Never Seen One, Part II: Boonie Bug

A few days ago, I questioned the origins of another VW-based kit car that the seller claimed belonged to the Meyers-Manx family of vehicles. Today, there’s yet another kit car with air-cooled Volkswagen underpinnings that has caught me by surprise, albeit with a bit more information to work from. The Boonie Bug, named for its ability to roam the “boondocks”, is listed here on The Samba classifieds with an $8,000 asking price.

The Boonie Bug is a kit you can still buy plans for today, and is conceived by using a VW Bus donor chassis that is then cut in half and shortened. The resulting chassis is ideal for off-road use, claim the kit builders, because of the short overhangs and the fact that it won’t bottom out when the going gets rough. It’s hard to say whether any sort of professional testing has ever validated this claim.

Regardless, it looks like a fun way to see the roads less traveled. The body is said to be ideal for sleeping inside of when nightfall comes, and there’s 34 cubic feet of storage space underneath the hinged floor that serves as the sleeping platform. The seller notes this example has some minor bodywork issues, but that all of the original pieces of the kit are still present and accounted for.

The 1600 engine is said to run well, but the transmission slips out of fourth gear. Really, on any of these kits, the drivetrain is the least of your problems – finding the hard-to-find kit components is the bigger issue. Thankfully, this Boonie Bug appears largely complete, and if you’re looking to stand out at the next air-cooled gathering, this would be my recommendation on how to do it.


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  1. moorevisual

    one thought came to mind when I saw the pic – pokemon

    Like 8
  2. Rusty

    These were always on my short list of “cars I was going to build” when I was a kid. I’m awfully glad it’s on the wrong coast, as I don’t know how I would explain it to my wife!

    As I recall, there was no kit available for these, just a set of plans. Foam core fiberglass panels over a really simple welded steel tube frame attached to a shortened VW Bus chassis. Flat glass, and common marine and VW parts.

    Like 6
    • carbuzzard Member

      Doesn’t anyone have a set of plans to make a substitute for a VW floor pan that you could attach VW suspension and other relevant bit to? Surely someone has done this before. It’s not like the unadorned VW pan in the most rigid chassis available.

      With the newly manufactured frame, you wouldn’t have to sacrifice a VW bus–and who right now would do that–and with the body plans, you could do this.

      Just think of it as the van equivalent of Stan Mott’s Cyclops.

      • Rick BALL

        Research down in brazil. The Gurgel used VW drive trains and suspension on a tubular steel chassis. Gurgels had all different models. Google search for Gurgel history and technical details. Also restored examples are available.

        Like 1
  3. Ralph

    I think I saw one of these on Mars once……but that might have been a dream.

    Like 4
    • Don H

      Ya let’s go cut up that old 23 window bus and make one of these🤓🍄🌴

      Like 15
    • Jose Cantu

      More of a nightmare. : )

      Like 1
    • Joe Padavano

      Beat me to it.

      Like 1
  4. Arby

    Gullwing doors – who knew?

    Like 3
  5. Sal

    Couple years ago Ian Rousell did one of these on Full Custom Garage.
    Cool show, cool episode, cool car.

    If you’re tired of the bs drama on these car shows, give this one a try. No nonsense. Its literally him and his shop inspectors (dogs)

    Like 18
    • LMK Member

      I like Ian’s show a lot too..

      Like 6
    • Chris

      Couldn’t agree more great show Ian is a master behind a welder & hell hound is the best behaved pit bull I’ve ever seen.

      Like 2
    • Tom

      Ian is the best. You never what he is going to do next. And either does he. Great. Show.

  6. john

    I remember seeing these on the cover of a Popular Mechanix magazine in the 70’s.

    Like 6
    • minicoopermk2

      John, I think a copy of the plans from that issue are still in my files somewhere. Always liked that and the Brubaker Box. Should have built one when they were affordable.

      Like 2
    • Jay Ralston

      I went so far as to order the plans. Never built it, but the plans are still in my file cabinet. Maybe someday.

      Like 1
      • rod444

        Or you could just sell me the plans. And then after they sit in my cabinet for another 10 years you could have them back :)

  7. Glen

    Had one show up at the SDRA car show hosted in Charleston South Carolina. Very cool kit car.Plans were offer in popular mechanics late 60s early 70s.

    Like 1
  8. RedBaran

    Looks like a VW Vanagon and a Scion xB had a love child…

    Like 3
  9. Tom Member

    Not for me BUT this vehicle is screaming for MUCH bigger / wider Wheel and Tire package, in my opinion. I think it would have a much cooler look with much bigger and wider tires on it filling in those crazy wheel flares.

    Like 1
  10. Ken Carney

    Why butcher a bus when you could use
    steel tubing for the frame instead. Hmmm, wonder what a 140 HP Corvair
    engine would do for it. You’re right Tom,
    it does need a set of beefier tires on it too. I knew a kid in highschool that had a
    Meyers Manx with a 140 HP Corvair 6
    mounted out back. For what it was, that
    thing was an effin’ rocketship! I’d cruise it
    at Oldtown every chance I got.

    Like 2
    • John Schiessl

      Ken rather than a Corvair how about mounting a cradle from an HHR or Focus in the rear and have a modern running gear. You know a resto box!

      Like 1
  11. Lance

    $8000 for this POS.? I don’t think so scooter.


    Looks like a pathetic attempt at copying a Gurgel X15

  13. canadainmarkseh Member

    Fugly, fugly, fugly. Oh ya did I mention that this thing is fugly….!!!

  14. Brakeservo

    Small than a Brubaker – and a bit more weird too! I think it’s perfect . . . for someone . . . else.

  15. Tony T

    With a trailer hitch, yet.

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