700 instead of 48 hp! This one-off is probably the most powerful VW bucket in the world. The chassis including the drive train comes from a 2017 Nissan GT-R. Sound crazy? It is. That’s the story of the Zebra Bucket!
Tim Schmidt from Ontario (Canada) is a car freak with a very unusual taste. He shows most of his treasures on his Instagram account “hapyhipi_tim”.
In a huge hall between old petrol pumps and vending machines, automotive curiosities such as a VW Beetle dragster are parked alongside countless muscle cars, snowmobiles and ultra-rare hypcer cars such as the Bugatti Chiron and McLaren P1. Tim buys what he likes; and what cannot be bought, he has built.
The Nissan GT-R is destroyed in a fire
This is also the case with the VW bucket. However, the background of the story is not pretty. In May 2019, a fire broke out in Tim’s second garage, destroying several of his cars.
But then the story takes a turn for the better, at least in part. During the cleanup, one of the firefighters manages to start the charred GT-R, much to Tim’s amazement.
On the spur of the moment, he makes the decision to buy back the GT-R. A few phone calls later, he agreed with the insurance company on a sum of 20,000 US dollars (equivalent to around 19,500 euros).
Tim’s plan: a curious Frankenstein operation
At this point, Tim already knows that he wants to transplant the functional powertrain from the GT-R to another car. In the end, he forges the crazy plan to cross a VW Type 181 (known in the USA as the VW Thing and here as a bucket) that is also parked in his garage with the GT-R chassis and to carry out a true Frankenstein operation.
To do this, he turns to the local hot-/rat-rod forge “Oddball Customs”, who accept the special order. What may sound simple in theory turns out to be a real mammoth task. Describing the entire conversion process bit by bit would definitely go beyond the scope; therefore only the most important conversions come here.
First, the GT-R chassis is shortened by about 40 centimeters. The bucket body then has to be widened in metal – after all, a bucket measuring 1.64 meters is around 25 centimeters narrower than a modern Nissan GT-R.
Some parts of the interior (steering wheel, speedometer and center console) are taken over one to one from the GT-R, but have to be adapted to the VW by hand.
Due to space and air supply problems, the coolers are removed without further ado and sit more or less unprotected behind a metal bumper.
Kübel now with 700 instead of 48 hp
After more than a year of conversion work, the bucket is now nearing completion. Instead of the original Beetle engine with initially 44 and later 48 hp, there is now a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6 with around 700 hp under the angular hood, which delivers its power to all four wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch transmission.
And as if that wasn’t crazy enough, Tim opted for an eye-catching zebra design. As I said, Tim is not the type for run-of-the-mill cars.