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November 18, 2018, 07:39:40 AM

Dave DND and my Hustler GT

This is a discussion for the topic Dave DND and my Hustler GT on the board Members Buggies.

Author Topic: Dave DND and my Hustler GT  (Read 155448 times)

this user is offline Dave DND

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on: February 20, 2013, 08:55:16 PM
Just before I relocated down to the coast back in 2004, a couple of my good friends John and Matt made one of those rare Barn Finds, and managed to uncover a wreck of what was once a Beach Buggy, and as I was to be moving a mere few hundred yards from the beach, I was told over the phone that I ought to take it with me. This all sounded really good untill they showed me the pile of rust and chunks of fibreglass that had been sitting around and decaying for many, many years, and after some lengthy research towards obtaining those all important registration documents, it got me thinking: This could probably be one of the most ambitious projects that I could undertake - to build an entire car from scratch. As this was to be a pure plaything, timescale was not important, so what you see here is an ongoing project that I have spent a few hours on here and there as time has allowed.

Hustler GT

The Hustler GT is one of the few Beach Buggies that was produced in the UK between 1970 and 1972 by a company called Essex Proto Conversions. Only around 50 of them were ever built and there are only a handfull that have survived, making this quite a rare vehicle in the Beach Buggy world. One of its admirers was Diana, Princess of Wales, who owned a 1971 registered version.

The Chassis

This particular car started its life as a 1966 Volkswagen Beetle, and back in the early 70`s, somebody decided to unbolt the VW bodyshell to reveal a chassis similar to this. I say similar, because what is not so obvious to those outside of the Buggy fraternity, is that the chassis has then been cut in half, shortened by 12 inches, and then welded back together.



2 Cars Welded Together !

But instead of using the 1966 rear half of the chassis, it was decided to junk this and weld on the rear chassis section of a much later car instead. Unlike the earlier versions, some of the later Beetles had a preferred independant rear suspension setup that would give much better off road capability.

A true cut and shut job !!

« Last Edit: March 09, 2013, 10:46:16 AM by Dave DND »
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this user is offline Dave DND

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Reply #1 on: February 20, 2013, 09:00:20 PM
Rolling Chassis
And it will not have escaped your attention, that every single nut and bolt has been removed, cleaned and restored to make this rolling chassis in a far better condition now than it ever was when it left the factory all those years ago.

Thankfully Beetle spares are still plentifull and relatively inexpensive to obtain.




Taking Shape
Amongst the parts I had, was a very heavy (and very bent) roll cage, but I decided to initially fit it along with the steering column so that I could at least start to see where things were going to line up.

I also managed to salvage a pair of seats from a Porsche 944 that was being broken.




10 Years in a field
I was told about a 1300 engine that had been sitting in a field for 10 years, and although most would have run away from something as rusty as this, what you need to bear in mind was that it was the third engine I had tried, and this initially looked in far better condition than the other two !!

It just about turned over by hand, looked to be complete, and more importantly, it was full of oil and not orange rusty water




And get it going I did!
I can`t say it was the easiest engine I have ever coaxed into life, but there were enough rusty spares from the other two engines to be able to roughly cobble something together to see if it would run. But I had not envisaged just how noisy those exhausts were going to be.

With the engine in place, my tubular framed vehicle was now starting to take on a whole new look.

MAD MAX - Eat Your Heart Out !!

« Last Edit: March 09, 2013, 10:47:49 AM by Dave DND »
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Reply #2 on: February 20, 2013, 09:03:40 PM
So this is an update into how it used to be, the first time you restored it. This could be a long one, because isn't it now going through it's second restoration?
Remember happiness is a way of travel, not a destination!


this user is offline Dave DND

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Reply #3 on: February 20, 2013, 09:10:48 PM
Yep, (bursting into song)

Lets start from the very beginning, as its a very good place to start

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Reply #4 on: February 20, 2013, 10:50:10 PM
Smashed to pieces
The bodyshell, shown here upside down, was in a terrible state, and had been broken and split in just about every direction. The shell was virtually rebuilt using many layers of fiberglass matting and lots of resin

The side pods are from a different vehicle, but I decided to attatch them to give the bodyshell back some of its missing strength down the sides.











Gel Coat
Once the fibreglass had cured, a couple of layers of Gel Coat were liberally applied. This is very similar to a mixture of coloured bodyfiller and resin, and although it went on very lumpy with the brush, it can be sanded back and polished to give a very smooth and durable finish. If you are considering doing it this way though, please don`t underestimate how tough that gel coat is and how much sanding is involved.

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this user is offline Dave DND

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Reply #5 on: February 20, 2013, 11:03:58 PM
Mounting The Bodyshell
After carefully lining it up, the bodyshell was then bolted on to the chassis.

Whilst everything else is being trial fitted, much of the time will now be spent leaning on the panels, so it has been decided that the remaining Gel Coat will not be applied until I am sure that everything is in its correct place.




Electrickery
One thing I did not want was old fashioned 1966 electrics. I wanted a state of the art keyless ignition system, full digital dash and electrics from the 21st century.

So I simply designed and drew out an entire vehicle electrical system on a bit of paper and then built it.

The petrol pipe filler that you can see from the corner of the tank was going to prove to be a major problem later on.




Unmistakeably a Hustler GT
The rest of the Gel Coat was applied and the front section was fitted. Some Beach Buggies are quite difficult to identify, but this one, with its trademark headlights from an old Mini is unmistakeable for anything else.

The moulded in windscreen was originally amongst the debris that I had initially purchased, and although heavily scratched and marked, had remained in one piece.
And that was going to be major problem No. 2    

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this user is offline Dave DND

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Reply #6 on: February 20, 2013, 11:12:22 PM
Ready for a Road Test
The Buggy was now virtually complete and ready for a road test. As I was not sure if anything was going to fall off, or problems that may arise, I decided to leave it in the rough Gel Coat finish until I was satisfied that all was Ok.

Off it went for its first MOT

And it PASSED first time !!! 




Now that I had a valid MOT certificate, I could take full advantage of both the Historic Vehicle Tax Exemption due to its age, and the cheap classic car insurance, making it a very cheap car to use on the road. Now that I could road test it, I could make some much needed improvements and sort out some of the teething problems that were starting to arise that was inevitable with a project of this scale. But untill it has proven itself, it will remain in the Gel Coat finish, and I`m so glad that it did, because if I had finished the bodywork and painted it now, it would have been a disaster.






Don`t ask THAT question !
Generally speaking, Beach Buggy owners are amongst the friendliest and most chilled out group of people that you could ever meet, but they do get really annoyed when they are asked the same old question:

"Can you use it on the Beach?"

No, Stupid ! Its a car ! And apart from Messrs Clarkson, Hammond and May, when did you last see a car dodging the sandcastles on the Beach?

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this user is offline Dave DND

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Reply #7 on: March 07, 2013, 01:47:36 PM
I must admit, re-creating this build thread has prompted me to go through loads of old photographs and articles from over the years, and trying to get this build thread in sequential order is proving to be quite a challenge, (but good fun as well !)

Found a picture of the Buggy on its first proper event outing, Dubs at the Beach, 2007 - to be fair it wasn`t much of an outing as I could have pushed it the 400 yards down the road to the seafront !!
 ::)

Amazed how different it was back then

« Last Edit: March 08, 2013, 11:47:29 AM by Dave DND »
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Reply #8 on: March 07, 2013, 04:47:49 PM
buggy history and evolution is interesting Dave and others can use it for reference


this user is offline Dave DND

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Reply #9 on: March 08, 2013, 11:41:47 AM
Its 2008, and the Buggy has beeen on the road for nearly 18 months now. Yes, there have been a few niggles along the way. Yes, its a bit rough, but bear in mind that what you see here has been done on the cheap - so far I have not yet spent over 750 from purchase to road legal, and I am pretty well chuffed to have achieved that.

I managed to pick up a set of 8x15 chrome wheels from a guy up the road, and although they don`t match the Wellers on the front, at least all four corners are now shiney.

The mirrors were a big mistake though, cannot see a damn thing out of them. But that wasn`t my only big mistake this year - the other was that bloomin bimini style roof. If you haven`t yet got around to weather protection, then you may well have considered doing what I did here - attatched at the front, and then used a couple of bungees at the back - (kept the rain off though)



Problem is that when driving along, the roof panel "bounces" in the wind, and if travelling at speed, can snap back down so hard that it cracks the top of your head every few seconds. I had to pull over on the motorway and remove it, as I was starting to suffer from concussion !!

My list of "niggles" are increasing, and although I managed to get a car on the road for next to nothing, I think I now need to spend some money in order to get a bit more enjoyment from it, but at least I now have a sound "basis" for a project vehicle. Time for a change in direction.
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Reply #10 on: March 09, 2013, 10:27:49 AM
Houston . . We have a problem . . (Actually we have a few - Time to sort out the Niggles!)

One of the other reasons that I put off finishing the bodywork, is that I fully understood the concept of trial and error, and no matter how well you think you have planned things and looked at them, when it comes to trying them out for real, things may not work the way you had planned them to.

Take for instance my initial trip to the MOT station in 2006 - I had spent many weeks pouring petrol into the Buggy and moving it around the yard, and had not envisaged that when I pulled up at a petrol station that the pump nozzle would not fit the right angled filler neck and would take 10 minutes to fill.
Remedy: Remove the bonnet, cut and weld a new flange onto the fuel tank (yes, I did say weld a fuel tank) then find that the inside of the tank is rusty, buy a new tank and relocate the fuel filler to the centre of the bonnet.

The next problem wasn`t spotted until that fatefull MOT drive either. Now, I have climbed in and out of that car more times than I care to mention, but its not until I finally settled myself down into a nice comfortable position for driving until the really obvious was spotted: The height of the roll bar at the front was so low that it obscured my forward vision, and I couldn`t actually see out of the window unless I slouched down into the seat. Not such an easy fix that one, and despite having some really comfortable Porsche 944 seats, I was getting a real pain in my neck when driving.

But the main problem I faced was that windscreen. It was very scratched and marked from day one, and although the MOT guy raised a few eyebrows, he reluctantly let it go, but it was obvious that I really should replace the glass at some point. Problem being, that the donor windscreen is documented in a book as having come from a Fiat 500/600 from the late fifties, and they are not exactly common these days. In fact the Fiat owners club are buying them up to keep their own cars alive, and god help anybody who did what I did, and ask them to part with one for a kit car. I`m not scared of many things, but ran for my life on that occasion. But the measurements I took from a Museum car didn`t look right either, and as it was curved in two directions, having a one off made was prohibitively expensive. The only option left was to chop it all off, and use the standard Manx style windscreen as found on the modern Buggies. As I had nothing to bolt it to, I decided to go all out and have a new (taller) roll cage constructed from stainless steel and then I could bolt the screen directly to that.
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Reply #11 on: March 09, 2013, 10:42:52 AM
The Cost of the car has just doubled !

Having a cage made from Stainless, and a brand new screen was not cheap. In fact these two items alone cost me as much again as the entire car had so far - but that said, money very well spent I think.




A big gap
With the roll cage expertly built and the windscreen now mounted, you can see there is a bit of a gap along the top of the bonnet and I am concerned that it may cause a bit of a draft. You can also see where the fuel filler has been relocated as well. The really eagle eyed amongst you may notice that the headlights have also been changed for ones with LED Halo lights fitted - but more about those later.




Screen Mounting

I got around the problem of screen width by making up a couple of spacers. This then allowed me to bolt a standard Manx style screen to the plated welded to the front of the roll cage.




Bodywork

I also started to sand back some of the gelcoat to a smooth finish, and applied a coat of paint from a  rattle can, just to give it a bit of a facelift.




Central Bar

A bar was also welded across from one side to another which gives me a point to attatch the steering column. The plates for attatching the dash can also be seen. The wiring was tidied up whilst all this was exposed, and quick release connectors were added to allow the dash and any extra bits to be unplugged with ease.




Fusebox

Because I have uprated the electrics, and didn`t want to use the "Continental" style fuses, I opted for a modular fusebox. Each "module" consists of a relay socket and three fuses beneath it, and these can simply be clipped together to form a long bank as can be seen here.






« Last Edit: March 09, 2013, 01:14:50 PM by Dave DND »
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this user is offline Dave DND

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Reply #12 on: March 19, 2013, 05:06:20 PM
Filling the gap

Now I don`t really posses the fibreglass skills that many seem to have, and I know that I have gone about this in the wrong way, but all said and done - it worked.

I started off by laying a few strips of fibreglass inside an old square plastic gutter that I had, and this gave me some straight sections with right angles that I could cut and join together as needed. I made a strip that went underneath the windscreen and held it in place with masking tape.





With a straight edge as a reference point, all I had to do now was to fill the gap with layers of fibreglass. I laid a few layers of fibreglass onto a sheet of glass, so that I ended up with some very thin and pliable flat bits that I could then use as formers for the shape of the bonnet, and then lay a few sheets of fibreglass over the top. Sounds easy when you say it like that, but getting that shape was hard, and I`m not quite sure I succeeded.

 ::) :-X
« Last Edit: March 19, 2013, 05:07:58 PM by Dave DND »
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Reply #13 on: March 21, 2013, 11:34:18 PM
So there are still a few ripples, and the shape is not as great as it good be, but all things considered, I don`t  think that it came out too badly in the end. The two domes for the wiper arms were moulded from an aerosol deodorant lid and then cut into the bonnet. A little rough around the edges, but it can always be smoothed out at a later date, as the priority is to get it back on the road so that I can enjoy it whilst the sun is shining.




I am really pleased with the more modern look that this has given me, but also saddened that by cutting off the original screen that I have lost a bit of the cars history.

But I am still going to hold fire on too much more bodywork until I am sure that this system works.
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Reply #14 on: March 25, 2013, 11:04:48 AM
I had a rear cage built for me by Powercraft in Torquay - I wanted something that was a little closer to the engine than some of the "off the shelf" cages were, and I an very pleased with the results.




The top rails attatch to a flat plate that is also attatched to my roll cage, and the bottom mounts are attatched to the frame horns in the usual way.

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