Monday, February 1, 2010


Because Bajas consist of the basic Beetle bodywork with sundry GRP bolt-on and bonded panels which contribute nothing to the strength of the body as a whole, the cars' body/chassis can be appraised using exactly the same routines as for a standard Beetle. The main point to bear in mind when looking for a Baja is that some – by no means all – will have seen some fairly heavy duty off-road use, and the worst of these could have camouflaged underbody/steering/suspension damage, in addition to which, breathing in dust-laden air will have done nothing for the engine unless good air filters were fitted. Check for off-road damage (including camouflaged damage to the roof and pillars which results if the car is rolled and, of course, damage to the floorpans, frame head, suspension and steering) and, because it is nigh-on impossible to clean all traces of fine dirt from a car, check for traces of this in nooks and crannies. Most Bajas are probably – like all off-road vehicles – never used other than on tarmac, and it is better to select such a car than one which has seen use in the rough. There is a good selection of cars with this popular modification, so don't be rushed into buying.
Because the Baja is usually raised to increase ground clearance, the effects of transaxle jacking on single-joint drive shaft cars are exaggerated, and the presence of a 'camber control' device should be reassuring! The so-called 'Z' bar fitted to the 1500cc Beetle is not, as widely supposed, an anti-roll bar nor is it an 'equaliser' (as the author has seen it erroneously described). The Z bar only acts when the transaxle tries to lift itself from the axle shafts and, as such, it is an anti-jacking device. The 1500cc Beetle is a good candidate for the Baja conversion because of this.
Be especially careful when assessing a Baja for road legality. In particular and with regard to the UK MOT Roadworthiness test, the wheels must not protrude beyond the wheel arches and no moving part of the engine should be exposed.

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