Dropped Denim | 1974 Volkswagen 'Jeans' Special Type 1 Beetle
Words & Photography Niels Timmerman
Marco’s built numerous cool cars over the years and has always been in favour of slamming things. So when he told me about what he had in mind for the VolksWorld Show, I instantly booked the photo shoot.
It all started with a cheap Jeans Bug that Marco de Waal bought to fix up and resell quickly. But that was only the initial plan. Marco was in the process of starting his new company called, appropriately enough, MarCo. Supplies, and he figured that the Jeans Bug would make a nice billboard for his new Aircooled business. “I still had a set of 4-lug Cosmics lying around, and those are my favourite kind of wheels, so I test fitted them and, yes, that was it! In my mind the car was already built, flat on the floor, wheels nicely tucked in there, with fresh paint and all…!”
Marco’s always up for a challenge and he quickly texted Ivan McC., VolksWorld Magazine’s editor. “Hi Ivan, I’m working on a special ’74 Jeans Bug at the moment… it’s going to get the ‘Marco’ touch. Is it possible to have it inside at the show? And I prefer to have it in the main hall of course. You would really help me with that, and the car won’t disappoint you. Love to hear from you! Cheers Marco.” Ivan’s reply quickly followed: “It is possible... just for you!” This was the start of an epic adventure: Marco had set the deadline, and it was going to be a tight one!
Only 56 days to go! Marco gave up prioritising sleep for a while and got cracking. Marco explains how most of his days went: “My alarm clock rings at 6.45am, I eat breakfast, drink coffee (important!) and bring my daughter Isa to school. Next stop is my normal job: I work on Kreidler Florett mopeds for a living till 5.30pm. Go home, eat and off to the garage where I start on the Jeans Bug around 7.30pm till 02.30am… occasionally there was no sleep at all, skipping the whole night as sometimes things needed to get done before paint, etc…” Total madness, but isn’t that what this whole Volkswagen hobby is all about? Marco planned out the tight schedule and booked appointments with the painter, upholsterer and the wheel polisher. The deadline seemed to be achievable, but there was no room for error anywhere along the line.
Let’s have Marco explain in his own words how it all came together.
“As I wanted to have this thing laying on the floor I cut and raised the chassis-head (approximately 6cm) so it would be horizontal to the rest of the floorpan. The floorpan got flattened; this means the areas where the seats are bolted to was raised (± 2cm). Then it was time to get the front axle ready. I narrowed the original front beam with a total of 14cm and fitted it with adjusters then modified the trailing-arms to get a better angle on the ball-joints. Got a set of dropped-spindles on there and mounted the original reconditioned brakes.
“For the rear I choose an IRS conversion and made longer spring plates. I didn’t simply weld on an IRS set-up, I did some modifications, placing the trailing-arm on a different location (higher), this in combo with the longer spring plates makes the rear wheel sit straight in the fender which in my opinion simply looks awesome!
“This car has been build from a low perspective. It simply needed to sit and drive low. The air-shocks are there only to raise the car for long distance traveling… as not all roads are as smooth like the Dutch highways I simply couldn’t go without air-shocks, otherwise I would! So I mounted Monroe air-shocks all round. The original 1200 gearbox was replaced with a 1303 AM gearbox. The 1200cc engine got an overhaul and quickly it was ready to be placed back on the car where it had been for the last 38 years.”
Meanwhile, all the small bits were cleaned up and detailed, while the first parts were coming back from the painter. The body was rolled down the street on a small cart and ended up next inside the paint booth. Marco’s neighbour does bodywork, which is quite handy.
It’s March 20th, less than four days before the VolksWorld Show and the body is now freshly painted in L20A Marino Gelb though it’s still not fixed onto the pan! Time is ticking away …fast! Marco’s still working on the chassis and rear suspension. “At this point I was very lucky with all the help I got from my friends, who helped me out a lot during the whole build! The last days were long days. I took some time off from my day-job and skipped sleep. The whole of last week I only slept 12 hours!”
Judgment day! It’s Thursday, March 22nd, 8.00am, and the plan is to leave for the UK the next morning at 7.00am. This means only 23 hours to finish the car and it’s still body-off …really! “We worked hard, me and a bunch of friends, and even skipped sleeping the last night to completely finish the car!” Just past midnight the body was finally lowered onto the floorpan, still with 6.5 hours to go! Thankfully all the running gear was assembled and ready to be installed, so they could easily bolt it all together… kinda like Lego. “Me and my friend Mark worked through the night while Martijn and Jacques from Pole Position polished the car till 3.30am!”
When the guys showed up at the garage at 7.00am, all packed and ready to hit the road, we’d finished it, we could say it runs and drives - but (and there is always a ‘but’) the air-ride nipples on the gauges were too small… “So I couldn’t lift the car, so there was no long distance travelling for the Jeans at this point… damn! What to do…? After some phone-calls we contacted a company in the area that sold these nipples, so we bought them, replaced them and, hey presto, it worked!! It’s now 10.30am, and there’s no time to lose, so let’s hit the road and take this Jeans Bug on its first 600km trip to the UK!”
Marco had pulled it off! He made it to the VolksWorld show and took a well-deserved Top 20 award home. We tip our hat to you Mr. AirMighty Tech Tip! Well done, buddy!