FLYING DUB: Production VW Beetle's 2.0-litre engine modified to 405kW to help break the 200mph barrier.
FLYING DUB: Production VW Beetle's 2.0-litre engine modified to 405kW to help break the 200mph barrier.

328kmh! The world's fastest VW Beetle

VOLKSWAGEN'S Beetle has always been a bit, well, gutless.  

Typically the reserve of hippies, students and little old ladies in its original form, the modern retro "New Beetle" versions tried to cash in on the Bug love, but they were never on the radar of performance fans.  

VW Beetle LSR managed 328kmh at Great Salt Lake in Bonneville, Utah (USA).Photo: Contributed
VW Beetle LSR managed 328kmh at Great Salt Lake in Bonneville, Utah (USA).Photo: Contributed

VW never blessed us with a proper hot version you see, certainly not in road-going form. But as the Beetle finally gets withdrawn from sale in Australia, here we have a monster Bug to actually get us excited.  

Called the Beetle LSR (Land Speed Record), this tough-looking yellow one-off has just cracked 328kmh (205mph) on Utah's famed Lake Bonneville salt flats. The specially-tuned speed demon, as you'd expect, broke the record for the fastest ever Beetle.  

VW Beetle LSR managed 328kmh at Great Salt Lake in Bonneville, Utah (USA).Photo: Contributed
VW Beetle LSR managed 328kmh at Great Salt Lake in Bonneville, Utah (USA).Photo: Contributed

To qualify for that record, official speed record rules dictate only certain alterations over the production model are allowed, so the Beetle's less than aero shape was always going to be a hindrance.  

The remedy? Lots and lots of power. A production Beetle engine had to be used - in this instance a 157kW 2.0-litre turbocharged Beetle R-Line from America - and California's THR Manufacturing added a new turbo, different pistons, camshafts and connecting rods, and modified the cylinder head, along with a few other tweaks. The result? A rather ballistic 405kW and 571Nm.  

VW Beetle LSR managed 328kmh at Great Salt Lake in Bonneville, Utah (USA).Photo: Contributed
VW Beetle LSR managed 328kmh at Great Salt Lake in Bonneville, Utah (USA).Photo: Contributed

The Beetle LSR also gained special wheels and tyres for salt driving, and as you can see the body has been lowered considerably. Hence why it looks so very, very good.

A limited-slip differential has been added to improve traction, while inside the cabin features a roll cage and race seat with five-point harness should this rapid Beetle choose to misbehave and end up lying on its back.  

VW Beetle LSR managed 328kmh at Great Salt Lake in Bonneville, Utah (USA).Photo: Contributed
VW Beetle LSR managed 328kmh at Great Salt Lake in Bonneville, Utah (USA).Photo: Contributed

And I've checked the Volkswagen options list and you definitely can't option a pair of parachutes on your road-going version; the LSR version has them as standard to haul this thing to a stop from over 300kmh. A speed which, incidentally, makes it about as quick as a Ferrari 488 GTB or Lamborghini Huracan.  

Big question though: would it really beat Herbie the Love Bug? We all know it was really the fastest ever Beetle. 

VW Beetle LSR managed 328kmh at Great Salt Lake in Bonneville, Utah (USA).Photo: Contributed
VW Beetle LSR managed 328kmh at Great Salt Lake in Bonneville, Utah (USA).Photo: Contributed

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