Retrotechtacular: Build Your Own Dune Buggy, 1970s Style

The custom car phenomenon is as old as the second-hand car, yet somehow the decades which stick in the mind as their heyday are the 1960s and 1970s. If you didn’t have a dune buggy or a van with outrageously flared arches and an eye-hurting paint job you were nothing in those days — or at least that’s what those of us who were too young to possess such vehicles except as posters on our bedroom walls were led to believe. Periscope Films have put up a period guide from the early 1970s on how to build your own dune buggy, and can we just say it’s got us yearning to drive something just as outrageous?

Of course, auto salvage yards aren’t bursting with Beetles as donor cars in 2024, indeed the accident-damaged model used in the film would almost certainly now be lovingly restored instead of being torn apart to make a dune buggy. We’re taken through the process of stripping and shortening the Beetle floorpan, for which we’re thankful that in 2024 we have decent quality cutting disks, and watching the welder joining thin sheet metal with a stick welder gives us some serious respect for his skills.

Perhaps the part of this video most likely to raise a smile is how it portrays building a car as easy. Anyone who has ever hacked a car to pieces will tell you that’s the easy part, and it’s the building something from the pile of rusty parts which causes so many projects to fail. But given an accident damaged Beetle and a buggy kit in 1972 would we have dug in and given it a try? Of course!

We’ve touched on the Beetle’s hackability in the past, but some of us believe that the crown of most hackable car rests elsewhere.

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27 Litres And 12 Cylinders, With A Practical Station Wagon Body

If you were to name one of the most famous individual road cars in the world, what would it be? If you’re British and of a Certain Age, then it’s possible your nomination is for sale, because “The Beast”, the one-off creation of [John Dodd] using a 27-litre Rolls-Royce Merlin aero engine, is up for auction. The Late Brake Show’s [Jonny Smith] has given it a drive, and we’ve pasted the resulting video below the break.

A second-hand motor isn’t usual Hackaday fare, but it’s the manner of this car’s building which we think will draw you in. [John] originally acquired somebody’s failed project featuring not a Merlin but its de-tuned derivative intended for tanks. He solved the problem of finding a transmission able to handle the immense power, and built it up with a pretty 1970s coupe body. After a fire a few years later he commissioned a new body from a dragster manufacturer, which is the wildly period estate car you’ll see in the video. It famously originally had a Rolls-Royce Cars grille, for which he ended up in court in the 1980s as the carmaker sought successfully to have it removed.

The tale of this car is one of epic scale hackery, as there is quite simply nothing else like it. It was once the world’s most powerful road car, and remains capable of well over 200 miles per hour. Sadly we couldn’t afford to buy it even if we could fit its immense length in our parking space.

Hungry for more epic British car hackery? Have we got the roadster for you!

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Star Wars Car That Never Was: Obi-Shawn’s Custom Z-Wing

Star Wars never had cars. Sure, there was the Landspeeder, and the Speeder Bike, but both point to a lack of wheels a long time ago. So those who want to drive around a Star Wars craft are left to their own imagination to come up with one. This is exactly what [Obi-Shawn], aka [Shawn Crosby], did to build his Z-Wing.

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