SINCE the tender age of six, Chelsea Ciantarís single-minded passion was to own a Volkswagen Beetle. Over the years she stoically her dream, and now the 18-year-old proudly cruises her own pristine, bitumenhugging Bug.
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 itís been normal to grow up around cool cars.
When I saw the movie Herbie as a six-yearold, 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.
I told Dad that I wanted to buy a Bug when I was 13 years old. Once he realised that was serious we spent the next few years looking, and there were a lot of rust-buckets. But the first time saw my í63 got really teary; 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!
The previous owner had swapped out the original 1200cc for a twin-port 1600cc Kombi engine with a small cam. Heíd also lowered the suspension, including two-inch drop spindles. On the front guards heíd added the swan-neck mirrors, which were an original option.
I wanted a slammed Beetle with Americanmade 17-inch Escra wheels, and 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!
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 Ė they thought my driving might kill them! Now I can drive it well and I really look after her.
Dad bought me up to be hands-on and Iíve always been in the garage with him. Itís 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?
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Iím on at Dad about a horsepower and brake upgrade. 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 Iím honoured and privileged to have the Bug sitting in the garage and to say that itís mine; supporting for that I thank me. my s mum, dad and brother for supporting me.