Pretty On The Inside
Pretty on the inside
That’s how the owner of this 1961 bug describes his build and he’s not wrong. “I had done a full show car build on a 73 Bay Window Bus, it came out amazing, but I was terrified to drive it, hell I was nervous having my kids walk next to it in the garage, so I vowed my next car would be patina style.” Explains owner, David Zemla. Found in an airplane hanger in St Paul, MN after a 40 year rest, the 61 was suffering from extensive midwest rot compounded by having last been wrenched on by the then teen owner.
Not surprisingly it required a body off redo and Zemla took that opportunity to design his own bag system, pie cut the tunnel (angling the beam back to avoid front tires hitting headlight buckets), build a 5” narrowed beam, add disc brakes and a 1” trans raise. The finished pan was coated in a deep red and it along with the wheels would be the only repainted parts of the car.
“The bottom six inches of the bug had largely dissolved, so once I finished the pan, I had to bolt up the new heater channels and cross members, then hang the body above it before connecting the missing panels. I’m pretty happy with the results.” Explains David.
The bug is powered by a turbocharged 1600 fed by a 40mm Weber and sparked by a Pertronix distributor pushing exhaust through a custom header. “The motor has a fun story, I was new to turbo conversions and used a tired and bone stock engine, thinking it would probably blow up, but I would learn a lot in the process, that motor is still in it and running amazingly well.” shares Zemla.
Next up was interior and this is obviously where TMI comes into play. “The stock seats were rough, so they were blasted and repainted to match the pan. TMI foam and Madrid red seat covers were the perfect match.” explains David. Naturally, he also went with TMI door panels and built a dual 12” sub speaker box to fill the rear of the car.
“I watched a bunch of videos on seat cover install and saw a guy slide a kitchen trash bag over the upper seat foam before sliding on the cover. I tried it and it worked perfectly, not a ripple in the upholstery.” Says Zemla who has done 100% of the work on this custom build.
Pretty on the inside indeed. David's bug can be seen ripping around Southern Wisconsin, pedal on the floor and a big grin on his face.
Aired up and cruising through a local car show, Zemla’s not afraid to torture his bug.
The 61 was an abandoned high school build found in an an airplane hanger after sitting for over 40 years and it showed.
Most of the bottom of the car was replaced and Zemla took the opportunity to paint the pan, setting off the “pretty on the inside” theme.
Factory seats had been in a multi year battle with the local racoon population and appeared to have lost.
Zemla restored the seat frames and combined TMI foam with Madrid red seat covers to match the red pan.
Matching Madrid Red TMI door panels round out the interior.
David went a different direction in the back with dual 12” subs and a massive speaker box.
Slammed, turbo’d and mechanically sound, Zemla’s 61 is ready to do battle on the mean streets of the midwest.
Working with his son Ryan, David has built a number of custom VWs including the 73 Bay that features TMI panels and matching material wrapped around custom seats.