Sure, there are plenty of these VW dune buggies floating around, many for sale at bargain prices. But the Pick of the Day, a 1964 Volkswagen dune buggy, has something special indeed bolted on behind the seats: a late-model Porsche 356 SC engine.
While the Porsche 356 engines might appear to be nearly identical to those of VWs, both being horizontally opposed, air-cooled, 4-cylinder designs, the later 1,600cc Porsche engines are superior in quite a few respects, with key differences that make them more robust with greater power. Porsche engines were built for performance while VW engines were designed for reliable everyday driving.
Very early 356s used essentially identical mechanical components to Volkswagens, but it wasn’t long before they deviated to make the Porsches significantly different, real sports cars that performed well on the race track as on the road.
Porsche engines are also a whole lot more expensive, which makes the $23,000 asking price for this dune buggy seem quite attractive. This 95-horsepower SC engine from a 356C, the final 1963-65 model in Porsche’s original series and the hottest pushrod engine then available, could cost nearly as much as this entire buggy.
There are lots of 356 restorers who would like to take this engine and transplant it into their Porsches, as well as VW owners who would like to perk up their hobby cars with a hotter engine. You could wring as much power out of a VW 1,600 engine with the right expert tweaks, but the Porsche engine output could be boosted higher than that with aftermarket parts.
Although, this classic SC engine is best left alone. And it should make the street-legal dune buggy a hoot to drive. The engine “makes this dune buggy fly!” says the private seller in St. Augustine, Florida, advertising the car on ClassicCars.com.
Aside from the Porsche engine, this dune buggy reportedly is in good condition and ready to drive on or off road. The 1964 Volkswagen designation is most likely for the chassis and suspension from the donor car.
“The body is in good condition, teal-green fiberglass, it has a custom but still vintage look,” the seller says in the ad. “It is fitted with alloy wheels and T/A radial tires (like new). Black vinyl seats. Brand new gauges.”
The photos show that the buggy has one damaged headlight bucket, and a new housing will go with the sale, to be installed by the next owner, the seller notes.
Porsche fanatics might consider the $23,000 asking price to be merely for a Porsche SC engine with a dune buggy attached to it. Really, one could take off the engine and use it for a 356, then install a good VW engine in the dune buggy, and sell that for not much less.
To view this vehicle on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.