Field Guide to Wasteland Vehicle: Zombeetle

Air-cooled Volkswagens are a popular choice for post-apoc builds.  In many parts of the country (the ones where it doesn’t snow, mostly) parts are still relatively plentiful, they’re versatile and fuel-efficient, and the average Beetle is a blank canvas for whatever you want to do.  Taylor Goodall’s Zombeetle is a good example of this creativity.  Purchased as a stock Beetle with no glass, wiring, interior or brakes, Goodall started from scratch and went in a unique direction.

The car’s inspired by The Road Warrior, Death Race, dieselpunk, and the “Tumbler” Batmobile.  Goodall removed the front end entirely, creating a shovel-nosed look that completely alters the Beetle’s cheeky face as well as improving approach angles for hostile terrain. LED lighting hides in the flat panels, and there’s equipment strapped to the outside for a purposeful look.  Mechanically, the engine was balanced and rebuilt by Goodall, and a rebuilt transmission was equipped with reindexed swing axle spring plates to improve the camber.  The brakes were replaced with front discs and a larger master cylinder.  Goodall installed a lot of electronic accessories (more on those in a moment), so the alternator was upgraded and dual batteries installed to help run all that stuff.  In true scavenger fashion, the batteries were donated by a Jeep Grand Cherokee and an e36 BMW.  The suspension is stock, but there are 31×10.5 tires up front and 33×12.5 tires at the rear.  Tall gearing raises the Zombeetle’s top speed to about 80 mph.

The interior has been upgraded with both digital and mechanical gauges, a backup camera and an aimable interior camera.  Additional electronics include a CB radio with a PA and loudspeaker, a modern Bluetooth sound system and a pushbutton starter.  Toggle switches in the interior have been decorated with5.56 mm brass.  The rear seat has been removed to create a storage tray, and the front seats were donated by a Volkswagen Cabriolet.  Goodall put them on lowering mounts to improve headroom.  When one of the Beetle’s pop-out side windows was stolen, he replaced it with a cut-up speed limit sign rather than paying NOS (new old-stock) parts prices.  When the Zombeetle’s steering wheel broke, Goodall welded a new one together with scrap metal, used pliers and chainlinks.

There are a lot of Beetles running around the post-apocalyptic roads, but the Zombeetle’s not likely to be mistaken for any of them!  Goodall says that he has other vehicles, but the Zombeetle is a daily driver just because it’s the most fun to drive.