Chelsea Ciantar’s 1963 VW Beetle

Chelsea Ciantar’s has always dreamed of owning a Volkswagen Beetle and her slammed '63 Bug is full of character

Photographers: Greg Forster

This article on Chelsea’s VW Beetle was originally published in the September 2018 issue of Street Machine magazine

SINCE the tender age of six, Chelsea Ciantar’s single-minded passion was to own a Volkswagen Beetle. Over the years she stoically clung to her dream, and now the 18-year-old proudly cruises her own pristine, bitumen-hugging Bug.

I’m guessing you’ve always liked cars.

Yes! I grew up in a car-mad family. My mum, dad, brother and nannu all have Australian and American muscle cars and hot rods. So it’s been normal to grow up around cool cars.

How did the Beetle love begin?

When I saw the movie Herbie as a six-year-old, I fell in love. I thought Beetles were a phase, but it turned into an absolute obsession. I collected Bug memorabilia and I became really persistent about my dream.

When did you get the ’63?

I told Dad that I wanted to buy a Bug when I was 13 years old. Once he realised that I was serious we spent the next few years looking, and there were a lot of rust-buckets. But the first time I saw my ’63 I got really teary; I knew that this was my Bug. She was beautiful: a stock, Gulf Blue, Australian-delivered Beetle. After we got it home, I was hysterical that whole night; I was 16 years old and my life-long dream had just come true!

Tell us about it.

The previous owner had swapped out the original 1200cc for a twin-port 1600cc Kombi engine with a small cam. He’d also lowered the suspension, including two-inch drop spindles. On the front guards he’d added the swan-neck mirrors, which were an original option.

What mods have you done?

I wanted a slammed Beetle with American-made 17-inch Escra wheels, and I happened to find the only set in Australia. I kept the red pinstripe, as it matches the H-plates; they make the car pop! Next, I added new chrome bumpers, the grille headlight covers, and a venetian for a bit more detail. The Bug is full of character!

What is it like as a first car?

Learning how to drive in a non-synchro manual was hard. On the way to my first car show I had my parents in the car and they were shitting themselves – they thought my driving might kill them! Now I can drive it well and I really look after her.

Do you turn spanners on it?

Dad bought me up to be hands-on and I’ve always been in the garage with him. It’s a good bonding experience; whenever the Bug needs something done he teaches me how and I help him with the other cars too.

Future plans?

I’m on at Dad about a horsepower and brake upgrade. I want more cubes and twin carbies; she needs a bit more power as the motor has to work so hard just to sit on 100km/h. Mostly I’m honoured and privileged to have the Bug sitting in the garage and to say that it’s mine; for that I thank my mum, dad and brother for supporting me.