When you own a vehicle for decades, you can't help but get attached to it. But what if that auto becomes worn and dull from many years of dedicated use? You can certainly revive it, making it better than ever. This is exactly what Gary Yahnke did with a '74 VW Thing he had owned for over 25 years. Gary and the VW had spent many a day traversing dirt roads and desert byways throughout Arizona. So, several years ago he handed it over to the fabricators at Tatum Motor Sports in Peoria, Arizona.
The folks at Tatum started by gutting the vehicle and removing the entire drivetrain, suspension, and steering systems. Given the go-ahead to turn this aged rig from mild to wild, they set out to forever change its appearance and performance. Starting with a 2.2-liter GM Ecotec engine that was mildly modified, the build crew used a Porsche transaxle to transfer the power through custom swingaxle-hung drivelines. King coilover shocks with remote reservoirs handle the rear spring and damping needs. Billet disc brakes stop the transaxle rotation, and all the fluid paths are plumbed in stainless-braid hoses. BFG Mud-Terrains wrapped on aluminum wheels get this rig over a wide variety of terrain, whether that be exploring rocky fire roads or following sandy desert washes.
Up front, Tatum relied on its sand car skills to incorporate a billet aluminum front suspension. This long-travel setup provides a smooth ride over rough terrain with the help of King coilovers and remote reservoirs. With the motivation and suspension covered, it was time to turn attention to safety, comfort, and looks. The original windshield was retained and a rollcage added. Gray Renegade seats allow room for four to ride in comfort, and Crow harnesses hold everyone snug in those seats. Finally, bright-orange paint with gold metalflake was sprayed on to make the VW really pop. The vivid basecoat is further enhanced with the racy graphics on the hood and sides.
Gary now has a revived vehicle that's set up to do the dirt-running and road-exploring he's always loved. Keep your eyes peeled and you just might spot this one cruising Arizona.