A Buggy By The Border
San Diegans are stoked: Off-roading opportunities abound. The Plaster City OHV area is a couple hours' drive, and Ocotillo Wells and Glamis are also close at hand. Those whose rigs are street-licensed can explore hundreds of miles in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Off-roading's ultimate venue, the Baja peninsula, abuts the city's southern flank. It's no wonder companies like Fox Racing Shox, Fiberwerx, Bilstein, Mastercraft, and Sol Tek are all based in the San Diego area.
Native San Diegan Kurt Scherbaum's life in the dirt started off early when he attended the 1975 Baja 500 with his dad and brother. Instead of falling in line idolizing mainstream stick-and-ball heroes, Kurt looked up to the likes of Mickey Thomspon, Parnelli Jones, Frank "Scoop" Vessels, Walker Evans, and Ivan Stewart. Kurt eventually went from race fan to team member, lending his time and talents to the BFGoodrich pit network that dominates Baja racing. He also got to work for one of his long-time heroes, helping with Scoop's racing team as a volunteer from 1987 to 1991.
Scherbaum isn't just a fan and a racing volunteer. He's built a rig of his own: the Nissan-powered buggy on these pages. Why Nissan? "I grew up as a big fan of Datsun/Nissan trucks. I currently own two Nissan Titans," relates Kurt. Based on his experience behind the wheel of his Titans, he knew the Nissan Endurance V-8 would be a perfect powerplant for his buggy.
The Nissan V-8 is right at home in a PSD Motorsports chassis, built by Ed Zimmerman in nearby Spring Valley. Everything fits together nicely now, but it took more than a few weekends and late nights to get the four-seater finished. Scherbaum took delivery of the PSD Motorsports chassis and went from there. The Nissan V-8 was adapted to a Mendeola S5S five-speed sequential transaxle by way of a Kennedy Engineered Products (KEP) adapter plate and clutch. After the engine and transaxle were happily joined, the powerplant needed custom work to complete the intake, exhaust, fuel delivery, cooling, and oiling systems. Over the years, Kurt acquired a garage-full of fabrication tools, and was able to do almost all of the aforementioned custom work himself.
After several months of building, the chassis was ready for final assembly and testing. Thanks to the experience and expertise he'd gathered as a race volunteer and team member, the buggy worked well the first time out.