as best as we can remember…
196x – We do not have an exact date but, sometime in the early sixties someone imported a Meyers MANX Fiberglass Dune Buggy kit and installed it onto a 1958 Volkswagen chassis.
1967 – Vera and James Sommerville purchased the abandon buggy from our neighbour’s son that had blown the engine. Dad (James Sommerville) a mechanic by trade salvaged a used engine from the wreckers and soon our family of six was cruising.
1970 to 72 – This was the learning years for my brothers and I, to start driving. While in a driver training event for the Daytona 500, with a neighbour at the wheel, we had a crash. A large industrial garbage bin was on course to put a stop to our training, in a hurry! The mishap drove the front left wheel back 11 inches and the fender and headlight assembly in a million pieces. The frame and fender was repaired but the original red metal flake paint was gone forever. Gradually the road driven buggy was turning into a field buggy that was continually assaulted by myself and my brothers perfecting our power shifting technique and aeronautical maneuvers. In the winter months we would have to defrost the intake manifold to get the buggy running and then push it through the snowy field to make a track to continue our driver training.
1973 to 1974 – I was reaching sixteen and would need wheels to go with my license. Arrangements were made with Mom and Dad to rebuild the buggy and make it road worthy. The chassis was rusted out, and the damage from the accident took its toll on the original 1958 pan, so we went scouting out a used beetle to transform. Dad and I found a 1964 that would replace the old 58 chassis. So I purchased my first car for $200 bucks and then started to strip it down. Dad helped me cut the frame down and put it back together. The body was installed and Dad completed the wiring. (Note: with a few curse words in German and claims it could be done in his sleep) I guess you had to be there? Well with it running again and the thought of cruising, I blew-up the original 1300 cc engine test running it up and down the driveway. It was replaced with a 1500 cc and a lesson learned about engines sitting idle and keeping the RPM down.
1975 to 1977 – The newly transformed buggy was ready to cruise me through my high school years. Yeah but, not without a few minor mishaps along the way; the buggy was rear ended twice while cruising the King St. strip in Kitchener. One 1500 cc engine was replaced with a 1974; 1600 cc engine with dual intake manifolds and two complete paint jobs when the 4 into 1 header crashed through the left rear fender.
1978 – Repairs to the gas tank had to be completed and the wiring system was over hauled. Things were a little messy from adding tacks, eight track stereos, speakers and cassette desks.
1978 to 1982 – Uneventful for the dune buggy but for me NOT! I met my beautiful wife, got married, had a son and bought a house. We moved in December of 1982 and the buggy was parked until 1988, due to the lack of funds to complete the numerous repairs.
1988 – Throughout the six years in hibernation it was considered to sell the buggy and I had a couple of offers that we thankfully declined. Due to my employer closing the facility and leaving me with a severance check, we had some extra funds. Negotiating a plan with my wife, I got the buggy back on the road and she got a new bathroom. The first task was to see if the engine would run from sitting the past years dormant. I was amazed when all it took was a new battery, some fuel and a used fuel pump. Then to get it licensed for the road, we replaced all four wheel cylinders, the master cylinder and a set of brake shoes. The floor panels needed patching and my first ride was back on the road.
1989 – The addition this year was chrome rims and two slabs of rubber for the rear wheel. Note: Compliments of my lovely wife and donating her bingo winnings.
1991 – Cruising through 1990, we were introduced and attended our first Volkswagen Show, hosted by the K-W & Area Bug Club. This is when I was bitten by the show bug (no pun intended).
1992 – This was the beginning of the long, painful (to the pocket book only) process of upgrading our buggy to show quality. Upgrades included the following:
- A rear Baja bumper
- The right and left complete floor panels were replaced
- A license plate light was installed on the Baja bumper and all the wiring was routed through the steel tubing.
- Baby Dellorto Dual Carburetors were installed
This is where I have to plead insanity …….. Chrome engine shroud and air baffles were purchased along with a Mega Dual Exhaust system. Miscellaneous detailing parts from my main source of buggy parts Fisher Buggies in Tampa, Florida. Part of our annual vacation to Florida included a day trip to Fisher Buggies, an event on the same magnitude as a day at Walt Disney or Universal Studios. Since the engine was out, it was an opportune time to replace the slipping clutch and pressure plate with a Kennedy 1700 lbs. system from RTR Stephens Machining.
(As a side note these guys were also great to deal with, I had some problems remembering that I had a 1974 1600 cc engine mounted on a 1964 swing axle transmission running a 6 volt starter and flywheel on a converted 12 volt system)
The only item that really needed some attention was a .009 distributor, so since I had the engine out….. After many hours in the garage we were ready for the summer of 92. The only major problem we encountered was a broken nose cone and transmission mount. Damn that clutch worked nice, too nice.
1993 – Minor detailing parts were installed on the engine and wheels. I blew the budget in 1992 and funds were a little low.
1994 – This year the buggy had a major face-lift, it started off with fixing up the loose 1964 front end and finally ending with a complete paint job. The plan was to disassemble the beam, loosen off the suspension and replace the link & kingpins. It was soon discovered that the shock towers were rusted out and needed a little more attention than primer and paint. Next the gas tank was rotted and shocks were leaking, so the front end became a much larger project than expected. Once we decided to start the project the parts were ordered and the hood, windshield, and dash were taken apart.
1995 – 2013 – Enjoying my ride and check‘in out the shows (oh yeah and some minor modification and updates details to follow later)
2014 – custom seats from PRP Seats and many, many thanks to Robyn that helped make it happen. I am so happy 🙂 and would strongly recommend them for any project that you need a set on customs seats. They can provide a number of seat combinations that will fit any installation.
Kudos to Robyn for great customer service; we were vacationing in Florida and Robyn arranged to have the seats manufactured and shipped to our location from California to Florida saving me over $150.00 bucks in shipping and duty costs.