Steve Hudlow, owner and founder of Hudlow Axle in Rossville, Georgia is the kind of custom builder who will only embark on a hot rod project if it’s one that tests his own imagination and skill. When he first spearheaded our featured ride, a custom-rodded ’67 Bug powered by a Suzuki R1000 engine, Hudlow knew very well that it would be a challenge to achieve the clean rod look that’s normally associated with old American iron. Especially with using a ’67 VW body – but originality and something truly unique was his ultimate goal.
Hudlow spared nothing in terms of custom fabrication when he modded the Bug to have the chopped and squished look that he was after. According to him, he chose a Bug in particular because it was a hard car to chop-up, and so Hudlow was forced to cut the original roof into five pieces and re-weld it, extend the entire car by four inches and widen it by three in order to achieve the exact look and stance he was after.
Apparently, Hudlow’s Suzuki-powered Bug was not the first compact to utilize an R1000 motor swap; Steve got the idea for the conversion from another called the “Smart Diablo,” a Smart car also powered by an R1000 mill that romped past a Ferrari 430 in the quarter mile just a few years back.
When building the Bug, Hudlow bought almost nothing off of the shelf, but in his own fashion fabricated nearly the whole car from the ground up. He reinforced the rear with steel tubing, and hand-built a tubular chassis with a 4-link suspension all the way around.
He also custom built his own tilt steering column, and the VW’s rear consists of a homemade driveshaft connected to a 5.13-geared, Suzuki Sidekick rear differential via Toyota truck flanges. The R1000 motor is stock, except that Hudlow has worked-over the clutch and exhaust.
Maximum Velocity, a local dyno shop in Rossville located just down the street, happens to rents a building from Hudlow. So he called on them to dyno-tune and test his creation. There it produced a staggering 185 brake horsepower, much more than substantial considering that the Suzuki pump was shoehorned into a Bug that weighs 1,200 pounds at best.
We were curious to get some quarter-mile stats from Steve on his rodded out VW, but at the moment he has none to report as he and the Hudlow Axle team have pushed the Bug project to the side in favor of a current army tank that we also hope to cover soon, powered by a 6.0 liter LS with twin, Precision 62 millimeter turbos, which follows in Hudlow’s over-the-top fashion of hot rod construction.
The R1000, rat rod Bug was impressive as is; we can’t wait to see what mechanical milestones Steve Hudlow will achieve in the near future!