Back in early May, 1969, I (Dave Ahl) bought a well-used VW bug from Al Kuehn, my boss at Market Science Associates, with the idea of turning it into a dune buggy. I had done a fair amount of engine work in my teen years, but this was my first major project. I got a neat book by mail, "Building Your VW-Based Dune Buggy" that was actually 98 pages of typed instructions and photos self-published by Peter Ezzell and John Quan in San Diego. First step: remove the old body. The book says, "while four men can handle the body, it is heavy and cumbersome, and the best way to remove it is..." Well, I didn't have four men available, so my friend, Dave Schmidt, and I proved that two determined men could actually do the job.
Since the engine had thrown a rod and was seized up and I had never seen a VW engine before, I got the book, "Fix Your Volkswagen" and by following the instructions managed to rebuild the engine. I got the cranksahft reground at a local machine shop in Pittsburgh, but other than that, did all the work on the floor of my musty garage.
I won't bore you with everything that had to be done, but modifying and decambering the rear suspension was a major job. A couple of aftermarket parts companies made adjustable spring arm sets but they were expensive. For about half the price of new arms, I could have gone to a shop that had one of those special protractors for making precise suspension changes. But instead I opted for the cost-free but time-consuming method that the authors simply called "trial and error." It consisted of 13 laborous steps that had to be done over and over until you got a negative camber angle of 2 degrees under load and hard cornering. Yikes!
After that, fitting the new body, installing the controls, making up wiring harnesses, and putting the whole thing together was a piece of cake (on a relative basis). Start to finish, working evenings and weekends (except for time off to go water skiing), the whole project took about two months. Not bad, eh?
Several months after putting up this web page, who should stumble upon it but John Quan, the author of the book I used. Here are John's comments:
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