The Legendary Paul Newman "Indy" VW

As the legend is told...
back in 1963 Paul Newman bought a VW...the little red Convertible seen in this late 60's VW ad.
Not so long after this advertisement came out...the car was taken to legendary Race Car Builder Jerry Eisert
for a little "mechanical upgrade" of sorts. The result was one of the most insane and legendary VW's of all time.
The Newman "Indy VW".

Hot Rod Magazine featured it in the late 60's right after it was completed, but Newman's name was not used.

Speed Age Magazine also did a feature on the car...see below.
Other magazine articles have been published over the years as well...the documentation is staggering.

The construction of the car was nothing short of full stop race car quality and the VW was used by Newman for a few years
and stories of it are plentiful. Search online and see what you come up's an entertaining voyage I assure you!

A number of years later, Newman met the head honcho of the Chaffey College's Automotive Technology Department
at a race in Riverside. Conversations started and a friendship was developed that eventually lead to Newman donating the VW
to the school (along with other vehicles over the years) and it was repainted in school colors and brought out to events around Southern California.
Here in this photo, Newman shows driver Bobby Unser the car...just to the right of Newman is a member of the Chaffey College crew.

Here's a photo of Chaffey College student Roy Gardner with the car in the early 70's.
Note the color change, the hood grille and Keystone wheels.
More photos and informaion from Mr Gardner is available here...CLICK HERE!

When the College closed up the Racing Program and auctioned off the cars and equipment, the department head purchased
the car and it has remained in the family ever since. A few years back it was decided that it was time to restore the car and
a full nut and bolt restoration was started with dreams of showing it once again to Newman...but after his passing in 2008,
that dream evaporated. The restoration was completed not long after and the car has been shown many times since
not only in public at shows such as SEMA in Las Vegas, but also in private to members of the Newman family and such.
Now, for the first time ever...the car is being offered for public sale.

Now the car is fresh and nice, if not nicer than it has ever been before.

The restoration is extensive and was a no holds barred affair.
There were a couple of minor concessions to fashion durning the resto,
such as the new wheels and a few trim bits to make it look as cool as it really should look.
Oh sure the old Keyston mags were nifty...but these new wheels are gorgeous!

The car is truly in show worthy condition and is pretty spotless.
The car is definitely driveable, everything sorted properly
and ready for the wildest stoplight showdowns you could ever dream of.

As you saw in the articles's not a normal VW anymore...but views like this one above
sure mask the wild beast within well... "sleeper" does not begin to describe this car!

You open the door and the rist thing you notice are the tall sills...needed structural
entities that keep it from twisting and tweaking under hard accelleration.
This car was engineered and built by one of the best of the best race car builder of the day
it is very well built, wonderfully stout and solid feeling...just awesome.

The back seat area looks a little abnormal perhaps....

And removal of the cover shows why...mid engine 351 Ford powerplant..... yeeeee fricken hawww!!!

The drivetrain in this car is impressive to say the least.
The engine itself is reasonably stock, pumping out around 300 horsepower...which in a car of this size
is simply insane. It is coupled to a 5 speed ZF gearbox that originated from most likely, a Ford GT 40.
There have been roumours that it was a Pantera gearbox, but the build of the car pre-dates the Pantera
so Im thinking it must be GT 40!

No screaming kids in the back seat.... just roaring horsepower and screaming driver and passenger up front!!!

Oh's just a stocker....

Maybe the tweeter pipes are a little bigger than stock...

Lets crawl under this car and see the madness a little is the exhaust system...I absolutley love the fact
they routed it the way they fun!

Here you can start seeing the race car engineering put into the construction of the car.
This is serious hardware here folks...not some backyard hack job!
When you get the job to build Paul Newman a street legal race car hidden in VW clothing
and the budget isnt an issue...this is what you get!

Everything is near spotless under here...every nut and bolt detailed and dealt with.

Suspension is very stout and the car handles fantastic.
The owner shared stories with me of Bob Bondurant taking this car out on the track for a few laps
and him returning to the pits with an immense smile on his face.
It is not just a straight line machine...with the mid engine placement, the weight balance is very good.
Its a wild handfull to drive...dont get me wrong (at least when you are mashing the "go pedal" hard)
At slow speeds in general around-town's pretty mellow...but the safety minded driver must use restraint!

Awesome workmanship here.

Oil sump under the big V8.

Cooling lines run under the chassis to the radiator up front.

Front suspension is more serious racing hardware.

Rack and pinion steering is pure Indy Car equipment!

Finned drum brakes were originally from a Corvair from what I was told.
The owner resisted the urge to install disc brakes and leave the originally built equipment in place
She stops good...but newer technology is out there to make it stop better.
(but I dont think I would change a thing!)

Gorgeous aluminum work under the apron to help sccop air into the radiator.
When originally built, this scoop was a little larger or it has some sort of fairing around it,
but overheating was an issue. If you look at the early magazine articles, this was the only inlet for
air. Later in the Chaffey College days the hood was opened up to provide more intake
and the cooling issues became a problem of the past.

The hood grilles help a lot, and in normal driving conditions, it behaves well.
Its not a good heavy traffic car though...keep her moving and you are great,
but on a hundred degree day during rush hour on the Hollywood Freeway...neither you
or the car will be very comfortable! Early morning blasts down Mullholland Drive.... the stuff dreams are made of!

Excellent chrome, gorgeous paint...the restoration work is top notch...this car is beautiful!

Open the hood and the story continues!

Aluminum radiator is a wild thing for this diehard VW guy to fathom...Im use to seeing the spare up front!

Fuel tank is firmly mounted and well restored.

Electric fans are also in use to keep the air moving.
This radiator works together with another unit in the back...the goal is to keep it all as cool as can be
and it works well.

Another view of some of the internal framework.

Paint finish is nice even in the spots you dont much see...

Nice aluminum work on the little inner hood scoops

Fittment of the grilles in the hood is very clean.
If the car were mine, I might just be tempted to paint the grille mesh in body color to help with the illusion a bit,
but thats just me dreaming and scheming pay no attention to my ramblings!

Factory hood latch..

Shall we peek in the back now?

Where'd the motor go?
(OK...predictable...but I had to say it)

Rear area is home to to the additional radiators and the muffler, poised up over the tail of the transaxle.

These vent tubes here pull hot engine air out of the engine bay and run it through the radiators.
Its all very wll thought out and executed brilliantly.

The muffler does a great job of keeping the engine noise at bay. The exhaust note is beautiful...
at idle it has the perfect mellow V8 burble and as it's opened up it sungs a song like no other!

Here you can see the openings for the exhaust pipes are widened just a bit...

"Click"... just another sweet little VW !

Simply insane...
Some time after Paul Newman donated it to Chaffee College, he was re-united with the car at Riverside Raceway
when the College team brought the car out to display. Newman saw it and went and grabbed racer Bobby Unser to come take a look
(photo posted at the top of the page). Unser asked Newman why he didnt keep it...his response was that his agent
and managers urged him to get rid of it before he hurt himself!

The interior is gorgeous as well...this steering wheel is a modern item but man what a jewel!

Stock speedometer...small dash mounted tach

Water temp guage...stock radio.
Interesting to note that the missing button in the center matches the photos taken of the car in 1974 for Volkswagen Greats magazine!
Its been gone a long time!

More instrumentation below the glovebox

Yes...Paul Newman was here.

Shifter is more GT40 Ford equipment.

Step on in and lets go for a ride!

The sills are something else, but Eisert, the builder of the car knew what he was doing.
This is a guy that built Indy cars for a living...he knew a thing or two about this sort of thing!

Door panels are nicely done to match the seats.
In the early days the stock two tone panels were left in place.
With this recent restoration, the overall look of the car is much more pleasing.

Nice detail in the door jams and such...this was a nice and complete professional restoration.

The engine cover in the back is a nice bit of fitting.
It is upholstered and insulated and is held tight in place by dzus fasteners.

It comes off in two parts and is easy to remove for engine servicing and showing it all off!

Every time I look at this photo I just start to giggle a little bit... am I alone here?
Is this not the most insane VW in the world?
And the best part about it is that even though it is a silly wild creation, the build was done on a totally serious level.
This is in Indy Car with a VW body !!!

Pop that lid down and lets go get some burgers.... every drive will be a trip to remember.
I was lucky and got a free ride...but Id be willing to bet that you could get a fat stack of cash at the local cruise night
just taking folks for a blast down the boulevard!!!

Of course driving it...that is the real treat...and a treat reserved for a lucky few people in this world.
And with Newman's history at the wheel...this car is indeed a legend.

Ok...back to some details... nice to see the use of the stock VW pedal assembly.
To think that behind these pedals is 300+ horsepower and a GT40 Ford transaxle.... its hard for that to compute!
Nice work on the caroets by the way...the nice German square weave wool material...clean!

Under dash is tidy and well painted as well.

5 speeds of pure adrenaline!

Top up ...headliner is in nice shape...I did notice a couple of very light dirt marks though.

Top clears the rollbar perfectly.

Excellent Stayfast canvas top... with the top up it looks even more sedate!

The only give-away that it's not a normal VW is really the front hood.
And with the accelleration capabilities of this wild ride...that is the last thing anyone is going to see!

Its hard to sum this car up in a paragraph.
It simply is an amazing vehicle, with the most stellar and impressive history that perhaps any
VW in the world could ever have. Paul Newman was an amazing man. His life was one lived
to a level that all men dream of living. He worked hard, he played hard, and he gave back to the world
far more than he ever took. He is a legend beyond any shadow of a doubt.
And this little humble red VW is an iconic representation of the quest for life and fun that he had.

You only live once folks...might as well have some fun while you are here!
I cant think of ANY cars at the moment that would be more fun to go for a blast in than this one.

Once in a lifetime chance here...grab it if you can!


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