Friday, March 21, 2014

5k: Aquila's Heel: 1963 Aquila Gullwing VW Kit

The Aquila Gullwing is a forgotten kit car made in the 1980s by American Fibre Craft that has recently created a lot of noise for a 40-horsepower, VW-based kit car. This exact car, number 137 of 150, sold for $9,500 at Mecum in late January, and a similar one sold in June for $9,995. Plus, the original Aquila molds just sold in January. Something is afoot. If our hunches are right and someone is starting a spec racing series for these, this is your chance to be part of it. Find this 1963 Volkswagen Aquila Gullwing for $4,050 with no reserve in Austin, TX via eBay.  Words by DT contributor slowcarSLOW-MPGlol.

Great pictures show excellent exterior fit and finish for a kit car. The resulting effect is outlandish proportions, like something that shouldn't be on your computer at work. The Aquila's gas tank is located in close proximity to the VW Type-1 1200 engine for optimal fuel line distance (surely nothing bad could come from that set-up). A generous rear vent is actually a rear vent and definitely not made from chicken wire. Original exhaust is pure art for tailgaters.

It's "modeled after the BMW M1" as much as a Kia Amanti is modeled after a Jaguar. Don't read into that description. Gas station gawkers will say it looks like a Bricklin SV1, Lotus Esprit S2, or Saab Sonett III (sounds like an awesome gas station) and we're not sure who that compliments. On the inside, the Rubbermaid synthetic composite panels' fitment won't be mistaken for anything but a kit car's. That wire spaghetti by the driver's knees and duct work by the passenger's are likely low enough to be hidden from view, and again, acceptable in a car with the "for a kit car" qualifier.

Sure, you could say Aquila should have based the Gullwing the 1969 Beetle for its double-joint axle independent rear suspension, or a 1971 for its 1600 dual port engine. You could say that someone in the market for a mid-engined two-seater with a VW engine could spend the same amount and get a Porsche 914 that ranks higher in every subjective category. Or you could enjoy this hand-crafted wedge of automotive imagery that ranks among the best VW-based kits out there.

See a better car with gullwing doors for less? Email us at

slowcarSLOW-MPGlol knows how many licks it takes to reach the center of a Tootsie Pop, and he's not telling. As someone with a B+ blood type, he considers himself an optimist. Unless it has structural rust.


  1. Anybody else having problems with the site today? Yesterday and today it won't load the "read more" page on my iPhone

    1. Mobile users, we've switched back to the old template. Sometimes the old is new again...retro is back in at DT! Please let me know if you have any issues.
      Vince EIC

    2. Huzzah! I stand relieved.

    3. Thanks for switching back - works/looks great!

  2. Same here. Not sure if the full article was already posted above the break though. Not a fan of the new layout.

  3. show it with the doors closed so we can see what it really looks like......

  4. That is a really nice looking kit car. I wonder how these did not become much more popular back in the day. Too bad this one is based on an early VW chassis. Like DT said, if it was updated to later VW mechanicals, it could be a lot of fun to drive (I hear it is possible to get 150+ hp out of later VM motors). I would prefer this to a Speester replica.

  5. The only thing I can add to this is that as a 13 year old I thought Kit Cars were the best thing ever invented for poor people who wanted to look fancy. Of course I had never seen one in person, but in B/W pictures in the back of the AutoTrader they were the things dreams were made of. And then I grew up and saw one in person.

    Oh, and with regards to that gear shift lever - I saw a questionable movie once on the internet where a really hot girl was apparently in love with one. It was much smaller than the shifter featured. I couldn't help but think she'd really, really be in love with the one in this car.

  6. I wonder how hard it would be to put a sabaru 2.0 in one of these???


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