Volkswagen Baja Modifications
The Baja version of Volkswagens encompasses the many modifications that allow VWs to perform better offroad. Generally, Bajas are made from Type 1 "Beetles," but Fastbacks, Squarebacks, Things, Super Beetles and even Buses have been modified for greater offroad performance.
Body modifications generally include cutting out fenders to allow for fitment of larger tires, or replacement of fenders with Baja type fiberglass replacements, which can look more refined, provider better coverage and weigh less than the original steel fenders. The back engine lid is generally removed to allow for improved air flow, easier access to the engine and better departure angles. The fronts can be cut down, or replaced with fiberglass versions that allow for better approach angles.
Class 11 Bugs must follow certain guideline to compete, which prohibits cutting out fenders for larger tires or removing bumpers and other body parts to reduce weight or help with offroad clearance. Many VWers also like the Class 11 "look" and try to stick with some of the cosmetic guidelines to get that retro offroading look.
See our VW Baja Body Modifications Page for more information.
Larger tires will increase the overall clearance under all parts of the Baja. They will also change the overall effective final gearing which will decrease low RPM torque. For Class 11 bugs, 215 and 235 tires on stock rims should fit. On Baja modified bodies, larger tires can fit depending on wheel width, backspace, fender clearance.
See our VW Baja Wheel Page for more information.
There also a good deal of information regarding Winter Tires on our VW Winter Driving Page.
Larger tires require better braking if you want to maintain your ability to stop. But unlike road braking where you need to depend on the fronts to do most of the braking, with offroad braking, you may want to use more braking in the rear. Increased rear braking will allow you to better steer off pavement while slowing down for tight turns or when backing down a very seep hill.
See our VW Baja Brakes Page for more information.
Much can be done in the suspension department. Anything from increasing the preload of the torsion bars, to using coilover shocks, to using longer and wider suspension arms to completely redesigning your suspension to include A-arms and computer designed tubular suspension arms connected to a tubular body.
See our VW Baja Suspension Page and VW Baja Trailing Arms Page for more information.
You can do a lot to your engine to make it perform better on or off road.
Dual carburetors can really increase the responsiveness of an aircooled engine, but increases the level of complexity of the the drive train and places the carburetors out where mud, water and sand from the rear tires will be thrown at them. Some feel that a single carburetor will provide a less complex system that has less linkage to become damaged and is less in harms way.
See our VW Baja Carburetor Page for more information.
If you are running larger axles and/or taking your Baja airborne, a stronger axle will eventually become obviously needed.
If you are running a 1973 or later Type one, then you may notice more rocking and motion of the engine - especially if driving over rough terian. In 1973, VW switched the axle cradle to allow for axle bushings that are twice as thick. This decreases the vibrations in the passenger compartment, but allows the engine to move a lot. If you are running dual carbs with the 1973 or later cradles, your carbs may bang against the fenders. If this is an issue, you can trim away the offending fender and/or replace the rear axle support with a pre-1973 axle cradle, two quality pre 1973 bushings (stock or good polyurethanes) and 4 nut and bolts.
For those that plan to jump their Bajas, then a solid mounted axle with supports that tie into the roll cage may be needed to keep everything where it belongs. Note that solid mounted axles will cause a lot more of the engine vibrations to be transmitted through your auto and that bolts and nuts will come loose.
See our VW Baja Transaxle Page for more information.
Roll bars are a must if you are getting a bit crazy on the gas. There are companies that do sell bolt on kits, but most kits will require the ability to weld and do a bit of fabricating. And if you are getting to the point of installing roll bars, it is also time to think about race seats that don't collapse and real racing harnesses.
See our VW Baja Roll Cage Page for more information.
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