Double Vision

Dent expert can look both ways in his VW Beetle with two front ends.
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VW Beetle with two front ends
“People whip out their phones and say, ‘Wow, this is so cool,’ ” says Simon Daoud, owner of a 1965 Volkswagen Beetle made from two front ends. // Photograph by Josh Scott

Simon Daoud can always see ahead, thanks to his custom 1965 Volkswagen Beetle with two front ends. The unique set of wheels also doubles as a novel marketing tool for his business, Dent Genius Inc. in Livonia.

While the bug drives in only one direction, it has two steering wheels, two hoods, and two driver’s seats, each facing the opposite direction. They’re positioned so the driver sits hip-to-hip with the passenger. Other drivers see headlights from behind as well as in the rearview mirror.

On the road, drivers behind Daoud notice his girlfriend sitting the wrong way (and safely texting) while he operates the vehicle. Double takes are normal when people think they’ve developed double vision. While Daoud says he occasionally gets pulled over by confused cops, the car is street legal and has a historic license plate.

“It puts a smile on people’s faces,” says Daoud, a native of Saudi Arabia. “If I take it out to a parade or on a cruise, people look twice and three times, and the first thing they do is look at what they’re drinking.”

Part of a small collection that includes a 1934 Chevrolet Sedan that was once owned by former Detroit Tiger Mickey Stanley, Daoud found the Beetle, which he calls the Gemini, at an auction. He doesn’t know where it came from or who made it. The two front ends were welded together from identical models, and every part of the car is from 1965.

He had the marketing phrase “The Dent Genie Simon Always Forward” added to each “front door,” making the pristine little critter a rolling billboard.

Daoud has a gift for getting dents out of cars without damaging the paint or taking cars apart. When working from behind the dent, he inserts what looks like giant dental tools into openings or gaps in the cars, such as the crack between the window and the door, and massages the dent outward from the inside.

When working from the outside of the car, he attaches knobs that look like suction cups to the dent and then pulls them, popping the dent out. “Metal does have a memory, and I just manipulate it back,” Daoud says.

His customers bring him cars that are worth up to $500,000. Body shops can charge thousands to fix dents, and it can take days for them to get to a car, but Daoud charges a few hundred dollars for his services, which can take 10 minutes.

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