Saturday, December 29, 2012

And now for something very different...

VW buses has been the basis of the iconic Westfalia campervan. They are built on the philosophy of taking things nice and slow, smell the roses along the way sort of things. There are legions of VW bus enthusiasts in Malaysia who collect and lovingly restore these machines and generally subscribe to this image.

At the birth place of the VW buses however, a group of people turn their T1 micro bus into a rip snorting 520hp racing van. At the first glance it looks like a fiberglass body that mimics the general profile of a T1 microbus that is mounted on a DTM type of racing chassis. However, as I dig further I found out that it was a genuine microbus, albeit heavily modified. However it retains the classic under tray chassis and the rear engine, trans axle and trailing arm suspension layout. The engine comes from a Porsche 911 air cooled twin turbo charged engine (the last of air cooled 911 engine), Porsche trans axle/gearbox, Porsche rear trailing arms and brakes. The original VW front torsion bars suspensions has been replaced by Porsche Macpherson struts type. The end result is something very different, however it is still a VW T1 microbus in spirit because the parts sourced from Porsche 911 has their roots in the original VW Beetle, which the T1 itself also based on. Their shape and dimension is mostly compatible with the T1 chassis, even some of their bolt holes are a direct fit to original T1 engine mounting.

The most impressive thing about this T1 bus is that it is road legal and does not look too different from a standard version. Apart from the racing wheels and slightly lowered ride height, it could have passed as a yet another T1 microbus.

It started as a standard VW T1 Microbus

The original under tray was rebuilt and strengthened with additional braces

Full roll cage for protection and added strength to the body and chassis

The forward cab was similarly strengthened with a raised central for gear shifter mounting
The body was given extra width ensure the fat tyres stay inside the body works and slight increase of length to accommodate the longer 6 cylinders Porsche engine and trans axle gearbox. There is no changes to the dimension of the original floor pan.


Porsche 911 air cooled 6 cylinders engine mated to the engine bay. There is little need to alter the original engine bay.

The engine fits snugly into the engine bay.
Porsche suspension arms and brakes.

The original torsion bar is replaced by coil over shock Macpherson struts.

Fully fitted underside

The final result. A sight not unfamiliar to any T1 owners, except that it looks like it has taken steroid and went to the gym!

Lest anyone think that it is just a track day car, it has proper seats for passengers with full racing harness and it is road legal.

First run of the bus, also dubbed as the "FB1 Race Taxi". It carried 3 passengers and lap the circuit rather briskly.

Watch how it chased down and overtaken a Porsche 911GT3 and an Aston Martin on the famous Spa Francochamp racing circuit.

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