I often get asked a lot of questions about building a Manxter 2+2. I have decided to write a brief summary of information that will hopefully assist anyone wanting to dip their toe in the water and build a Manxter 2+2.
The first thing that needs to be decided is what do you want your Manxter2+2 to be? Will it be a street/show car only or will it be a full on off-roader or a mixture of both? It is important to have a clear direction on what you are trying to build early on. I am not saying you can’t change your mind, but it may mean that you spend a lot of time and money for nothing. I strongly suggest jumping on some websites (see below) and looking at the various information.
The next thing you need to do is find an engineer. The engineer is very important as they will be the last hurdle to overcome and get sign off for registration. Each engineer is different and can interpret things differently. They should be able to provide full guidance with regards to the build and what they want to see. They should also be able to provide assistance for any Department of Transport requirements. The average cost for an engineer to approve a “Standard” Manxter 2+2 Build should range between $1500 and $2000, however if additional testing is required there may be additional costs. These should be determined early on and budgeted for.
The “Standard” build of a Manxter 2+2 is basically a “rebody” of a donor VW type 1 Beetle. This means that the original Chassis, Brakes and Suspension must be retained. The Engine may be changed, but only in line with an approved upgrade that would be allowed for the donor beetle. This is something that should be discussed with the engineer.
All other safety components should be updated to align with VSB14 including retractable seatbelts, lights, indicators, instrument warning lights (including seatbelt light) , rollbar padding, windscreen washer, 2 speed wiper blade control, electronic flashers, handbrake light, etc.
If you want to build anything that goes beyond a “rebody”, then you should ensure that you discuss this with your engineer.
If all that still sounds Ok, then on to the next step – finding a donor VW beetle. The following information is only a guide
VW Beetles range in years in Australia from 1953 to 1976. From a Manxter 2+2 point of view, you are really only concerned with the brakes and suspension to determine which models are suitable. The Chassis dimensions are close enough that they don’t matter and all VW (type 1) engines can be used with either the Swing Axle or IRS Transmission.
The Early Beetles – 1953 – 66 came out with 4 wheel Drum Brakes, Front Link & King Pin Beam and Swing Axle Transmission.
The next generation of Beetle –-67 -75 came out with Front Disc Brakes, Ball Joint Front suspension and Swing-axle Gearbox. From 71 onwards the Superbug was released in parallel, but came out with McPherson Strut Front end Suspension and Rear IRS (double jointed) Suspension. Unfortunately the Superbug is not compatible with a Manxter 2+2 build due to the front end suspension design, however the Front end can be converted to Ball Joint by replacing the Chassis Frame head.
In 1976 a new combination on the beetle came out with front Disk Brakes, Rear IRS (Double Jointed) Suspension. It should also be noted that in 1969 a Semi Auto was released with the same combination.
Although all the combinations are suitable for the Manxter Build, our recommendation is a Ball joint/IRS combination, but at the end of the day, any Chassis can be converted to any combination.
We choose Ball joint because it is a superior design and doesn’t require the same level of maintenance that the Link & King Pin suspension does. You can also upgrade to 181 front ends for improved off-road clearance however if you want extreme off-road front travel, then the Link & King pin design may be better suited to your application.
We prefer IRS (double jointed) as it keeps the camber of the wheel vertical throughout its travel giving improved performance unlike swing axle. It can also be easily upgraded to 091 or Subaru gearboxes.
Here is some picture to assist in identifying the differences.
Rear End (This picture has been modified to show the 2 variants on each side of the transmission)
Most people when thinking of building a Manxter 2+2, tend to think about buying a cheap run down beetle. This can be false economy. We would recommend buying a well looked after beetle with a good chassis, brakes, suspension, gearbox and motor. These can be expensive items to factor into your budget, especially if you need to pay someone to fix or replace. You can also then sell off the stuff you don’t need like the body.
Having said that, all items including chassis pan halves are replaceable from a number of VW shops in Australia and overseas.
It is possible to prepare the chassis to a rolling status with Engine and Transmission ready to install prior to purchasing the Manxter 2+2 kit.
Once you have your VW Donor and you know what direction you want your build to go it is time to look at buying the Manxter kit. The Manxter 2+2 kit is the most complete kit on the market.
It comes with the following
- Manxter 2+2 Body Tub to fit a full length floor pan
- Manxter 2+2 Bonnet
- Manxter 2+2 Windscreen surround including laminated screen and mounting rubber
- Manxter 2+2 Rear Engine Lid Cover
- Manxter 2+2 Upper &Lower Dash Sections including Glove box (Black) and Blank Instrument Panel
- Manxter 2+2 Proprietary 6 Point Safety Cell (with Seatbelt bosses) and side intrusion bars
- Manxter 2+2 Roof (Black)
- Manxter 2+2 Rear Seats and Seat Covers (Black)
- Manxter 2+2 Rear Seat Mount
- Manxter 2+2 Front Bar
- Manxter 2+2 Rear Bar
- ADR approved Narva Front Lights
- ADR approved Hella Rear Lights
- Manxter 2+2 Side Mirrors
- Manxter 2+2 Identification Plate
- Manxter 2+2 Build Manual
- Engineering Support Documentation including fibreglass testing and rear seat tests
- Fitting kits
It should be noted that this is a low volume kit, meaning that everything is made by hand. Assembling a kit is not like buying a part from a production line of a mass auto manufacture. There is a requirement to massage and tweak parts to get them to work.
Examples of such tweaking are
1. The rear seat mount which bolts to the rear shock towers is modelled off an IRS configuration. Over the years there is a few configuration differences in the shock towers which may require additional modification, fabrication and or spacers to attach the rear seat mount – especially with early chassis’s.
2. The steering column mount needs to be fabricated to support the chosen steering column taking into account any lift kits and seating position.
It should also be noted that whilst it contains the key kit components, you will still need to source/purchase a range of items. Some items may require additional fabrication to make work. The following items may need to be sourced/purchased in addition to the Manxter 2+2 Kit. This is assuming that you have a complete rolling chassis with brakes, suspension, transmission and engine.
- Steering Column – You can use the VW column from your donor or you may want to use a more modern column with integrated controls. We like the Subaru columns from pre 1999 model liberties.
- Seats – Depending on if you are running any chassis stiffeners (which may lift the body 1-3 inches), you will want to get suitable seats. We like Mazda MX5 Seats. These will need to be custom mounted. Whatever seats you use they will need to be from a production vehicle or ADR approved aftermarket seats.
- Seatbelts – ADR approved retractor seat belts for front and rear. We can supply these as extra items.
- Instruments – All instruments need to be sourced by you. We like the offerings through www.speedhut.com and we offer an ADR Warning Gauge Cluster as an extra.
- Wiring and Electrics – These will need to be sourced by you. We supply ADR approved front and rear lights. All lights should be ADR approved and the correct category (especially indicators). Use caution when purchasing online for cheap lights including number plate lights and indicators. We recommend getting side markers off production cars from a Wrecker. Positioning of the lights should be as per the ADR. As an example – This means that part of the front indicators and headlights need to be less than a maximum distance of 400mm. If unfamiliar with wiring consult an auto electrician.
- Bolts and Nuts – We will supply some bolts and nuts, but you will need to source suitable bolt and nut hardware where not provided. You will need to ensure that the nuts and bolts used are suitable to the purpose. If you are unsure consult with your engineer.
- Padding – Suitable padding will need to be sourced for the Dash Cover and Safety Cage. Refer to VSB14 on occupant protection for guidance. Consult with your engineer.
- Windscreen Wipers – The Manxter2+2 is designed to use the arms from the Beetle Donor. If you use a Subaru Column, we recommend using the Subaru windscreen motor on the VW arms. This will require you to fabricate a mount for the motor
- Windscreen washers – You will need to source a windscreen washer. You can usually source the bits from a modern production car.
- Fuel Tank – The Manxter 2+2 is designed to use the Beetle Donor Tank.
- Rear Cage Meshing – Since the planned exhaust type is unknown, you will need to adequately shield the exhaust from the general public. Consult with your engineer.
- Mudflaps – You will need to source adequate mudflaps.
- Rear View Mirror – You will need to source a rear view mirror.
- Anything else the engineer specifies.
Ok – If you are still reading and haven’t been too phased by what you have read, then I will cover some additional things we supply for the Manxter 2+2 which are available as extras to the standard kit.
- Vented Side pods – These are used to fill in the sides. The vents add a sport look and can be used to mount radiators or oil coolers.
- Rear Radiator Wing – This is a surround to house a radiator or oilcooler. You will need to determine how to mount the radiator/oil cooler and the rear wing
- 55L aluminium Fuel Tank – Designed as an upgrade to the standard VW tank. It will require minor clearancing of the fibreglass hole to fit it. It is provided with a screw on cap only.
- Seatbelts – ADR approved Front and Rear Seat Belts designed to work in the Manxter 2+2
- Coloured Finish – The Kit comes in a grey primer finish however we offer Dupont 2 pac or coloured gel coat as an extra. We highly recommend getting a 2 pac finish over a coloured gel coat finish for the following reasons. We can offer a very competitive price to do a 2 Pac finish. The colour selection and level of customisation is almost unlimited. When you compare a 2 Pac finish to a gel coat finish the difference in brightness and vibrancy is amazing and the ability to repair a 2 Pac finish to be a perfect match is possible. If you are local, we can even allow you to take the kit away for pre-assembly in Primer, bring it back un-assembled and we will still offer the same price for paint. Note some conditions will apply.
If you are happy with all that I will finally cover some other options for your buggy. Again some of these may require the engineer to undertake additional testing to be satisfied. Always consult with your engineer before proceeding.
- Chassis Stiffener – If you are building an off-roader or a tall person, I strongly recommend Chassis Stiffener (aka a lift kit). These can be normally bought in 2 inch or 3 inch heights. These will lift the body relative to the chassis and provide more guard clearance above the wheels as well as improved internal leg and headroom.
- Brake upgrades – A number of Brake upgrade options are available.
- Suspension Upgrades – Buggies can be fitted with long travel suspension including coil over options to provide improved off-road performance.
- Subaru Conversion – If you want reliability, you can’t go past a Subaru conversion. It is very common to install a pre 1999 Subaru EJ22 liberty engine into a Buggy. These engines provide great power and are reliable. It will cost approx $5 -6 to convert, but once the conversion is done a replacement Subaru engine can cost as little as $400.
- Subaru transmission – These are supplied by Subarugears – www.subarugears.com. These are a modified modern 5 speed gearbox and can be mated up to your Subaru Engine to give the perfect performance
- 181 front end – The 181 was a US off-road VW. The front suspension sat 2-3 inches higher than a standard BJ beetle. The arms are also bigger. These bolts straight into the BJ suspension.
- 3×3 widened rear arms – These provide the matching height at the rear of the buggy as the 181 spindles. Be aware that the rear track will change and longer axles will be needed.
To further assist with any questions with regards to building a Manxter please refer to the following websites or businesses.
- Meyers Manx Australia – www.meyersmanx.com.au
- Beach Buggy Australia – www.beachbuggyaustralia.com.au
- Steelart – www.steelart.com.au
- Australian Manxclub – www.manxclub.org
- Meyers Manx Information – www.meyersmanx.info
- 3rd Edition ADR’s – http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/roads/motor/design/adr_online.aspx
- VSB14 – http://www.infrastructure.gov.au/roads/vehicle_regulation/bulletin/vsb_ncop.aspx
Thanks for reading this and hope that it may have cleared up some questions you may have. We look forward to seeing you in a Manxter 2+2 soon.
The team at Meyers Manx Australia