!


That is just a waste, of someones time and money. its useless.


gregcab You are boring.


gregcab yeah you are boring.


Thats a pretty useless car/van whatever it is but OMG is awesome! Love it!


I fricking love this thing.


this thing is bitchin i first heard about it in volksworld magazine but type 147's are rare and very sweet especially this one and i have only ever been fortunate to see one in my lifetime thus far here in american still running the swiss postal livery with the owners company name on it he owns a company called stick quick and its rolling a set of color matched audi wheels


I wish this was a driven car. Sucks to see it be a show queen.


gregcab yeah you are very boring.


@Mindless air cooled............ :P


I have seen this car in person during M.I.V.W. (in the Netherlands) last year. It is a work of art. Really beautiful. I hope - one day - I will be able to build something like this myself :-) .


@Mindless You can spot them in the 6th picture, over ths dampers. ;)


This is one of the coolest cars I've seen in a while. Flawless execution.


Gad damn.


I remember quite a few years (must've been around '08 or '09) back this thing was at MIVW as a unfinished project, still in the bare metal and it was amazing back then also. Just shows that dedication pays off!


gregcab You sir, are a bore.


HunterHunted gregcab guys, am a car guy like you all are, but the freeking thing its a waste of cool parts and money, am sorry to who i ofend it, but in the real World, i dont need my vehicle to be confused whit a pimp up, ice-cream truck, am sorry, i you all can go out whit that, cool, but am not a fan of ice cream truck, so sorry, you fumble the ball.


gregcab HunterHunted Because race cars and show cars and Drift car make sense?

Its a Hobby, it not supposed to make sense! that's the whole point!


gregcab HunterHunted You are missing the point. I am 100% against hard parkers but this is not in that category. This is not some random person who bought catalog air ride bits and big shiny wheels and created a 'show car'. This is someone who had genuine engineering to accomplish to make this happen. He might have started with an "ice cream truck" but that is what makes it that much more interesting. 

Again, you are boring. Lets be honest here, cars are a waste of money. Cars are a waste of time. I could be rich if I invested in stocks instead of parts. You sir, have fumbled not the ball, but the entire point.


Astounding. Needs film...




So much effort and thought into the build but whats with the Battery placement - looks super safe with the terminals directly under the fuel cell inlet/outlets...thats not going to go up in flames


I totally understand it as a show car, but, i think i am not only one asking this: what is it regular usage? track car? show car only? stance cruiser?


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