Stripped-down VW dune buggy

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VW
The lightweight VW-powered buggy would be a fun off-road toy

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One of the great advantages of the original Volkswagens from Germany is all the things you could make from them.  Remove the body and interior and you’re left with a flat floor pan, suspension and drivetrain that will accommodate all sorts of imaginative bodies, making them into exotic-looking sports cars, replicas and, above all, dune buggies.

The Pick of the Day is a no-nonsense VW dune buggy that looks ready to take on the toughest trail, with style and agility.   This is not a classic dune buddy of the type pioneered by Bruce Meyers, who built the first one in 1964 out of fiberglass in his Newport Beach, California, garage.  That became the archetype for most dune-buggy builders from then on.

VW
A full roll cage provides protection

This one is more stripped down, a fenderless creation styled more like a competitive sand rail, but with lights, gauges and enough comfort that you could drive it legally on the street, at least in states that allow vehicles without fenders.  It looks like it couldn’t weigh more than a thousand pounds.

The buggy appears to be freshly completed, and the ad says there are only 300 miles on the odometer.

The model year is inexplicably listed as 1999, well after rear-engine Beetles were last sold in the U.S., although still being built in Mexico and Brazil.  There’s no explanation for this enigma in the ClassicCars.com advertisement listed by a dealer in West Deptford, New Jersey, so any potential buyer would need to ask.

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VW
The buggy has yawning ground clearance

Otherwise, this off-roader looks ready to rip. The limited body form is wrapped in a complete roll cage for safety, and the spartan interior has Jaz racing seats, a clean-looking stainless-steel dashboard and custom steering wheel.  Skid plates protect the undersides from off-road impacts.

There’s no info in the ad about the 4-cylinder, air-cooled engine, though it is obviously VW-derived and nicely detailed with bright bits and a chrome bumper.  No word about what went into the engine, though judging by the superior build of the buggy overall, it must be performance tuned.

VW
The spartan interior looks well-finished

This critter must be a hoot to drive either on road or off, where its huge ground clearance and light weight should allow all kinds of wild accessibility.  Only caveat is again about the no fenders, which could result in a shower of rocks and pebbles in some situations.

That, and I’d hate to mess up such a nicely finished vehicle with a rough off-road workout.  So this one might be reserved for the beach rather than forest trail or desert running.

The asking price is $15,995, which seems quite reasonable.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Really a cool little buggy but unfortunately these little V.W. rails nowdays are quite inexpensive. Especially here in the west. Like $5-7K in pristine condition and you can find older "fixers" for $1,500 and even less if the owner want’s it gone from the side of his house. With the proliferation of Side by Sides nowdays, these leftover Dune buggies are pretty cheap. I wish this owner luck on the sale of this. Maybe in New Jersey their still unique.

  2. Looks really cool and fun but I think one off road trip and that nice paint job will be trashed. The exposed break lines could be problematic. I would mount them behind the axle to offer some protection from getting snagged by something.

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