Car: Volkswagen Beetle  / Owner: Matt Rudd & Samantha Lowbridge / Photos:  Joss Ashley / Air Monkeys Magazine: Joe Eynon

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Meet Matt Rudd and Sam Lowbridge’s slammed 63 Beetle.  We had noticed Macy quite a lot at various VW events throughout 2014 and she never failed to grab our attention.  From her colour right down to her stance, she is spot on (in our opinion) in every way.  After seeing her again at the D.T.A. meet in Birmingham we finally organised a shoot for a feature.  

I will leave it to Matt to tell his and Macy’s story in his own words. Enjoy!

“Mate your wheels are bent!”

The first time I heard that I looked back at the horning pointer and reassuringly said nah it’s fine man, it’s ok ! Wonky, bent, broken, leaning and collapsed! Driving all over the UK this summer, windows down, in a shiny bug was brilliant, even when people are calling your car all of the above.

This is my first  VW since regretting selling my sixties square back years ago. I’ve built a fair few really low, new and old VW’s. My parents, friends and family all have had air-cooled vehicles all my life, and going show to show since the mid-nineties, it was just a matter of time till we were waving goodbye to our comfy cars.  We insured our standard import 1963 1200A beetle and went  to get our first free tax disc.

Earlier in the year I’d set some savings aside and we looked and looked every day for months at what’s got to be fifty beetles and variants in all years shapes and heights. It took until boxing day 2013,  and up popped an ad from a family selling off the cars they had imported from Sweden. I knew whilst driving the 150 miles to see that car that I would have Macy on my drive by supper. I nearly crashed on the test drive!

It was like driving a tea tray, but after bagging a bargain and driving home in -5 with disconnected heater cables and a leaky iced up death trap spec carburettor,  it was on my drive. Major result! It took a few months of use, once the heaters were hooked up, to dry out properly , and now it’ll cook you on a cold day, it’s great.

It’s had a wing and front panel replaced way back, but is mostly unmolested. I had to replace the petrol tank first off. Then after seeing many uk models we realised It had a different petrol gauge, Swedish seat belt set and a strange cloth interior, maybe out of an oval? It had a nasty aerial on the front, so i took that straight off. I also fitted an old Hutchinson turbine horn I’ve had on all my cars. It’s a family tradition to have a crap loud horn that makes an apocalyptic entrance!

Being a 1200, it’s slow, reallllly slow, but I’m not going to mess around with it. It’s staying standard, as we just want reliability of some sort and so far we’ve had just that. My girlfriend, Samantha , restored most of the paint. It’s dark and snows for a few months a year and the temperature in north Sweden can reach -30 to 40 so I think it lasted well in its little shed. The rear wings had filler in them and were cracked a little. We uncovered a few crap touch ups and when it is due a polish it’s a bit patchy but then again it is 52 this month!

Once we started taking Macy to all the shows ,  we had very few weekends at home all year.We kept cutting, waxing and using the car everyday, it became clean and very reliable. After seeing some of the DTA guys down at Air-cooled engineering (ACE-VW.COM), we got a little advice and made the essential “ fix her up “  road side spares and tools carry kit,  everything they suggested for road side fixes was perfect for when we ferried all our camping gear up and down the country to all the shows, so massive props for the spare beam, for us to narrow, and the advice.

I have a unit that’s full of my family’s projects and I’m building a bug panned Jetta coupe that I drove daily on air ride for years. It’s educating me in what’s what under the bug’s skin. I wanted to narrow and lower the beetle myself there, but my friend Kirsty Greatrex had had her beetle lowered by Seann Hodson. I had seen his brown bug at bug jam the year before and knew he had a firm spanner hand and a quick turn around on any work he does, so I left my standard car there with the spare beam, lime bug dropped spindles and  low/thin front tyres. We chatted back n forth and decided on a rather conservative (for Seann) 6” narrower on the beam and a tank raise. Seann welded the beam back up with the towers, so I can run short shocks and turned the back spring plate’s three splines. Before my drive home Seann said it’ll settle a lot just like everything you lower, but on the drive home it settled a few inches and turned into a road muncher with the beam being wound all the way up the wings skimmed the floor, chuffed ain’t the word!

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The car had a crap aftermarket red carpet in it and I hated it, so with help from my friend James, I removed it. I looked for new biscuit carpets but they were nuts expensive so I looked around ikea for the same type and found some large thin mats that we could cut using the old carpet as templates. It transformed the inside and meets the haggard look of the battered seats which we cleaned but left unrepaired.

So me, Sam & co went to water cooled shows to join the few who take their old road chippers along to try and dilute the ratio of new / old cars. After having put so much work into the car I wanted to show it off. As as air-ride is massive now, and after dragging it countrywide, I toyed with fitting an airlift v1 4 way kit I had for ages, to make it mot and hump friendly, but it would just be over complicating a simple car. I love the car the way it is and it’s been a good year camping and we’ve collected awards, trophy’s and loads of cleaning products from different show sponsors.

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Life in the slow lane has made this year fly by, and we’ve travelled a lot and in 2015 we want to do the European shows. We should have abandoned our comfy new cars a while back. Keeping old VW’s on the road is a gift to others now, even if you end up push starting it all weekend, like we did at VW Festival or breaking down on a motorway somewhere, it’s just an adventure every week. I see onlookers daily in their cars loving and hating it. Keeping my old car clean and using it is important now and who knows maybe someday if we can gather enough new parts Macy might be fully rebuilt and maybe painted. Never say never!

I’ve got to thank Seann hodson, my bro Andy, Jason and Alex @Rothfink, James , Sian, Simon and crew at Autofinesse, my cousin John,  friends James, Richard, Joe, Clique 53, E38crew, FittedUK, Slam Sanctuary, wide5sphotography, the D.T.A, Cumbriavag, Sitting Dubs and a shout out to the happy campers you know who you are!