Will.i.am Spent Nearly $1 Million to Create a ‘Mutant’ Volkswagen Beetle

As you can imagine, celebrities take the whole customization process with their cars very seriously. Some of the most iconic rides belong to impressive car collections owned by musicians. Some of the music industry’s brightest talents also happen to own garages full of personalized wheels with expensive touches, crazy colors, and bizarre amenities.

Will.i.am of the group the Black Eyed Peas is one of those celebrity musicians who have an obsession with customized cars. He owns one that set him back almost $1 million to personalize. Ironically, it’s not a suped-up muscle car with flares or hot pink seats, either. It’s a Volkswagen Beetle that he and others affectionately call a “Mutant.” You have to see what Will.i.am did to this legendary little car.

Will.i.am’s first odd story of IAMAUTO

Will.i.am's custom car on display at West Coast Customs HQ during Spring Fling 2016 in Burbank, California
Will.i.am’s custom car on display | Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

Will.i.am says he’s always had an obsession for cars, and not just driving them, but building them. With his celebrity fame and notoriety in the music industry, he felt empowered to explore other hobbies, like tech design, fashion, and building cars. So, he set up IAMAUTO, a car building moniker, and got to work on his first custom build.

Will.i.am encountered more than his fair share of glitches as Auto Evolution recounts the story. The first IAMAUTO vehicle was a DeLorean that claimed to set him back about $700,000. While he also said he had built this car from scratch, it was clear he’d used a DeLorean design and customized it. Trying to pass off his first IAMAUTO build as a complete construction, when it had been just an expensive custom job on an existing model, felt a little like tripping over that first hurdle in a foot race.

The ‘Mutant’ Volkswagen Beetle

The stumbling out of the gate with the IAMAUTO DeLorean didn’t phase Will.i.am from embarking on the next car build project. He next turned his fixation to a classic 1958 Volkswagen Beetle. This is where the celebrity bizarreness in taste comes in. This VW Beetle, by the time it was finished, was completely unrecognizable, thus the “Mutant” title.

He started working on this VW car build in 2009 and is reported to have devoted two years and nearly $1 million ($900,000-ish.) This car started with a supercharged LS3, Extreme Performance engine. The mods kept coming, including a Bentley-like grille and suicide doors.

The finished product didn’t look like a traditional VW Beetle. Instead, it looked like a cartoon villain’s daily driver, with hints of Cruella de Vil or, as the Auto Evolution team suggested, the next starring ride in a Tim Burton Batman movie. Since Will.i.am said he hopoed to inspire kids to become “mathematicians and engineers,” this “Mutant Beetle” seemed to fit the bill.

Much like the previous model IAMAUTO DeLorean, Will.i.am claimed this second customized ride had been constructed completely from scratch. However, as Jalopnik reported back then, it was quickly debunked. It may not resemble a VW Beetle anymore, but it clearly began as one.

What the mechanics said about Will.i.am

Despite his ambition to set out and prove that he could build a car all on his own, postproduction interviews with some of the mechanics suggest he may be more of a celebrity enthusiast rather than an expert in mechanics. Two different auto shops responsible for working on the “Mutant” Volkswagen Beetle told media outlets later that progress was extremely slow. Will.i.am kept changing ideas, and his interference delayed the work. They even went on to say that he didn’t “have a clue about cars.”

Will.i.am isn’t phased by the opinions of his “Mutant Beetle.” Maybe he did exactly what he set out to do, which was to prove to himself and the world that he could do it.

RELATED: Jeremy Renner From ‘Hawkeye’ Has Restored Dozens of Vintage Fire Trucks