Homemade Sand Rail


 [Image: Sand Rail 1]

When I bought this in 1984, the sand rail frame had been made from thick-wall tubing and created by a professional welder. It had a 1500cc VW engine and was in running condition. It was strictly for off-road use, with no body, no windshield, and only one seat. I towed it home in a blizzard and had fun the next day in a foot of snow.


 [Image: Sand Rail 2]

I reworked and braced some of the frame, lowered the gas tank, and added another seat. I made the body from surplus aluminum sheet, and installed all the parts to make it street legal: safety-glass windshield, lights, turn signals, horn, mirrors, seatbelts, fenders (for certain city ordinances), windshield wiper, speedometer, etc.

I had to get a State Patrol inspection. I thought he would check the lights and safety equipment, but all he did was check the engine serial number to ensure it wasn't stolen. When I took it to a car dealership for an appraisal, the guy just laughed and asked me how much money I had in it. How else can you appraise something like this?


 [Image:  Sand Rail 3]

After it was licensed, finding insurance was huge challenge. For some reason, nobody wants to insure a car built from leftover junk by some backyard mechanic. I finally had to switch my other (real) car to another insurance company so they would insure this one.

It was a lot of fun off-road, with a center of gravity so low you could drive it sideways across an extremely steep hill and it wouldn't roll over. It could go almost anywhere, and I loved driving it to the top of a steep boulder field and pulling up beside guys with Jeeps. It took some of the wind from their sails.

It had some drawbacks. It was cold in anything but the warmest weather. It didn't have much power, and I couldn't afford to soup it up. It had two wheel drive, and sometimes I managed to get it into places where a come-along was needed to get it out. I finally sold it to a high school kid. I hope he survived.

Here are a few shots after I installed the ragtop.


 [Image:  Buggy 01]

 [Image:  Buggy 02]

 [Image:  Buggy 03]

 [Image:  Buggy 04]

I also played with a few other bugs. Here's a shot of my 1965 Baja Bug.

 [Image:  Baja Bug]