Friday, July 13, 2007

A vague explanation of why...

Explanation of why I love dunebuggies. Ok, just some vague rambling with no definitive reason...


I have ALWAYS wanted to drive a dunebuggy. I remember the first time I saw the little filmclip of the Meyers Dunebuggy I wanted one. I had a 59 VW that a neighbor had chopped up. They removed the body and then cut it in half right in front of the back seat. This was a convertible so it created a nice little back-of-a-VW-couch kind of thing that could be lifted by three or four skinny teenagers.
The entire front end of the body was missing. I assume that the front end was what the neighbors were after when they chopped it up. It had a drivers seat, the entire chassis with an engine, no dashboard, hood, doors, or anything else. When you sat in the drivers seat the steering wheel rested in your lap. If we were going to give “the girls” rides we would load the back-seat-body combo over the engine and we had a chariot.
If we were going to the sandpits or just driving in the corral or fields, we would take off the back half and ave a lean mean bouncing machine. Without the weight or stiffness of a body and only a very skinny boy driving it, the chassis of a VW is VERY flexible. When you hit a bump it was like driving a bronco caterpillar. The only thing to hold on to was the steering wheel and that was only connected to a flexible piece of rubber that would allow you to assume a sitting, standing, or flying position while driving. Nobody EVER let go of that wheel, if they had, it probably could have been a little dangerous, but we hadn't thought that all the way through and this VW was the wacky part of my fleet of woods-rods.
I still have this image in my head of seeing a silouette of “Happy” (that was his name) going over the top edge of the sandpit and being able to balance on top of the steering wheel while it was vertical and the car wasn't. I don't know if we looked as silly and crazy when we were driving it, but I suspect we were. The gas pedal of the 50's vdubs wasn't a pedal but was a roller wheel. On a springy seat, with a steering wheel mounted on your lap, a frame that flexed like a trampoline, and custom no-resistance shock absorbers, accelleration was vrooooom, the frame flexed up, you sunk back in the seat, your foot lifted off the gas, the engine dropped to idle, the frame flexed with the center almost hitting the ground, the skinny kid lurches forward, the foot squishes the gas, the engine goes vroooom and the cycle is repeated. A bucking caterpillar. Amazing to watch. If you didn't want to do this, you had to be very gentle on the gas.
I loved that car. I sold or gave it to Hap, Chris, and Willy.


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