Wednesday, October 27, 2010


About 4 or 5 years ago I bought a dune buggy. I didn't know what I was getting in to. It had a few problems (I thought) and I figured I'd have it up and running by turning a couple screws. Boy, was I wrong. I found out to make it street legal in Indiana it needed a 2 page list of things, like bumpers, seat belts, emergency brakes, speedometer, roll bar, horn, turn signals, mirrors, etc....
I don't know anything about cars or motors or metal work. It made me sick to my stomach to think about it all. Fortunately my wife Mei knew Lee, a custom car guy who came to eat at her restaurant all the time.

Lee says these are called ghost flames. They show up and then disappear depending how the light hits them. The photos make this paint look purplish, but the color is more of a blood red in real life. First it got painted silver, and then it got a transparent red sprayed over the silver. Lee says that's called a candy color, and it changes tones as you move your head to view it. It's pretty danged cool.

The dash is tiny and there wasn't enough room to put the speedometer in there without it bumping your knees when you try to drive, so Lee put a scoop in the hood and mounted the speedometer outside on the hood. It's all waterproofed too.

There's a little cap just behind the speedometer to get to the fluids. Before, if you wanted to get to the fluids you'd just have to take off the car's entire shell. That would have been a nightmare.

It's not all that visible in this picture, but Lee put diamond plate on the running boards. Before they were just fiberglass, and people stepped on them so much they had cracked and were flapping loose. Now they have that on top and a metal skeleton underneath.

He also put a trunk lid on it. That way the engine is accessible without having to remove the entire shell. He made metal gallery walls too, but they aren't attached yet. When they're put on it, this will be like a little truck and I'll be able to haul small things back here.

This is a 1968 VW bug engine. Besides all the body work, Lee also had to get the motor working again. There were missing plugs and shorts and other strange problems.

Still a mess, but it's getting there.

That red thing in the center is an "AHH-OOO-Ga!" horn, and it's loud. He set it off and both Mei and I about peed in our pants.

This is the shifter knob. There's Mei in the background.

Behind the passenger's seat there's a lid.

You can open it to get to the battery. Again, it's nice knowing I won't have to remove the entire shell to get to something.
This is Lee holding up the grill he cut out to show me what it'll look like. Before it was just a solid closed in fiberglass panel. The air needs to be able to blow through to cool the oil or something. I can't remember what it cools. It wasn't the radiator since VWs don't have radiators. I believe it's the oil. You can see what it cools if you look back up 4 pictures. Whatever that is, that's what needs air.
Lee says there's still a lot more work to do on it, but it's shaping up very well. He said after this job he's retiring. It's killing me to wait for it to be finished. It was a big ol' mess when he started. He's worked miracles on it.


  1. wow! lee is one hell of a great guy! this is cool, always loved dune buggys. cant wait to see it finished

  2. KW: Lee looks like a good man to know. It's really looking boss so far.

  3. Knowing your tastes in entertainment Keith... I can see you (once Lee gets it up and running) cruising around E-town like Rat Fink or some other Big Daddy Roth character.... kewl!

  4. Brad, Mykal & R/E,

    Lee is a really nice guy. Because of this dune buggy I've become friends with him and his wife. Sometimes we go out to eat together.

    RE - This would be a nice prop in a horror host show. A friend and I have some thoughts on doing one.

  5. A man cannot have too many projects!!

    I'm not sure how you find the time to do all you do, but I'm glad you always, this blog truly inspires!

    This 'buggy should be a beaut!

  6. Well, I'm not doing the work on this project since I don't know anything about cars other than how to put gas in them. My friend Lee is doing this


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