My 1957 VW Dune Buggy



1957 VW frame (shortened)

1957 36 hp engine

1957 split case transmission

1960's ERA OCELOT 1 piece fiberglass body (I think someone told me 1967, but my memory is BAD!)

This little bug was begotten by me and my father over 12 years ago. When we got it there was sand in just about every conceiveable place. This little bug was abused for many years before I got my hands on it. For some strange reason (the magic of a bug) I fell in love with it when I first saw it. Hopefully I will sooner or later add some before pictures if I ever get my hands on them.

My father took apart the motor cleaned out the sand, and got the motor to run. He also purchased many parts, but unfortunately he never got the bug roadworthy. As with the trial of life the bug had to be "shelved". My story starts years after this. That is where I will continue.

One day my physics buddies were at my house when my folks were away. After BS'ing, drinking beer, and playing DOOM 2, I was asked about the ugly monster in my driveway(THE BUG). I told them a little about it and that I was just never motivated to get working on it. Well after a few hours of persuation, the three of us started tearing the thing apart for a complete restoration (as best as three amateurs can do). After the first hour I realized that this was going to be a heck of a project.

PHASE ONE: First we started pulling the body off. This required alot of liquid wrench, and the amazing power tools. Some things just broke off from rust and some thigns were rusted together. At this point I was wondering "What the heck have I gotten myself into?"

Phase TWO: The frame... Basically it got a little welding and alot of wire brushing. SO frantically the three physicists were wire brushing, scraping, cleaning the entire frame. This resulted in the death of a drill and several wire brush wheels. After this the Joy of Rust-Oleum came into play. So the frame was in effect done.

Phase THREE: What happened to the motor from sitting for years? After taking apart the motor I was shocked that the motor looked very good. Nothign too tragic here, but the oddities of the 36 hp motor compared to the more modern air cooled VW's threw me for a whirl. After realizing that some of the internal parts were supposed to look like they did, it got slapped back together. Of course the tranny was looked at too, but nothing of note there.

Phase FOUR: The body is still a mess and of the frame, but we were getting anxious to start the thing up. SO... Brake lines fuel lines, cables, and the entire brake system was done. The master cylinder needed a little rubber piece to hold the reservoir. I went to this little German guy who was a VW mechanic hoping to get a clue as to where I might find the piece or an idea as to a way to get it working with an alternative part. So in this little german guys garage I described what I needed. He said "I know exactly what you need". I was then expecting on getting a story that I was out of luck, but he went to a wall of tiny drawers, opened one drawer out of hundreds which weren't labeled, and pulled one out. He just gave me the thing and I will never forget that for I was never so amazed, and grateful (the generosity of fellow bug lovers is astonishing).

Phase FIVE: MOTOR TIME!!!! Well we started the motor, and it fired right up after realizing that the ignition wires were put on 180 deg off. About 20 seconds after it was running I stated screaming to turn it off. So after quickly pulling the temporary ignition wires the motor was off. You may be asking right now "Why turn of the motor?" Well to make a short story short, I will just say oil helps.

Phase SIX: Time to move. The bug was transported from New Jersey to Wisconsin, which is a story in itself.

Phase SEVEN: I got my BS in physics and moved out to WI to be with my folks while job hunting. Since no one wanted to hire a physicist, I began woking on the bug again. These things entailed basically body work and preparing little things. I made up an ititial wiring diagram which got scrapped after the body was put on, and begfan prepping the body. WHAT A NIGHTMARE! Originally this thing was sparkly blue (like the cheesy roller coaster at a carnival). On top of this original color there were about 5 other coats of paint. These paints were from auto paint to house paint. I cant emphasize how much of a pain it was to get the paint off. I ended up using some magic paint remover and it screwed up the fiberglass a little. Amazing but true this was a good thing. I noticed that bondo was used on fiberglass. This resulted in chipping away the bondo and replacing it with fiberglass batting and fibergalss epoxy. Whatever monkey did this should have been shot! (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE ALTHOUGH I DON'T).

Phase EIGHT: Paint. Becasue there was mild pitting on parts of the body it was sanded all by hand for 2 days and by the three physicists. After that the body was primed about 6 times and given about 5 to 8 coats of paint (dont remember exactly). This was a monumental day. Since my friends came out to WI around phase seven, we all saw the painted body, and realized we were at the home stretch. Originally the plan was to paint it semi metallic grapeity grape purple (similiar to a 1996 Ford escort), but due to the flexing of the body I went with a cheaper (in case of a necessary repaint soon) and more forgiving paint.
Phase NINE: Wiring. Well this is kind of odd, because two of us stayed up all night to wire the darn thing. At this point we added holes for switches on the dash, and started over as far as a wiring diagram went. Either in a moment of pure genius or in a tired dillusional state we (mainly I) decided to wire under the dash one color so if someone wanted to steal the car it would be difficult to trace the wires. SO... every wire under the dash is purple to match the car!

Phase TEN: My buddies left without getting the bug on the road. I was very sad, but I was determined to get the buggy ready. I trudged on with the final details, and put the dash/signals in/on the car. Essentially I was done, except for a final tune up and to set the accelerator cable.

Phase Eleven: ALL DONE??? Not exactly! When I was tuning up the engine I noticed an oil leak from the crankshaft pulley. I was very upset, but I refused to let this get to me. So I took the motor out and took the case completely apart. From this I noticed that the oil slinger was screwed up and I found a place that sells them.

The Buggy made it to Vegas and I have had oodlesof fun with it! Unfortunately the sun has done a number to the paint and as I suspected the paint cracked at high flex points on the body. I have been looking for a 12 volt starter that is compatable with the 36 hp engine and flywheel, but no luck. I am also looking for a 12 volt generator that will fit on the 36 hp engine. I have had NO LUCK finding these items and any help would be great. On the trip from Wisconsin I lost the roof due to a huge wind area in Wyoming. I am looking to make a bikini top similiar to the Jeep's, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. I would always appreciate any input that may prove helpful.

IF ANYONE CAN HELP ME (or needs help we VW'ers have to stick together) PLEASE CONTACT ME AT THE BELOW ADDRESSES or .