From the Porsche-designed Kübelsitzwagen to the Baja Bug, the inception of which is generally attributed to Gary Emory of Parts Obsolete, VW has had a storied off-road carrier. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe '73 Bug resting on a Geo Tracker platform adds to that legacy, but is its price not just off road but off the chart?
Some of the better off-roaders are those vehicles that are able to spin all of their tires at the same time. It's questionable whether yesterday's twin-engine Corvair 95 Rampside could get both its fronts and backs barking in concert, and with a Narrow 56% Crack Pipe loss, it looks like the majority thinks its price is out of tune.
There's an old saying that goes clothes make the man which means that how you dress will affect the impression you project upon others. Today's candidate is at its heart a 1996 Geo Tracker, but instead of that trucklet's boxy and yet somewhat fashionable for its time body, it now sports the classic lines of VW's original People's Car. Of course, the last time the Japanese and Germans got this close things didn't work out so well for the rest of us. Hopefully this instance will prove different.
That Vee-Dub body shows little external evidence of the shift from rear- to front-engine, and years of inculcation by Baja Bugs make its chunky tires and raised ride height seem perfectly normal. It's a little less so however, when you start opening things up. In the front, where you'd normally expect to find the spare and perhaps the driver's legs, there's now a 16-valve Suzuki four. The ad claims that's a 1.9-litre, but the factory mill in ‘96 was a 96-horse 1.6, so probably that's what this one is. Or, maybe it's the 140-bhp 2-litre from a second generation Tracker? Either way, the Mercedes badge on the cam belt cover is a nice touch.
Behind the Suzuki engine is an equally Suzuki 5-speed, and that feeds power to a two-speed transfer case and then on to those chunky monkey tires. It appears that in addition to the drivetrain and frame, the Tracker gave up a good bit of its interior fixings including seats, airbagged steering wheel and instrument cluster which now resides under a jaunty checkerboard snood. Detracting from the overall ambiance a bit is the junior high woodshop caliber center console.
On the outside, the Super Beetle remains remarkably stock looking considering what it's packing under its skirt. The exhaust pipes even exit in the same stock position, on either side of a handy trailer hitch. Speaking of pipie, the only turd in this VW's punchbowl visually is the weird rear bumperettes which have been fashioned literally from iron plumber's pipe, including tees and caps. It's a bit of a kludge considering the rest of the work evident, including the car having a working heater and that Mercedes badge.
The seller is asking $7,500, which may seem too grand a request if for either the Geo Tracker or Super Beetle alone, but here you're getting both! Or, at least about 50% of each. Is that a fair price for this two for one deal? Or, does that put this off-road VW on the road to ruin?
H/T to John O for the hookup!
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