You know what is one of my all-time favorite ridiculous car accessories? Those fake Rolls-Royce grilles and hoods they used to sell for old air-cooled Volkswagen Beetles. You’d see them in JC Whitney catalogs and other finer automotive publications that catered to the most erudite of motorists. These were genuinely absurd things that were capable of turning your old, rusty Beetle with the mismatched color door into something that pretty much anyone with 20/180 vision would mistake for a genuine, if improbably shrunken, Rolls-Royce, the finest motorcarriage in the world. In hindsight, I’m a bit surprised they never made these for similar cars of the era, like a Porsche 911. And, now that I think about it, with a whole new crop of cars that feature frunks in the world, like Teslas, maybe the time is ripe for a new generation of these things! Let’s explore, just a bit.
First, here’s a little refresher about these things. Look in the upper right corner there, and you can see an example of the VW-Rolls-Royce hood. They also had one that looked like a ’40 Ford, if that’s more your speed:
Here, let’s look closer and see some examples of these incredible things in place:
Dear god, they’re majestic! Plus, they contained a pretty significant hidden advantage: they dramatically increased the volume of a Beetle’s trunk! I’m not sure what percentage of faux-Roller hood buyers made the purchase for coldly pragmatic reasons to gain increased trunk volume, but I bet it was appreciated by at least some of them.
It’s a pretty significant bump up in volume:
It effectively doubles the vertical axis of that trunk by the front there. These were popular in the 1970s; well, maybe “popular” is a bit of a hyperbole, but they were certainly out there, rolling around the streets, spreading rays of weapons-grade class everywhere they went. There were a few other cars out around this time with some generally similar layout and body shape to the old Beetle that could possibly have benefitted from a similar gain in trunk volume from something like this: the Porsche 911.
I’m being serious! Look!
I mean, it makes sense; via the Porsche 356, the 911 was a very advanced evolution of the Beetle’s fundamental design. The 911 lacked the Beetle’s rear luggage well (well, at least if you were insisting on using those nearly vestigial rear seats) so some sort of trunk enhancement might be welcome for 911 owners who liked to go on road trips with 3 passengers (maybe 2 were dogs or kids) and hated leaving anything behind.
Plus, why should the Beetle be the sole beneficiary of bolt-on Rolls-Royce classiness? Just because the Porsche is already a premium car, does that mean it shouldn’t be able to wear the trappings of a car even higher in the stratosphere? Of course not?
I mean, haven’t you ever wondered what a Porsche 911 might look like with a fake Rolls-Royce grille? Of course you have! You’re human! So, here, let’s imagine together:
That’s a hypothetical fiberglass fake Rolls grille on a 1976 Porsche 911 Turbo, and I think it looks good. Damn good. Damn DAMN good. Sure, it kills the aero and probably whistles and shakes like a horny banshee at speeds over 50, but now you can take your big duffel bag with you and both of your St.Bernards!
Could this have existed? For it to exist, we’d have to assume that Porsche owners in the 1970s and 1980s had senses of humor when it came to themselves and their cars, and I’m not sure that’s a safe bet.
That’s also my concern with the possibility of re-introducing the fake Rolls-Royce grille for a modern generation of cars. I think the car that should get this legendary add-on should be one that meets three criteria: 1., is popular enough to be a big enough market, B. Has a strong cult following to market to, and ∂, has a front trunk/frunk that would benefit from the extra volume provided by the larger Rolls-style hood.
And there is a car that fits this perfectly: a Tesla.
Let’s try it on the highest-volume ones, a Model 3 (or Model Y). How would a modern take on the add-on Rolls grille look?
Oh yeah. Perfect! We need to be sure to change the logo and flying lady to some non-actionable things (maybe we use two entwined Bs and the lady is, um, a robot elf or some geeky shit like that to play to the market) but other than that, if we cut the hood to the same shape as the original, we can still use the hinge mounts and the existing weatherstripping! It’s perfect!
Plus, there’d be a pretty substantial increase in frunk volume, especially height, so you can finally cram in two overhead bin-sized bags at a time! At least!
And I bet the worsened aerodynamics will only kill your range by, what, maybe 10 miles? 15 tops.
We’re gonna make a killing selling these – if they catch on, we’ll make them for Model Ses and Kias and Hyundais and Ford Mach-es and everything with a frunk! Rich! We’re gonna be rich! Who’s in?