Baywatch Edition: Thunder Ranch Riot Kit Car

Disclosure: This site may receive compensation from some link clicks and purchases.

Oh, the 1990s: what a time to be alive. I will gladly admit that the early and middle 90s were significant years in my childhood, as it seems like it was one of the last times our society wasn’t continuously angry at the world and each other. Plus, Baywatch was on the air and one of the best reasons to sneak off into the study and spend some time with Yasmine Bleeth and this whacky kit car called the Thunder Ranch Riot. Find the listing for one of the authentic show cars here on eBay with no bidding action yet.

Like all good kit cars, it was based on the Volkswagen Beetle. The taillights appear to be from a Ford Contour, and you can be certain every other major component has been raided from a corporate parts bin somewhere. The styling is obviously intended to be edgy and sporty, but it’s not exactly a beautiful specimen from any angle. The seller indicates his car is the actual one used in the 90s California beach life sitcom, and that it has been upgraded with a Subaru powerplant.

It seems that any DIY car shares two common components: it’s based on a VW and the familiar 2.5L Subaru “boxer” engine is the likely powerplant. Of course, this is a quantum leap forward compared to years of reliance on old air-cooled VW engines, so this is hardly a complaint. The seller claims it is “…crazy fast,” which I could believe it is given the likely low curb weight. The listing mentions that the engine has been upgraded with aftermarket dual cooling fans.

The Riot doesn’t appear to be in excellent cosmetic condition, but I suppose we should be glad it still exists in any form today considering how obscure this kit car has become. The brand and its various molds was acquired years ago but an investor who apparently has no real plans to market or build the vehicle, so if you want to live out your Baywatch adolescent fantasies, buying one that’s already been built is likely the more realistic path to ownership.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. bobhess bobhessMember

    Isn’t there a fish that looks like the front of this car? Bought right this could be a good project, part of which should be putting a proper set of lights up front. The cracked windshield might be a project in itself, still it would be a pretty good looking, fun car to own.

    Like 3
    • Rw

      The 65 T-Bird in the next post differently looks like a catfish.

      Like 0
    • SubGothius

      I have to wonder if that windshield might be a repurposed (and maybe cut-down to size/shape?) “bubble back” hatch from some mass-production model. Seems like that would have been far more economical than commissioning a run of entirely custom (and now irreplaceable) bent glass of that size.

      Like 0
  2. JMB#7

    The “good kit car” Manta Coyote was not based on based on a VW. Well maybe the transaxle. None the less, this is a very interesting find. The hind quarters kind of resemble a Viper.

    Like 2
  3. The Other Chris

    Looks like it escaped the quarter kiddie ride in front of the grocery store.

    Like 8
  4. TheOldRanger

    Car, what car?? Oh, now I see it, it’s in front of that dark haired woman….LOL I may be old, but my eyesight is still pretty good

    Like 10
  5. Rw

    Maybe Michael Knight is thinking about buying it.

    Like 2
    • Howie

      If he does KITT will not be happy.

      Like 5
  6. Eric B

    Agreed, also grew up in the 90s. I can’t believe I’m at an age and living in a timeline now where I long for “the good ol days”. While the internet is amazing for obvious reasons, like this site for instance, it’s also partially to blame for where we are now. Not a coincidence it started getting popular in the late 90s and continually expanded it’s roots since, radicalizing, dividing and making people overly opiniated. Throw cable news and “smart” (the irony) phones into that mix and you’re left with a giant mess.

    Yep, those were the days, when shows like baywatch and married with children were considered risqué (and made prior generations long for the their good ol days) filled with beautiful women, but in hindsight look like Leave it to beaver compared to today. I see there’s a delorean featured on here right now. If only they could be made into a time machine. Take me back.

    Like 10
  7. Tom

    My son recommends the Subaru Boxter with the twin turbos as a viable donor motor for a small project car like this. I’m huge into the smaller British cars and would love the opportunity to place one in an Austin 7, mini or bugeye etc. I have a fully modified A40 with a 302 V8 but the Twin turbo Boxter has more H.P. with less weight. Thanks for this listing… It gets the creative juices flowing again…

    Like 0
    • joe

      I’ll see your A40 and raise you one dual-Accord engined CRX. (147 mph)

      Like 0
    • DayDreamBeliever DayDreamBeliever

      “Boxer” please…

      “Boxter” is a name badge for a Porsche car.

      The Subaru motor is a “Boxer”, as in a flat-four/opposed cylinders engine.
      I don’t recall ever seeing one built with more than one turbocharger, but it might work if they were small ones.

      Like 1
      • TomP

        Boxter is not the name for a Porsche car. Boxster is, which is actually a 986.

        Like 0
  8. MarkO

    No doors! and someone said that a Delorean was difficult to get in and out of!
    At least with that Subbie mill, nobody will BLOW HIS DOORS OFF!

    Like 0
  9. CarbuzzardMember

    Those headlights. Could they be legal anywhere for road use?

    Like 0
  10. BlisterEmMember

    We hated those headlights too. short video:

    Like 0
  11. Lyle Dodson

    Umm…NO, Looks like some kids peddle car.

    Like 0
  12. John

    Everyone of these cars end up with a cracked windshield, guaranteed, the poor support of the windshield, good luck on finding a replacement, seen other people with this car graft in a windshield from another car, looked terrible

    Like 0
  13. bobk

    Hmm, got curious and went out looking for more. Found a Barn Finds post from 2020 advertising two Thunder Ranch Riots. One yellow and one red. Perhaps the same one?

    Like 2
  14. Stan

    Google the Hasselhoff roast 😃 lol.
    Absolute 💯 gold.

    Like 1
  15. chrlsful

    pretty poor pic, and BF chose the worse of them.
    Cant C a thing.
    The other channel has a good page to read for any on-line car display forums.
    I would not endorse all 10 and would add others but a good start there. I no longer visit that site. Here, altho even more computerized in rec yrs is still more visitable.

    Like 0
  16. Howie

    Ended No Bids.

    Like 1
  17. Kenn

    A machine shop near me makes a great living repairing Subaru engines. Milling heads, repairing oil leaks, etc. Lots of time in the shop for those cars.

    Like 0
    • CarbuzzardMember

      But always go to Subaru specialist. You don’t want even an experienced mechanic losing his Subie virginity on your car.

      Like 0
  18. Rob

    This car came out long before the Viper so any references should say the Viper looks like the TR Riot not that the TR Riot looks like a Viper.

    Like 1

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.

Barn Finds