Can RWB Do A Volkswagen?
Family Ties

The Porsche 911 and the Volkswagen Beetle are two cars that will often be brought up in the same sentence. For starters, both models can be considered among the most iconic in the history of the automobile, but they actually share a lot more than that.

More importantly, the 911’s predecessor – the Porsche 356 – evolved from the basic air-cooled Volkswagen Type 1, and while Porsche and VW’s engineering has diverged as the years have gone on, the ties have always be there.


Volkswagen owners have, for decades, added Porsche parts to the their cars, hoping to catch some of the performance and style that have made Stuttgart’s vehicles so legendary. With the introduction of the new front-wheel drive Beetle in the 1990s, the car left behind its mechanical ties with Porsche, but to certain eyes its simplistic rounded profile still brought to mind a taller, more utilitarian version of the 911.


The orange machine you see here might just be one of the most interesting (and controversial) VW/Porsche mash-ups yet. Meet the Tanner Foust Edition RWB Beetle Turbo R.


Given the fact that Tanner Foust can currently be found racing heavily modified Volkswagens in rallycross, and will soon be doing the same in few upcoming rounds of Formula Drift competition, it was only natural that he’d use a Volkswagen as the basis for this build for last year’s SEMA Show.


Building a car that can stand out among the excess at SEMA is not an easy thing, and when it came time to style this 2014 Beetle Turbo, Tanner and company ended up looking toward a well known Porsche specialist in Japan called RAUH-Welt Begriff. Perhaps you’ve heard of them?


RWB is known for working with Porsches, so you might be wondering how boss man Akira Nakai reacted to the idea of putting his name and signature styling on a Beetle?


Well, it turns out he was quite open to the idea. He digs the Beetle’s iconic, Porsche-esque styling and thought the car would be a good fit for his legendary wide body look.


With a tight schedule leading up to November’s SEMA Show, it wouldn’t be possible to have the Beetle built inside Nakai’s shop in Japan, so the team did the next best thing.


The bodywork was completed at LTMW in Southern California, with Nakai-san handling the design with some assistance from our friend and talented automotive artist Jon Sibal.

Capturing The Look

One the keys to RWB’s Porsches are the way they fully retain the 911’s classic looks, but with a large degree of aggression added from the wide fenders, suspension and wheels. The same mindset was used when creating the Beetle.


The one-off kit adds eight inches of width to the Beetle’s profile, but rather than the raw, exposed-rivet look that many RWB cars have used, this design has a more seamless appearance. It almost looks like something that could be factory.


Aside from the essential widened fenders, the car is also running RWB side skirts, a front spoiler that looks like it came right off of Nakai’s 930, and sets of canards on both the front and rear fenders.


When it came time to choose a color for the car, it was determined that the Beetle should be covered in a hue that was very reminiscent of Porsche. In that sense, it’s hard to argue with choice of 997.1 GT3 RS orange with black accents.


A key part of capturing the RWB look would be the suspension, and in this department KW was called upon for a set of custom V3 coilovers originally designed for a Mk6 Golf GTI. The resulting stance is low and aggressive, just as an RWB car should be.


Another major piece of the equation was the car’s wheel and tire setup. Not only did the rims and rubber need to fill up the Beetle’s massively widened fenders, they had to convey the aggressive RWB style too.


This is where Motegi Racing jumped on board the project, custom-building a set of five-spoke Tracklite wheels measuring 18×10-inch in the front, and a ridiculous 18×13-inch in the rear. The tires are Pirelli P ZEROs sized 275/35R18 and 295/35R18 in the front and rear respectively.

Different Car, Same Spirit?

Because this project was undertaken as more of a ‘what if?’ styling exercise rather than a car that was designed to race, the 2.0 TSI motor beneath the Beetle’s hood has been left bone stock.


That said though, I can’t help but wonder what it would be like if this styling was mixed with some of the race components used on the AWD rallycross-spec Beetle that Tanner drives. Maybe someday we’ll see an even more radical RWB Beetle?


Like the engine, the interior has been kept almost completely stock too, with the only significant change being the seats.


Both the driver and passenger seats have been replaced with a pair of leather-finished Recaro Sportster CS reclinable buckets. They might not fool you into thinking you’re sitting in a GT3 RS, but they do look quite nice in there.


While a front-engined, front-wheel drive Volkswagen Beetle will never be a Porsche 911, I have to say that Tanner, Nakai-san, Jon Sibal and LTMW have done a very convincing a job applying what’s become an iconic look to a very different type of car.


The question is then, how do you feel about an RWB Beetle? Should Nakai stay Porsche only? Or do you like the idea of him branching out to work on different cars? Is this doing justice or injustice to the RWB name? If not this, what other types of cars would you like to see RWB work on?

Let’s hear it.

Mike Garrett
Instagram: speedhunters_mike

Photos by Larry Chen
Instagram: larry_chen_foto

Cutting Room Floor


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So much potential!


i actually like it and im not a fan of beetles...also as long as i dont have to look at the rivets he can widebody anything idgaf....


Looks awesome, RWB should do some more cars!


This car is fugly, no matter who tries to tune it..


Love new Beetles, this one actually reminds me of the old RSi


now that's one beetle that i like!  

i bet jon sibal's already had sketches of that more aggressive RWB beetle, lol.


Great, cleanly styled car! and good article! With the widened fenders, in the photo from the rear, the is really shaped like a 911. It's kind of deceiving.


looks good but needs larger wheels imo


Should've went with bolt on fenders with rivets like the other Porsches. Would've blended into the family better. the fenders here are too clean and integrated.


Am I the only one thinking this, as a styling exercise, is a massive improvement over any of the RWB Porsches. 
I reckon it's due to the lack of bolt on fender flares.


Great attitude remake for that car. love it!


The car looks great!!! Im still stuck though on how they practically upgraded every thing else except the engine I mean come on not even a new turbo or shave the block or just something and also how they kept it front wheel drive. I understand that looks are a big deal but in some ways i feel like this car is all bark and no bite. Great article larry and mike!!!


One: Isn't RWB been doing Beetles? Oh wait.
Two: I dig this. Clean, low, and so damn pumped.
Three: Makes me think, though: What if the chassis and powertrain of the GRC Bettle went in this bodywork?
Four: Looks like it could come from the factory? I'm in the same boat.


I love it. RWB strikes gold again.


Blasphemy! :P


This is blasphemy, till the powertrain and drivetrain gets serious upgrades the tires are stupidly overkill. I mean wider tires in the back ? This is still fwd ya know ?



what if RWB makes an classic beetle? thats something i wish i could see, overfenders and all the upgrades... 

its fun to dream


Perfectly executed. I wouldn't change a thing.
Well done


I generally don't like RWB stuff and I don't care for VW Beetles, but this...I like this. Guess two wrongs do make a right sometimes.


Needs a roof chop!


Nice I like it



FWD car owners are always doing this. & I always laugh...


I added some bonus images for you guys. Also make sure you check out presentation mode for a high res experience.



Now if you could slide a R32/Golf R powertrain and running gear into the mix then it would have the performance to backup the looks. Could also use a rear mounted Impreza motor like you see in some classic bugs...

Better still, get a really big crowbar and shoehorn a 911/Cayman chassis and running gear then you are talking...

Note to self. GET MORE MONEY!!!


I hope in a brakes upgrade... The rim is so empty... Nice execution BTW.


Really needed a huge wing to set this off.  It's *too* understated, especailly for RWB.  I absolutely love their style, and this is disappointing.


It needs a whale tale spoiler!


I am not a fan of the new Beetle but this actually looks nice.  Good job to all on this project.


Probably just me, but I cant help but notice that most panel edges dont
align properly. Everything is just a few mm off which bugs me more than
it should.


RWB didn't always do Porsches. iirc akira-san also used to work on the ae86 chassis, so as far sticking to just Porsches, nothing is sacred. 911s might be his signature, but he's friggin' Akira-san. He can do whatever he likes (and it'll probably turn out amazing)


Looks amazing, wish it had the power and interior to match.


So much better than them ruining perfectly good Porsche chassis


It was cool to see this at the Chicago Auto Show in the VW booth.


He should do a RWB mazdaspeed3 on steroids


CargoNextDay Yes, I agree!


I must admit, this looks sweet. I'd run that!


Send it to HPA motorsports to make its bite match the bark. Lol


If it's not touched by Nakai then its not a RWB.  Also, no SSR SP1 wheels are a big no no.

My 2 yen cents.


Put an FA20F in the back..Now we're cooking with gas!


airforce1 But it's got the horrid plastic garden-bed edging front lip that's been screwed on.....surely that's a plus.


@Kenny Agreed.


of course RWB can do a VW, and judging by the first result, 
it plain WORKS !

if I was a bit nitpicking, I'd omit the black striping on the sidepods, 
as this particular hue of RS orange accentuates black so much, that 
it would be best left for the wheels to 'stand out'.

and of course, some 5-7% 'meatier'-sidewall tyres would make this car 
really perfect, as Beetles (in any form) have a certain Retro-ness about 
them, and race cars in the 60's/70's used significantly meaty tires (hell, 
some racecars wear such high-sidewall tyres even today).

otherwise, what Nakai-san did with the fenders on this Beetle is nothing 
short of pure magic.

I dare say that the wide-stance on these latest-gen Beetle is even more 
dramatic to look at than the 911 (which are, to a certain extent, "naturally" 
wide-stanced, with a ridiculously low Wb/T ratio).

after seeing this, I'm almost convinced that, if a bolt-on/weld-on kit can 
be developed and commercially offered by RWB for the new Beetle, 
it would sell as iPhones....

another point altogether is how these cars would DRIVE with such silly-wide 
rear tyres, as, on the 911s, the RWB effect makes them dynamically even more 
capable (with some compromises in daily use), but on this FWD cars..... who knows, 
it might become a low'n'slow (wide'n'slow?) trend lasting only 2-3 years..  on the other 
hand (thinking aloud), it might trigger a whole new 'wave' of tuning for the new Beetle, 
with huge engine outputs, LSDs, and perhaps even retro-fitting an AWD system as the 
platform is basically the same with the Audi A3 (S3 swaps?)...

great job and a stunning car, regardless !

Al Pinaweiss


RobbertMes it's obviously a "first go", a sort of a prototype, if you will... so don't be so hard on these guys - you wouldn't really think it's dignified to be so anal about those few mm on a prototype (!), would you?


forgot to add: 

what's really significant about this is (similar to the Ford Performance's "power to the people" 
performance-democratization principle) that it can actually make the 'RWB spirit' 
available to mortals who cannot afford a true RWB 911 - as the cost of such an entire RWB-new Beetle 
could probably equal the cost of RWB-modding a 911 alone.

the formula would be:  

a used new Beetle (cca.10-14 kUSD,) 
+ proper wheels/tyres (cca.2-3 kUSD) 
+ RWB body-kit (__???__ kUSD) 
+ work/paintwork (cca.2 kUSD)
+ suspension hardware (cca.1 kUSD)
+ exhaust mods (cca.1 kUSD)  
+ reasonable engine tuning (cca. 2 kUSD)  =  it would still (probably) be really affordable 
for normal guys/gals, as an "interesting & characterful" alternative to a bone-stock (or slightly used) 
Focus RS / Golf R / top-notch Impreza / 'Stang...

this will be interesting to see in which direction it develops, particularly with regard to the "???" part 
in above calculation.


I'm sorry but this is such a sellout project... Cosmetics only and corporate speak for "Nakai-San cashed our check so we were allowed to put his name on it, just in time for SEMA".
Correct me if I'm wrong but the original Beetle was RWD, whereas this is a rebadged Golf, meaning FWD? And why are the canards at the back? RWB hasn't done that. Ever...
Love your site - hate this car (sorry again)


I have to ask, is the dimensions in the rear really 295 on a 13" wide wheel? Shouldn't that be a lot more stretch?


Its also a SEMA >showcar< so not just a testing prototype.
And if you read my comment closely I wasn't being disrespectful.


"Should Nakai stay Porsche only"...I don't think this is the wright question. I believe that Nakai-san can move the looks of a heavily modify Porsche into anything, a car, a truck, a fridge or a house. Porsche here, in Nakai-san philosophy its not a car. Is a feeling.


MariusEngenSkinnes  13 inch = 330 mm. After 295, you can have a 315mm section tires and then 335mm. I guess that this is the correct amount of stretch.


fallen idol


MariusEngenSkinnes  The stretch is correct looking...


Like many others have stated: so much potential overall, but it does fall short.


Nice Beetle! also fantastic photography as usual Larry!


I love it to bits. 

You guys are missing the point. RWB was never about performance but about a certain look, and this Beetle captures it perfectly


I would love to see them do a 944, specifically mine...


Why not?


@eddie I'd love to see more of his OG drift builds.


EvolveWRC Always liked RSi's. Thanks for bringing it up. Gran Turismo 3 A-spec anyone?


Spaghetti airforce1 I see your point but once again I am reiterating that this is RWM "inspired" not a genuine Nakai handiwork.


greenroadster Wright as in wright brothers?  Right.


I'm all for RWB doing different cars, but why that? Anything but that. And its execution is just depressing. Is RWB becoming that kind of tuner? We aren't missing the point, its just fugly and wrong. We clearly get that.


AZMIDLYF lol they would change too much to make it function properly


La vue d'ensemble? On voit que dalle sur ces fotos surexposées... Sinon Tanner va encore bien faire fumer du pneu avec cette caisse...


I love how everyone commenting seems to forget that:

1. Akira Nakai got his start doing "race inspired" bodywork for AE86s...hardly a car of any type of serious performance pedigree

2. This is a - TANNER FOUST - Edition RWB Volkswagen Beetle Turbo R.  Not a Akira Nakai original inspiration.

3. 90% or RWB Porches ARE NOT performance orientated. It's about the style, feel and emotion.


1. Define serious.
2. It has RWB touches and that's what being discussed IMHO
3. What about Idlers events?


I'd really like to see an NB Miata done


Mr Tanuki AZMIDLYF Not really, they actually make fully functional road going monsters out of VWs and Audi. The price is a bit outlandish though.


airforce1 greenroadster  Correct, sorry


Oh man was I hoping to see that motor in the boot. Who was I kidding, most builds are just over fenders and wheels now.


SRT FTW And as many others have done, you have missed the point. Furthermore, who is to say that this project will never continue with improvements in esthetics AND performance?


StephanieNewland Oh, hush. I don't see miles of rivets.


Larry Chen Is "high-res" greater than 1920 x 1080? if so, I've been missing out tons!


totophi Rivets are one of the most endearing parts of the RWB look.  Sorry 'bout your bad opinions.


StephanieNewland I see you at least understand "bad opinions" given that you started with some yourself. Just because many people like something (Bieber, Beyoncé et al) doesn't entitle them to godlike authority.


totophi ...because it's not a project. This was the joint venture, and it falls short of what Tanner and RWB could have produced.


SRT FTW Well then, let this serve as inspiration for even bolder gearheads!


SachaAlbarda RWB actually has done Canards in front of the rear fenders many times, it's most common on the 993's.


Mr Tanuki But RWB has been doing VW bodykits for years, like the beetle 930, 993, 964...
(I'm just joking, don't take my comment seriously ;D)


Would love to see this done with an old Beetle. Including engine and interior though!


this looks great! would love to see any car go under the knife by these guys!


That looks killer!  I'd love to do something similar to my 2000 1.8t beetle haha.


This is awesome tuning!