View original topic: Total novice - '73 Baha build (<$10k)
cheaptat Tue Jan 19, 2021 10:31 pm

Hi beautiful people,

Firstly, I apologize, I'm sure there is a conglomeration of resources on here covering what I am asking - but I was having trouble making sense of much of it.

I am inheriting a '73 VW bug, same owner since it was new, all original parts, and it runs but isn't very reliable.

Here is my deal, I have access to a shop (including sandblasting and painting), I have access to a mechanic in training (has been restoring cars for ~2 years at a professional shop), and I have a good income (so can happily spend ~10k here if necessary).

I live in northern California and my current inclination is to build an off road baha bug. I know for example I can install new mounts and a subaru engine. However, I don't know what of the other seemingly million options is a good idea...

In short, I have a strong technical background but I'm totally new to cars and was told this was the place to come - answers and thoughts on any of the above or the following would be met with so much gratitude!

1) What are good kits for my price range? Should I use kits at all?
2) What should I definitely upgrade/change?
3) What should I be careful of?
4) What are good upgrades for the drive train, suspension, brakes, clearance, general ride?
5) I am very open to cool suggestions - I want to have fun!!

Cheers in advance!

P.S. I should add that I'd love to be able to race it at some point if that makes any difference

joemama Wed Jan 20, 2021 11:40 am

If the bug you are inheriting is in good shape, you might consider a Class 11 style bug. Do a search here for class 11, and you will find many examples. I have one my self, you can check out my build here
it does not require a body kit, but can be very capable.

cheaptat Wed Jan 20, 2021 12:06 pm

That does look very cool! Do you happen to know if the Class 11 bug would be easier to find amateur off road races for than the baha?

I've been finding that races are very picky about the build but I don't know enough. I'm based in California for what that's worth.

cbeck Wed Jan 20, 2021 5:03 pm

Start with a rule book for the organization you want to race in.

baja5 Wed Jan 20, 2021 6:08 pm

I may be the odd man out here but why not leave that car alone, if itís that clean of a car maybe donít cut it up and find one that is already chopped up and has some of what you are looking to do. I will tell you that a budget of 10k probably wonít build you a competitive car in any class. If you really want to race buying a used car already tagged may be a better option. Knowing the classes and what is allowed and needed is a good start so I like the idea of buying the rule book.

weasel_ugs Wed Jan 20, 2021 7:05 pm

I think the first thing we need to know is if its a Super Beetle?

dustymojave Wed Jan 20, 2021 7:40 pm

My 1st ?? for you is...
Where in California are you? Big place. And it will matter to where you go to race with which organization and where you get parts and fabrication work done or engine building or playing with your Bug or testing for racing or getting crew help .

I live in the Mojave Desert north of LA. I'm close to where MORE runs their offroad races, and the only annual SNORE event in California. And I'm hooked in with a team that raaces Class 11, Class 5/1600 Baja Bugs, 1-2?1600 buggies and Class 10. If you watch Blake Wilkey's channel on YouTube called "Shreddy Life" you can see his Class 11 and part of our team. We've long been associated with the Sletten Family who built much of Wilkey's Class 11 and race their own (note the "11 Brothers" graphic in the preview image for the video below - It's the Sletten family's race team and business near the Salton Sea). One of the cool things about desert offroad racing is that many of those involved will bust their butts to help out their competitors.

Here's some fun with Class 11 Bugs:

I would also build a Class 11 style Bug before cutting a reasonably straight body these days. There are LOTS of Baja Bugs languishing away in people's back yards unused and unloved.

One car that has inspired me since 1970 is this one that was on the cover of the original Bible for VW offroaders.

stevebaz Thu Jan 21, 2021 12:21 pm

dusty, thank you for posting that video very informative to what class 11 is all about. greatly appreciated.

Mal evolent Thu Jan 21, 2021 12:38 pm

one more vote for: don't hack a straight original, inert baja bugs are everywhere, with the fiberglass parts installed, for chump change

oprn Thu Jan 21, 2021 5:04 pm


Butchered Bugs abound!

westy Sat Jan 23, 2021 9:34 am

Mal evolent wrote: one more vote for: don't hack a straight original, inert baja bugs are everywhere, with the fiberglass parts installed, for chump change

.....cast my vote for this, too

Old VW's are no longer the cheap ride they use to be. People are coming from around the world, buying them from here and shipping them back to Germany and other countries.
What does this tell you?

Class 11 would be very nice, but please don't hack one.

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