So, quite unexpectedly, I now own a 1970 VW beach buggy, or to be more specific, a LWB Doon Buggy. I say unexpectedly not because it suddenly landed on my doorstep with a note saying 'Love me forever', but as a 50th birthday present to myself I was originally searching for a 1967 Series IIa Land Rover. Then it happened, a friend of mine on Facebook posted a photo of his newly acquired beach buggy next to his Land Rover, and my juices began to flow. I asked Muddy Madam which she’d prefer, and a buggy was the answer.
My quest was then to find a buggy that I can slot my 19stone and 6ft 1" frame into without looking like a Sumo in a Smart car. Unfortunately my knowledge of buggies basically extends to, find an old Beetle, remove its body, slap on another, and there you have it, so I had a lot to learn. Fortunately, these days there’s a forum for everything, and in the UK we have: www.BeachBuggyInfo.co.uk which frankly everyone should join, whether you're looking for a buggy or not.
So, the search was well and truly on, and mooching through Facebook and various other social media outlets I learnt that, as well as the beautifully styled original Meyers shaped beach buggy, there are also some really ugly ones. Muddy Madam and I went to visit a couple, and although gravity helped me to slot inside them, it was no help trying to get out, we learnt quite quickly that neither of us get on well with bucket seats.
Anyway, cutting a long and frankly quite tedious story short, I found a Doon buggy that was for sale on www.CarandClassic.co.uk, and although it wasn’t that far away from us, it was twice the amount that I wanted to spend, but we arranged a test-drive anyway.
Three things stood out for me, you can still buy a Doon kit from www.Doon.co.uk down in Walsall, the quality of build was top notch and the seats are reupholstered units from a BMW Mini and therefore really comfy.
We left Gavin and his Doon with a new perspective, if we wanted a no-nonsense quality buggy, we would have to have a bigger budget. That night at Muddy Towers we sat down for a chat, there were a few tantrums, but in the end I agreed with Muddy Madam, we wouldn't spend more on a toy than what we spent on both her Skoda and Deux Smurf. The following morning I sent Gavin an e-mither with my proposal and expected never to hear from again.
A couple of weeks went by and to my surprise I received an e-mailed from Gavin accepting my offer, and keeping a watchful eye on the weather forecast we decided to collect her the following Saturday. My initial plan was to collect the buggy with Muddy Madam, leave her car nearby and drive over to Mynytho via Ffestiniog and Black Rock Sands in Portmadog, spending the night at Muddy Madam’s seniors house. Unfortunately Muddy Madam was at a conference that weekend, so I bullied young Keiran into taking me.
Because I didn't want to just pick her up and drive back home again, that would be boring, with Keiran following me we made our way from Buckley over to Abergele via Ruthin and Llanrhaeadr.
Although it was quite cloudy to start with the weather held up, and as we reached Ruthin there was a break in the clouds and the sun began to shine, which was a relieve as the buggy doesn't have a roof.
My first impression was that it’s just like driving a go-kart - there’s no power steering or ABS, and I know that it has suspension, I can see it, but I can’t feel it working! When you want it to be it can be fairly quiet, but then press the accelerator and the sound from its ceramic coated Tri-Mil exhaust is just wonderful. Something else that I got used to quite quickly is the short shift EMPI 4 speed box, there’s no more than around an inch between gears.
Arriving at Abergele we made our way onto the beach, took a few photos then went for some lunch, and as you can imagine, in a carpark full of ordinary cars, she caused a bit of a stir.
Conscious of the time we set off for the 1-1/2 hour journey home via the A55, M56, and M62. Keeping it around 65mph it performed faultlessly, but by Frodsham when the sun vanished behind the clouds, I was wishing for a roof, or a heater, actually both!
Arriving back at Muddy Towers windswept but happy, I really couldn’t stop grinning, she was an absolute joy to drive, all 3 of her previous owners had really looked after her and added some worthwhile improvements. However, there are some things that I need to address and I've already started a shopping list, but I’ll share those at a later date, in the meantime I have a tracker with a motion sensor that I need to fit…