When most people think of fast cars, a Volkswagen Beetle probably isn’t the first model that comes to mind. But now it might be.
VW took a modified Bug to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Tooele County, Utah, to run in the 2016 World of Speed Event. The German manufacturer was attempting to set a world record with the Beetle LSR — short for land speed record — and it did just that.
The LSR, tuned by THR Manufacturing, used a modified version of VW’s 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder TSI engine, the company announced in a press release. With new turbochargers, pistons, camshafts and connecting rods, the LSR produced 543 horsepower and 421 foot-pounds of torque — 17 horsepower less than Tanner Foust and Scott Speed’s Beetle GRC race car — propelling it to a record-setting 205.122 mph.
“We are completely thrilled with the Beetle LSR’s performance at Bonneville,” Dr. Hendrik Muth, senior vice president, product marketing and strategy, Volkswagen of America, Inc. said in a press release. “The Beetle is not the most aerodynamic car in our portfolio, so running 205 mph is a testament to the power that can be made from the EA888 TSI four-cylinder engine.”
Photo via Volkswagen
What makes the LSR’s record even more impressive is that it wasn’t set by a VW-backed racing driver, like Foust or Speed. Instead, it was set with Preston Lerner, a contributing editor at Automobile Magazine, behind the wheel.
“Exceeding 200 miles per hour in the Beetle LSR was a serious thrill,” Lerner said, via VW. “We had enough power to go even faster if the salt hadn’t been so sketchy. But seeing 208 (mph) briefly on the digital readout was an experience I’ll never forget.”
Believe it or not, on tarmac the LSR probably could have gone even faster, but as Lerner noted, the nature of the salt surface makes it much more difficult to exploit all of a car’s power.
Thumbnail photo via Volkswagen