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Gary Martin’s Sidewinder

After selling my first built Buggy a MkII GP and losing interest in a Sandrail project, I found myself in the need to get my teeth into something else. So I decided to start collecting the parts I needed to get the build underway. Word soon got out that I was about to embark in the epic adventure of building another Buggy. I found myself every night searching through eBay to find any bargains, the numerous VW forums were checked daily for any bargains. Every show I attended across the country I was just looking at what looked like junk to most but I knew what I needed and knew what I wanted to pay.

Firstly I was offered a reasonable priced Sidewinder shell that was in very good shape. The next major find was a bare spine of a Bug that was Tax exempt, the pictures on eBay looked great but I wasn’t going to be lured in too much. As time past nobody was bidding on the spine and I won the auction for grand total of £26. Numerous other parts were all picked up at very reasonable prices. The biggest outlay on a pre-assembled part was the Rancho Freeway Flyer gearbox at £400 including all the axles and drums etc.

Now I had all the parts to get the build going I set to work stripping and restoring parts. I then had the Spine shortened and the chassis reinforced whilst in the process, I also had HD pans from VW Heritage, even these were eBay bargains as they were slightly dented in transit. Whilst the floor pan was being worked on I set to task on a roll cage design that gave the impression of being built through the Buggy bonnet, but I still needed the flexibility of the bonnet to be removable. I then came up with a clever sleeved fixing that would be hidden under the bonnet, I also had a steering column support bar incorporated into the roll cage. I then done a few deals with a good friend of mine to get the roll cage bent and welded up for me. The cage was tailored around me and the seating position I wanted.  It is set so that my head will not clash against the centre bars upon side impact. There is also a load bearing support underneath the rear seat position. This supports the roll cage and ties everything in to the rear shock mounts making the whole car very solid.

Once the cage and floor pan was completed and all welded up, I set to work prepping the chassis and suspension parts for primer and paint and I also started to think about colours. The shell I had was half Yellow and half Blue and not to my taste, I then had a new Shell made in British Racing Green and sent the roll bar away for powder coating. I chose old English White for the scheme. I had been watching a lot of pre war racing and it was a popular colour scheme amongst those cars of that era.

I then continued on with the build constantly looking out for the next bits I needed to keep the build going. I knew I was going to need seats so I took the plunge and ordered a set of seats from a Caterham 7, these were poor quality and this build was worthy of better seats than these. I then found a set of MX5 seats that had been covered in Cream Leather, so I bought these but when it came to fitting it was apparent these would too high when mounted, these also got sold on. Finally at Stoneleigh Kit Car Show I found Intatrim a small company based in Telford and they had what was perfect for my Buggy build, seats trimmed in whatever colour/material you wanted. A deal was struck and 6 weeks later they arrived, just in time as the build had moved on and I was almost at a standstill waiting for the seats to arrive. They fitted perfectly. The wiring loom was created from scratch and various different sensors had to be incorporated due to the use of an electronic speedometer Dual battery boxes were used to house all the electrics. LED lights front and rear caused the need for a motorcycle relay to be incorporated whilst sourcing this I also stumbled across a third brake light and number plate light from a bike too.

Finally the engine was offered into place, the engine was a unit with only 750 miles on it built originally for my first Buggy, it needed to have a good overhaul which it got and a good clean up too. It should give good power being a 1955cc with C95 Scat Cam and 1:1.25 Rockers and a set of new 44 IDF’s to complete it nicely.

I was making real progress and the finishing touches were fitting in nice, 2 inch peep mirrors, stainless interior mirror, Union Jacks fitted each side of the bonnet and fire extinguisher and washer bottle all fitted on to the roll cage. It was still missing a few bits. I then had a strange find at a Hot Rod meeting, an Octagon steering wheel, perfect and reasonably cheap too. Other touches include custom made harness pads and headlamp covers too.

The end was in sight and I decided to get an MOT booked up. On the day of the MOT diasaster struck and I found the steering was so vague I was too scared to drive it. After weeks of other commitments I finally stripped down the steering and realised the column wasn’t put back together correctly and that I hadn’t set the wheel to centre when aligning the wheels. I corrected this issue and arranged another MOT, this time I made it past the workshop gates but sadly not much further as problems struck again. I ended up towing it back as it had died I would not restart. What was the issue? I traced the issue and found it to be the electronic dizzy at fault, so a quick change and a second hand 009 and condenser was fitted, she fired into life but shortly after died, now I was confused. It turns out the condenser was now at fault so an SOS call went out and few mates to the rescue who offered me a replacement electronic module. Once this was fitted all was good to go, however I had missed my MOT slot. No problems I thought I get it the next weekend. However as the weeks went past interest was lost as most the time it was raining. It stood ready to go for months awaiting MOT, almost 5 months past until the sun shone on a day I was at a loose end and the MOT station was open. It passed with flying colours. Now where has that sun gone again?

1967 Sidewinder Buggy

1955cc Type 1 Engine
C95 Camshaft
44 IDF Weber Carbs
Ceramic Coated Merged Exhaust with S/Steel Spark arrester
Rancho Freeway Flyer
6 x14 Revoloution Wheels Front and 7 x 15 Rears
Electronic Dash board
Custom Made Seats
Custom Made Roll Cage