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I bought a plastic Volkswagen kit car and it is currently a jalopy, evidently built by some teenager in his mom’s garage.

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Yeah I know it’s plastic, but I do ‘glas, being a boat customizer from long ago. My skin is so tough nowadays it doesn’t really make me itch anymore, though it was bad when I was a kid.

 

It has changed hands at least 4 times now since it was started about 1980. My wife fell in love with this car, so I decided to build it up.

 

Will it remain Volkswagen powered? Well I’ve built a number of Volkswagen engines and owned one for some years. They are not too mysterious. But I could put other things in it too. I just need to build up the right chassis. 

 

But no matter what I choose to do, I almost need to disassemble and rebuild the entire vehicle from scratch with a light frame and lots of extra fiberglass gussets.

 

The body is not damaged and not all stressed and cracked because no one drove this car. And it would have cracks, because this is one flexible flyer.

 

It has 360 miles on the odometer and generally looks like it, BUT if you look closely and you understand cars, you would say that it was a crime to drive the vehicle even 1 mile. 

 

So, 1 mile is exactly how far I drove the car, but the engine runs well, and has a new carb &  electric fuel pump. It’s a 73 on a 73 pan. It steers and stops fine. All the electrical is new but the wiring was done by a blind monkey.  Switches are wanting badly.

 

So if you give a monkey an unlimited supply of quick taps, will he put one on every wire!?!

 

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They spent way too much on the stereo and not enough on quality switches.

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Already the Ancient Volkswagen steering wheel lock & cylinder are causing trouble, so I took them out and will just get rid of them. My car don’t need no stinking keys!

 

Someone did a good job cleaning and painting the pan and there’s no dirt on the car.  It appears that it has been trailered around because there is virtually no wear on the tires and it has a brand new battery, cables, etc.

 

Should I list the litany of sins committed upon this helpless Volkswagen?

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One by one I likely will, plus more photographic evidence of this abomination from the underground custom automotive industry.

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If you drink six beers and close one eye... It looks like a Duesenberg! 😃

Just yank'n your chain. Looks like a fun project! Keep us posted.

 

P.S. Once you get it running, you should race Paul's EMPI for pinks. 😉

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If he could keep that thing in a straight line he might win.

 

But I think as soon as he mashes the gas down the empi is going to go sideways.
 

The chassis was pretty badly compromised last time I saw it.

 

On the other hand my car steers like a gocart but it has the disposition of the Unimog.

 

The front and rear axles of the car can operate on totally different planes, not only due to full independent suspension but an entire lack of torsional rigidity between the drivers butt & the front bumper.

 

It looks like the Empi sportster has about 16 inches cut out of the middle of the pan.

It is short and Squirrley.

 

I have an uncut 73 IRS pan, With an 11 inch extension between the front frame yoke and the front axle beam!

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It is long and Squirrley. But every dragster is long is Squirrley.  The gas tank had a leaky fitting and I took it out and I also took out the battery because there is gasoline in the battery box which is that red pan down on the floor.
 

Did I mention that the wiring was junk?

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The fuel tank is too big by half, and I will get a smaller one. 

 

I’m going to make the whole thing slightly heavier by adding reinforcements to it. But it needs is to have the various fiberglass body panels joined together in a rigid unit, as I get everything aligned properly so it looks nice.

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The automotive archaeology continues apace. Since gasoline and some rain water had gotten into the upholstery and carpet I stripped out the entire interior. To make it easier I took off the doors.

 

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It’s good to have a reliable wiring diagram in the car with a professional wiring kit if, however poorly installed.

 

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Hey, don't start that stuff if you want your car to run tomorrow.

 

Now it could go up in a flaming BBQ if the thing is wired wrong and it leaks oil.

BUT: If I'm there at least you can blame me instead of an innocent cat. ;)

 

(Check the wiring pix above and you'll see that I know what living dangerously really is!)

 

I jacked the whole car up on stands, and it's twisted in the booty. They hit the undercarriage backing it off a trailer.

9 or ten times....

 

You can tell this car has not been driven. The body rests right on the muffler and it's not burned. Even after straightening the subframe, it's still only 1/8" to 1/4" clear.

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I took apart the shifter yoke and cleaned it up and reassembled it tighter. The shifter was kind of sloppy because it has been neglected. I need to cut it about 4 inches shorter.

 

I removed the front bolts from the subframe, and I removed all the bolts between the tub and the pan. All 6 bolts.
 

Nowhere else is this tub bolted to the frame except along the bulkhead or firewall. Just sits down on the sub frame in the back and it was screwed down in the front, and it has a few bolts that attach it to the side walls.
 

That tub carries the rear fenders, and only the front lip of them land on the added running board supports. It really doesn’t  help support anything.


This all relieves a lot of stress off the tub.

 

If I can’t get the body to come off of the muffler, I gotta cut the muffler out of there, because I cannot remove the engine without removing the muffler, as it touches the body. 
 

To remove the muffler I have to take off the body, or cut 2 of my pipes. The engine house is literally resting on the muffler. When I wiggled the body the engine wiggles.

 

It was landing down in two places on the suspension that it should not touch, and I cut some relief notches in the rear firewall to stop that. I need to cut a little bit more relief in the sidewalls as well, because they are also touching the pan where they should not touch. They have been relieved there but it was not enough. 
 

I took off the running boards, and I did a much better survey of the undercarriage to determine where I would have to straighten up the pan and the walls attached to it.


The body is not touching down at any of the standard Volkswagen body mounts which is just amazing to me. It will connect to all of them before I am done.

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Well the fenders and tub are separated and the sub frame is loose and ready to come apart.
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Wiring here doesn’t look too bad but it’s rubbing on the CV joint, and so is the battery cable!

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The muffler was rubbing a hole right through the fiberglass.

 

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So...I have started into soldering all the electrical connections, with the generator set. This is the main power lead falling off of the regulator, and if it had shorted the entire car might’ve burned to the ground.

 

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Edited by Ulu
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It's Sunday, so no real work will go on today.

 

I did clean up the wires a bit yesterday, but I'll need to strip the whole loom apart. I want to know what's what. I have no trust in the wiring at all.

 

I've been toying with ways to improve the frame without adding much weight. I've got some light rails from a garden tractor that would be cool as door beams plus provide the main pan edge stiffener, anchor the roll bar in, and provide anchorage for a birdcage in front. Just some very light tubing there to remove any shake. It's not a frame yet, as there must be another pan edge reinforcement and closure up front. 

 

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One doesn’t have to be crazy to do some of the things addicted wrenchers do, but it certainly helps.  
 

new fender extension pattern to sheet metal shop this morning. Brake work today and tomorrow.

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I removed the whole rear wiring loom, and replaced the rear body with just 2 bolts and a bucket, so I could take measurements.

I was able to just pop the gages out, as they were never clamped to the panel. Front loom comes next, then the front fenders..

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The framing would have been sketchy, even if it had been done to the plans, but there are missing bolts and missing spacers and missing brackets and angles.

There's a line of 11 bolts fixing the body to the steel chassis on each side of the car, but they stop with the three you see here. There are no more bolts aft of the mid door, from anything fiberglass to the chassis. Just 30 bolts from glass to glass.

 

I need to put some framing back there. It won't be to hard to fab some light struts from tubing.

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Ulu, have you seen the Overhaulin' episodes with the Lotus Europa?  Talk about kit car mods!  They sliced, diced and changed everything .  It sure illustrated the flexibility of fiberglass as a custom car material.    + they put a 320HP engine in a 1200lb Lotus!  The episode is on Utube, but you probably shouldn't watch, may give you ideas and cause a lot of work.

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Overhaulin' also had Jay Leno's money behind all the changes!

 

Must be nice!

 

Car is slick now after all the changes done. Made a real exotic ,fast , stylin', car out of a Lotus kind of fugly, cheapy.

 

DJ

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6 hours ago, kencombs said:

Ulu, have you seen the Overhaulin' episodes with the Lotus Europa?  Talk about kit car mods!  They sliced, diced and changed everything .  It sure illustrated the flexibility of fiberglass as a custom car material.    + they put a 320HP engine in a 1200lb Lotus!  The episode is on Utube, but you probably shouldn't watch, may give you ideas and cause a lot of work.

No but I will now.

 

I drove a brand new Lotus Europa once, back in 1974. I couldn't afford it, but the dealer didn't know that.

It was pretty impressive and I never pushed the throttle more than half way.

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5 hours ago, DJ194950 said:

Overhaulin' also had Jay Leno's money behind all the changes!

 

Must be nice!

 

Car is slick now after all the changes done. Made a real exotic ,fast , stylin', car out of a Lotus kind of fugly, cheapy.

 

DJ

Yeah, I'd like to just send this one off to Leno's garage and pick it up next week.

Leno's kind of a dweeb, but he attracts some great cars and history.

I've seen most of his car shows.

 

 

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I got a box of parts today. Exhaust tubes, gaskets, clamps, various fuel and breather hoses, shifter bushing, O-ring oil strainer gasket sets. Body-to-chassis welting (2 rolls) so I can put all the glass on rubber where it would squeak. Still to come is an engine hardware kit (Lots of spare metric screws) an SAE style fuse box, gasket kit, more exhaust gaskets, pedal pads, and tail light brackets.

 

They are from a Model-A, but so are my lights.

I'm not sure if I can use them without  modifications. 

 

I still need to get marine quality switches for lights, wiper, starter, ignition. All the bulbs work but I couldn't tell about dash lights. The gages all work and the speedo is electric.

 

The seatbelts were mounted to the sliding part of the seat rails, which is terrible. The adjustable rails will vanish and the seat risers will be welded into the chassis to become effective crossrails.

 

The two add-on cross rails which support the seat rails, and rear frame (supposedly) need redesign. What a kludge job there as well.

 

I spent lots of time unhooking wires from the fuse box, one by one, routing them out from under the fuel tank rack, and back to the box. The wires were covered in tape and plastic loom damaged from gasoline.

 

All the wires and factory crimps looked OK but I had to clean each one with thinner to remove the goo. I don't want to replace wires if I can just clean them up, solder, and heat-shrink. So far that looks do-able. Also I can really simplify the loom, as there is lots of redundant wire. I found two wires, each about 5 feet, that went nowhere-to-nowhere.

 

I like to keep my extra wire in the tool kit. ;)

Edited by Ulu
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8 hours ago, pflaming said:

Oner haulin show, is not realistic, all show to push advertisers products. 

Of course it is.  But, still shows some skilled design and execution.  From Chip's drawings, great TIG welding, metal working skills and paint prep.  Something to learn and aspire to in most episodes.

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I did find some videos of them discussing and driving that car but I have not yet found the video where they show the build details.

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16 hours ago, Ulu said:

I did find some videos of them discussing and driving that car but I have not yet found the video where they show the build details.

Here is one with some detail:

 

Since you have driven a stocker, can you imagine that with 350HP?

 

That's the reason for the big reinforcement plate fitted to the rear of the frame I guess.

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when money is no object...you get an item that cost lots of money.....I cannot now or ever relate to such episodes on TV or magazines as the money pushing them is not realistic in the sense of Joe Common owner/builder.  I can say I have never watched any of this on TV and I do not buy magazines.....I would say I may have bought one mag in last 20 years just for the adds of some of the supplies for parts sourcing....with the internet now...unless you low on toilet paper a magazine is useless.

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Frankly I have fallen out of the bigger is better horsepower category.

 

Modern cars have way more than you can use on the road in most cases and that’s the only place I’m going to be driving is on the road.

 

I have owned cars from Plymouth, Mercury, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Pontiac, Ford,  Dodge, Edsel, Buick, and Lincoln.

 

They were all pretty great cars for what I invested in them, and I was never really unhappy with any one.

 

But aside from the ‘47 Plymouth, and maybe the Edsel, I don’t miss any of those cars at all. The cars that I miss are my MG midget, Volkswagen fastback, Subaru hatch and the Mitsubishi/Plymouth twin stick hatch.
 

All the little sporty cars. Those were the cars that I miss.

 

If I’d ever owned one of those ugly freaking Volvos I’d probably miss that too.

 

;)

 

By the way I really don’t miss the Edsel that much.

 

I used to bang my knee regularly on the dogleg door post and frankly the transmissions in those cars were garbage.

 

What I miss about the Edsel was the fabulous 50’s Edsel styling. It was like driving the freaking Supercar only it didn’t fly. 

Edited by Ulu
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