1965 Volkswagen Beetle, VW, VW Beetle, VW Bug, Volkswagen, 1965 Volkswagen

Dan Zeleniak’s 1965 Volkswagen Beetle

This 1965 Volkswagen Beetle was destined to spend the rest of its life rotting away near Innisfil, Ontario until Dan Zeleniak came across it. Despite being a southern US car, the Beetle had sat through a few Canadian winters and the floor pans were already beginning to show proof of that. It was in poor condition, but made a great candidate for Dan’s next project.


1965 VW Beetle, VW, VW Beetle, VW Bug, Volkswagen, 1965 Volkswagen

“I was basically born into cars,” Dan says. “My dad has been an Audi/Volkswagen technician for 38 years, so I grew up around them. He still has one of his first project cars, a 1971 Datsun 510, so I’m a massive Datsun fan. I just choose VWs for their simplicity.”


1965 VW Beetle, VW, VW Beetle, VW Bug, Volkswagen, 1965 Volkswagen

What makes a car unique is the amount of personality that has been incorporated into the build, and Dan’s Beetle has plenty of it.


1965 VW Beetle, VW, VW Beetle, VW Bug, Volkswagen, 1965 Volkswagen

“My goal for the project was to build a stupid low Beetle that was still comfortable to drive. It would have to be able to handle whatever roads it was driven on and the only way I could do that without totally screwing up the geometry of the suspension was to body drop it,” he explains.

1965 VW Beetle, VW, VW Beetle, VW Bug, Volkswagen, 1965 Volkswagen


1965 VW Beetle, VW, VW Beetle, VW Bug, Volkswagen, 1965 Volkswagen

Dan’s 1965 Volkswagen Beetle is powered by a 1600cc air cooled engine from a 1972 Beetle which was built up to 1641cc with a piston and cylinder kit. As for the transmission, Dan took the stock 4-speed and mated it to the engine.

1965 VW Beetle, VW, VW Beetle, VW Bug, Volkswagen, 1965 Volkswagen

“I completed the body modifications on my own including all the cutting and welding. My dad helped out a lot with the mechanical part of the build when two pairs of hands were better than one,” Dan says.

This Beetle has gone through plenty of custom fabrication and suspension alterations made in order for it sit so low to the ground. Dan began by replacing the factory front beam with a 4-inch narrowed beam. He also added 2.5-inch drop spindles with 1968 Mini Cooper shocks up front, and used custom 3.5-inch drop spring plates with shorter EMPI shocks for the rear.

1965 VW Beetle, VW, VW Beetle, VW Bug, Volkswagen, 1965 Volkswagen

“The most difficult part of the build was the body drop. I had to drill out all the spot welds on the heater channels, rear seat area and front bulkhead, and make sure I didn’t ruin the shell. This was my first time doing something like this and it was very intimidating.”

1965 VW Beetle, VW, VW Beetle, VW Bug, Volkswagen, 1965 Volkswagen

When we got Dan’s 1965 Volkswagen Beetle in front of our camera it sat on the factory steelies, but a new set of aftermarket wheels were already on order to alter the look of this classic VW. Dan also plans on adding a turbo to the existing engine, with further plans to eventually swap it out entirely for a 13B rotary engine. This bug is an evolving build and we can’t wait to see how it progresses.

Olivia is an automotive photographer based in Toronto, Ontario. Growing up watching classic American car films, she developed a strong love for hot rods and drag racing. Combining her interest in photography with her passion for high-horsepower machines, Olivia spends weekends at the drag strip capturing the incredibly fast-paced moments. Through her coverage of racing events in various cities, she gets to experience the hot rodding scene throughout North America.

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