Introducing the Sonic Targa by Snake Racing

Sonic Targa (Volkswagen)

The Snake Racing Sonic Targa represents the pinnacle of what began as a Volkswagen Beetle-based car, famously known as the Albar Sonic. This unique vehicle evolved from its humble origins into a turbocharged, V6-powered performance machine.

Labelled “SNAKE RACING. Albar licensed manufacturer for SONIC TARGA,” this car exemplifies the wedge design philosophy. Rather than creating a new car from scratch, Snake Racing chose to enhance an existing model, a common practice in racing where chassis and monocoque designs are often adapted based on sponsors, engines, and budgets.

Sonic Targa (Volkswagen)

This particular version, featuring inverted Porsche 928 tail lamps, showcases the ultimate iteration of the Sonic. My usual appreciation for scoops, louvres, and avant-garde designs like those of Luigi Colani finds an exception in the Albar Sonic, which doesn’t quite align with my aesthetic preferences.

However, I’ve seen both better and worse deviations from the original Sonics depicted in marketing materials. The Sonic debuted in 1982, as Alois Barmettler transitioned from Volkswagen Beetle-based buggies to sports cars. Starting as a Beetle, the Sonic inherited the model year of its donor parts, making some Sonics appear older than their true age.

Growing up, I was captured by the quirky accessories in the back pages of Road & Track, and the outlandish yet slightly awkward Sonic would have certainly caught my eye in the same way.

The earlier Porsche 928 rear lamps seem a better fit for the car’s styling. Despite being hailed as the ultimate Beetle-based car, its short wheelbase limited its sports car potential.

Albar, Barmettler’s firm, appeared more focused on aesthetics than performance, with features like seven headlights hidden under a single flap, red-painted side strakes, and vertical doors. Their customized Beetles were equally wild.

Albar surprised me by transforming the Sonic from a Beetle-based vehicle into one with a tube frame chassis and a 2.5-litre turbocharged V6 engine from the Renault Alpine. Some models even featured 4-cylinder Porsche engines.

Debuting at the 1982 Geneva Motor Show, the Sonic evolved remarkably by its 1990 appearance at the same show. Albar continued producing various versions of the Sonic for customers until at least 1997. Production numbers differ by series, and any additional details are welcome in the comments.

Albar, named after founder Alois Barmettler, offers a nostalgic look into the past. If you’re interested in owning one, they’re not too hard to find. Recently, I discovered an Instagram account, @porsche_albar_sonic, dedicated to an Albar Sonic restoration project.

The young enthusiast behind the account, who is restoring the car in a parking garage beneath a music studio, shared scans of later model sales materials. Follow her journey on Instagram to see one of the few Albar Sonics brought back to life.