Hey-Burner – 1956 Volkswagen Beetle Oval Ragtop

This weeks Hey-Burner, our weekly Readers Riders, comes from Texas! Jason Terwilliger built this 1956 VW Beetle Oval Ragtop to be somewhat of a sleeper… When we say he built it, we mean he built it. The big, gnarly engine and its super stealth look, this Oval caught our eye and we knew we wanted to feature it.

Q: Let’s start at the beginning, who are you, what’s your age and where are you from?

A: I’m Jason Terwilliger, 43 and live in Houston, Texas with my two boys.

Q: What’s your day job and do you have any other hobbies?

A: I’m a Project Manager for T-Mobile during the day.  For other hobbies, I love making videos for my VW YouTube channel, working out every day I can, and playing pool with the South Houston APA League.

Q: Whats you ultimate VW/Porsche?

A: My dream VW is the Type 1 I currently have – My 1956 VW Beetle Ragtop “Goose“!

Q: Favourite VW event?

A: The Wolfsburg Show locally here at Clearlake Park.  Smaller show with a mix of VWs Air-Cooled and Water-cooled.

Q: What got you into Volkswagens and how many have you owned before this one, can you list them?

A: I’ve been into VWs for as long as I can remember. My dad started me off young working on Baja Beetles, regular Beetles and Sand Rails. I’ve owned a few over the years…

  • 1973 VW Beetle (Tangerine Orange)
  • 1967 VW Beetle (Blue) – Owned when living in Italy.
  • 1975 VW Beetle (Orange) – Owned when living in Italy. 
  • 1978 VW Beetle Cabriolet (Black) – Owned when living in Italy.
  • 1967 VW Beetle Cabriolet (Black) – This one is with my dad still.
  • 1956 Oval Window Ragtop VW Beetle (Polar Silver)

Q: Who, or what, would you say your biggest influence is in the worldwide VW community?

A:  I can’t say anyone has really influenced me but there are some legends out there in the industry.  I love the innovative designs from Gene Berg and the quality shops out there like Dave Folts along with manufacturers like Autocraft and CB Performance.

Q: Best moment during classic VW/Porsche ownership? 

A: Finishing this build that evolved my ’56 into the monster she is today.  It took me over a year to upgrade her from the NA 2276cc build to this 2278cc Turbo EFI build.

Q: Worst moment during classic VW/Porsche ownership?

A: Dealing with a local shop on my Berg 5-speed gearbox, they definitely pulled a fast one on me. Always trust your gut feeling… Finding Dave Folts saved the day!

Q: So, what is it we’re looking at here? (Year, Spec and Model)

A: 1956 Oval Window Ragtop Turbo EFI Build with custom Turbo system by R.A.C.E!

Q: What’s the story? How did you get hold of it?

A: I found it one sunny Sunday afternoon while searching through Craigslist.  Saw her the next day and worked out the purchase on the spot!

Q: Did the car come with any history?

A: There is a history that is limited. Unsure as to her origin but the previous owner completed the bodywork.

Q: Tell us about the condition of the car when you first got it home?

A: She was beautiful with all body work completed. I did the Ragtop, electric, brakes, interior, suspension, and engine.

Q: Run us through the restoration/recommission, and who did the work?

A:  Body work was done by the previous owner. I’ve completed everything else and shared most of it on my YouTube Channel JW Classic VW.  It has been a lot of work with the drivetrain being upgraded almost constantly.  From a 1600cc to a 2276cc to the now 2278cc Turbo beast! The main changes happened during the Turbo build and included a number of custom installs for the fuel system and Haltech ECU.

Q: Paint colour (and code if you know it)?

A:  Polar Silver (L-324) Later release for 1956.

Q: Suspension set-up? 

A: Suspension in the front has a 2 inch narrowed beam that I made into a 4 inch narrowed beam with a 4″ narrowed stability bar.  2 1/2″ dropped spindles are being used with the ‘Bad Brakes’. 

– Disc Brakes at all 4 corners.  4-piston Wilwood front ‘Bad Brakes’ from Airkewld.  The rear is an EMPI Disc Brake kit with E-Brake.

– Rear Suspension includes 28mm Sway-a-way Torsion Bars, RLR Shocks, 6 Point Coolrydes Customs Kafer Bar. Atomwerks Adjustable Spring Plates.

Q. Wheel and tyre type and sizes?

A. Wheels are standard stock 5×205 15″ painted silver offered by CIP1. I love this look, kinda like a Porsche rally-look.

Tires in the front are Continental Pro Contact 165 65R15 Rear: 205 65R15.

Q: Engine and gearbox?

A: The motor has a full flowed Auto Linea case with 92mm thick wall cylinders, CB 86mm Wedgemate crank with matched flywheel, CB H-beam rods, DRD Turbo Cam, DRD Turbo Heads, and Autocraft 1 1/2 stage Oil pump.

– Full custom EFI Fuel system using 3/8 hardlines and soft lines. All -6AN fittings.

– Turbo System includes CB Performance header and intake Manifolds.  Turbo is a Garret T3 that’s received custom work from Shag at SL-1 Racing. Custom Turbo charge system by Darrell Howard at R.A.C.E with a wicked one off intercooler.  Everything is managed by a Haltech Elite 1500 ECU.

– Cooling this motor is accomplished with a Bernie Bergman fan shroud and fully custom external oil cooler with filter.

– Gearbox is a fully built Berg 5-Speed in a Rhino case with a custom Dave Folts nose cone for VW early chassis.

Q: Have you replaced the electrical system? 

A: Yes all new wiring harness from Wiring Works and of course the Haltech ECU wiring.

Q: Were there any parts that you found hard to get hold of?

A:  To be honest the car was pretty complete but I did need a new Wiper motor that I was lucky to find through a friend Glenn better known as The Duckman from Duckman Cycles and VW Garage.

Q: What is your go-to VW parts shop? 

A: CB Performance, CIP1, and a local place Bugaholics.

Q: Run us through the original interior? 

A: The original interior was gone, total replacement from Sewfine.  Red on red front and rear seats.  Matching door cards with oatmeal tweed inserts

Q: Accessories?

A: Nothing crazy. But, I do love my custom gauge cluster with ISP Gauges. Also a fuel gauge from Vintage Speed.

Q: Have yo got a stereo fitted and if so, what are you currently listening to? Either in the car or those late nights in the workshop/garage

A: No stereo other than a Bluetooth setup in a piece of old luggage with 6×9 speakers. I listen to the motor – It’s my favourite song.

Q: What’s your favourite thing about it? E.G – Wheels, Paint, Detail, Trip it’s been on, Memory with it etc.

A: My favourite thing is the memories it brings back. Every time I turn the key, it’s like stepping back in time.

Q: If you had change one thing, what would it be and why?

A: At this time I wouldn’t change much… but the future is full of options.

Q: What’s next for you and the car?

A: May need a role cage soon…

Q: How often do you use the car?

A: A few times a week and almost every weekend.  I do go down to the garage to see her even if not to drive her. Yup, I have a VW addiction!

Q: Whats your next project going to be?

A:  I want anther Beetle. Not sure what I’ll do with it through.

Q: Who would you like to thank connected to the project?

A: I would like to thank Dave Folts for saving my Berg 5 Speed and Darrell Howard for all his help getting my Turbo Motor rolling. Without their help, this would have never happened.

Thanks so much again for the opportunity to show off my baby Goose and my bad ass Turbo Motor “Envy“.

Hey-Burner - 1956 Volkswagen Beetle Oval Ragtop