Custom & Classic VW Beetles for The Greater Good
Looking at the stunning 1963 Custom Ragtop Beetle “Charity,” it is easy to see why someone would be inspired to donate for a chance to win the keys. “Charity” is an easy story to fall in love with. A beautiful classic VW Beetle, built from the ground up by the incredibly talented, VW-loving couple behind MetalMorphosis. With the proceeds benefiting humanitarian project Foundation 18, whose mission is to help minimize the effects of human trafficking. What more do you need for a good story?
Well, as it turns out, you need Cate Culp! The tale of “Charity” really began in Australia, in 2010, when Cate was going through a self-proclaimed “Eat, Pray, Love” phase in her life. At the time, Cate had been working in the wedding industry for over a decade, and while she credits her eye for detail to that experience, she was becoming increasingly disillusioned. The “need for more” started to grate at her, and she felt called to take action. She didn’t know it at the time, but her life was about to take an unexpected turn!
From Wedding Planning to Humanitarian Aid to...VW Interiors!
One afternoon, Cate ran into an acquaintance who regaled her with tales of her recent travels. At the time, Cate had never been outside of Australia, and she mentioned she had always wanted to visit Indonesia. Her acquaintance commented that if Cate “went to Indonesia, she would start an orphanage.”
Cate didn’t think much of the comment- she was, after all, raising 9 children of her own, but it did plant itself in the back of her mind. Soon after, she stumbled onto an article about human trafficking in Indonesia, which led to more research… which led to the realization that she most definitely did need to visit Indonesia, and she most definitely would be opening an orphanage.
Which is a great thought, but how do you actually open an orphanage… in another country… that you have never visited? Buckle up, no pun intended, because Cate is about to show you how!
Cate spent a year fundraising and then jumped on a plane. She only had 16 days (yes, really) to hit the ground running, and set her plan in motion. If you think this story is unbelievable so far, you’re going to love this! She met the man who would ultimately become the manager of Foundation 18 in a cab. She took a cab to a region of Ringdikit with a high rate of homeless children, and as fate would have it, he was her cab driver. He shared her passion to help the children, and with his help, the pieces started to fall into place. On the 15th day of her trip, she was sitting on the floor of her new orphanage.
Today, Foundation 18 is made up of a group of outreach programs in Ringdikit, Indonesia. Including a group home for children to be cared for in a safe, loving environment. Offering the children a safe home, access to education, and even extension skills like learning English. They fully fund the education of an additional 140 children, including transportation, healthcare, clothing, and food. They also provide 10,000 meals a month to children and their families, who would otherwise go without, with some families walking 5-6 families to receive a meal.
As they grew, they created Elder Care. A fund specifically designated to the care of Ringdikit’s senior citizens. Providing food, health care, and respectful end-of-life services in accordance with their religious beliefs.
Cate ultimately credits Foundation 18’s profound success with her amazing on-site management team. They run all day-to-day operations, and Cate assists, visiting when needed. The bulk of the financial burden of the foundation, however, does fall on Cate. She is solely responsible for about 80% of the funding. Cate has always provided funding through her various professional endeavors. A testament to both her commitment to the Ringdikit community and her work ethic.
You might be wondering… but what does that have to do with classic VW Beetles? If you can believe it, the plot thickens again!
For the Love of Classic VW Beetles
For anyone familiar with the unique VW community, Cate’s giving spirit is a perfect fit for their loving, accepting crowd. Even with 9 children, and an up-and-coming humanitarian project, Cate found time for her “fleet of pink VWs” in Australia. Her custom VW line-up included a pink ‘74 classic VW Beetle, a pink ‘04 Beetle, and a pink ‘73 VW bus.
This love of air-cooled VWs is what brought Cate and Rodney together. They met on Instagram through a VW group while they were both going through a tough time, and connected instantly. They started messaging each other, and never stopped! Rodney’s outgoing personality and Cate’s more reserved demeanor create for a great balance. Their mutual passion for custom VW builds doesn’t hurt either… Cate visited Rodney in small-town Alabama on and off, until they made the decision for Cate and her daughter to officially make the move.
Cate and Rodney even built "Lily," so that Cate could continue her pink VW tradition in the States. The pink and black stunner, "Lily" helps showcase the diversity of style and skill that the MetalMorphosis duo possesses.
Cate and Rodney were happily married in 2020, just in time for Covid to hit. Cate was unable to visit her adult children, and 15-year-old son, who live in Australia. While Cate and her daughter struggled to “find their tribe” in rural Alabama, Cate’s main source of income took a hit. Cate was successfully self-employed, taking on textile and graphic design projects, designing tattoos, and embroidering “colorful language” on furniture and other goods.
Covid slowed down international and domestic mail, making it hard for Cate to fill custom orders. Just as Cate was realizing she would need to change gears to help support her foundation, things with Foundation 18 took a turn for the worst. Without the tourism the community relied on for survival, things were becoming truly dire.
Rodney and Cate faced these challenges head on. Rodney had been running MetalMorphosis on the side while managing an auto outfit, and they decided it was time to reassess. They took a leap, and Rodney left his full time gig. They began putting 100% of their energy into MetalMorphosis, and came up with a game plan. They would build a custom VW Beetle, and raffle it off, with the proceeds going directly to Foundation 18. It turns out, they work incredibly well together! Especially under pressure.
Cooler than an Air-Cooled VW…
So well, in fact, that they built the award-winning “Charity” in 75 DAYS. Yes, a complete restoration and custom build in 75 days. Rodney and Cate’s experience restoring and maintaining air-cooled VWs spans decades, and it shows. Cate did the entire VW interior in 23 days. Which is made even more impressive by the fact that it is only her second interior...ever. Her first being her own pink and black classic VW Beetle “Lily.”
With a lifetime of textile and sewing experience, Cate did what many great auto upholsterers do, watched 100s of hours of YouTube videos… and went for it! Besides the crushing pressure of coming up with the much-needed funds for Foundation 18, they had also been backed for the “Charity” build based on renderings alone. Not to mention, Rodney was newly on his own professionally, and had a lot riding on this build as a real “solo debut.” Through it all, Foundation 18 helps them both keep perspective, even in high-stress moments, because halfway around the world… a community is fighting for survival.
This attitude (along with Rodney's positive outlook!) carried them through the extensive build, with help from their children, and it premiered the morning after it was completed. When it brought home “Best Interior,” they breathed a collective sigh of relief, knowing it would be well received... and boy, was it ever! Raffle tickets sold out, with ticket buyers in over 8 countries vying for the custom, air-cooled VW. A testament to not only the stunning build but the international community Cate has created for herself through her work.
It is astounding what an unbelievable journey, is behind "Charity." Even more impressive are the profound positive impacts “Charity” will have on an entire community. Cate admits to lying awake at night, thinking about how surreal the past decade has been.
Meet “Charity” the Vintage Beetle that Keeps on Giving
The winner of this 1963 Custom Ragtop Classic VW Beetle will be announced this December, and is truly what VW-lover dreams are made of!
Beyond its remarkable story, the incredible “Charity” sports:
-Fiberglass widened rear fenders, fiberglass front fenders, fiberglass ‘W’ decklid.
-Lowered, 4” narrowed beam, four-wheel disc brakes, and powder coated Smoothies all round - 15 x 10” on the rear, and 15 x 8” up front.
-Stock motor & transmission. 1500cc single port motor, with powder coated tins.
-Full custom interior, features leather seats, custom plaid headliner, leather and plaid door cards, and custom Daytona Weave carpet throughout.
-Full custom paint job, in ‘Murdered Out Black’, with high gloss clear coat. De-chromed bumpers and trim.
-Full new wiring harness, Dakota Digital gauges, LED lights all around.
-CoolRydes pedal assembly, Vintage Speed shifter and exhaust, and custom steering wheel.
-Retrosound Stereo, tinted windows, customs dash knobs, and extended rear pop-outs.
The murdered-out, lowered, killer vibe of “Charity” called for a distressed leather, like Saddle Bag from The Dakota Collection. The rich, uniquely distressed brown leather will hold up to anything thrown its way, and adds a richness to the interior. As does Cate’s one-of-a-kind “Charity” embroidery.
On the heels of this success, Rodney and Cate are beginning work on “Paisley.” A 1960 Euro Beetle, that will be restored into a classic VW Beetle of beauty. Some couples would be worried that they can see daylight through the floorboards right now, but not MetalMorphosis! They know they are up for whatever challenges come their way.