Dune Buggy Project

1962 Volkswagen Dune Buggy.  I snagged this one off of Ebay in Aug 2006 for $1,500  It was located in Michigan.  So I rode the car ferry over to Luddington, MI that leaves from Manitowoc, WI in my hometown.  The guy delivered it right to the dock so it was an easy trip to go pick up.

These are some pics as it sat when I got it.  It ran real good but 1st gear would pop out sometimes, and the floor-pans had rust.  The plan was to wait till spring 2007 before doing any work and just drive it for a little before putting it away for the winter. 


April 2007 - Week 1

  Ready to begin work and have been getting excited about it all winter.  I decided to do almost everything in my driveway so I could work on it whenever I wanted to walk right out the door instead of taking it to the big shop about 5 miles away.  This way the wife and kids could be involved in the process.  Besides that, it is good for the kids to see that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.  To start, I pulled the body off the frame to do the work on the floor-pans.  Of course with any project car, you uncover much more than you are ready for.  And this was certainly no exception.  I found the worst I could imagine.  Floorboards rotted away, wire harness that resembled a ball of wire, seats that were un-usable, trashed transmission, the tunnel needed reworked, stronger side rails, lights front and back were no good, etc, etc.  It just goes on and on.  So after pulling the body and making a check-list of everything I was going to need, I called all the best VW stores and got a ton of parts on order.


The floor-pans had more than a little rust.  There was nothing left holding the pans on.  And the tunnel had cracks in it with a bad welding job.  It was the result of a poor builder when it was originally built.  It was originally built in the early 70's so that would explain almost everything. The original VW chassis has to be shortened 18" to accept the shorter Dune Buggy body.  This is where the cracks were.  The welds looked like a bird pooped on them.  No sweat, I can weld and this was the perfect time to pull the engine and have that transmission looked at.


Week 2

The old floor-pans were removed all the way around to the tunnel.  The only way to do it right.  Turns out I needed a new transmission.  So I got a new one from Mofoco VW parts in Milwaukee and installed that. 

New bulkheads had to be fabricated and built before the floor-pans could be installed since there wasn't much metal left. 


Week 3

New transmission in place, and time to work on the engine.

UPS came and dropped off some goodies.  Happy dance!!!


Week 4

Floor-pans finished and time to test fit the body on the new chassis to locate the seats and get them sized up where they need to go.


Week 5 - May 2007

Attention was turned to the engine.  Before and after pics are like night and day.  I am waiting on a new exhaust again.   I ordered a nice 4-into-1 muffler from Tri-Mill in chrome.  They sent the wrong one that was made for cars with heater boxes.  I don't have heater boxes and they said the only ones they have for my application in stock are the ceramic coated.  Much better quality and costs more.  Sent my exhaust back and got the ceramic coated coming to me, at no additional cost.  SWEET!! 


Week 6

Better pics of the floor-pans.  And the new wheels are installed on the chassis. Installed the engine and now I am ready to put the body on for the final time and get ready to wire it all up.


May 16th 2007 - Installed the body, bolted it up tight for the last time and put the new steering wheel on it.   Ready to start wiring it all together.


Week 7

Wiring is almost finished.  I had to rewire the harness and add a new fuse box and re-run for the new lights and accessories.   I "fabricated" up new dash panels that will be custom painted.


Week 8

Made a custom cover for the back over the air-cleaner since the body sits lower and the air-cleaner comes out the top in the rear.  Wiring is finished up and engine has been wired.  It is running again and was actually driven around the block.  Runs smooth and straight.


Week 9

Dash panels have been painted the body color.  I will add some custom pinstriping and painting to it next.  The dash has been pulled off and painted black as well as the turn-signal switch.   The new ceramic exhaust finally got here and has been installed.  It runs quiet and looks very nice.  Also made the cut-outs for the taillights.  It will have 1939 Ford teardrop taillights.  Also laid up the fiberglass in some problem areas that had a few cracks and some larger holes.


Week 10 - June 2007

Installed the new painted dash panels.  Also made an Ed Roth style "Rat Fink" shifter knob.   Installed a new battery box and started the bodywork.  Filling the holes and getting it smooth and straight.


Week 11

Doing most of the major body work this week to get it ready to start the planning for laying paint on it.


Week 12

Most of the major bodywork is finished at this point.  Ready for primer and block sand.  Tow bar attached to take it to Chris Haupts garage.


Week 13

Finally got around to the paint.  Paint is candy Porsche Magenta topped with "Lil' Daddy" Roth "Freakin' Fuscia" metalflake.  This thing sparkles in the sunlight. 

Got it all assembled.   Runs great too.   I want to get the interior upholstered on the sides and a back seat.   This week I will be adding a ton of pinstriping as well.  Pics of that coming up real soon.


Got it all pinstriped out.  I think I am happy with the way it turned out.  Modern build with retro old school styling.  Influenced by Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's Rat Fink!


Since I work in the toy business, I made a custom "fake" model kit box using pics of my real dunebuggy.  I think it looks great.  But I don't think I would buy a model kit of it if they made one.  I built it once already and I don't want to go through that much again. lmao