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Roger Slim’s Buggy

Why would someone that really appreciates genuine original cars of any age and description and hate with a passion the molested ones go out and buy a VW based Beach Buggy? Well we did but there was a reason which seemed a bit out of left field at first, understanding though we’ve never been ones for doing ‘normal’.
After owning and caring for a number of VW’s over the years including a much loved Concours 1303S Big Beetle and various Campers we finally left the Marque and headed off into other German manufacturers territory, as well as taking our camping experience to another level by getting a larger Motorhome (The Bus) rather than our beloved Bilbo’s T4 + Caravan. No more thoughts about VW’s then for about 7 years until one day I decided we needed to visit more places where the now even larger Motorhome (Big Bus) wouldn’t go. Thinking aloud my dearest wife and full time person in charge, Carol, happened to overhear my words (and she sometimes hears my thoughts).
‘Get a car’ says she
‘Got two already’ says me
‘No get one light enough to tow behind the Bus’ she replies
‘Get a Beetle and you can tinker with it in the winter months’ she adds
‘Beetle too heavy’ I said
And the rest is why I ended up on Ebay looking for a VW Beach Buggy.
It’s amazing what is out there for sale when you start looking in earnest, but after viewing the first two we realized there were Beach Buggies out there somewhere and there were plastic bodies resembling Beach Buggies perched on top of a tired Beetle Chassis. The latter only needing Sat Nav directions to the nearest skip to complete their life cycle! It’s said you only get what you pay for in this world or maybe one man’s junk is another’s treasure but I am picky and need things correct so instantly the task became almost impossible for a while. There was also a limit to what we could afford for what was really a big boys toy and I didn’t have the time or inclination to build one.
Ebay came to the rescue in the form of a Black Buggy, with Rainbow Sparkle Gelcoat, pink interior, and covered approximately 350miles since being built. On paper it appeared to tick all the boxes so a weekend break to Tewkesbury in the Bus incorporating a day trip into the Forest of Dean to inspect the said Buggy before the Auction ended gave us more information about the car.
It was being sold by the chap who had built it, an engineer by trade who had taken 6 patient years, working in his mother’s enormous garage, to turn it from a crashed scrap Orange (Clementine?) 1970 Standard 1300 Beetle into what our eyes beheld. It was up for sale due to unforeseen house move costs. So the Buggy had to go. Our first question on seeing it was ‘Why pink interior?’ We were told the ladies of the household, wife and two daughters, were given free reign on that one. More on that later.
The decision was left to me whether the Buggy was suitable and understandably at the time I was not sure about the colour of the interior, however I was more than impressed with the level of care and the attention to detail of the entire build so decided to overlook the pink, after all it’s only a colour and it made me smile! Little did we know then how much the colour of the interior was going to play a part in owning the Buggy.  A bid was placed on our return home and we won it for £500 less than my maximum bid so we were happy apart from the thought of driving a roofless car of unknown reliability 130 miles back home on a slightly wet September day. Apart from doing a full 360 degree spin without incident on a wet roundabout all went well and the Buggy took up residence in the carpeted and heated garage pushing Carol’s Mini out into the cold.
The full story of the build by the engineer was the Beetle Chassis stripped down to the basic central backbone, shortened and rebuilt with new shortened floorpans then a new lowered front beam and lowered rear suspension finished the Chassis. The 1300 single port engine was stripped and rebuilt with maximum size 1300 pistons and the gearbox stripped and overhauled too. The whole of the rolling chassis including engine and gearbox cleaned and painted in Bordeaux Violet (Dark Pink). Everything that wasn’t rebuilt was replaced with new items and receipts to prove it.
The fibreglass body was a Sidewinder with a rear seat with seatbelts and a small boot or compartment behind. The body was Black with children’s glitter in the Gelcoat to make it shine rainbow colours when the sun hit it. The Sidewinder appears to be one of the stronger Buggy Shells around according to our Yacht Surveyor son-in-law who knows more about fibreglass construction than anyone needs to and it appears quite Buggy builder friendly.
The interior as already mentioned was upholstered in Pink Vinyl with Purple piping using the very comfortable reclaimed front seats from an XR2 (some kind of sporty Ford thing) and a custom made rear seat. We had full wet weather gear made by Classic Car Services of Thurmaston, Leicester, who made a superb job considering they only had the car and no other pattern to work to. The material used was Everflex as used on Rolls Royce Vinyl roofs along with all stainless steel fixings.
A trip to the local weighbridge saw it weighing in at 550kg, a most suitable and almost imperceptible weight to be towed (Toad get it?) behind 3.8tonne and 184bhp of Motorhome. The why’s and wherefore’s of towing a car rather than a caravan I’ll not go into except to say I have my reasons and it only accompanies us on 30% of our wanderings. It costs around £100 annually to insure fully comprehensive, is £45 to MoT and is Road Tax Exempt. It’s probably still worth what we paid so no big depreciation losses therefore quite a cheap boys toy to run and enjoy. So far it’s been towed from home in Leicestershire to all parts of the South and South West from Seaford near Brighton to St Agnes in Cornwall including the Isle of Wight. The towing connection is a removable braked A-frame attached to a custom made bracket on the front chassis with a cable connection to the footbrake pedal. In the five years of ownership it’s covered a total of 4500 miles, mainly trouble free.
Oh and the pink is still with us, maybe because all the ladies just love it or it’s what everyone sees first, while the chaps go looking at the oily bits at the back muttering something about the pink interior the ladies go all silly and want their photo taken next to it. If I had £1 for every photo that’s been taken of it then I’d be halfway to recovering the purchase price. Children always call it the Boobies car because of the sticker on the rear and declare that’s the car they want when they grow up. When questioned as to why we like it I always say it’s two 50+ year olds putting two fingers up at the world and probably it’s one of the greenest cars on the planet. Why? Because it’s a fully recycled Beetle!