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Motor Sport—Californian Style

In the late 1950s inventive American motor fanatics created an inexpensive, exhilarating new pastime for themselves—sand-dune racing. Lightweight beach buggies were constructed for the races using the remains of crash-damaged Volkswagen Beetles and a simple glassfibre conversion kit. It was back-to-basics, off-road fun, and four-wheel drive was not required.


Rowdy power from tuned VW engines, and fat tyres on extra-wide wheels, were all that was needed to power up sand dunes and fly through the warm air on the other side. Creating a “Baja Bug” was an even more cost-effective way to enjoy the desert wilderness of the Baja peninsula on the Californian coast in the late 1960s. The front and rear metal panels of the VW Beetle were cut away, exposing the engine to air and creating an efficient cooling system. The minimum of lightweight plastic body panels were added to accommodate the broad, soft tyres, essential for bouncing over soft sand. Plus, the radically modified yet road-legal little car would look pretty cool on the highway after a day spent thrashing the dunes.

A Volkswagen “Baja Bug” tackles the desert sands of Baja California in October 1972, its huge tyres enabling it to cut through the sand with ease.


It is a quote. The Classic Car Book – The Definitive Visual History 2016

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