Art Project

Check out the Vochol, a Volkswagen Beetle covered with 2,277,000 Huichol beads

A unique Volkswagen Beetle celebrates the historic culture of one region of Mexico

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

There's n doubt that vintage Volkswagens can be quirky. This one might just take the cake. It's a 1990 Volkswagen Beetle adorned with over two million carefully placed glass beads.

Its name is "Vochol", which is a portmanteau of "vocho", a common term for Beetles in Mexico, and "Huichol" another name for the Wixárika indigenous group in the western states of Nayarit and Jalisco, Mexico. The Huichol people are separated from modern Mexico by the Sierra Madre mountains, a location they've called home for hundreds of years.

Over that time, Huichol artists have preserved many of their pre-Columbian traditions through the centuries, including their decorative beadwork. Their artistry originally consisted of seeds, shells, and other natural materials. They used these to adorn jewelry, animal skulls, bowls, and masks. The beadwork, using glass or modern plastic beads, depicts geometric patterns and scenes of animals and crops.

Volkswagen Vochol

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Ten years ago, the Vochol was commissioned by a ground of public and private organizations. The goal of the project was to create artwork using folk techniques on a modern canvas, demonstrating the ongoing traditions of Mexico's indigenous communities.

The Beetle was made in Puebla, Mexico for 65 years before production ended in 2019.

It took eight artists from two Huichol families eight months to decorate the chassis and interior of the Beetle. They covered sections of the car with resin before applying the beads by hand.

The design that was chosen is exclusive to the car and features symbols of Huichol spiritual beliefs. On the hood are two snakes in the clouds to represent rain. The sides depict deer, scorpions, birds and peyote flowers, which are all important symbols in Huichol culture and spirituality. On the roof, a large sun symbolizes the union between humans and gods, and four two-headed eagles offer protection to the passengers inside. An image of a shaman steering a canoe adorns the back of the car. The phrases "200 years of Independence" and "100 years since the Mexican Revolution" are spelled out in the Wixárika language along the fenders to mark the bicentennial of the start of the war of independence from Spain in 1810 and the centennial of the Mexican Revolution in 1910.

In total, the artisans used about 2,277,000 beads in their finished product and totaled over 9,000 hours of work. The car is might just be the largest individual piece of Huichol beadwork ever created.

The masterpiece was unveiled at a museum in Guadalajara, Mexico. It was then featured in Mexico City for exhibition, and later embarked on an international tour at museums across the United States, Europe, Asia, South America, and the Middle East. When it is not on loan, the Vochol resides at the Museo de Arte Popular in Mexico City.

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Improved hot hatch

The 2022 VW Golf GTI gets new handling tech

Improvements to the GTI's handling and steering should make it even faster in the curves.

Volkswagen

The Volkswagen Golf GTI is one of the most recognizable and popular cars the automaker sells. After a bumpy few years that ended with the standard Golf model being nixed from VW's U.S catalog, we're starting to see concrete details on the upcoming performance variants of the car, which will thankfully end up heading our way. The eighth-generation Golf GTI and Golf R will make landfall in the United States as 2022 models, and will both feature a load of new tech and refinements. VW just announced the changes that are being made to the GTI's handling and performance systems, and they are extensive, to say the least.


2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI VW is offering the 8th-gen Golf only in high-performance GTI and R configurations.Volkswagen


Volkswagen is giving the legendary hot hatch a host of improvements, which the automaker says will give the car more precise, stable handling at its limit. The GTI's front suspension has been reconfigured with new wishbone bearings and damping hydraulics. VW says that the car's springs and buffer stops have also been revised, which will give the font axle spring rate that is five percent higher than its predecessor. A new aluminum subframe is also in place, which will reduce weight by seven pounds over the previous car.

The eighth-generation Golf brought a new VW Vehicle Dynamics Manager system which will also benefit the upcoming GTI. The system integrates the car's electronic stability control with its electronic differentials, and in GTI models equipped with the optional DCC adaptive damping system, the system adjusts individual wheel damping up to 200 times per second. The differential itself will now come standard with all GTI models. It's an electronically-controlled torque-sensing limited-slip unit, which varies the levels of its intervention based on how the car is being driven and on how the other traction control functions are being used.


2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI The GTI's steering is now more responsive.Volkswagen


The GTI's steering system has also been revised to now include an enhanced progressive steering function that uses software to help turn the vehicle with less steering effort, depending on speed. Volkswagen says that the GTI's steering takes just 2.1 turns of the steering wheel to go from lock to lock when it's equipped with 18-inch wheels.

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Two Volkswagen electric vehicles hang out side-by-side in Florida.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

With the pandemic becoming less of an issue as people get vaccinated and head out into the world, beloved automotive events are starting to come back online. One, the Amelia Island Concours D'Elegance, is taking place right now, and features some of the rarest, coolest, and most expensive vehicles in the country.

This year's event will be preceded by a parade of electric vehicles called Taking Charge, which will feature several electrified models. Volkswagen brought two EVs to the event this year, but there's a surprising twist with one of them. The ID.4 electric crossover will take part in the parade, and the other is a rare electrified bus form over 40 years ago.

1978 VW Elektrotransporter Early EVs had almost no power or range.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen's brand-new ID.4 electric crossover will participate in the parade. By now, most of you have probably heard about the vehicle, VW's first fully electric crossover. It recently took home 2021 World Car of the Year honors, and is on sale now. The ID.4 is cool, but it's the vintage EV that really caught our eye. The 1978 Elekrotransporter is based on a Volkswagen Type 2, and was originally used by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). VW says that it produced a handful of electrified bus and Golf models in the 1960s and 70s to test the feasibility of EV powertrains and charging. The Electric Power Research Institute snapped up ten buses to test with the TVA at the time.

1978 VW Elektrotransporter The EV was powered by 24 lead-acid batteries.Volkswagen

The electrified bus carries 24 lead-acid batteries held in a 1,225-pound pack under its floor. The electric motor is bolted directly to the existing gearbox, which is permanently locked in second gear and sends power to the rear wheels. The early electric powertrain only generated 23 horsepower, which gave the bus a top speed of just 48 mph. It did feature an early version of regenerative braking, a feature that is onboard nearly every EV made today.

1978 VW Elektrotransporter The bus used a combo of electric and existing drivetrain components.Volkswagen

It's easy to draw a line from the old Elektrotransporter to today's VW electric vehicles. The ID.BUZZ concept is the old EV's direct descendent, and will enter production in the EU in 2022. Unlike its grandfather, the ID.BUZZ will produce a combined system output of 225 kW, which equates to around 300 horsepower.

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