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What is a VW Sand Rail and how to build one?

In this article, we explain in detail what a VW Sand Rail is and how you can build one yourself. It is a remarkable vehicle that you will enjoy!

What is a VW Sand Rail?

A VW Sand Rail or Sandrail is a lightweight off-road car specifically built for traveling in sandy terrain. Similar in some respects but often mistakenly referred to as a dune buggy, beach buggy or sand car, a VW Sand Rail is a different type of speciality vehicle. Sandrails are popularly operated on actual sand dunes. VW Sand Rails can be driven on other types of terrain but are designed specifically for sand.

The name Sand Rail is due to the frame “rails” present. The most famous of all beach buggies—the Meyers Manx, was created by Bruce Meyers in the 1960s, with a modified VW Beetle floor pan, as well as the sand rail engine and suspension. He created the iconic, lightweight fiberglass body which could fit bigger flotation tires for tackling shifting sand. The resulting dune buggy became an instant off-roading classic.

How to build a Sand Rail?

A VW Sand Rail is a vehicle stripped down to the barest essentials. A type 1 Volkswagen Beetle chassis would be a solid foundation to build a Sand Rail. A Sand Rail consists of a tube frame, an engine and transmission, front and rear suspension, wheels and tires, brakes, seats and steering.

The VW Beetle rear engine layout improved traction, the air-cooled engine avoided the complexities and failure points associated with a water-cooled engine, the front suspension was considered cheap and robust and the spare parts from Volkswagen were cheap and readily available. The VW sand rails were built to maneuver on open sand, were usually built as a spaceframe by welding steel tubes together.

These videos demonstrate how simple a sand rail really is: how to build a VW Sand Rail.

How to build a sand rail

VW Sand Rail Parts

It isn’t always easy to find the right sand rail parts. However, there are a couple of websites where you can buy sand rail parts: dansperformanceparts.com, appletreeauto.com and mooreparts.com.

Sand Rail Parts

Sand Rail frame

A decent sand rail frame is very important. You can buy a sand rail frame on eBay and other webshops.

Sand rail frame

Sand Rail wheels

We can strongly recommend one particular website if you are looking for sand rail wheels: sandparts.com. They are off-road enthusiasts just like you and enjoy weekends on hard pack and soft sands. They also offer real sand rail kits.

>> Also interesting: What are the differences between Rat Rods vs Street Rods vs Hot Rods?

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