Dune Buggies have been giving Volkswagen Beetles second lives for decades. The culture of creating lightweight beach buggies may have its roots in utilitarian purposes, but the humble two-seaters very quickly became one of the iconic parts of the 1960s youth movement in the USA - and ultimately overseas.
The Volkswagen Beetle - or Bug - became synonymous with surf culture and also was the most common basis for a dune buggy for a number of reasons.
For starters they were lightweight, while the rear-mounted engine and rear-wheel-drive meant the entire powertrain could be removed in a single pod, which made it far easier for home based customisers to create their own vehicles at minimal expense . It also made it far easier for the dune buggies’ fibreglass bodywork to be mounted atop the Beetle’s conveniently flat floorpans, plus there were plenty of Beetles that were tired, rotten and beyond economic repair, but were ripe to be reborn as sun-seeker’s fun-mobiles. This example has been re commissioned by the current owner who used to race dune buggies in his native Kenya and is massively enthusiastic about them, partly for nostalgic reasons.
It comes with a long wheelbase tub and is therefore no shorter than a standard Volkswagen Beetle.
The vendor acquired this buggy from its previous owner last year as an abandoned project. It was very tired and in need of a full body and mechanical overhaul as well as new suspension all round.
Over the past 12 months, the current owner has spent a lot of time recommissioning the dune buggy and getting it back on the road for the first time in 14 years.
There are several recent receipts from a well-known air-cooled Volkswagen specialist detailing many of the parts bought for the buggy’s overhaul. They include brand-new seal kits for the engine, which was removed stripped and rebuilt along with new belts and a custom trombone-style exhaust system, which is certainly not one for the shy and retiring.
It also comes with a full UK V5 and a handful of bills relating to service items.
Answer you might expect, there's not a huge amount inside a dune buggy so as a result there really isn't much to report. This one could be used for minor competitions such as trials driving very easily as it already has FIA-approved Corbeau racing seats and a roll cage. It also has a Momo racing steering wheel.
Other than its central speedometer the dash is pretty much bare, while the rear deck is empty other than for the buggy’s battery, leaving plenty of room for surfboards
The dune buggy’s body is constructed from a single piece of fibreglass which mounts directly onto the existing beetle floorpan and chassis. The upper body was repainted this year in a smart and quite subtle Navy Blue with equally discreet black alloy wheels of a suitably period design.
Before the body was painted, both the floor and bulkhead were partially repaired so the underside is solid and protected from the elements. During the restoration all of the chrome-work was also renewed, including the front-mounted fuel filler and both chrome headlight pods.
Whatever you do, don't bid on this vehicle if you have sensitive neighbours. Those trombone exhausts certainly aren't quiet and when coupled to the natural clatter of an air-cooled Volkswagen engine it's certainly not a soundtrack for the shy or retiring.
It is, however, a beguiling and somewhat enticing noise for anyone who is a petrolhead and promises loads of fun.
The recent engine overhaul means there's very little to worry about in terms of the buggy’s running ability, while new dampers, bushes and suspension arms will add further reassurance that it is mechanically well-sorted.
Basic it may be, but the buggy is a hugely entertaining vehicle that offers an affordable way into the VW scene, and is also a motoring icon in its own right.
The recommissioning carried out by its current owner should ensure very little in the way of expenditure for its next keeper. This is a very cool and hilariously entertaining little car that offers a tax and MOT exempt means of enjoying simple basic open air fun, while at the same time being both a head-turner and a talking point.
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