My cousin redid a Beetle a while back. If I recall, it was pretty cost-effective also. It didn't cost him a whole lot of money. It wasn't cheap by any stretch, but it didn't cost as much to restore as a lot of other cars would.
I had a 2002 GTI 1.8T 5spd, and it was a great car. The only problem was that at the end of the day it still would've had FWD, and FWD and corners don't mix. I had an APR chip and a Forge "Race" diverter valve. It made for pretty snappy acceleration, but the handling still wasn't worthy of a GTI name. After I swapped out the HORRIBLE Eagle RS-As for some BFG Traction T/As, the handling was improved greatly, but the trade-off was a lot of road noise and an "edge" when hitting bumps.