VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE (BAJA)
This is an absolutely amazing vehicle. Nelson bought her for £10 many years ago for spares without an engine from an old friend, Shaun, who now runs the Ram Inn at Firle near Lewes. 'Minty' (see historic number plate) was parked outside for a few years, then Nelson sold the front wheels to a previous owner, also a friend (Soggy) for £10. So the donor car came free. Then rather than break her, he decided it would be fun to complete the Baja conversion Shaun and Soggy started. That was in 1987. A fiber-glass kit cost £200 and a set of Wellers £100. A Karman Ghia engine was sourced from his local dismantlers, Ripleys (thanks Obe), who usually come to the rescue with hard to find bits. Then came an adjustable front beam and some engine tuning goodies: high lift cam, melling oil pump, Webbers, etc, etc.
THE CONVERTED 1972 BEETLE
The standard Volkswagen Beetle is very reliable but doesn't handle at all and is sluggish. To cure this Nelson moved the battery ahead of the front axle and lowered the front end for better weight distribution. Wide rims and BF Goodrich tyres increased the track and cornering adhesion. 275's X 15 on back and 225's X 15 up front. Overall vehicle mass is reduced by this conversion. 1600 barrels and pistons and a lightened flywheel really improved the acceleration and the motor breaths better at the high end so top speed and acceleration is better. She is still fun to drive, reliable and legally displays historic black plates. The best thing is she is still running and better than when she rolled off the production line in Germany in the 70's.
Air cooled VW Beetle engine - simple and tough
WHAT IS A BAJA BUG
The term Baja Bug generally refers to a Volkswagen Beetle modified to operate on sand dunes and beaches, although other versions of air-cooled Volkswagens are sometimes modified as well.
Why the Beetle?
The Beetle was popular in less-developed areas of the world because of its rear-mounted air-cooled engine, flat floorpan, and rugged torsion bar suspension. In fact, advertising of the period touted the fact that the Beetle was so watertight that it floated. Those same attributes made the Beetle the perfect choice for the basis of an off-road vehicle as evidenced by the car's success both then and now in the Baja 1000 off-road race.
Basic modifications are simple. A lightweight, shortened fiberglass front body panel is fitted after the sheetmetal from the trunklid edge forward and rear engine hood rearward is removed. The rear treatment leaves the engine totally exposed to aid in cooling. A tubular steel cage front and rear bumper is fitted to the body and floorpan for protection of engine and occupants. Shortened fiberglass fenders both front and rear meant removal of the Beetle's distinctive running boards and the likely addition of more tubular steel parts in their place, (side bars). The adjustable torsion bar front and rear suspension standard on the Beetle, allows the ride height to be raised to make clearance for larger heavy-duty off-road tires and wheels. The taller sidewall tires provide more flexible ride comfort and rocky road ground clearance. The Beetle suspension "stops" can be moved to allow more suspension travel. Longer shock absorbers for the increase in suspension travel, provide more dampening control over bumps giving more driver control and comfort.
The Baja Bug today
Though Baja Bugs have been greatly supplanted in recent years by tube-framed, purpose-built buggies known as sand rails, due to the slowly dwindling supply of suitable donor cars, they remain a popular choice in desert regions as few beaches in the US are open to vehicular traffic. Many are fitted with highly modified Volkswagen engines and a few homebuilt hybrids have Ford Pinto engine, Chevrolet Corvair, Porsche or even Subaru engines. Customized road-going Baja Bugs remain fairly popular as well.
Baja Benny's Page - read about the transformation of a 1969 bug into a full-fledged Baja Bug. With pictures.
Baja Bug Web Site, The - building Baja Bugs from the ground up.
Baja Bugs [Insanity, Inc.] - photograph galleries.
Baja Page, The - VW sedan modified for off-road use, with writings and features on race, show, and real Bajas, and Baja buses.
Bajas in Action - tech tips, before and after photographs, as well as shots of Baja Bugs in off-roading action.
Bo's Baja - the story of one VW's transformation into a Baja Bug.
Bryon's Baja Page - looks at the process of building a Baja.
Bugly's Page - adventures of a '67 VW Baja Bug that is Corvair powered.
Bugman's Aircooled VW Page - pictures, articles, message board, and information on the webmaster's Baja project.
Flegs Baja Bug Page - with jump, action, and stuck photographs, as well as information and links.
FrankenBug: My 69 Baja - the story of how one man found his Baja Bug.
Green Baja - the story of a Volkswagen that called out to its owner to be transformed into something bigger and better.
Jay's Baja Page - photographs, links, and the story of the build up of a '73 Baja Bug.
Jeff's Baja Project - pictures and writings about the transformation of a '68 VW Beetle.
Justin's Baja Bug Page - with a photo gallery, technical information, and more.
Koo's Baja Bug - features pictures, news, and a forum.
My Baja Bug Buildup Page - budgeting, a brake job, an accident, and other incidents in the conversion of a '67 VW Beetle.
Paul's Baja Bug - Oregon Bajas, technical information, and a section dedicated to a '61 Baja.
Real German SUVs - dedicated to Lulu Belle, a yellow '64 Baja Bug.
Volkswagen Baja Beetles and More - with a journal of restoration progress, as well as photographs.
Yellow Baja and Dune Buggy Historical Society (YBDB) - dedicated to the preservation of the history of highway-legal VW-powered vehicles used off-road.
A - Z of MOTOR MANUFACTURERS
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