As Ford’s Model A was to post war hot rodders, so was the VW Beetle platform to inveterate backyard car builders in the ’70s. In fact, if it rolled on 4 wheels – and sometimes only 3 – more than likely a replica could be had in fiberglass that would somehow fit on the German people’s car’s flat pan. I have this book I picked up years ago, a book that dates back to those heady days of disco and DIY car building. It’s called Automotive Self Expression, The Kit Car Phenomenon, and if you’ve ever dreamt of your own GT40 or Chaparral, Bugatti, or hell, Moon Rover, then it’s probably contained in this book, and most likely powered by a 53-hp aircooled flat four.
For years I wanted to build my own kit car, I harbored fantasies about both MGTD replica and Jamaican II sportster. In the end, I never followed through with either, an end result that probably leaves me un-scared by either fiberglass hacksaw over-cuts or electrical gremlin hunting. But still, there’s that gnawing thought that, just maybe, it could have been great.
That’s because so many of the kit cars – especially those based on the uber flexible VW platform – looked so awesome. There was the Bradley GT with its smoked Lexan gullwings, the Porsche 907-aping Kelmark, or the Sterling, whose entire top section lifted up for access to its thin, uncomfortable, but oh so cool seats. The Triad, by SIE was a real oddity – it rode, like so many others, on a VW frame, but its styling was a dead ripoff of Datsun’s 240Z. That is, it was with the exception of the nose which was like some MIT electric car concept, all squared-off and grille-less. As a final bit of weirdness, an optional rear cap could be purchased that looked like a C3 Corvette, right down to a set of four Chevy taillights. Sadly, I’ve never seen a Triad in the Flesh, er Fiberglass.
BUt what about you? Do you have a favorite VW-based kit car that haunts your dreams, and perhaps clouds your lungs with fiberglass dust and the smell of ocherous burnt wiring harness? These days it’s less likely to find a VW-sourced kit, but they’re still out there. And fiberglass ages but doesn’t return to its base elements quite the way steel does, so every once in a while an old one turns up, all faded and full of leaves and mouse turds. Would such a find stir your loins and potentially start you clearing out a space in the garage? If so, which one would you wish it to be?
Image source: [vwkitcars.com]