When Bike Meets Beetle
Lightweight, High Revs

Gatebil is renowned for its wild cars with the most random of engine swaps. A Koenigsegg-powered Ford Granada? Yes, it’s been done. It’s now reached the point where if a car isn’t swapped, I’m surprised.

But what I’ve begun to appreciate more and more is the reasoning behind a build. For me, ‘because I could’ simply isn’t good enough any more.

2016 Gatebil Spotlight CBR Beetle by Paddy McGrath-1

When I saw this Beetle, I was immediately attracted to the very purposeful and quite beautiful aero. It’s not a treatment that I’d previously seen on the vintage air-cooled icon, so obviously I moved in for a closer look.

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Without getting too flowery, it’s quite a beautiful piece of machine aesthetic. Everything is functional, but at the same time the craftsmanship is impeccable too.

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In particular, the uniformity of the circular vents in the bonnet were very pleasing.

2016 Gatebil Spotlight CBR Beetle by Paddy McGrath-23

Circling around the back of the Beetle, the details kept coming. At this point though, I was a little bit confused as to the position of the engine. Typically, everything is on view – even from this angle.

2016 Gatebil Spotlight CBR Beetle by Paddy McGrath-24

It was only when I got down on my knees for a closer look that it became immediately obvious that this was another one of those Gatebil engine swap cars, but with a difference. Instead of using another car motor, this particular Beetle is now powered by a Honda CBR 1000cc bike engine.

2016 Gatebil Spotlight CBR Beetle by Paddy McGrath-29

I had the opportunity to speak to the owner, Jørn Tangen, briefly about the car. The first thing he was quick to point out was that despite what I originally thought, this is very much a low-budget build. Almost everything was carried out by Jørn himself, with the only exception being the rollcage.

2016 Gatebil Spotlight CBR Beetle by Paddy McGrath-13

The car is full of incredible details, but I especially enjoyed the pleated metal work on panels dotted around the car. Of course it would have been much easier just to install plain panels, but it’s things like this that demonstrate the passion behind a car. When you see things like this, you know the car has been created with a massive amount of love and dedication.

2016 Gatebil Spotlight CBR Beetle by Paddy McGrath-14

With chassis rigidity taken care of with the rollcage, anywhere weight could be removed from the Beetle, it has been. The result is a car that weighs somewhere between 650 and 700kgs, with power levels currently at 175hp from the stock bike engine.

2016 Gatebil Spotlight CBR Beetle by Paddy McGrath-17

The VW is still in development, with Jørn focusing on ironing out those expected small issues associated with such a complicated build and ensuring the chassis is behaving nicely. Once he’s happy with these aspects, a turbo conversion is on the cards to give this lightweight Beetle a little extra go.

2016 Gatebil Spotlight CBR Beetle by Paddy McGrath-28

Above everything though, I just appreciate the thought process behind this car. Far too often at Gatebil, finish and detail are the last items on the agenda. Let’s just say that this really stood out from the crowd.

2016 Gatebil Spotlight CBR Beetle by Paddy McGrath-32

I just can’t wait to see how it evolves in the coming years – especially with a little boost in the mix.

Paddy McGrath
Instagram: pmcgphotos
Twitter: pmcgphotos

Cutting Room Floor
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This is beautiful aaaaannnnnnnd complicated. Wish I could hear it.


I see a GeeeDeeeAhhhh  :D


Should've stayed German and gone with a more powerful BMW S1000RR powerplant. But I guess for the sake of budget a Fireblade engine is better...


freakin AWESOME!!


Ahh The Swiss Cheese Beetle. 

Or am I seeing, The HOLY grail of beetles?



speedhunters_dino I don't. You're not talking about the purple Altezza / IS, are you?


This might be the best looking Beetle I've ever seen.


one of the best home builds seen on this site in awhile! thanks for sharing!


I've always wanted a motorcycle powered beetle and this one takes the cake, beauty and function all in one. Kudos to the builder and a good write up Paddy, I'm with ya wanting to see how it evolves.


Bloody love it.would love too see some suspension shots..
Gives me motivation too finish my zx14 powered beetle nowU0001f61c.thanks for the write up and thanks mr cbr beetle dude i got motivation now..
Check ya


Should have bought a ginetta LMP3, but I guess for the sake of budget a beetle is better :P


Really cool build, the touches like the 'quilting'on the door cards is really nice! I'm hoping in the near future my car will be sorted enough to enable me to start getting into a bit more of the art side of modification, it really does make the car stand head and shoulders above the rest.


I loved pawing over this car. So many little touches all over it.


What a really well-done car.

BTW, can't remember if I'd seen that Grenada before.  But I literally google'd and hit on the SH story from 2012 when I saw that phrase at the top, before I even finished this story haha.




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Brilliant. I love fast Beetles.

SHIRLEY that's full feature-worthy, Mr McGrath??


The metal work om this is beautiful; those door cards and the beading at the front is outstanding....and using the CBR's gauges is pretty darn cool. Kudos to the builder.


More holes than your average cheese grater.
Love it!


the workmanship on this is brilliant! as you said it`s all in the little details and how clean the result is


Not sure if I hate you for writing this, or myself for laughing.


Hey, Paddy! Vive us a closer look in this beetle, i'm building an aircooled beetle with 110hp with just 1500cc, and i got really interested in his weight saving solution. Nice post.


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