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Just a Squirrel — A George Barris T-Buggy

• CATEGORIES: Features, Other 4x4s • TAGS: .

If you have seen Pixar’s UP movie, then you know what a ‘squirrel’ is, something that distracts you from what you planned or should be doing.  Well, at least that is the terminology Ann and I use.

Obviously, the internet is notoriously full of squirrels.  Today’s squirrel relates to a search I was doing this morning, something I do in the normal course of producing (and by producing I mean borrowing) the incredibly high quality, unparalleled content published herein.  That’s when I spotted this (http://lascruces.en.craigslist.org/cto/3151068039.html only $800!) fiberglass flat fender dung buggy body.  I instantly recognized it as the body style of the dune buggy the my neighbor Bud across the street used to build his dune buggy when I was a kid.  The distinguishing feature were those flat fenders in the front, which for obvious reasons seemed comfortably familiar to a lover of flat fenders like myself.  After spotting this ad,  I spent about an hour this morning, chasing this squirrel of a buggy to learn more about it.  It turns out it is a Barris designed T-Buggy kit that Barris had hoped to sell through dealers in every state (I don’t’ know how far he got creating the dealer network).

Now, my neighbor Bud was quite a character.  He was a machinist for Boeing until he retired and machined a couple parts for me that really helped when I was building my first jeep.  During the 1970s he purchased an electric wedge car like this, which on a full charge had just enough power to allow him to drive down Renton’s South Hill into Kent in the morning and return up the hill in the evening.  When Bud’s son Tim, who was my age, turned 16, we’d go for a drive occasionally.  Thank goodness we never got in a wreck, because that vehicle was a coffin waiting for bodies.

At some point before he purchased the ‘cheese wedge’, Bud built a dune buggy.  Every so often we would go for a ride in it, sometimes on the roads and sometime down a power line trail (that was the good old days when you could still go down a power line trail).  One day, we drove into downtown Renton to the former Sears outdoor shopping mall off of Rainier Avenue.  However, instead of parking in a parking spot, Bud drove onto the sidewalk, between a couple stores, and into the middle of the walking mall.  We drove by a few stores until he got right in front of the store he wanted to enter, where he came to a stop as if he belonged there.  We got out and people walked by checking out the cool dune buggy as if it belonged there.  When we were done at the store, we just hopped in and drove back out.

I never knew what type of dune buggy he had, until today’s search.  Based on what I’ve read below, he must have purchased a Barris T-Buggy kit.  The dune buggy he built had all the Model-T elements you see below.  His body was painted a metallic dark red.  It had the faux leather straps across the hood, the chrome roll bar, and a small soft top.  Bud ended up selling that in the 1980s I believe.  I’ve never seen it since.

If you want to chase some dune buggy squirrels of your own, check out the Dune Buggy Archives or Samba.

Here’s an example that is as close as I’ve found to Bud’s:

This is example the way I remember Bud’s, only it was red and didn’t have the stripe around the edges.  Bud had wider, more aggressive slicks that improved the ‘hot wheel’ look, too.

Here’s an example of a kit.

 

 

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