Volkswagen Buggy: nice!

Volkswagen Buggy
ER Classics Desktop 2022

About a hundred years ago I was at a meeting of the ABC, the General Buggy Club on some Utrecht industrial site. A friend of mine had a Volkswagen Buggy and I knew Jan van der Lid because of my work. It rained. A buggy would be set on fire and put out. Or so. Moreover, a buggy with an 1600 cc engine and very wide tires turned out to have a surprising handling. In short it was a nice day.

The buggy idea is already old

Meanwhile, it is more than 55 years ago that the American Bruce Meyers invented the Manx Buggy. And that was bijna the first really good running buggy. It was, however, the first of GPR, fiberglass-reinforced polyester. But already in 1960, the LA-based VW dealer and supplier of tuning parts EMPI offered a metal kit with the name Sportster. Such a kit cost about $ 500 and was designed to be mounted directly on a shortened bottom plate, including a chassis, from a VW. But there was a problem. The new body to be mounted was a straightforward construction with angles and straight lines. It didn't look like it. The buggy as Meyers invented it looked great. Licked, tough, yet playful. And why did the wheel arches have flat tops? Then of course you could set up your beer there.

Shortened platforms

The dune or beach buggies have, since Meyer's brilliant raid, almost by definition been placed on truncated VW chassis. This allowed them to tackle bumps better without getting stuck 'in the middle'. Because of their rear-wheel drive with the engine weight behind the driven axles, they had surprisingly good terrain skills - even with only 35 hp or so on board. And because they - just like puppies - had relatively large 'feet', they did not sink into the sand quickly either. A lot of men in serious 4WD Jeeps with thunderous V8s had it checked ...

In the meantime, a sort of separation of spirits has emerged

There are dune and / or beach buggies and there are buggies that are 100% asphalt-oriented in terms of looks and equipment. Also nice.

Bruce Meyers was a man with a great idea and a lot of creativity. His idea was picked up very broadly from the start and tens of thousands of his buggies were made. By others. Without spending a penny on it. His idea was not watertightly protected by patents. That is why he had had it for a while with his spiritual children.

The buggies became increasingly popular

Volkswagen Buggy bookAlso on the other side of the Grote Vijver, in Europe. On February 29, 2000 we received the book 'De Buggy, our Holy Cow' from the ABC, the General Buggy Club. That book was published on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the ABC. Besides an interesting piece of history, it also contains a lot of buggies. Because at one point it seemed like everyone was making buggies. In the book we count over 200 'brands'. We can of course be proud of the fact that the Amsterdam Ruska is well represented in this. Ruska once sold almost 400 buggies a year.

In the meantime, buggies are just as fun as ever. But a buggy can now also be a classic. Buggies are the only classics in which nobody can fall over originality. Although: if possible, all screwed-on and screw-on parts must of course come from the appropriate period. But: the installation of a Porsche or Chevrolet Corvair engine in a Volkswagen Buggy. An air-cooled six-cylinder? Should be possible. A liquid-cooled Subaru block? This puts you in the twilight zone.

All VW buggies are similar

However? But in any case they are clearly recognizable as such. And those are the 'buggies' who pretend to be a Bugatti T35 or a Jaguar SS100. Do they look like their example? Or do they look like nothing? The Ruska Regina reminds us a bit of Ollie B. Bommel's Schicht. You can't argue about taste. But a Ford GT40-inspired FT (Fiber Technics) Bonito? We want to be punished with that.

No more for a few knocks

Nowadays, you pay considerably more than a small change for a neat, good Volkswagen Buggy. Amounts to around € 10.000? People don't even really get scared anymore. Think of entry prices at amounts of around € 3.000. But never buy one without a license plate. At the RDW they said goodbye to the concept of the shortened VW chassis.

But with a buggy you perfectly combine the disadvantages of driving with the disadvantages of motorcycling. Fine! And currently there aren't many people who dream about that. This time is the best time to buy a buggy.

Volkswagen Buggy
More than 200 'manufacturers'
Volkswagen Buggy
An FT Bonito. A buggy? A wannabee? A replica? Or just fun?

A reaction

Give a reaction
  1. Once you have been infected with the buggy virus there is no stopping it. The buggy is coming. Either an existing one or you build a new one on an existing buggy chassis, with complete license plate.
    For example, you can get a lot of knowledge, parts and even a new body at Bij Hot Rod in Doesburg.
    Steel rims can still be widened, and with a good fitting plate and adjusted flywheel you can link almost any water-cooled engine to a beetle or a gearbox.
    Wiring and vessel cooling gives headaches, but once fixed it drives beautifully.
    In addition, there is a lot of knowledge at the buggg clubs, where people are happy to assist each other.
    The meetings are also wonderful and educational.
    Thank you Bruce for this beautiful experience!

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