Kyle Mcguire’s take on the classic Volkswagen Beetle!
It’s highly likely that you’ve seen classic VW Beetle’s slammed to the ground; and you’ve probably seen old school Baja Bugs set up for dessert racing; but honestly, how many classic bugs have you seen turned into a mini-monster truck? Well, Kyle Mcguire set out to revolutionize the VW world with his classic Bug…or maybe he just wanted to have some fun. And why not? Off Roading is all about freedom, so what’s to stop you from lifting a classic and throwing a diesel in it. Mcguire and a tight group of friends set out to build an adventure with a simple mindset of…why not?
So a rear engine gasser with between 30 to 50 horsepower and just a pinch over that in torque? No thanks. Mcguire decided to swap in a 1982 Chevy LUV C223 diesel engine and throw it to the front of his Bug in a custom fabricated chassis. Now that may not seem like a huge improvement with an engine clocking in at just under 60 horsepower, but this swap did take him up to nearly 100 pound feet of torque. (Hopefully you are not reading this article after reading about a 1,000 horsepower drag racer, because that will put a severe damper on our 100 pound feet of torque brag.—ed.) This conversion also came with a 5-speed manual transmission swap, grabbing another gear past the stock VW engine. With this diesel swap comes the apt nickname of the LUV-BUG, both from its Herbie inspired looks and Chevrolet Luv diesel engine.
One of the other major benefits (besides now qualifying for this magazine) is opening up room in the rear for a sick Pioneer sound system! Now when the crew is joyriding through the trails, they can bump their jams for all to hear. The rest of the cockpit is straight trail rig, with twin racing bucket seats in red and blue set into the stripped down cabin. The only other accoutrements are the
aux cable into the head unit and a screw driver seemingly mounted into the center console… don’t ask.
For the exterior, the Herbie-esq number 53 red white and blue paint job is hard to miss, but Mcguire and his friends couldn’t quite stop there. Obviously the diesel hood stack changes the vibe, so why not take it further? A little bit of diamond plate here, a Bud Light can there (try to find it…it’s on there), a litany of stickers like NOS, Holley, and Ford that have no application to this project, and then you might as well throw in a police light bar and some headlight lashes (created using zip-ties of all things). All of this comes together to warn you that these guys will have fun, and if you hang around too long, you’ll end up catching some of the fun yourself.
Now of course one of the first things you may have noticed is the height of the Bug beast. With
some custom fabrication, Mcguire and his crew tied into the frame and gave themselves plenty of ground clearance by dropping the salvaged IFS axels used in both the front and rear to give the LUV-BUG front and rear steering while making new mounting positions for their lifted strut suspension as well as connecting points for the front and rear tube bumpers. These heavy duty chassis modifications made room for Mcguire to make this front engine Bug into a four-wheeldrive monster with 44-inch TRXUS STS tires on 16-inch wheels.
So what’s the payoff for all the fabrication and labor that went into the LUV-BUG? A funfilled adventure, and isn’t that what motorsports is about? Plus they made their way into this awesome magazine that all of you fine readers surely must already have a subscription to (hint, hint, if you don’t, kudos if you already do). So the next time you have a whim and the means to accomplish it, go for it. Customize something the way you want it, not just the way some other people have in the past. Why not? UDBG
Ignoring the Bud Light can (did you finally find it?) the rear steer on this Chevy, VW, and apparently Ford, Herbie Bug helps the tall machine with a short wheelbase to maneuver even tight trails.
Almost every inch of this custom creation shows the attention to detail as well as the fun loving spirit of Mcguire and his friends.
Mcguire’s custom rigging and fabrication takes the LUV’S power and sends it to both front and back axles using a chain drive rather than a traditional transfer case, allowing the full-time 4WD monster to overcome nearly any challenge.
This trail ready cockpit is prepped for the outdoors, complete with partially peeled away and slightly inappropriate stick figures on the custom dash.
Complete with hood stack is this Isuzu-built ’82 Chevy LUV diesel engine swapped into the front of this classic Bug. LUV-BUG?
Remove an engine from the back and suddenly there all this space for a sub enclosure, imagine that.
More custom work drops the axles low for plenty of clearance and enough room for the one-off IFS/IRS 4WD system with front and rear rack-and-pinion steering to do its job.
These 44-inch TRXUS STS tires mounted on 16-inch steel wheels give plenty of traction, plus the lift gives plenty of room for crew signatures and stickers, which we’re told add up to five horsepower each.