Volkswagon Pickup

Volkswagon Pickup
By
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Volkswagen Pickup

By Dave Brackett

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In the spring of 1975, I had sold my motorcycle frame business and was preparing to move to the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. I was planning to retire and build a home, so I wanted a vehicle that was inexpensive to 

operate, yet able to help with construction and deal with rural mountain roads. I decided to build a small pickup from a VW Squareback. The squareback would be better than a regular bug, as the motor was flat to accomodate the rear stationwagon part of the car. I had seen pickups made from bugs, and the beds sat to high, to fit over the cooling and fan shroud. It would be light weight, good on gas mileage, able to deal with muddy roads and useful as a pickup. I bought a used 1964 VW Squareback with some minor front damage.

VW Trucka

I removed the front damaged area, replaced it with a flat metal panel, revamped the hood latch, and added a wooden bumper to replace the damaged one. Now to figure out how to turn the back into a pickup. I removed the outer rear fender panels and discarded them. I started cutting away the upper body behind the side doors. As I removed more of the body, it started to bend downward over the rear wheels. I stopped to review the problem. A VW bug has the motor supported by two horns that pass behind the rear axle and hold the motor weight. The VW Squareback had a different motor mounting system. The motor/transaxle was supported in front by the suspension subframe and in the rear by a crossmember to the body. I had removed so much of the body, it was bending under the motor weight.

VW Truck 1aI decided to build a box frame for the pickup bed using 2 X 3 steel tubing. It was about five feet wide and six feet long. I jacked the car up in back to the original position and cut the body to fit in the pickup bed frame. After welding it securely, the pickup bed frame became the vehicle frame and the problem was solved. I added supports for a rear bumper made from rectangular steel tubing and added a trailer hitch. I had to fabricate louvered covers for the air intake boxes for motor cooling and added an external oil cooler to help as well.

Now I had a gaping hole behind the front seats with no support for the roof. I formed a roll bar out of 1 X 2 rectangular steel tubing and welded it into the gaping hole. I then glued the headliner to the roll bar and bolted a 1/8 inch aluminium panel to finish filling in the hole. I made a cut out for a rear window and added a flat glass into the hole.

I wanted the truck to be functional, so I made front and rear racks to carry long boards, pipe or steel over the cab of the truck. They slipped down into tubes welded to the frame at front and rear. Another rack was bolted to the top rear of the cab to support loads in the middle.

I painted it yellow and thought I had better make a trailer to help haul stuff when I moved and for house construction. Not wanting to carry another spare tire for the trailer, I built it using a VW bug front end. The tie rods were bolted to a bracket welded to the front end and adjusted for proper toe in. I made a framework from angle iron and added plywood to finish the trailer box.  Last, was finishing the truck bed, I made a 3/4 plywood floor and built stake sides from 1"X 12" pine boards. The wood was varnished, brackets plated and off I went to the Sierras in my new ecconomical truck. It served me well till after 2000, when I traded it for a car to build a 1923 Track "T" Roadster.

I was amazed at the weight I could carry, as long as it was distributed over the front end, as well as rear end. I carried 1200 pounds of steel for ornamental iron work, and many loads of sand, gravel and dirt for the building project. I had made the top rack only 24 inches wide, so the vehicle was not too top heavy and would not tip in cornering. Fun truck!