Different Grey Vee
Posted on October 12 2018
Collective feature by Volksworld Magazine, words & photos by Paul Knight.
When Dave Racine spotted a cool, slammed Bug project that appeared to need only minimal work to complete, he jumped at the chance to snap up a bargain Beetle. Sadly, all that glitters is not gold, as Dave quickly learned once he started to dig a little deeper...
It all started with a fixation of old school Fords and modified rear wheel drive cars. Chatting with Dave Racine, a 52-year old catering equipment engineer from Hertfordshire, he explained, ‘I loved the old Fords however everything changed following a visit to Bug Jam around a decade ago’. Suddenly Dave realised that he needed to get more involved with the VW scene hence he began to visit more and more events and was soon knocking around with a bunch of like-minded VW meddlers! He continued, ‘I’m also heavily into classic BMX bikes, which seem to fit in well with the VWs, so it wasn’t long before I was hooked, and started bringing a few BMXs to shows’. His first few VWs were water-cooled Golf GTIs, followed by a Wizard van project, which he later sold his good friend (and serial VW hoarder), Jon Nelson. Next came a T25 double cab pickup, which was the perfect BMX hauler. This truck was later fitted with air ride and became quite a well-known vehicle on the UK VW scene as Dave often showed it alongside his bikes. However, after a few years of fun, Dave decided to part with the truck and perhaps look for as fresh air-cooled project to keep him busy.
Around 18 months ago Dave spotted what appeared to be a great little project listed online. It was rolling low but not running and looked great on a set of unusual BTR rims, so he immediately made the call and drove over to check it out. Dave commented, ‘I walked around it and immediately fell in love, so we worked out a deal and I arranged to pick it up a few days later’.
Keen to get the Bug on the road, Dave called on some friends to help check it out and run through a few teething problems he’d already spotted. He explained, ‘After we’d had a good look around it, I realised that my niggles list was looking more like an essay, so I made the decision to strip the car pretty much all the way back and start over’. This was a blow for Dave as it was going to consume both time and money, but it didn’t put him off as he opened his toolbox and got on with the job.
‘The first issue we had to deal with was the framehead of the chassis, which we ended up cutting off and replacing completely’, said Dave. While he was under the front he also took time out to overhaul the 10-inch narrowed Limebug front beam, which is fitted with dropped spindles and fully overhauled drum brakes. The rear end required some reworking too – it now features of a 2-in engine/transmission raise and a pair of pre-’64 short axles with adjustable spring plates, which have been fitted several splines lower than the originals. He commented, ‘the rear end had a tendency to bottom out hence it’s running a pair of air-shocks, which are operated by an compressor and tank beneath the bonnet and a Limebug pressure switch kit under the dashboard’. Those couple of inches of lift at the rear make the car a lot more usable around town and, as Dave likes to drive his cars as often as possible, that’s a major result!
The last job underneath was to fix the floors. The car had been modified in the past to remove the dropped floor sections at the rear but it needed a fair bit of tidying up to make things good. However, the ‘flat ’pan’ chassis does provide a fair amount of additional ground clearance, hence it was worth the effort to make things good.
As this car is a ’73 model, the body was originally fitted with Europa bumpers, however by swapping the rear valance for an earlier 1200-model panel and fitting matching wings (the fronts having had the wing-top indicators shaved), the car now looks a little cleaner with those blade bumpers fitted front and rear. Dave explained, ‘After the rear valance was swapped I decided to fit a ventless 1200 engine lid before replacing the doors with rust-free panels and having the whole car repainted’. It was the colour that had attracted Dave to the car some months earlier hence he decided to repaint it in the same hue (LY7C Audi Nardo grey).
It didn’t take long to reassemble the car and Dave was soon moving on to tackle the interior. The long-term plan is to retrim the seats and door panels in red leather but in the meantime, things have been tidied up and trimmed in black vinyl. The front bucket seats required fresh seat frames to be fabricated (due to the modified ‘flat’ floors) before Dave moved on to fit a Scat shifter and a Mountney steering wheel. He commented, ‘I chose to use a Bluetooth speaker rather than a conventional head unit, hence I just stream music from my phone – it sounds great!’.
As the project was purchased as a non-runner, Dave called on the help of some friends to source and build-up a suitable motor for the car. Based around a late, dual-relief car, the motor runs a stock 69mm crank and has been fitted with a set of 87mm Mahle barrels and pistons, resulting in a capacity of 1641cc. Other goodies include an Engle W100 camshaft, a tuckaway exhaust system, Bosch 009 distributor and a pair of 34ICT Weber carburettors. All in all, it’s a nippy street motor that has proved to be ultra-reliable and has returned plenty of smiles per gallon, too!
The last job was to buff up those cool BTR rims and bolt them to this lowriding looker. BTR (Built Tough Racing) rims are designed to be used on off-road vehicles and sand Buggies etc, but they also look great on a road car, and certainly make a change from the usual Fuchs or BRM replicas we see so often. These particular rims are designed for 5-bolt vehicles, hence they have been bolted to the hubs via a set of wheel adapters (with a 10-inch narrowed beam and short axles at the rear, there were no issues regarding offsets to worry about!). The fronts measure in at 4.5-in wide and are fitted with 145/65R15 tyres while the rears are 6.5-in with 175/55R15s stretched across them. The result is a unique set of rims, which really make this neat, budget-built Bug stand out from the crowd. Future plans include the aforementioned leather interior, a disc brake conversion and some air dampers for the front end, too. But, for now, Dave is just enjoying clocking up as many miles as he can in his neat street Bug!
Body: 1971 Beetle fitted with 1200 Standard model wings (front indicators relocated to the headlights and wing-top holes welded up) now fitted with blade bumpers. Doors replaced and vehicle repainted in LY7C Audi Nardo grey.
Chassis: Raised (flat) floor pans, engine and transmission raised by 2-in, framehead replaced.
Suspension: Front: 10-in narrowed beam with dropped spindles. Rear: Short axles, adjustable spring plates, air dampers.
Wheels & Tyres: BTR wheels – 4.5-in front with 145/65R15 and 6.5-in rear with 175/55R15s
Thanks to Paul at Bug Mad Customs, Jon Nelson, Chris (for storage at the pub!), Robert Pilgrim and the crew at Pilgrim Rides.
Special thanks to the good guys at Rye House Kart Raceway in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire. If you’d like to try karting, contact John Huff (Corporate & General Karting Manager… and long term VW guy!) on 01992 460895 – if you mention Volksworld magazine, John will organise a discount for your karting! www.rye-house.co.uk
This was a Cool Flo collaborative feature with Volksworld Magazine, celebrating our mutual dedication to the air-cooled VW scene! Special thanks to Paul Knight for his great work on this feature – you can find more of his work here via SS9Design.co.uk