Paul Newman’s 1963 VW Bug Convertible/Mid Engine Indy Car Transformation

This VW Beetle is no ordinary Bug convertible. Although it looks quite sedate from it’s outside appearance, don’t let that fool you…there is a mid mounted Ford 351 engine mounted behind the seats. What we have here is basically an Indy Car built underneath the VW body shell. The project was started when the car was new in the early 60’s by legendary race car builder Jerry Eisert for actor Paul Newman (obviously not him in the photo below).


After it was completed, it was featured in Hot Rod Magazine, Speed Age Magazine, and a host of others as well.

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The V8 is said to be pumping out about 300 horsepower thru a Ford GT40 5-speed gearbox. The custom fabricated door sills look quite impressive, and should take a fair amount of flex out of the chassis.

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The history of it’s ownership is detailed in the link below, and it is said that in a conversation with Al Unser, he asked Newman why he didn’t keep it and he said that it was because his agent and managers wanted to him sell it before he hurt himself.

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The car has had a full nut and bolt restoration since then to extremely high standards and is for sale in the link below, with an asking price of $250,000. We have no affiliation whatsoever with this car or anything to do with it’s sale, other than wanting to share it with our audience to enjoy too.


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It looks to have been improved upon in it’s re build in every necessary detail, but all the key goodies are still intact. We love that the stock VW pedal assembly, radio and speedometer are still retained, giving it that real sleeper look to it.
Suspension, rack and pinion steering and it’s aluminum radiator look like they are straight out of a vintage Indy Car. Finned drum brakes are period and said to be from a Corvair.

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An absolutely beautiful car, fantastic restoration work and we wish the best of luck to the seller and buyer, if it is in fact still for sale.
Find the full website here:

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If you are into highly modified VW Bugs, check out our story on the Monster All Wheel Drive 500 hp Super Beetle here:

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