Words by Jean Dubois & Photos by Maxime

Finding a feature car to fit an issue can be a full-time job in itself. Especially at this time of year – when the show season’s over and everyone has their cars tucked away. But, every once in a while one gets dropped into our laps and it changes everything.

That’s exactly what happened with this amazing ’57 Beetle. We can’t take credit for hunting this one out. Believe it or not, the owner – Alexandre (known as ‘Junior’ in the VW world) just sent us a photo on Facebook stopping us all in our tracks.

Now this is a car that Hayburner can relate to. Everyone in the office agrees, it’s the perfect combination of original paint, attitude and slightly outside-the-box thinking on the wheels to end up with a usable vintage Beetle that’s guaranteed to turn heads wherever it finds itself.

Alexandre, 29, lives in a small town near Auxerre, France. He spends his working day tinting glass on buildings and cars but has a real craze for all things Aircooled dating back to his teenage years – the ’57 has been his for the last 3 years. It was found while searching on the internet, with the car showing up on Flat4ever.com. The car had been imported from Morocco and it was in untouched original condition. That included the perfectly aged ’56-57 ‘L412’ Metallic Diamond Green paintwork, beautifully bleached and weathered by the North African sun. Everything the car was original down to the OG interior and chassis of the car.

The strange bonus was that this Beetle was a semaphore turn signal model, very rare for a Beetle of this year.

The car, on first inspection, turned out to be relatively straight, solid and extremely complete. Alexandre decided to renovate the chassis and body – not a huge amount of work was needed but just enough to ensure it was perfect. After a full 6V rewire, he made the decision to recover the original upholstery, door cards and carpet throughout. He planned to do about 3000 miles a year in the ’57, so he wanted it be clean and comfortable inside but still keep it looking period-correct. The brown and tan upholstery works an absolute treat to achieve this.

In the back of the ’57, Alexandre is running an original split-case gearbox and a stock 1200 engine – ‘llow and steady wins the race’ as the saying goes. The next stage for the car was a trip to Radikal Bugz to have the front beam narrowed by around 6″ and install a full Air Ride system in the car, with the compressor tucked neatly behind the new reupholstered rear seat.

The project got the nickname ‘HarĂ¢m Project 57‘ – a play on the Arabic word meaning ‘forbidden’. Alexandre was very pleased with the guys’ work at Radikal Bugs calling the project “A real fine job!“.

Our favourite feature of the car has to be the wheels.

Alexandre has gone for street-weight Erco’s in 3.5/15″ in the front and 6.5/15″ in the rear. There have been plenty of drag bugs around running Erco’s wheels but we find they are not as common on ‘slammed’ cars. Looking at this, it seems to be the right choice for the overall style Alexandre has gone for.

A quick word of warning – If this has inspired you to go down the Erco route. Please make sure you buy street-weight wheels and not race-weight! If you clip a curb with race wheels, you’ll definitely know about it.

Alexandre would like to thank and credit: Wood’coxerre, Radikal Bugs, Maxim for the photos, his family and Olivier.

Diamond - '57 Beetle Full Gallery