An off-road magnum opus, a designer’s virtuoso, a dune buggy roves like a dream. Ask a buggy enthusiast, and he would narrate how fascinating a buggy ride can be. Well, for one there are no superlatives in this regard.
Designed to dive into sand dunes and bam onto beaches, a dune buggy is meant to air-borne the Corinthian in you. Torque-absorbent wheels, tenacious traction, strong forward-raked suspension, and classy interiors enhanced with warm metallic hues are features enough to loosen a tile or two in your upper story. Adventure — the middle name of dune buggies — was discovered in ample measure, but the fun was not restricted to when driving. Armchair buggy lovers wanted the fun quotient to flange the process of building the wheeler as well. And customizing the buggy, forsooth, leaves less to desire.
The donor vehicle, predominantly is the Volkswagen Beetle in this regard. The job involves stripping the Beetle leaving the bare essentials in place. This makes for reliable traction on wimpy terrains, courtesy of the weight being lessened. Besides, with minimal, yet voguish accessories, you are bound to find your buggy desire more speed, more power, and more muscle. Not to forget, more time and spare cash play their part, too.
Before You Begin, Kindly Read This
Disclaimer: Know that this article is meant, primarily for pedagogical purposes, aiding you to comprehend the process of building a dune buggy. It is recommended that the reader seeks professional assistance in order to handle the project with paragon confidence and alacrity. As with any DIY project of wide-reaching, wide-ranging nature, the foreignness of the sequential structure and equipment may overwhelm the DIYer. Know that these are no words of diasporic discouragement. Construe this note as one conduit to exercising caution.
Note.– As a DIYer, indulging in a buggy-building activity may encourage noise and may invite complaints from fellow neighbors. If you have the right to undertake the task, your neighbors have the right over propertied leisure. Restricting your project to sensible hours during the day helps you avoid unpleasant and uncalled-for spars.
- Exercise caution. Wear a DOT-Approved headgear, appropriate eye protection, full pants, and long-sleeved shirts while riding the buggy.
- Kindly understand; this vehicle is not meant for daily transportation. It is purely created to satisfy the recreational hub in armchair motoring enthusiasts.
- A dune buggy is a lightweight wheeler. Do not put it through too steep a terrain. Chances are vivid of the buggy enduring a roll over. Not good, for the buggy’s esthetics go flub in a wink. As for the rider’s well-being, it is an absolute disaster.
- If your visibility is hampered while riding the buggy on a terrain, slow down. It, probably is the best option. Be mindful, no matter how overwhelmed you are with your buggy’s performance. Don’t let emotion override your judgment.
- Drive off-road only.
- Prohibit those under 16 to ride a dune buggy. If they get difficult, supervise their movements. Acting footloose in teen matters may invite unwarranted trouble.
Setting the Grounds
Readers would not redress the opinion of working in a neat-freak, professionally frothy environment. However, to overstep your boundaries is bringing on full-fledged naivety to the fore. Make do with the spare space you own or look for a garage to act witness to your undertakings. For one, a garage is one ideal piggy bank for tools. Prefer a location away from the public eye. Why? Well, you might like to contradict this one, and before you know it, you will have a nocturnal visitor at your doorstep with a halo of curiosity circling up there. As you would be working with mounds, wrenches and the likes, ensure a solid floor to see you through the process. Besides, before assembling the car, you would be disassembling the wreck; for this to happen without the slightest hitch, make arrangements for a space, which facilitates the process of construction.
Finding/Handling the Donor Vehicle
You know that you need a wrecked Volkswagen Beetle for the build to come through. However, stripping down the Beetle to build the buggy shouldn’t mean a heap of spares waiting to be bolted together to a once-upon-a-time Volkswagen Beetle. The assembly should justify a dune buggy, not a spare skeletal magnet. Considering the status quo of buggies to this hour, they carry a far professional feel, than when they were in their halcyon days. Nevertheless, it is tough to find a wreck Volkswagen for you to begin work. Surf wrecking yards, consult used-car dealers; you may strike gold. Look out for 1960s’ VW models. The ones that work best are those launched in 1965, 1969, and the years in between. They have impressive 1500cc engines with better displacement and an even better suspension.
Do not use Karmann Ghia and the Transporter series for a donor vehicle. The latter won’t work at all; a Ghia may prove useful, exclusively for motor and front-axle assembly. While frequenting yards to zero on a specific model, consider the kind of wreck in situ. Pay attention to their condition. Are they wrecked due to a rear-end, or a head-on collision? If they are, better skip this section all together. The watchword here, is rollovers. For obvious reasons, they are an ultimate buy. They, generally have no major issues; more often than not, it’s the wear and tear that subjects them to the wreck yard.
Now, if you have found a rollover (lucky you!), do not jump the gun, and pick up the check. Ask a friend, who has time and know-how to accompany you, and take a look at what you plan to invest in. He putting in his two cents, should, certainly help you act upon the deal and save time, money, and effort. As for the price you must agree upon, it varies in accordance with the geographical differentials. Nevertheless, base your buy on the trio’s condition, i.e., the engine, the front axle, and transaxle. They are important to see you through the assembly procedure. Applying this little input should help you close the deal.
Disassembling the Donor VW Beetle
It maybe hard to put your wits to work to gage how you would unbolt the whole of Volkswagen Beetle. Purchasing a wreck, too, does not better the matter. After all, it must have been a baby in its prime! However, to construct a buggy, you must do now, you never thought you would, with a car of this ilk. The good news is, you get to keep the essential parts of the wrecked sedan; i.e., you would segregate the useful from the hopeless, and take to work, the former. Simply put, they are parts required in an as-is condition (in most cases) to construct the dune buggy. Note down the parts that have been saved, so you would know what goes in and what, out. Here is a guild of parts required to build the buggy.
- Battery – (6 or 12 volt)
- Seats and springs (Modification is mandatory.)
- Gas tank along with the 4 rectangular washers
- Rectangular washers located under the running boards (They are required to secure the renewed body to the restructured floor pan of the Volkswagen Beetle.)
- Retain the steering column. Disconnect it from the chassis by working on the clamping bolt located at the rear end of the shaft. The assembly of the steering column should be saved. Besides, the rubber grommet — fasteners for wire looming, used to secure holes through which the wiring runs across all sections of the car body — must also be kept aside for use during the upcoming stages of construction.
- The complete wiring harness ought to be saved; the criterion, however, is good condition. Besides, mark all the disconnected ends to further an uncomplicated future assembly.
- Speedometer with drive cable
- Front floor mats to lend a dimension of style to the buggy (Optional)
- Ignition switch with all the nuts and bolts
- Taillights (Consider the extraction from the 1961 model and onwards.)
- License plate and Brake reservoir — only if it is in workable condition; opt for a change if otherwise.
- Motor, Switch, and the entire Windshield Wiper assembly (Confine to models of 1958 and onwards.)
- Rubber mounting strip accompanied with a 10 mm bolt used to maintain an element of integrity between the body of the car and the rear trailing arm.
Once you are done saving up the above-mentioned parts to further the assembly of the buggy, the body is ready to be unbolted from the chassis. You would then be left with a rollover chassis waiting to be worked upon at your discretion.
Removing the Body from the Chassis
- Abduct the cap from the gas gauge sender situated in the center of the unit.
- The four bolts and the washers that create the compressional integrity must be removed.
- Next, comes the fuel line. For this, disconnect the gauge wire, and prop the tank slightly; you will see a fuel line sitting there at the bottom. Disconnect the line as you spot it. While at it, release the tank from its position as well.
- The steering shaft must now be removed. You would locate it at the steering box.
- Disconnect the brake fluid supply line. You would find a line of wires passing through the grommet leading to the master cylinder.
- Continue the process by removing the steering column as a unit inclusive of the wheel, the shaft, and the switch.
- Now, this helps you release the speedometer cable. If you plan to install a fresh wiring harness for your buggy, you may act a tad harsh with the wires. However, if the old wiring harness is what you must use, exercise every caution possible. Take a hard look at things before you snip any wiring.
- The next would be to uninstall the seat. To do so, run the seat forward through the seat rails, which lets you remove the seat’s springs as well. This will also allow you to unbolt, and lift the rear seat cushion. Unbolt, also the fasteners that hold the body to the shock absorbers at the rear end of the body. Remove the throttle body, oil pressure switch, and the generator.
- You would now see an exposed chassis before you, ready to be reassembled into a buggy, however, only after the task of shortening the floor pan is completed.
Preparation to Shorten the Floor Pan
It would be an unethical jump if I skip explaining why the floor pan needs to be compressed to forward the procedure. The reason why the chassis must go through this procedure is to up the buggy’s off-road performance. For the buggy body to offer optimum ground clearance, the chassis ought to be shortened. Besides, the shortened chassis doles out efficient front suspension along with maintaining the vehicle’s structural integrity.
You will notice that even though the superstructure is off the chassis, there are certain parts — the front axle, the wheels, and the engine — that remain attached to the chassis floor. Depending on where you stand on the graph of your experience with automotive builds and the degree of comfort you share whilst handling the car, you may choose to detach the remaining parts from the chassis. Let’s get this straight: It won’t be much of an ordeal for you to shorten the chassis if these parts, too, are removed, unless you are an A-grader at staying patient. Besides, once they are off, you are able to refurbish them before using them for your buggy. Equipment required to accomplish the task are mentioned herein.
- Acetylene welding and cutting torch
- Electric grinder
- “C” clamps
- Flat Head Screw driver/Phillips Head Screw driver
- A 12” ruler
- Metal Sheet (4” x 14” out to out)
- Carpenter’s saw-horse (2)
- Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welder
- Axle stands and trolley jack
- A chisel and masking tape
- Self-tapping sheet fasteners (Pack of 100)
- The first step is the cleaning up of the tar-based, sound-deadening material from the rear of the floor pan. Hammer the tar with a chisel; an air chisel should serve you better. You may also use a putty knife to remove the tar-rich matter.
- The “T” fitting at the rear suspension fork must divorce the main brake line which goes through the former. The main brake line must be abducted to the front of the chassis; this maybe done by bending the tabs to facilitate a release. The tabs integrate the brake line to the floor pan of the chassis.
- The rubber grommet must also be removed; it is situated at the back of the floor pan. Following close is the process of dismantling the foot pedal along with the accelerator and clutch cables.
- The access cover at front and rear end must be reprieved.
- Through the access hole at the rear end of the tunnel, unbolt the set screw, which served to be the unification tool for the gear lever and the final drive.
- Coming to the gear lever, the two fasteners that hold the part must be removed; however, these components must be sided as they would be required for the build to proceed in the latent stages. Underneath the gear lever, is the shift guide plate consisting of a component called the reverse lock out. Its position inclines to where the passenger’s seat in the cab is located.
- The gear lever shift shaft tunnel must also be suspended from the front access cover and should be stored for future use.
- Uninstall the emergency brake lever and the cables associated with it, from the chassis.
- The battery must also be removed and kept aside to further the build.
- The heater control must be removed; however, there is no need for you to store the heater controls of/for the car.
Procedure to Shorten the Floor Pan
Optimizing the floor pan is a primal step in the process of building a dune buggy. The reason is simple. If the framework goes kaput, it is but a clear case of inviting a wrench in the works. This, perhaps is the step that stands at the top of the totem pole with regard to the conduction of the build. If you are not confident about doing it yourself, assign the task to an expert. It is no prestige issue if you cannot shorten the chassis. Without sounding dour, an expert’s advice would help you ride through the project with considerable ease.
Step 1: Support the frame with the help of a carpenter saw-horse, or car lift. This will facilitate the process of welding and cutting the frame in order to shorten it in accordance with the requirement of the dune buggy.
Step 2: The chassis is to be shortened 12” on center; this area of the floor pan carries the sound-proofing material, which must be removed. The tar is highly combustible, so ensure you are good at completing the task; better still, dial an expert.
Step 3: In the diagram given, the line that runs across the floor pan ½” behind the seat tracks must be considered. Score a line across the width of the floor pan.
Step 4: With a 12” ruler, you must make sure that the sides are true and square. Now, this ruler is supposed to help you lay down a second adjacent line across the floor pan of the chassis. How do you use it? You need to place the 12” ruler such that one end of it, superimposes the first line scribed ½” behind the seat runner track. The opposite end of the ruler now becomes your second starting point. Scribe a line across the chassis pan.
Step 5: To insure accuracy, use a metal sheet to cover the tunnel area of chassis. Measure the metal sheet to be 4” in width and 14” in length. Place it conforming to the curvatures of the tunnel. This, in entirety gives you the section that should be removed to shorten the chassis.
Step 6: Next, you will begin with the removal of the tunnel section. This is a principle step in the process of cropping the chassis by 12”. With an acetylene torch, cut the tunnel out of the frame by cutting it vertically over the surface area of the tunnel. The process should be repeated to operate over the base of the tunnel. This way you have successfully disjointed the tunnel section of the chassis.
Step 7: The part that ought to be discarded is now recognizable. Besides, there are tubes situated inside the tunnel; practice caution to avoid any contingency with regard to the broached concern.
Step 8: Guidepost: The section to be removed from the VW frame/chassis is 12”. Ensure accuracy in this regard. If you are a DIYer, or essentially a first-timer, not too confident of your skill set, do not, in no face of conjecture, cut the frame across to remove the tunnel section. If your hands wobble on site — perhaps, you break a sweat — have a mate look upon for support. Even better, dial a buggy guide to help see you through the procedure. If, however, you have decent experience at cutting, welding, and handling an acetylene torch, you may go ahead. Place the torch proximal to the line, but not on the line. This way you provide yourself a leeway to be “inaccurate,” if I may say so. Thereafter, filing up the edge of the lines will help you derive defined, sharper cuts.
Step 9: You don’t need the heater cable tubes any longer; do away with them. Now, through the rear access tunnel, you are to find the clutch and the throttle spot welded to the floor pan. The acetylene torch would help you cut the weld so that the clutch and the throttle tubes maybe loosened.
Step 10: These tubes will lead you to the emergency brake. Maintaining the adjoining plane with the frame, cut the tubes and remove them from their spot-welded condition. The emergency brake control must not display any disturbance or wear and tear.
Step 11: The 12” section can now be removed safely. The process would now mark the commencement of welding the floor pan back together. However, look carefully before you begin. Notice the edges of the floor pan. Are there any shavings, or chips remaining? If they are, hindrance while you are at work, certainly may not be entertained.
Step 12: This way you have two halves, which require a welded repositioning. For this process to wheel, you would require 2 carpenter’s saw-horse and jacks to support the raised section of the frame.
Step 13: The forthcoming task involves bringing together the two sections to be welded and repositioned.
Step 14: In the above-mentioned step, we had asked you to loosen the clutch and throttle tubes. Now, it’s time you pull/cut the wires out of the rear section of the floor pan. Out of the two, the clutch tubing is essential as it may aid in accommodating the clutch cable guide tube in the revised design of the chassis.
Step 15: Tack welds must now be implemented over the lateral exterior surface of the tunnel. The welding must begin at the lower rear end of the tunnel, alternating between the sides of the tunnel, being 6” on center.
Step 16 Besides, after the 12” section removal, the alignment should strike true and square. For this, a section/strip needs to be cut for the alignment to come through. A critical point here to be noted is the standard width of the rear section of the VW Beetle, which needs modification.
Step 17: The top and the bottom of the tunnel sections need considerable amount of heating to weld the whole of the edge of the top and the bottom of the tunnel, which would depict the seam fit of the two sections. Follow a certain procedure of welding to avert any probability of warping.
Step 18: The clutch cable guide must now be installed, however, only after soldering the clutch and the throttle tubing in through the rear access tunnel. With a hacksaw, settle the flexible clutch cable guide 1¾” posterior to the floor pan. Watch for another indicator of correctness: The clutch cable should be flush with the final drive mounting plate.
Step 19: The clutch cable guide needs to be shortened on the floor pan to avoid noise, or breakage of the cable due to preloaded transmission. The flexible clutch cable maybe wound with rope clamps. They are provided in the EMPI kit (Mentioned in the following sections). Place the looped cable ahead of the rear.
Step 20: Coming to the emergency brake cables; they, too, need to be shortened by 12”. The 12” ruler will come to play in this step by measuring it from one end of the emergency brake cable. You need to segment the cable into two with the help of acetylene torch. This makes the condition conducive to the union of the emergency brake cable and the EMPI threaded end. Make sure that the cables fused are valved to the bottom, besides being soldered through their length, in toto.
Step 21: Through the rear of the chassis, run the main brake line through a tunnel provided in the rear section of the chassis. The rubber fasteners that you kept aside for later use — now is the time to bring them to the fore. Reinstall them, and crimp the spare metal at a point where the tunnel steeps toward the bottom.
Step 22: Pay attention to the placement of the line. Avert the idea of suffocating it. All it does is invite kinks. Not good. It is out and open, inside the car. The line could remain snug if taped to the torsion bar. This prevents the wobble and the resultant disturbance caused due to the same. What the wobbling may probably do? Well, the line maybe subjected to friction and fraying, which may escalate to damaging the brakes of your car. And we don’t want this, do we?
Step 23: Installing a VW battery — 6 or 12 volt in the area provided in the rear section of the chassis is the next step to forward the procedure. You would see a built-in battery box where the battery needs to be docked. Drill holes considering these as the exit points of the lead and ground cables. As far as the battery box lid is considered, secure it with self-tapping sheet fasteners.
Step 24: The gear shift lever shaft tube must also be condensed by 12”. You have used a 12” ruler in the former steps, haven’t you? Use it here as well. The straight section of the tube must be marked, for the portion is to be sided. Considering the side of the tube, score a line along the side. Draw another line maintaining the distance and the range to discard the probability of any change when the halves of the shaft tube intersect. With a hacksaw, sever a 12” portion of the shaft tube. You may now weld the tube ensuring that the intersection is flush. Wind a safety wire around the screws where the sections of the tube connect. The tunnel meant for the gear shift lever displays two screws, which are a part of the adjustment profile of the lever. You see, when you maneuver the cover plate — when you slide it back and forth — you will notice a feature that lets you control the top and the bottom of the gear shift lever. This completes the process of shortening the chassis to make it conducive to the the buggy body profile.
Preparing the Chassis
- The chassis is to be prepared now. Cleaning up the chassis before installing the IMP body provides a new look to the car. Besides, buffing the chassis with paint may also revive its appearance.
- The front axle, transaxle, and engine must also be installed shortly after the cleaning and painting activity are completed.
- The rubber mounting strip needs to be wound to the frame; this is the strip you saved up while dismantling the VW Beetle. Besides, you need to modify the length of the strip, thereby shortening it by 12”.
- When the IMP body is mounted, bolts are to be loosened in order to remove and thereafter change shocks.
- Pay attention to the mechanics of the car. If you come across any defects, ensure you correct them there and then. Procrastination here, sadly is not the way out.
IMP Body Mounting Preparation
You may find the IMP body rough to a point of being scaly. Sanding the edges of the IMP body to smoothen the surface helps. On the undersides of the IMP body, apply a coat of paint albeit the installation of the VW floor pan. On an GK note, during times when buggies were taking on the motoring excitement, manufacturers primed the buggy shells with the color black for the builders to wheel their imagination, and choose the final color for the buggy to sport a signature look.
The Process of Mounting the IMP Body
- To mount the IMP body over the prepared chassis, you must use wedges between the body and the anterior ends of the seat rails. Wedges are also used to secure the between of the tunnel, and in the process sidle the body outward.
- At the rear of the tunnel, there is an access cover, which needs to be retracted. You are to find a clamp that holds a board located on the outsides of the access hole; you are supposed to remove the clamp and the board. This will push the body forward.
Note.–The body should be restricted up to the side rails. Do not push the body beyond the said point.
Fasteners and Tools
- Self-tapping screws (5/16” x 1¼”, large-headed)
- Self-tapping cap screws (¼”)
- Buggy Bolts (17mm)
- Inner Hex Bolts/Shoulder Bolts – (Pack of 6) (M5 x 10 mm Hexagon Flange head bolts) — (To install Steering wheel)
- Bolt Nut – (Pack of 8) (M8 X 20mm) and Washers (M8) – (To install front seat)
- Rubber fasteners/grommet (Measuring 1-7/8”)
- Roll pin (1/8” x1½”)
- Retaining nuts (Measuring 3/8”)
- Cap screws (Measuring 5/16”)
- Rectangular Washers
- Clamps (3” diameter)
- Saber Saw/Hole Saw (2” diameter)
- Protective Sheet (2 rolls)
- METRIC spanner & socket set (6 – 19mm)
- Socket (36mm)
- Drill equipped with HSS drill bits
EMPI-IMP Basic Kit (IDB-200), or EMPI-IMP Deluxe Kit (IDB-300) consist of the following accessories:
- Super Wide Sprint Star Wheels (SWW-461, 8” x 15”, 5-Lug Pattern)
- Super Wide Sprint Star Wheels (SWW-462, 10” x 15”, 5-Lug Pattern)
- Dual-traction Brake (SDT 250, plastic-coated handles)
- Bucket Seats (HFSX-300, Fiberglass build )
- Windshield Frame (IWS-510, without glass)
- Windshield Frame (IWSG-521, with glass)
- Roll Bar (IRB-387)
- Front Bumpers (IFB-482)
- Rear Bumpers (IRB-382)
- Skid Plates (IPL-372)
- Headlights (SHL-320)
- Taillights(ACLV-530, Chrome IMP Style)
- Front Turn Indicator Lights (ATIV-676, Chrome IMP Style)
The accessories undermentioned are not a part of the kit; however, they are required to build the buggy.
- Quick Release Gas Cap
- Support Brackets (1 – 1¼” tubing)
- Grant Steering Wheel (14¾” diameter, with spoke material being stainless steel)
- Steering wheel base
- Brake Reservoir (0.10 lbs) – (For VW models ranging from ’61 – ’66)
- Dashboard Support brace (1/2″ x 1/8″ steel bent)
Drill a 5/16” holes through the IMP body. Now, these holes are to be drilled above the original holes in the VW floor pan on the front and rear corners of the floor pan. Use the 5/16” x 1¼” large-headed, self-tapping screws along with the rectangular washers to provide adequate torsion and substantial compression.
Installation of Support Brackets
The universal-type support brackets are to be installed to build and retain integrity of the rear body of the IMP. The rear shock absorbers are attached to these support brackets, which may modified as per the requirement. To fasten the bracket with the shock absorber mounts use a shock bolt that threads from the outsides of the bracket. Ensure that the bolts are well compressed. They shouldn’t be overdriven, or underdriven. Thereafter, bend the support bracket to cover the rear end of the body. Align the bracket and check for its level and compatibility with the fasteners. If you find the brackets fit with coherence, drill holes through them to drive the bolts provided in the bolt provision kit.
The front/anterior body is also required to be supported with brackets. They have a Z-shaped profile, which needs to be mounted at the top of the axle beam. For the process of installation, drill a 5/16” hole through the beam and thread a 5/16” bolt through the hole. This readies the grounds for placing the gas tank. Now, the gas tank is to be placed in the anterior section of the body, precisely an opening, which is provided exclusively to install the gas tank in place. Place the hood/canopy over the tank. This installation, however, is temporary. All you have to do at present is earmark the position of the gas tank. Remove the hood, and displace the tank. Follow it up with drilling 5/16” holes for gas tank bolts. These holes should align with the hole in the anterior support bracket upper mounts. Use the rectangular washers for stronger traction. However, the gas tank mounting bolts should be driven completely only after the hood has been installed.
Mount the brake reservoir on the right side of the body wall. Know that the brake reservoir installed should be proximal to the body wall. The brake reservoir maybe mounted with the help of hose clamps measuring 3” in diameter. This step installs your brake reservoir, thereby completing the procedure with regard to mounting the body over the VW chassis.
Installing the Quick Release Gas Cap
The IMP ought to be considered as the foundation for deciding upon the placement of the quick release gas cap. Mark the center of the hood in order to base the next steps on it. Considering the higher half of the center line, center the gas cap over it. With the help of the gas cap’s diameter, draw a circle around its own base. Cut this circle out, either with a saber saw, or a hole saw (2” in diameter). If rough edges remain, you may use a drum sander to file the edges to insure a near-seamless fit of the gas cap and the opening created for it.
Working with the VW Gas Tank
The standard VW gas tank consists of a VW gas tank spout; now, this spout is what you must cut. With the gas tank and the hood positioned, the upper part of the hood, now, is eligible to be placed in the hole cut and sanded in the hood. Score through the gas cap with a marking tool, making the process of cutting easier. Displace the gas tank and the hood. Cut the hole marked with a tool in a gas tank. The posterior section of the gas cap must now be attached to the gas tank. Fill the gas tank with water, especially if there soldering or welding is involved. However, a sincere request would be to assign tasks of this ilk to authorities of the bailiwick. Your predicaments end best at their desk. The gas tank and the gas cap must be soldered; it may either be done by you, or the professional. Solder a circular steel patch to the VW gas spout opening. Retain the vent tube, where its outlet is on the side that is deemed “high” on the tank. A piece of hose maybe used to vent this outlet, which is thus meant to exit the body proximal to the shock absorber inclined to the right. The radiator hose connects the upper and the lower half of the gas cap. The upper portion of the gas cap may now be connected to the fiberglass hood. Self-tapping metal screws would help you fasten the attachment.
Installation of Dashboard Support Brace
To mount the dashboard brace of the car, spread a protective sheet below the hood-dashboard assembly as this would be placed upside down to facilitate working. For the installation to take place, the lower bar that connects to the hood-dash assembly should be removed before installation. After the bar is removed, the support brace maybe attached to the assembly. Once positioned, the brace will sit naturally; there are no adjustments to be made in this regard.
Instrumentation in Hood-Dashboard Assembly
- To position a speedometer in the dashboard, scribe a hole on the dash that accommodates the concavity of the edges of the speedometer. This should provide enough space for the ears of the speedometer to fit. The circle you scored must now be cut; however, for a neater cut out, drill holes on the perimeter of the circle; better still, a little within the scribed circle. So, if you are shaky while clipping the circle off, there is room to err. With a sander, you may file the rough bezel to get all of it right. This, by far, is the most flexible we may get!
- Ignition, windshield wiper, and the light switch may also be mounted with the wiring in place.
- Connect all the wires to complete the dash assembly. Along with it, attach the windshield wiper and the motor, basing it to the dashboard assembly.
- The wiring has to run through the steering column for the brake-light warning switch and the horn are to be mounted.
- The forward of the VW body, close to the shock absorbers on the left will have a self-tapping metal screw fastened to the shock absorbers in order to facilitate the horn installation.
The Front Turn Indicator Lights (ATIV-676) accompanied with Chrome Tail Lights (ACLV-530) must also be installed at this stage of the buggy setup. The lights are manufactured rugged, wild, yet elegant. They can stick out the outright abusive terrain, yet maintain the stylized mechanical components. Here is how you go about installing the lights.
Step 1. To begin with, remove the lens and the gasket. You would be able to locate one front indicator light below each of the two corresponding headlights. Mark the center, and drill 3/32” holes on the two horizontally opposite sides of the mark.
Step 2. Drill a hole in the center considering the mark as a guide. It should span a diameter of 17/32”. The hole that you drill in the center must not exceed nor recede the 17/32” diameter. Install the gasket supplied between the marker light and the fender. Self-tapping screws that fasten the lens should be placed at the bottom.
Step 3. The Chrome taillights are to be installed on a flat surface at the back of the buggy body. Position the rubber gasket, and over it, place the taillights. Thread self-tapping screws to fasten and retain the assembly.
Installation of the Hood-dashboard Assembly to the IMP
Now comes the stage, where you need to place the hood-dash assembly on the IMP body. Ensure that its assumed position is coherent with the assembly and the IMP body. Moving 2” behind to where the shock absorbers are positioned, drill four ¼” holes; they should be equidistant. This should be done on both sides of the shock absorbers. For the fastening, use ¼” self-tapping cap screws. It is better to drill one hole at a time and only then drive ¼” bolts along with washers for enhancing compression. This is essential as you would have an even foundation for the hood and the fender to integrate evenly. At this stage you only need to set the bolts in the socket created and not drive them to tightness. Install the fender welt in order to tighten the bolts. The welt after being placed must be trimmed at the front and extended to the rear of the body. As the final step in the setup, drill the 5/16” holes through the lower bezel of the dashboard support braces after the assembly of the hood and the dashboard is completed.
Steering Column Installation
- The steering column is fitted into the circle drilled into the dash. Make sure that the hole is positioned high to accommodate the steering column; this would provide a sustainable ground clearance.
- A small hole should be drilled in the forward body wall. The purpose of this hole is to accommodate the pilot rod through the hole in the dash and through the hole drilled in the IMP body.
- The steering box, you would notice, has 17 mm bolts hanging on it. By loosening the bolts, you would be able to align the pilot rod with the stub shaft of the steering box. When the alignment is secured, align and tighten the nuts. The hole should be accommodative of the rubber grommet as well.
- The column passes through the dashboard accommodating the hose clamp, the dashboard brace along with the 1-7/8” of rubber fasteners/grommet. The hole clamp is attached to the dashboard brace to support the steering column . As the steering column now passes through the forward body wall, connect the steering shaft to the coupler on the steering gear box. While you attach this shaft, keep the wheel facing forward and completely straight.
- Fix the steering wheel on the wheel base and fasten the assembly with the inner hex bolts recommended. After installation of the steering wheel drive, check to redress any discrepancy. If there are no issues, you may fasten the assembly. When tightening the bolts, please do not apply extra torque; more often than not, it leads to hub damage. Besides, if the retainer nut is fastened well, it has the potential to maintain grip on the wheel assembly to the steering shaft.
- Install the headlights SHL-230 and connect the wires for it to start functioning well.
- With the indicator lights in place, it is now time to run the wiring through the system for it to start functioning. Besides, the speedometer cable, too, should be installed. The driving end of the smaller one should be inserted in the hole drilled through the dashboard frame. Pass the speedometer cable through a hole in the forward body wall, and connect the same to the center of the left front wheel.
The windshield frame is designed tastefully for the builder to install. The frame is anodized promising longevity and sustenance. Here is some assistance provided for the armchair builder to install a windshield frame.
- Install the windshield frame over the hood-dashboard assembly in such a manner that the top of the windshield frame must be 62” from the top of the back seat rest. This 62” measurement has to be considered for a simple reason that the fiberglass and the canvas canopy fit well.
- Hold the windshield to these measurements as you scribe two holes on one side of the windshield. Remove the windshield from its position, and drill holes in the location planned.
- Place the windshield back to where its position with thorough measurements were decided. Attach screws to secure the windshield to the hood-dashboard assembly.
- For the other side of the dashboard, consider the fastened side as the guide for the other side to be fastened. Repeat the procedure of scribing, adjusting, and fastening of the windshield according to the measurement.
- Ensure that the IMP hood-dashboard assembly must have the windshield mounted at a height of 17”. This would aid the fiberglass top, fit perfectly.
- To fit the glass for the windshield, get in touch with an auto dealer, who you are confident, would do a good job.
- Inquire about the DOT-Approved (Department Of Transportation) Safety glass plate, which is to be used to complete the windshield of the car in order to conform to the State Safety Regulations.
Throttle Cable Modification
The throttle cable is to be shortened and must have a throttle cable end. While shortening the chassis, we came across the throttle cable through the cable guide tubes. To continue with the process of modifying the throttle cable, you must now install a throttle cable lock on the carburetor/front suspension throttle arm now this cable needs to pass through the VW throttle cable lock. The next step would be to sidle a 1/8” x1½” roll pin through the throttle pedal and about ¾” through the throttle cable lock. Snip the excess length of the cable followed by soldering it to the throttle cable. The new cable end may now be removed from the cable lock to be assembled with the return spring, split lock retainer, and the outer sheath. Ensure that the cable is working without the slightest hitch. Thus, this check must prompt you to start the motor.
Installation of Front Bumper
The front bumper promises protection to the approach of the buggy, besides adding oodles of finesse to the buggy. No ho-hum involved in installation; there is no welding required in the mounting process. The IMP bumper should be placed on the axle. Forward the process by adjusting the same in the center. There is a retaining bracket at the rear, which must be tightened with the 3/8” retaining nuts.
Installation of Tow Bar
Drill ½” holes in the front bumper retainer to attach the tow bar. When towing the IMP, make sure that the bolts to the front bumper are well driven, but not congested. The washers and the bolts should be coherent. If, however, you gather that you have overdriven the fasteners, ameliorate the condition, otherwise the front bumper and the tow bar would jam the smooth movement.
Installation of Rear Bumper and Skid Plate
Providing adequate security and protection to the exhaust pipes and barring damage when docking the buggy, is what a rear bumper serves to do for your vehicle. Constructed with exclusive and verifiable tubular steel, the IMP rear bumper is a must to keep the buggy’s rear unscathed. The engine mount extension is attached to the IMP rear bumper. You will find holes prepunched in the bumper brackets as a guide to drilling holes in the engine mount extension. Ensure that the holes are compatible with the 5/16” cap screws that need to be drilled through. To the engine mount extensions, attach bumper support braces.
The IMP skid plates are fabricated from rough-and-tough fiberglass, which provides strength and traction far better than steel. The IMP skid plate will attach to the frame and the IMP bumper. Attach the attachment bracket to the skid plate. As the bracket is in place, the skid plate has a degree of support with which the VW frame maybe fastened and secured. Ensure that you fasten the screws from the bottom up. Tighten these screws through the shift shaft access panel situated at the rear of the gearshift tunnel.
Installation of the Roll Bar
The roll bar is a strong tubing endowed with superior bar brackets to attach to the IMP body and the Volkswagen frame. Its sturdy mandrel-tubed built protects the driver and the codriver in the event of a rollover. The roll bar, while being installed, should be inclined toward the kick up of the rear seat. The roll bar must be driven into the floor pan after scribing the floor pan and drilling an appropriate hole for the fastener to be threaded well. Attach the roll bar side support brackets to the IMP body. A special mention must be made about the inclination of the roll bar as it is courtesy of the calculated inclination that the mini-top, Surrey, or the Landau top are able to canopy the dune buggy.
Installation of Dual-traction Brake
The dual-traction brakes are used on rough and grueling terrains allowing the driver to exert braking power to either of the two rear wheels. The braking power provided, suspends any event of the buggy getting jammed in mud. This feature allows the driver to apply optimum control over the buggy.
- To install the dual-traction brake, disconnect the emergency brake cable from the brake lever. This would help you displace the VW brake lever from the frame. This also allows you to remove the pivot pin.
- From this point, score a line of ¼” directed upward and 1½” forward. Drill a hole 9/32” in diameter to provide a pivot point for the dual traction brake levers.
- Get together two traction control levers to the emergency brake levers. For this purpose, use a ¼” cap screw. Fasten it only to a point of optimum compression. Follow this step with the reassembling of the VW emergency brake lever with traction-adjusting levers.
- The bracket hole of the emergency brake lever will now be introduced to the emergency brake control lever and secure it with the retaining bolts.
- To complete the procedure of formatting the dual-traction brake, align the retaining bolts without applying extra torque. Drive the nuts until tight, but not overtight. The interlocking nut must be attached to the emergency brake cable.
Installation of Bucket Seats
After the top has been corrected and installed, front seats that were removed while dismantling the VW beetle maybe slid back onto their tracks. You may also opt for bucket seats if you want to refurbish the seats. They are made of fiberglass in order to provide enhanced comfort and back support. These ready-to-install seats are equipped with a steel frame and upholstery. They maybe mounted over the seat rails directly. Fix the bucket seats on the seat support rail along with bolt nuts and washers meant for installing the seats.
The IMP Landau Top Installation
To capture the 1960s’ essence, make way to install the landau top for your buggy.
- To install the landau top, position it over the roof of the car, and sidle the front lip of the top into the windshield frame’s crevice.
- Center the top over the body and scribe through the holes in the L brackets — ones that hold the top to the body of the car.
- After the measurements are done, remove the top and drill the holes measuring ½” diameter.
- Fasten the well nuts in the 5 holes you have drilled. Tighten them to an extent where you can see them expanded. Also,as you tighten, you will see that the neoprene bushing of the well nut is compressed, leading to a lip formation at the outskirts of the bolt, thereby sealing the holes and isolates noise and dampens vibrations. It also helps absorb ambient moisture — a must-have feature, contributing to enhance the quality and longevity of the top. Once they are secured well into the fiberglass body, reinstall the top to the body.
- Attach the 2 brackets that retain the anterior of the top to the windshield frame.
There are, however, a few critical points that one must make note of.
- To begin with, check if the windshield is positioned correctly. Is the angle, the inclination according to what it ideally should be. Check for implementation of statistical data. Is the landau top’s height from the windshield frame extending up to 17”? Is the inclination of the top from the rear seat rests measuring 62”?
- Besides, a clarion fact would be to ensure the windshield is square and true with the rear of the buggy body.
- To detail the point just mentioned, the windshield with the steel plate glass will adjust the height; however, the inclination needs to be adjusted while installation. If you are unable to set the alignment, better wait, and garner an expert opinion. In this situation, do not mark the holes and secure the L-brackets until the matter has been resolved. A windshield that displays unequal heights on the two sides may affect the alignment of the top, with what one of the two sides of the top is found to be positioned lower than the other side.
- Check for the front lip alignment of the top. Here, you may need to grind a part of the front lip for it to engage the recess in the windshield.