Words by Ned Faux & Photos by Si Medlicott

Before we begin, we just wanted to take a second to acknowledge and apologise for the copy in the original print article of this story in Issue 37 of Hayburner. Being a small team, sometimes things slip through the net and we accidentally published an unedited phone dictation. This was unfortunately one of those instances which isn’t fair considering the time, effort and execution of the car by Adam. So, with our new website, we wanted to make amends and make things right with a new version of the story. We hope you enjoy – Thanks (The Hayburner Team)

I always taught my son to never be envious of anyone. I personally believe that jealousy is a disease and the cause of much of this worlds suffering. So, over the last couple of decades, I’ve tried my best to be proud of others achievements instead of just longing for what they have. Unfortunately my mantra was spoilt – by this car. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to head over to the photoshoot for the car and have a good look around the finished project.

Within the first 5 minutes I spent with the car – I felt the green monster creeping up on me. There was no doubt about it – I was jealous! I was jealous for three reasons: Firstly, I had my eyes on this project the very same day it was bought but Adam beat me to it. Secondly, it looked better than I ever believed it could and finally, this was the part that really hurt, the build had been executed far better than I could have ever done. I had to face it – me not building it, might just been the best thing that ever happened to this car.

I’m over my envy now.

Spending that day talking about every detail made me realise that this car represents just what Hayburner Magazine is about and even more what the magazine has evolved into. This is not just a bodyshell thrown on a bug pan to drag to a show for a bit of a laugh- this car has been meticulously thought out and every detail has been fine-tuned. It’s built to drive and built to last.

When I look back on old magazines, it’s great to see that over the past ten years build quality and attention to detail has come on leaps and bounds when it comes to these builds. This car really is what we’d love to see more of and I hope this article encourages someone else to not just to build something a little different, but also to do it properly. 

What you’re looking at here is a 1959 Renault Dauphine body mated to a 1960 VW Beetle chassis and running gear. I don’t want to make this sound like an easy build so I will go in to more detail soon but first, here is a little bit about the man responsible for this – Adam Rushton. Adam is a Landscaper who lives with Gemma Baxter and their two adorable Border Terriers. I have to say, Adam is a reserved guy. When you look at his car history (and epic rare wheel collection) you’d expect to see him all over social media etc.. but you don’t. Adam doesn’t shout about what he has, which is quite refreshing in todays cock-swinging culture.

Adam found a love for VW’s after picking up copies of Volksworld when he was 15. These were the early days of radically slammed cars and the beginning of the patina ‘Hood Ride’ style cars creeping into mainstream VW journalism. The OG-paint cars always fascinated Adam, and he had to own an air-cooled car. So, he got a job at a supermarket and managed to save £1200 which he spent on his first car: A ’69 Beetle in what he describes as a “horrible metallic blue with bucket seats”. He recalls his Dad looking out of the window, with a fag hanging out of his mouth, on the return journey from the purchase saying “What the fuck have you bought this for?

Since then, he has gone on to own/build a T25 /T3 Single cab, a ’70 Karmann Ghia, ’70 Type3 Fasty, RHD ’63 Notch back, MK2 Golf, MK1 Caddy and is currently building a very cool ’69 Type34 project. 

The Dauphine’s body was for sale at the Skeg Vegas VW show a few years back. It had been hauled there on the back of Pete Senniks ’50’s American Coca Cola truck and was quite the spectacle. I do want to point out that it was just a shell. In the surviving photos from the show, you will see it has wheels but they were just stood up in the arches for sale purposes. Adam measured up the wheel-base then and there. He did a deal that day and went to pick it up a couple of weeks later.

The history on the Dauphine is unfortunately sketchy. Although the patina looks like a California or Dry State car, it’s thought to have come out of France – most likely the south of France because of the French stickers in the windows.

On closer inspection in his workshop, the shell was in better condition than first thought – with only outer sills to repair. He mocked up a set of SA Sprint Stars in the arches and stood back to get and idea of what the finished product might look like. Believe it or not, Adam isn’t a big fan of overly slammed ‘panned’ cars and wanted this to be a real good-looking driver rather than just ‘on its arse’. The next step, was to remove the old floor from the shell.

Unlike a Beetle, a Dauphine is unbodied so just unbolting the car from the floors is not an option. He initially had ’70’s Type 1 chassis to use but the more he thought about it, he wanted the car to be period-correct like it could have been built back in the day and also be a link-pin set up for his suspension requirements. He ended up scoring a ’60 chassis and set about making them work to fit. He had to lose 6’’ off the overall length of the spine.

So, Adam took 2’’ out of the frame head and then 4’’ between the hand brake and gear stick. The rear torsion housing was then narrowed by 3’’ each side and custom length race axles were ordered to suite. It was then time to lower the body over the spine – It was at this point Adam decided that there was no need for the shell to be removable. So the car would be once again unibodied but this time incorporating the Type1 chassis. Once all tied together, the only parts of the underside that weren’t fabricated from scratch were the spine, torsion housing, frame horns and the ‘Napoleons Hat’ section.

With the body/chassis now in one piece, it was time to fit the front beam and gearbox so the car could roll. Adam went with a 6’’ adjustable beam kitted with dropped spindles. At the back, it is an AB code gearbox and dropped spindles with original Wide-5 drum brakes all-round. A spare up engine was sourced so it could be mocked up to get the measurements for the custom, removable fire wall and tin wear. He could also check the suspension hight with the extra weight at this point. The 1776cc engine, which the car ended up with, was being built using a 110 cam, big valve heads, 36 Dellorto Carbs and a stainless A1 side-winder exhaust.

With the front beam in place, the fabrication work could be carried out under the bonnet – fitting the custom Aluminium fuel tank and fabricate a battery tray. In doing this, he managed to retain all the cars original inner arches and wheel wells. Once happy with the fit, everything got treated to a coat of OG black paint and the floors were Raptored inside and out.

Inside the car, the plan was quite simple when it came to everything apart from the dash board. Adam made a combination of the cars original dash with the clock cluster from a Type3 grafted in. An Oval steering column was fitted neatly under the dash with a 3-spoke early Beetle steering wheel. Some unknown old seats were sourced from eBay, which suite the car perfectly.

It was then time for everyones favourite part of a project – Wheels and Tyres. The idea was to run the biggest tyres he could get away with without causing any effect on the ride quality or causing scrubbing. The choice – SA Sprint Stars: 4” fronts on 145/65/15 tyres and 7’’ on the rear wearing 145/65/15’s.

Adam describes one of the best part of the build being the hunt for old French parts to complete the car. He says that he has at least 10 different set of French tail lights and still none are the perfect application and even now he’s still trying to hunt down the correct pieces of side trim. With these bits found, he called in Iain Burns from Air-cooled AutoElec to fit a custom wiring loom. Adam said it’s the best money he spent on the project as it’s so nice to have an air-cooled car where everything actually works. After all this, the first test drive was successful and he was happy enough to take his MOT exempt car for an MOT. Very wise. After the amount of work carried out, a second set of eyes never hurts.

The car passed first time.

Since we visited Adam, the car has unfortunately only covered around 100 miles because of the the COVID-19 lockdowns. But, Adam says it drives like a dream and since the photo shoot he’s also treated it to a full headliner, carpet set and door seals.

So there you have it – Definitely not thrown on a bug pan. Instead, a well thought out perfectly executed car that you won’t see everyday and drives as well as it looks.

I hope this story inspires people to go the extra mile with their builds. As you can see – the extra effort certainly pays off.

Adam would like to thank Tom at Clarkes for building up the spindles, Iain, Stickle and The Watcher.

Dauphine - French + German