The traditional recipe for Baja Bug was simplicity plus rugged capability covered in a patina of grungy purposefulness. With today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe '66 Bug, you can probably add faster than a scalded cat to the ingredient list.
Whoa, there's a new bar in town, and they're serving up free pitchers of haterade. At least that's the way it seemed yesterday as the poor 2005 Chevy SSR not only drove home with a 78% Crack Pipe loss, but also leaving a trail of projectile vomit courtesy of the collective commentariat. Bile-raising as it might have been, there were still a few who felt the flagellation unjustified and raced to its defense. Those racers should stick around because today we have a candidate that's named after an actual race!
The Baja 1000 has traditionally been the racing equivalent of the climactic chase scene from The Road Warrior. Cobbled together and presenting a rough-hewn charm, this 1966 Beetle has been "Baja'd" and would easily fit into either the Mexican race, or Mel Gibson movie.
Typically, Baja Bug engine modifications include snorkel exhausts and massive dust-fighting air-filters, but usually they're appended to the Beetle's air-cooled flat four. The builder of this Bug has taken a Do-the-Dew, X-Games, atomic wedgie approach to modifying the mechanicals, and has replaced the type 1 four with a turbocharged V6 out of a Nissan 300ZX.
Um, yeah, that was my first response as well.
The '85 VG30ET put out 200-bhp back when it was leader of the pack. Here doing followup duty it's plagued with a claimed leaking head gasket. That'll lower the output and shorten the engine's lifespan, but not to worry, there's an extra motor thrown into the deal here. Backing up the turbo-6 is a three-rib bus tranny and a short-shift kit to keep your elbow from banging into the turning brake handle immediately aft of the shifter. That's right, this Bug has turning brakes. Sandrailicious! Outside, there's the stereotypical flappy-fendered Baja bodywork, modded to include a happy face grille opening for the radiator in between deep-set siamese cat's-eye headlights. Side guards keep both the cacti and the paparazzi at bay, and up top the Pep Boys sunroof makes for an emergency escape hatch should that river turn out to be deeper than you expected.
Inside, you've got a pair of MR2 seats up front, and sand rail buckets in back. Ensuring that you'll never travel alone, the side panel has been replaced with a diamond plate trucker's date, and there's more diamonds on the doors, even if not on the soles of your shoes. The dash is a plank of old beer cans, and there's even a multi-disk CD changer cobbled up underneath. Cosseting the interior like a cold metal python is a roll cage, and the whole space has the comfortable aura of a post-party frat house.
The seller doesn't say whether the fetching aloha shirt will be thrown in with the deal, but he does offer a butt-load of extra parts in addition to the aforementioned extra Nissan mill. There's fenders galore, and enough tires that you could go as Bibendum next Halloween. The seller says it hasn't been run in a while, but he has a clear title, and as you'd expect anything located in Portland OR to be moldy, that shouldn't put you off.
Overall the Bug has not only the requisite patina of purpose you'd demand of a proper Baja conversion, but also the deliberate scabbiness that demonstrates a disregard for societal conventions like decorum or personal hygiene. Despite that, it likely has an inner beauty that will express itself the first time you drop the hammer on it.
And how much cash would you have to drop to plop you butt in that MR2 seat and fire up that Nissan six? Well, while this car obviously is the result of a lot of work and many trips to the Pick-A-Part (at $2 a pop!), the seller seems to have made a complete disconnect between investment and return, as he's asking $3,500 for it.
So, you may have to bring a truck to cart home all the extra crap that comes with this Bug, but even with all that stuff is its price a good deal? Do you think this Baja'd beetle is a tasty morsel for that $3,500? Or, do you find that price a recipe for failure?
Help me out with NPOCP. Click here to send a me a tip, and remember to include your commenter handle.