1957 Dune Buggy Cyclops Barn Find

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Look what someone found lurking in a barn! Before the advent of the VW based dune buggy, folks cut up old cars on built dune (or beach) buggies. This one is a real Frankenstein creation with a Buick engine, Ford toploader tranny and a perhaps that’s a mopar rear-end. It’s listed on craigslist in Belfair, Washington without an asking price. The owner is taking offers.

right rear

Which seat do you think is the scariest? In the driver’s seat you have some control, but you’re right behind that V8. As for the back seat, uh, “no guts no glory”? Where do you put your feet?

front

The whole front end swivels to steer, like a wagon. It’s an interesting design, but might be a bit scary at speed.

cockpit

It appears a lot of thought went into this and perhaps some real skill. Do you think they scratch built the chassis or was it perhaps adapted from another vehicle. How do you think it handles on the dunes? Is that the gas tank hanging under the rear? That would be interesting when you get the nose up! The paint on the frame looks unblemished. Perhaps the builder never drove it. It will be interesting to hear what you think this might be worth and what it might take to make it drivable.

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. lostboy

    That is one hell of a death trap. I love it! Look at that (lack of) front suspension. Lol absolutely outstanding. Weld two sets of shocks together and a center mount coil spring…. Jesus h Christ! Haha

  2. jim s

    i think it would work as the next BF project vehicle. buy it and see if it can be flipped for a profit. i am sure a shipper would not mind loading and unloading it. maybe the person who just had to sell the fiero should buy it without first asking the wife. might get some naysayers. should have kept this one for the 1st of april. interesting find.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi jim, oh, it will be “flipped” alright, the 1st high speed turn you come to. :)

  3. jim s

    use this and the crashed 918 to make one good car.

  4. Charles

    One can have a that blast with this! I love the builder’s out of the box thinking used when designing this beast.

  5. jim s

    are the seats out of a subaru brat?

  6. DanielDC

    I don’t know why I’m so attracted / fascinated by this car. I”m thinking flat black and the whole Mad Max treatment. Love it

    • Dan h

      Totally Mad Max!!

  7. grant

    That looks pants crappingly terrifying.

  8. Alan (Michigan)

    Nothing good could come of actually trying to drive that…
    I’ll go along with the comment about “out of the box thinking” used in the design, and go one further: “Out of your mind to ride in the back!”

    Would fit right in at Dave’s Farm. (See YouTube for the reference) Redneck engineering at it’s finest.

    But I do like the Caddy Bullet tail lights!

  9. Chris Russell

    Is it setup to run on propane too? Looks like regulators under the dash in the one pic.

  10. Ray

    I saw this a few weeks ago. I love how the you steer with a center pivot on the fron axle like the 2×4 carts we made when we were kids back int 60s. What a death trap.

  11. Paul R

    Poor mans T-Bucket!
    Once I learned how to weld as a young teen I built a death trap buggy also.
    2 by 3 square tubing frame, Ford van dropped strait axle and an 8 and 3/4 Chrysler rear. All on leaf springs powered by a small block Chevy.
    A sheet metal tin tub to sit in and a crazy short wheel base, it evolved over time and gained more inches on the wheelbase, and the straight axle went away for a camaro sub frame with much needed disk brakes.
    A junkyard engine would provide dizzy 1/4 mile speeds…It was my daily driver for a while.
    George Barris would of been proud and I want to build another one one day.

  12. motoring mo

    I’ve got my eye on this one…

  13. Howard A Member

    HA! America,,, freedom. Where to begin? 1st, this thing belongs at the “Yoopers Tourist Trap”. 2nd, clearly constructed under the influence of “something”. Not that that’s always a bad thing, but nothing is right here. Heck, it’s not even finished. I LMAO at Ray’s 2×4 cart thing. ( and the rear axle too? Good heavens) We made those as kids too, and we took many a lump riding those things, but it was all in the name of fun. Which, I’m sure was the idea here. Fun building it. I’ve driven just about every vehicle you can think of, some scarier than others, but I wouldn’t even think of driving this thing. Gives a whole new meaning to BF’s, what can actually be CONSTRUCTED in a barn. I want to hear from geomechs on this. Great find, as yard art, maybe. Are those Cadillac tail lights?

  14. 67 GT fastback

    Anyone spot some form of braking system ? Rear brakes only ? Maybe worry about that later ?

  15. racer99

    Picture of this under the definition of “Death Trap” in the dictionary. Front and rear center pivot articulated steering and propane tank hanging under the rear bumper — ah, no thanks. First time one side of the front end dug into a dune it would rip right off. Sad part is the workmanship looks pretty decent and some of the concepts are interesting (if not very realistic). Would love to know the “how” and “why” on this.

  16. hhaleblian

    I’d be a hit at the Silver Lake Dunes. Thing is downright scaryawesomebigballs. I love it!

  17. RoughDiamond

    While this one off (emphasis on off) might be a lot of fun to drive in a large flat green pasture, I think the flag mounted on the wall behind the Ford truck in the last picture pretty much sums it up. Jury rigging at its finest.

    That steering linkage brings to mind an incident that still shakes me up to this day. I used to drive ’66 GTOs in the late 70s. I was also an EMT and volunteer fireman and so I knew all the local EMTs, fireman and police officers. I had heard from one of the police officers about a Gold ’66 GTO hot rod running around that was anything but stock. One day a young kid driving a Gold ’66 GTO that was anything but stock, pulled up next to me in a parking lot. Going from front to back, the driver’s seat (no seat belt or safety harness was visible), transmission, pedal assembly and engine, etc. had all been relocated to make it a mid-engine design. I looked at it closer and was shocked to see an extremely long make shift steering rod mechanism. The engine (455) looked like it was mounted on pieces of steel and I guess those were welded to the frame. Nothing about the car showed that whoever did the work knew what the heck they were doing. I would periodically see this kid in his GOAT and just pray nothing flew off the car or broke as we passed each other. He drove like a maniac. One night I was not on call as an EMT or volunteer fireman as the shifts were covered. That same night this kid, who had been served too much alcohol at a local establishment (which was successfully sued), got behind the wheel of his ’66 GTO. According to my law enforcement friends, he was driving an estimated 90-100 MPH on a main two lane thoroughfare a 1/2 mile from my house. It was relatively flat and straight, but then gradually crested and curved to the right at the top before gradually descending on the other side. Witnesses said just as the kid was cresting the hill and turning, the car went out of control (speculation that the steering linkage had broken since it was found in several pieces) causing the GTO to flip on its top and burst into flames sliding roughly 200 feet before slamming head on into a Cadillac Seville with 3 older women inside. Two were unharmed and one was seriously injured but fully recovered. The kid was not so fortunate. He was found with the engine having pinned him in the back of the car. He was burned beyond recognition. I am so thankful that on that particular night I did have to be involved on that call either as an EMT or volunteer fireman.

    • Alan (Michigan )

      A cautionary tale, for sure.

      Government can’t (and shouldn’t) protect each one of us from whatever foolishness we engage in. But it really has to try and keep safe those who may be in harm’s way as a result of such activity.

  18. JWH

    Not only is it difficult to spot any braking (plumbing, pedals, etc. – probably what is meant by “needs brake work”), how about other controls like accelerator or transmission shifter? Also, no wires to the plugs or other ignition related components (hence the “needs wiring”). Given what looks like no hose to the water pump and shine of the paint on the exhaust, this thing probably never ran in its current configuration. There might be something on it from 1957, but this appears to be an unfinished recent build. Probably emptied the parts bin and the keg around the same time and (thankfully) realized they were in over their head. Hopefully there is a successful bid before the next keg is tapped and this is passed on before somebody gets hurt. I do applaud the effort, though.

  19. Jeff

    In keeping with the theme that this thing was constructed using the engineering skills of a 12 year old, the rear brakes could include a handle, a long rod, and a 2×4 that rubs on the tire. lol

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Jeff, my 1st go-kart had a rear brake like that. :)

      • Jeff

        So did mine lol.

  20. geomechs geomechs Member

    The construction budget couldn’t have been much. The Buick powerplant with propane (?) carburetion. That’s got to be from the ‘You Gotta Be Kidding’ file in itself. I’m sure that would be a nightmare to steer at anything above 6 mph.

  21. MikeW

    I wonder if the spider gears are welded… are those slicks on the front :(

  22. rangeroger

    I’ve always wanted to build one of these. One of the first things I wondered about was the 2 tubes for the intake running into the cowling and sure enough there was the propane regulator and nozzle plate.
    That steering does look straight out of a barnyard. I’d want to change that first off. Of course, I would have to drive it a bit just to see what it does.
    MikeW, those front tires look like they were shaved, leaving the edges for traction in sand. But maybe the tread delaminated, with just the edges left.

  23. Charles

    I wonder if the idea for propane power is borrowed from the rock crawler crowd? Rock crawlers prefer propane power because gasoline do not do well for a vehicle running on severe inclines. Propane powered engines will run upside down with a dry sump oiling system.

  24. Jubjub

    Hopefully it was just built as a prop. Digging the cyclops eye. Great comments…David’s Farm, home made go carts to the poor fool in the scary GTO and all points in between.
    I’d like to see someone else operate it from a safe distance!

  25. John

    Burning Man, here we come! Brakes? We doan need no brakes. What scares me is the thought of sharing a road with this thing.

    …and can you imagine the sound it makes?

  26. Jay Reynolds

    Would not get out of the electric chair to get this one.

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