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