Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe VW is nicknamed the Thunderbug. That’s due to its turbo T-bird motor, and not because of any sort of bowel reaction it induces. At two grand do you think it will sell as fast as lightning?
Driving a Baja Bug on the street is sort of like wearing short pants to a wedding, you kind of stick out- not for what’s there, but for what isn’t. The original is generally credited to have been created by Gary Emory - later of of the venerated Parts Obsolete Porsche palace - who had wanted to build a Meyers Manx dune buggy but couldn't scrape together enough cash to buy the kit.
What he instead did was to trade an old Suzuki motorbike for a down on its luck ’57 Type 1, and then proceeded to gut and cut the car until it was as light as possible, and able to roll on as big-assed tires as would fit.
That first Baja Bug inspired a generation of followers, that admiration even continues today. If you’d like to join them then you might just be interested in this 1966 Baja’d Bug, which interestingly packs something a little meatier out back than its original flat VW four.
Sitting out in the open between the truncated fiberglass fenders is a Ford 2.3 out of a 1988 Thunderbird Turbo Coupe. Now you may heard of these engines called by the city of their origin - Lima Ohio - but most also know it as the Pinto four.
Doing T-bird duty the turbocharged and intercooled edition of the 2,302-cc motor pumped out a healthy 190-bhp. That helped move a 3,000-plus pound T-bird move pretty well, so you can imagine what it must do here in an already lighter car that has had a lot of its extremities pared off.
Back in the seventies VW buff books were rife with ads for the pinto power conversion kits known as “Pinto Beans” so this isn’t all that weird or untoward a mashup. The radiator and fan on this one reside where the back seat once lived, as does the ECU and related mad woman’s hairdo of a wiring loom, so don't plan on this Baja for carpool duty.
It doesn’t look like that engine cooling arrangement offers much privacy to the driver and passenger, and one would imagine this isn’t a car for those with sensitive ears. But for those of you who are more than hardcore, this bad-ass Beetle has a pretty good Mad Max vibe going on. It also has a claimed 75K on the car, and 80K on the engine.
On the downside, the alternator is said to have crapped out, as has the 2nd gear synchro. The seller says he just jumps it from first to third and calls it a day. There are a bunch of new parts installed, including a battery, ignition parts, fuel pump and the aforementioned ECU.
Baja Bugs aren’t as popular today as they once were, perhaps owing to the much higher values assigned to stock Type 1s these days. They still have their fans, and if you think that this one - with its turbo Ford mill - would appeal to those fans, you now have to consider its $2,000 price tag.
What do you think about that price for this Pinto-powered Baja? Does that give this Thunderbug a thumbs up? Or, does that make you say Baja-humbug?
H/T to Ascrewball for the hookup!
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