Earlier today reports surfaced of supposedly Will.I.Am's brand-new, totally custom ride. We have confirmed that this is Will's car, but it hasn't been "built from scratch." The car is actually a 1958 VW Beetle that has been modified beyond recognition. The build started in 2009. It still isn't really done. And that's because Will.I.Am took it to two shops, had absolutely no idea what he wanted, and no clue about what it takes to build a car.
Will already has his infamous IAMAUTO Delorean, a car he said was worth $700,000 and originally claimed was built from scratch. Of course, that was quickly debunked since it was pretty obviously a Delorean.
For the next build, Will went retro. And it has taken forever.
In 2009, the Beetle was given to Austin Weiss at The Garage in Stuart, FL. The intent? Create a Socal Speedster. "Will originally wanted a twin turbo Porsche flat six in the back," Austin told us. But then Will called Austin six weeks into the build.
"He wanted something crazy futuristic with stretched doors and a front engine. I told him it'd be easier to make a whole new chassis, but he said to 'do it to the bug.'" And that's what Austin did. He got a supercharged LS3 from Extreme Performance to put in the front of the bug, but the modifications kept piling up.
Will originally didn't want fenders. Then he decided he did and sent Austin pictures of Morgans. Then he wanted a Bentley front grille and suicide doors. The cowl is the only part left from a Beetle, the rest is custom. The car that was supposed to take a year and half to build kept taking longer and longer, mainly because Will kept changing his mind.
The build had become confused, and that's because fledging IAMAUTOmaker Will doesn't understand the business. Austin told us two things about Will, who is a close friend of his. First, he's "the nicest guy in the world." But more importantly, at the time he "knew nothing about cars, he's learned a lot since then."
Six weeks before the 2011 Super Bowl, Austin got a call from Will: He wanted the car on stage at during the Black Eyed Peas' Half Time show. "I needed at least six months to finish the build. There were a ton of details that still needed to be sorted out," Austin told us. Will insisted and then said West Coast Customs said they could finish the build in six weeks for $100,000. At this point Will had already spent $400,000 with Austin to turn the car into a rolling menagerie of different ideas.
Will asked Austin to get it done and would pay whatever it took. Will seemed to think that throwing money at it would get anything done. And while Austin's shop is renowned for quality work, it's small. At the time of this build he had just three people on staff and subcontracted a lot of work. WCC had about 25 people they could dedicate to the car.
Still, Austin took up the challenge.
Austin worked on the car for those six weeks, but, like he had already told Will, wasn't able to get it done. Will took the car out west and gave it to WCC, where Austin says WCC told Will they could have built that car start to finish in eight months. West Coast Customs and The Garage have also partaken in a bit of a war of words over this and other customs. Like any shop battle (think Paulie Jr. vs. Paulie Sr. on American Chopper) it's a "he said/he said" battle that neither party can really prove.
Of course, WCC had Will's final vision right from the start. Austin didn't have that for ages as Will kept getting inspiration from all over the place.
Once the car got to WCC, it stayed there for six weeks. And another six weeks. And another six weeks. We were told Will's Franken Beetle was there for two more years. (UPDATE: I spoke to Scott at West Coast Customs, and he confirmed that the car was there for two years as it needed a lot more work than they thought it did/Will kept changing his mind.) If you look at the pictures that surfaced earlier today, it still doesn't seem to be finished. Reportedly Will had them change the interior again as well as change out the Wilwood brakes for something different.
This car might be analagous to Will's creative process. He sees something he likes, then keeps changing it for months and years on end. Then it never gets done and you get something like I Got A Feeling, except this time in car form.
UPDATE: Looks like it does run, here's video of Will in the car a few days ago.
Photo Credits: The Garage