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November 19, 2019
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Building a Dune Buggy - The Essential Manual

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Building a Dune Buggy - The Essential Manual

By Paul Shakespeare
About the Author

Softback • 144 pages • 270mm tall x 207mm • 280 colour illustrations

ISBN: 9781904788737

£ 35.00 Postage + P&P (eBook prices vary, and delivery is free)

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There has been a huge resurgence of interest in Dune Buggies (Beach Buggies), kit cars based on the chassis and running gear of fatally corroded VW Beetles. Here is the complete step by step practical guide to the equipment and building techniques needed to build a Buggy, as well as sound guidance on the choice of donor car and new components. With this manual in your workshop, you can build any VW-based Dune Buggy avoiding all the common pitfalls and money sapping mistakes, and ending up with a superb, roadworthy multi-purpose vehicle.

Independent Reviews

Detailed and insightful.
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Reviews for the previous Editions

This new book is excellent. This book is invaluable to anyone thinking of building a buggy or maybe if you're in the middle of building one and struggling or merely wanting to know more ... this book is definitely a first port of call for help and advice.
Wheelspin magazine

With a stylish layout and 144 information packed pages, this really is The Essential Manual, as the subtitle says: a book that will give you the confidence to build your very own buggy.
Volks World magazine

In fact, contrary to what we expected, this is a very personal and entertainingly written effort. And if building a buggy is likely to be your next project, it’s also extremely useful. For prospective dune buggy builders everywhere, it’s well worth a look.
Classic Car Mart

I'm not planning on building a dune buggy, I don't even own a Volkswagen, but I still found this book fascinating. Part of it was down to the author's very engaging and witty writing style. Packed full of advice from someone who has built one step-by-step, you could quite easily read this from cover to cover and learn a great deal. If you're in the mood for a buggy you should certainly put it at the top of your buying list. I agree with the title – essential.
Classics Monthly

This book contains the complete step by step guide to the equipment required and the building techniques required to build a Dune Buggy. It covers everything from what to look for from a donor car to the final on-the-road vehicle. Chapter by chapter it leads you through the theory of a Buggy build and then puts this theory into practice. It advises you on floor-pan shortening, suspension, choosing and fitting the body to the pan, wiring, hydraulics etc. It even has a chapter covering the solving of problems that are not talked about! The book is well printed and it appears to me to be well written with numerous illustrations and line drawings which compliment the text.

Never having built or even considered building a Buggy I cannot say how accurate or otherwise the information contained is, but when reading the book it seemed very authorative. For some this book has a double edges sword. Why? Well for the person wanting to build a Buggy everything they need to know is here but for the Beetle devotee all they will see is the 'destruction' of their beloved Beetle as a donor vehicle for a Buggy.
Volkswagen Owners Club News

Paul Shakespeare, in 'Building a Dune Buggy – The Essential Manual', comes up with a step-by-step, practical guide to the equipment and building techniques required and warns of the many pitfalls to be encountered.

It's a mine of information about the likes of floorpan shortening, suspension modifications, hydraulics and wiring.
Western Morning News

Grease monkeys can build their own road-legal beach buggy with the help of this Veloce book. It covers everything you need to know to create a plastic-bodied VW-based kit car on your driveway. The guide starts with choosing the donor car (old-style Beetles are a favourite) and covers the usual pitfalls, as well as giving advice on fibreglass, electrical wiring and hydraulics along with many cost-saving tips.
The Times Online & Sunday Times

This book is absolutely superb. If you are building a buggy, thinking of building one or just want to know how much effort one takes, get this book.
Well done on a cracking read - worth double in terms of the time and hassle it is going to save me.

With the current interest in the 1960s and 1970s retro scene, there are now more dune buggies being built than ever before. Buggy enthusiast, Paul Shakespeare, has helped to fuel the fire with his new book ‘Building a Dune Buggy – the essential manual’, published by Veloce. At 144 pages, the book is a practical guide to the work involved in building a road-worthy VW-based fun car that avoids some of the common pitfalls and costly errors.

With a background in engineering, Shakespeare tackles the practical issues of safety and parts selection in a methodical manner that is also very personal and readable. There is even an introductory section on the lamination process used to produce a new buggy bodyshell. Though few builders will go as far as making their own buggy kit, it is a useful background to the glassfibre reinforced plastics process that creates all such bodyshells. More useful is the section on repair, offering useful tips for those unlucky enough to damage their kit!

Covering areas such as parts selection, preparation of surfaces and body removal, many of the book’s workshop processes are described in fairly lengthy text which, whilst comprehensive, might turn off the novice builder expecting a pictorial step-by-step guide in pictures and with shorter descriptions. The chapters on front and rear suspension modification are well detailed, though some pull-out boxes containing specific mechanical information would be helpful to separate it from the narrative. Chassis shortening is an area that receives full-treatment with plenty of illustrations and photographs to guide the newcomer. It also details a selection of different ways to cut-and-shut the VW chassis, which is good to see. For those building a long-wheelbase buggy, however, no information is given on the possible strengthening modifications that are possible to reinforce the chassis.

The suspension section covers the often bewildering options available to the buggy builder. Should I use a king and linkpin front suspension, or a ball-joint one? What about the differences between swing axle and Independent Rear Suspensions? These options are fully explored in both engineering and practical terms, and give some very useful insights into the realities of modifying the standard parts – not everything in the instruction kits of available aftermarket parts is as it seems! Again, there is useful information that requires teasing out of the text, and would do better grouped together in separate panels for easy reference.

With the availability of many other books on building and tuning the VW Beetle engine, Shakespeare has wisely given this area only a cursory glance, looking instead at what exhaust systems, oiling systems and engine electronics are available. Moving on to fitting the body, the book gives some sound practical advice, but sadly leaves the photographic sequence that necessarily covers this area until later on, within the ‘diary of a buggy build’ section. There must be plenty of suitable photographs for both sections, and this seems a missed opportunity when the reader is engaged and hungry to see pictorially what is involved here. The same is true of the ‘fitting the windshield’ section, which gets fuller coverage later on. Still, the section on wiring is better, but could still be expanded to show more comprehensive options of lighting equipment and instrumentation. For a novice looking for guidance, there was a lot left to the imagination with only cursory descriptions to help.

Perhaps the best section of the whole book is tucked away at the back, where a more detailed diary of a buggy build-up is undertaken. This brings together much of the most useful advice in a more logical and sequential pictorial format that a builder will be able to follow through. The double-page feature on a home-grown hydraulic clutch fabrication is interesting, but more than most builders will want to begin with on their first buggy. More space could have been devoted to practical issues like locating and fitting lights, mounting the steering column and seats. And what about designing and fitting wet-weather equipment? Unfortunately, this area is overlooked, as are the practical necessities of buggy registration and insurance.

Overall, the book contains a lot of very useful information and will be a great asset to the legions of builders who need helpful, first-hand advice when creating their buggies. It does miss some great opportunities to show the buggy building processes in a pictorial way, that a novice could easily follow through. It also omits completely some seemingly obvious information like a list of buggy kit suppliers and regional beach buggy clubs in the index. Hopefully, these omissions will be addressed in subsequent editions but, for now, this is a good starting point, but will need to be read in conjunction with other guides to provide the full picture of using a VW Beetle as the donor for these exciting fun cars.
James Hale


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