VW buggy

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

VW buggies , generally buggies , are open recreational vehicles. They are particularly suitable for use in sand dunes .

They were the most common variant of so-called kit cars . They emerged in the USA in the early 1960s as beach vehicles of the hippie generation and disappeared at the end of the 1980s with the increasing demands of passive safety .

Reasons for the beetle base

The Beetle was a well-suited base vehicle for several reasons:

  • It was constructed from a central tubular frame with a base plate and a non-load-bearing body ("little house"). This enabled all types of superstructures to be put on after the body was removed.
  • The Beetle was inexpensive to get as a used or damaged car;
  • a Beetle is a very good vehicle for difficult terrain : The Beetle is one of the most off -road vehicles without all-wheel drive .


In the 1960s, in the fashion of the Beatles and the popularity of pop and Californian influenced Hippie -Lebensstils, buggies came on. The Californian Bruce Meyers is considered to be the inventor of the dune buggy. In 1964 he screwed the first plastic body he developed onto a shortened VW Beetle chassis. That was the hour of birth of the legendary Meyers-Manx-Buggy , whose distinctive shape was basically copied by all subsequent buggy builders.

By cutting off unneeded body parts and “ tuning ”, VW Beetles were turned into racing vehicles for the Baja California race , which led along the coast of the desert-like extension to the Mexican-Southern California peninsula of the same name.

From the beach vehicles of the hippies and some of the characteristics of the Baja racing cars, a busy renovation scene developed in Europe at the end of the 1960s. Many - mostly small - companies offered conversion kits, so-called kits for the kit cars , with which skilled mechanics could produce inexpensive fun and sports vehicles in many hours of conversion . The pioneer was the Hamburg company Rudolf Kühn KG , which launched the HAZ buggy in 1968, the first German buggy in a small series.

These conversions and kits were offered on several levels: from the cheapest version (approx. 3000 DM) for a bare plastic body without doors and windshield to half-assembled kits including the preparation for the shortened chassis for approx. 5000 to 7000 DM up to TÜV- approved new vehicles ready for road approval for well over DM 10,000 were enough.


The minimum ingredient of a Beetle conversion kit was the large plastic body, which was usually made of fiberglass-reinforced plastic using the hand lay-up process.

Typical accessories of a buggy are the very large wheels on the rear axle and often a performance-enhanced motor. In the US, one of the first and most successful types was Bruce Meyers' Manx . The Belgian company Apal became a pioneer in Europe .

The important distinguishing feature of buggies is whether the chassis has been shortened or whether the beetle base plate has remained unchanged. The shortened versions were more agile, lighter and more torsion-resistant. However, they claimed a skilled locksmith and welder who cut the base plate apart in the right places and put it back together again, shortened by approx. 27.5 to 39 centimeters. In Germany, the welder had to have the appropriate welding certificates so that the vehicle he was working on could receive a TÜV approval.

In addition to small tuning companies, well-respected companies soon devoted themselves to building buggies: at the body manufacturer Karmann in Osnabrück, in addition to the Beetle convertibles and the Karmann Ghia models, which VW sold itself, thousands of buggies from the magazine Gute Fahrt were also produced 1969 developed type Karmann GF on original Beetle chassis.

Picture gallery

The end

The production of kits mostly ended in the 1980s, when the legal regulations for accident prevention and vehicle type approval with crash tests and the like became more and more complex and made buggy construction more expensive or impossible. Building buggies yourself and convertibles in general went completely out of fashion. Until the early 1990s, used buggies led a shadowy existence in Cinderella in the yards of used car dealers. Nobody wanted these vehicles anymore - cold and drafty, as they were often in winter, with their unlined roofs and missing or often defective heating. (A "sensible" buggy should have a functioning auxiliary heater, otherwise the car will only be fun for a maximum of four summer months of the year.)

Today, ready-to-drive buggies from the 1960s and 1970s have become rare. The big Whitsun meetings of the European buggy community with more than 500 vehicles in the 1980s have turned into contemplative events with 100 to 150 buggies. In the meantime, you can no longer get new buggies approved in Germany even in the course of an individual acceptance. Occasionally, buggies from the 1970s and 1980s can still be found in the used car trade today, often in a somewhat "mixed" condition.


  • The buggy was also the model for the classic Darda toy car .
  • A red beach buggy with a yellow bonnet plays an important role in the Spencer & Hill film Zwei wie Pech und Schwefel .
  • In one scene in the film Thomas Crown is unbelievable , Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway make the beach unsafe in a dune buggy with the theme "Windmills of your mind".
  • The conversions of other vehicles or complete self-builds, such as B. by Jean-Louis Schlesser or the French company SMG are often referred to as buggy.
  • The vehicle types of the Dune Buggy and its relatives are still approved in Germany under the makeshift brand name "Kunststoff" and the manufacturer's key number 0950.

Web links

Commons : VW-Buggy  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Type classes plastic 2018. In: autoampel.de. Autoampel, 2017, accessed November 28, 2017 .