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Beetle Challenge racecar build Part 1

Posted by Jon Gilbert on 29 July, 2009

Mission: To build a competent racecar to compete in the BARC South Eastern Tin Top challenge. In just two months and with precisely zero experience of building a circuit racer. Oh and the basic car is 1972 swing axle Beetle!

  • Now this is not as foolish a choice as it may initially seem, for the following reasons:
  • :There is a class in the championship for T1 Volkswagens. Known as the Beetle challenge.
  • :The car is a wonderfully simple design with a chassis that, despite many an old wives tale to the contrary, can be made to handle well.
  • :The regulations allow for unlimited engine capacity, provided it has a VW T1/2 crankcase and is N/A on carbs. Suspension must remain torsion bar but brakes and roll bars are free.
  • :Aerodynamic aids are not permitted and all bodywork must remain steel. This is a considerable simplification of the regs, but gives a general idea of their intent.

They allow for a wide range of cars to be eligible, from former Beetle Cup cars (1600cc approx 100bhp), through to re-engineered drag strip refugees (2300cc+ 200bhp+). So the decision was taken to build a car to enter the championship and the first task was to find a suitable shell. Enter Steve Gosling, Volksworld magazines art editor, who just happened to own a very sound 1972 rolling Beetle shell. One trailer ride later and the car was located in my workshop and proving to be rather a gem, whilst tatty around the edges it required minimal welding with an already painted floor pan with no under seal to remove! A quick coat of paint and an attack with the grinder to remove excess bracketry and the pan was ready to be built up.

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