The story behind one of the wildest and toughest Beetle hybrids - The BAJA!

Where do they originate from?

While the VW purist would rather die than cut up the perfect shape of a classic VW Beetle, others, more into the modifying scene, arent content with the looks of a standard Beetle. Even the lowslung German lookers with wide wheels and big engine don't quite look scary enough. For these people, the word 'sacred' does not occur in their dictionary! Only one thing will suffice....the Baja bug.
The Baja look is given the name, because it imitates the Baja1000 off road race in Mexicali. This tough race took place in sandy desert-like terrain, and thus the competitors had to have cars that would take the fast pace and the rough ride --- the solution to this was the Baja.

What actually is a Baja?

The baja beetle was in a way, a cheaper, yet tougher and more practical alternative to the stylish beach buggies.
Instead of buying an entire fibreglass lightweight shell for a buggy, VW enthusiasts were cutting the back fenders of a stock beetle, slipping on some big offroad tyres, and heading for the tracks - and all for a few dollars. Well...nearly!
A baja bug is basically a normal stock beetle body, which has had its fenders replaced with glassfibre panels that are shorter and higher, in order to accomodate bigger wheels and tyres. The Baja look also requires the removal of the front and rear valences, and he replacing of them with glassfibre panels that give greater ground clearance and better engine accesability.



Creating your own - what are the key elements of the Baja look:
Theoretically speaking, the remake of a standard untouched Beetle into a Baja is a job which can be carried out by a knowledgeable VW enthusiast, given the right tools.
A suitable donor car is required, and basically any beetle will do unless it has the MacPherson strut front suspension which renders them a pig to convert into a Baja.
At the front of the car it is vital to fit a Baja bumper. This is generally attached to the front suspension unit, and this will protect you from those nasty trees and rocks that move infront of you when you arent looking. The same applies to the back. This is especially important to stop other cars damaging your engine, and also to stop prying hands burning themselves on the engine components. Some countries require by law a guard over the fan, and sometimes the exhaust. A vital accessory, if the law in your country allows it, is a set of ancillary lights mounted accross the roof. This will add to the hardcore look.
Next we come to the wheels. These can make or break your baja. The choice that you make should take into account the driving that you will be doing, whether it will be predominantly off or on-road. A set of skinny wheels and tyres could turn your track eating monster, into an undignified pansy. One thing to remember when choosing your big fat tyres, is that you will be effecting the gearing of your car by increasing the tyre size. It could also cause inaccuracies in your speedo reading in the case of the front tires.
The interior of the Baja is generally somewhere between a full on race look and an average street racer. Try to go for bucket seats, rollcage and a set of extra guages.
For those of us Vdubbers who live in the UK where we are blessed with excessive poor weather, the Baja could well be the answer to those longings for something a little different. If you have a Baja that you are particularly proud off, please send us in photos and info on your ride, and we'll enter it in with the rest of our Baja bug features.