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By Chris J 3849 Date 2013-11-05 03:26
Hello all.  I am very new to the dune buggy world and I'm on the hunt for my first buggy.  I am in NC and looking for a short wheelbase buggy based on the Manx style or even an early Allison.

I know where there is an Allison for sale in the original gelcoat, but it is in need of total restoration.  Everything is there including original seats.  Floor pans would need replaced.  I would basically replace all lights/chrome.  It would need brakes I'm sure and wheel and tires.  It is a titled NC pan with an IRS transaxle.  Single port engine of unknown description.  The engine is stuck, but it does have bugspray carb and 009 distributor.  I'm hoping it could be an old school 1641 with bumpy cam that just needs and tear down and build up.  That is probably wishful thinking though.  The seller is asking $2500.  Is this in line for an Allison?  I would love to have the project completed for $5k-6k, but I'm not sure that is doable starting this high.  Also note that the buggy would pretty much have to be painted, so the original gel coat would be pretty moot.

Would I be better served to wait on a running project from someone else?  Any leads someone can recommend?  Any help is appreciated.
By Jeffrey P 655 Date 2013-11-05 17:03

You have done a good start in your analysis. You have identified a project, identified the needs, and identified a budget. Thats WAY ahead of the curve.

So now you need to look at what you can do and what you must farm out. Can you rebuild the motor? Can you weld? Can you do simple fabrication? Are you comfortable running brake lines, installing new brakes, doing the wiring? Or will you have to farm all that out?

And the body....good gelcoat or bad gelcoat? Any body repairs to be made? Will it need paint? Can you do that or will you farm it out?

And you want a project that you can say "I built it" or do you want to drive a buggy? A $5000-$6000 budget can buy a pretty nicely built and running buggy.
By Chris J 3849 Date 2013-11-05 21:55
I am more than comfortable for basic fab work and this will not be my first restoration. I am not a great welder but my dad is. That being said I may farm out the floor pan replacement  I feel comfortable doing basic body work but would let my painter do the majority of the finish sanding and painting. there is one small crack on the flat front fender that should be easy to glass  I have no problem bolting on things like a new fuel system or brake system but I would have to send any internal engine/trans work out for repair. I am very particular about the style I like so even a nice buggy would get it's share of tweaks if not done right  I would also do all the electrical myself. I've toyed with the idea of just buying a Berrien body and a beetle and going to town. But something about a factory manufactured buggy appeals to me. I appreciate the thoughts so far.
By Chris J 3849 Date 2013-11-05 23:16
Also, will the original gel coat on the car make it any easier to repaint?  I am wanting to do a color change, but I have heard horror stories of shops charging $4k to paint a dune buggy.  And I figure the graphics on an Allison will only make it worse.  I would be looking to paint it in blue and white metalflake.  Changing from gold/black.
By Jeffrey P 655 Date 2013-11-06 02:51
Well if you are going to farm out the metal work, the paint work, and the engine work you will have  a very very hard time coming in at your $3500 restoration budget.

And, without seeing the buggy and understanding what you seem to like, I think you will likely need to add rims/tires, steering, interior, gauges, suspension rebuild, and fuel syetm replacement.
By ManxBug Date 2013-11-06 03:00
I'm not positive but I doubt a 1641 would have single port heads.
By andrew s 1965 Date 2013-11-06 04:04
I have an Allison's and both are for sale
I have the one I am working on now and have not listed it because I kind of wanted to finish it
I have 5/6 k into it maybe but would part with it for 4500
My silver one is for sale  asking 11 k or best reasonable offer.
We are keeping the yellow DMCO getaway buggy
only reason selling anything is because we bought a 1929 model A Roadster hotrod a few weeks back and have just too many toys..
If you have any interest let me know
Good luck on your search
By Brad H 1498 Date 2013-11-06 16:44
I've seen a few S/P 1641s. I built one. It was my first "performance" motor. If the engine is just water seized in the top end, you might get away cheap, but if it seized while running, kiss most of your budget good-bye for that repair alone. And same with the tranny. you might find a good one cheap if the one in there is compromised, but if you have to get a new one or repair yours you're looking at an easy $650. I know Allisons have a following, but $2500 for a seized non runner in need of resto seems kind of high for me. I'd start at $1500 and stand firm, or walk away. I'd also consider Andy's car. You'll be MUCH further ahead buying a runner that has just been gone through. Plus then you'll have some cash to personalise the car the way you want instead of buying things it needs.

By Chris J 3849 Date 2013-11-06 23:28
First off let me say thank you to everyone who has responded so far. This place is great. I am hoping that the engine would only be water seized as I know this is fairly common. But really no way to know without tearing some things down.

Andy I had looked at your build and seen your silver buggy around. They are both extremely nice buggies. I am pretty set on a manx style or the early more rounded hood Allisons.

I've seen a few colors I like on buggies but I would probably like to stick with a red or blue or silver or black. Pretty particular about my style which is one reason why I think try to start with an unrestored buggy and make it mine. I can buy the buggy I mentioned for $2 without a title. But that just opens a whole other can of worms.

Would anyone recommend starting at a beetle and buying a Berrien body? Or even Berrien body and chassis and donor bug?
By Brad H 1498 Date 2013-11-07 00:54
I would not hesitate to start with a  berrien chassis. They look very well built and if you aren't a good fabricator it will save you a lot of headaches. Shortening a pan is no easy task and if done poorly will make for an unsafe car. I'd also go for the Berrien floor that fits their bodies and chassis. If it didn't bulge out at the rear like a stock pan I would get one myself and make my body a true tub.

By Paul G Date 2013-11-07 01:23
I wanted to add a little to the chassis issue. There are state legal issues to consider. In my state the older buggies are legally considered to be VW Beetles because old rules for "special motor vehicles" considered a kit cars built on the "chassis of a recognized manufacturer" to be that car. That means the equipment requirements are those required for the year of the Bug it is based on. That means the legal title says it is a "Beetle."

Registering a "new" kit car may involve different equipment requirements. That should be considered when selecting what frame to use. At the very least, you will need an inspection to put a VIN number on an aftermarket frame (and/or vehicle, location depends on state requirements.)

Since I have an old title I don't have to have seat belts, reverse lights, or 4 way flashers (and a few other things.) Plus I'm eligible for "Antique" plates, allowing my to run a YOM (year of manufacture) "WASH 63" plate. I would weld a lot of new steel replacement parts into my frame before I would replace it or tamper with the stamped in VIN.
By Chris J 3849 Date 2013-11-09 02:03
Hey guys.  I've taken a critical look at my plans after hearing from you all.  I'm still on the hunt haha.  I have located a buggy in east TN that I may go and look at tomorrow.  It is supposed to a 1968 right titled beetle.  I know this is probably a silly question, but how can I tell the difference between an IRS and swing axle by just looking?  I know the IRS is supposed to be the way to go in a buggy.  Is the buggy in the picture IRS?  I've always thought the swing axles were the ones with the rear tires cambered way in and this one looks to be pretty straight up and down. 

Also, what problems should I look for right off the bat?  I've always heard to judge an engine based on grabbing the crank pulley and "yanking" to check end play.  Is this accurate?  What else should I know?  The engine is supposedly a 1600 DP mostly stock with 90 hp and less than 500 miles.  Obviously that power number is suspect so I am a little leery already.  Any help is appreciated.

Attachment: 00e0e_694SlzJSGA0_600x450.jpg (41.5k)
By Michael T 1299 Date 2013-11-09 03:11
I see a swing axle in the attached picture. Extreme camber angles in a swing axle result from running it extra low (negative camber) or extra high (positive camber). It is very possible to have zero camber with a swing axle with the car sitting unloaded. The attached picture show pretty close to zero camber. Pile 2 people in it and it will settle into slight negative camber angle.

If you are looking for ultimate handling sure go with IRS. For casual street day to day driving I wouldn't let a swing axle in good condition keep me from buying a buggy.

Mike T
By Jeffrey P 655 Date 2013-11-09 03:48
IRS will have a joint near the wheel and a joint at the tranny on each side. Swings will just have a joint at the tranny.

Yes...90 hp is highly suspect for a 1600cc motor.

For end play you can grab the pull and push and pull. It should barely barely move. And real movement suggest an imminent rebuild. Also look for the normal stuff like leaks, smoke, and listen for excessive noise in the valvetrain.
By ManxBug Date 2013-11-09 15:09
IRS will have CV Axles (in the rear) like a modern front wheel drive car does in the front. These will spin with the wheels.
Swing will have a solid axle tube and you won't be able to see the enclosed axle spin with the wheels.
By Chris J 3849 Date 2013-11-11 03:40
You have all been good to respond so I will share where I am at. I am still looking. Going to continue searching for a buggy like I want but in reality I am probably going to look for a beetle to build my own. Decided I'm not going to compromise on what I want just to get it sooner. Looking for a 69 and up beetle (non-super).  I will try to get it running as is just to prove out the engine and transaxle. Then after a while sell the body and shorten the pan. Then I'll buy a new berrien body and side pods in red metal flake. Probably use Manx polished SS roll bar and chrome bumpers. Sidewinder exhaust probably. Have the suspension way lowered and likely go with a 1641 and Engle 110. Smaller dual carb setup and it should be a really fun little buggy.
By Paul Moran (DBA Architect) Date 2013-11-11 15:06 Edited 2013-11-11 15:34
Could I interest you in a new, red metal flake Imp with side pods instead of a Berrien? Paul...

Edit: I understand you're looking for a Manx or Allison style buggy, but figured I would throw the idea out anyways. I'd love an excuse to buy 10 lbs of red metal flake. Also, Dave at Berrien wouldn't spray metal flake. I'm not sure if the new owners of the models are open to spraying metal flake or not.
Chicago, IL
EMPI Imp 1002 ('69)/Subaru EJ20 Turbo/LinkPlus ECU
By Chris J 3849 Date 2013-11-21 02:01
Ok. Major update here: I have located and agreed to purchase a 1970 Beetle. Car is complete and road ready. 1970. I am a little perplexed by a point though: the engine is supposed to be a single port 1600. The car is supposed to be 1970. The engine code is AE. Looking up the AE code it looks like the engine should be 1971 which could be late 1970. But the code looks like it should be dual port....any insight?
By Brad H 1498 Date 2013-11-21 03:45
Is it a dual port intake and doghouse style oil cooler? Engines rarely remained factory after 40 years so finding an AE engine in a 1970 is no big beal. In fact it's a great upgrade. A better oiling system better heads and a stronger case to start with if you want to build a bigger engine. You done good......If someone has used the Ae case to build a single port you still have a good case to start with.

By Chris J 3849 Date 2013-11-21 16:56
98% sure it is a single port. VIN on title matches VIN on dash. Should I be paranoid enough to look under the seat at the pan? He got the title notarized so I am going to get it this afternoon! Super stoked.
By Jeffrey P 655 Date 2013-11-21 17:14
By Chris J 3849 Date 2013-11-21 22:45
Truck and trailer hooked up. Pics will follow!
By Chris J 3849 Date 2013-11-22 04:03
Well I have a mixed update. The bug is home and I tool it off the trailer and I've been down the road and back.  I knew it had a really bad exhaust leak and kind of sputtered. I thought the engine sounded ok and ran ok when I purchased the car. When I first tried to crank it at home I apparently flooded the fool out of the engine and I had to pull the plugs and blow them off. Only ome of the plugs was really very wet though. The car cranked up pretty easily after that. The plugs do look like they have been in there a while. I'm sure that it could stand some new plugs. Running down the road the engine definitely has a miss in it and it definitely does not like to "lug" at low rpm. I should also mentiom here that the seller had just put on an electronic distributor and claims that he rough timed the engine and that it could use some tuning. My dad however thinks he hears something amiss in the valvetrain. I kinda thought all vws just had a sewing machine rattle but he is convinced I have bigger problems. I do know after having it on concrete that the beetle leaks quite a bit. A 15 min period produces a puddle the size of your palm on the shop floor. At this point I am a little sick. I was just calling around about insurance this morning and hoping I could drive it back and forth to work with minimal effort but now I'm not so sure. Anyone in the Piedmont NC area who would want to have a listen to a beetle and give a prognosis? I am hoping to find a VW to seek wisdom. Thanks for listening to the rant. Small pic to tide us all over.
By Chris J 3849 Date 2013-11-23 02:04
Bad news: 3 out of 4 cylinders have 125 psi compression. The front drivers cylinder (#3) has 45 psi. Any thoughts? I did the test by just pulling the plug and installing the comp. tester. I didn't unhook the distributor or mess with the carb. Did I do everything right? What should I expect when/if I drop the engine? Bad jug? Rings/bearings/seals?  Could it possibly be valve adjustment? Any good articles on adjusting valves?
By ManxBug Date 2013-11-23 04:51
I would definitely try a valve adjustment first. It's super simple.

If you do need to rebuild the engine, I was able to build mine with this book.
Previous Next Up Topic Public / General Discussion / Need some advice (20926 hits)

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