You’ve seen some great dune buggies on the beach lately, and you’ve decided that owning and driving a dune buggy looks great. So you want to build a dune buggy because you’re good with your hands and want to save some money.
Before you do anything though, you need to know where you want to be driving your buggy, and what you need it to do. Basically there are 3 places that dune buggies are driven, and each requires a different build.
Firstly is the road. Yes you can drive a dune buggy on the road. But of course it needs to be street legal, and doesn’t need many of the things that other dune buggies can have, like 4 wheel drive.
There are some very good fiberglass street legal buggies that look great, and these are usually based on a vw frame and body and built up from there.
Then there’s the classic place for dune buggies, the dunes. Sand driving is probably about the most fun that you can have in a buggy, but it needs a buggy with specific characteristics. For example very light, with a good power to weight ratio. Huge sand tires on the rear, and small smooth tires on the front. Front brakes not necessary, but good quality rear brakes.
Then there’s the off road buggy designed for the dirt. Steep hills perhaps, mud and trails. They need a stronger frame and roll cage because a rollover can be more severe, (ie hitting a tree for example), The tires are different, front brakes are much more important, and the frame needs to be stronger. The driving surface you’ll be on will be rougher and will require better suspension, longer travel and mud and dirt tires.
So if you’re intending to build your own dune buggy, then you need to work out your exact requirements first. Frame, motor, tires, suspension, brakes, roll cage, body, if you want one.
So is it hard to build your own buggY? Well of course that all depends on your level of skill. If you’ve spent a lifetime repairing cars, restoring cars and rebuilding cars, for example, then you might be well placed to build your own buggy. However if you haven’t done much work with cars before then yes, building a dune buggy isn’t easy. It takes skills, it takes money and it takes time, and be prepared for many hours of frustration.
My first recommendation if you thinking of building your own dune buggy for the first time? Buy a dune buggy kit or at the very least some high quality dune buggy plans to work from. Now a kit doesn’t provide everything you need. You’ll need to supply your own motor, for example, but it does supply you with some of the basics that are hard to build yourself. For example if you’re wanting a figerglass buggy the fiberglass body isn’t easy to make at home, so you can get a kit with a good body already supplied.
But my number one recommendation if you’re thinking of building your own dune buggy for the first time? Don’t. Not unless you’re supremely confident in your own skills. It isn’t easy, and usually takes way longer than you imagined it could, and costs more, and while you’re slaving in the garage trying to build your buggy everyone else is out there on the dunes cutting it up.
There are some very good places where you can find yourself a great dune buggy for sale (or even a good dune buggy kit) at a very good price. Usually much cheaper than you could build one for yourself.
So grab yourself a second hand buggy, learn all you can about it first, learn all you can about building a dune buggy for yourself and, if you really want to, build your second buggy once you know what you’re in for. At least you’ve got your first one there to drive when you get tired of building.