Can a New Beetle do everything a custom-built Baja Bug can do? Find out with Tanner Foust and host Collete Davis on the new eBay Motors series, ‘Between 2 Rides.’
‘Between 2 Rides’ is a new series that showcases what a well-modified vehicle can do compared with its bone-stock counterpart. Featured rides on the eBay Motors series include a Formula Drift Z-car and a Cummins-swapped current-generation Ford Mustang, but it’s the Baja Bug and its Volkswagen New Beetle counterpart that have our attention.
Going off-road on a motocross track with off-road driving, big whoops, and even some serious jumps. So we sat down with rallycross champ, stunt driver, and TV host Tanner Foust to talk about the pairing and about his relationship with the original Bug.
Why a Beetle and a Bug?
Tanner’s episode features a vintage Baja Bug, a highly modified version of the original Volkswagen Bug meant to handle the pummeling of the wild and undulating terrain of Baja, Mexico. Naturally, Foust spoke about why the Bug was chosen for the challenge.
“The original concept for this video was possibly to use my rallycross Beetle,” he said, referring to his Global Rallycross car. “That car requires a team of engineers to really start,” making it, well, a non-starter.
“One of the most bang for the buck modded cars in the world is the original Beetle. If you take a trip down Baja, I mean, this car is everywhere. It was produced in Mexico up until just recently, and the people love those cars.
“They’ve been modding them and making them purpose built race cars, since I mean, it won the very first Mexican 1000 which was in 1967. They’ve been raced more in Baja than any other machine on the planet. So seemed like it would be a natural progression to go for a Baja Bug.”
Long History of VW in the Foust Family
The Bug in the video isn’t Tanner’s, but like most people who grew up in that era in America, he has plenty of experience with the little cars:
“My sister spent years trying to kill me in the backseat of [a Volkswagen Bug] before I had my driver’s license. That was a ’68, I want to say, light blue car. My grandfather’s. Eventually my sister burned it to the ground but it had went through three generations of our family.
“It was an iconic machine of course. When you get into one of the original Bugs, if you don’t somehow sort of recognize that smell of melting vinyl, then you probably didn’t have a childhood.”
Did the New Beetle Make It?
What about the New Beetle used by the series? How did it fare?
“It was a 2004 Beetle that eBay Motors had bought for the shoot. It took a lot of abuse. I’ll just say that. It jumped probably three times as high and survived as we thought it would. And it went through everything we threw at it.
“It’s funny because I’ve raced Beetles in the past in rallycross but have never driven too many stock Beetles. I mean, we jumped it! Finally what ended its role in the film was taking it through whoops, that are quite big. Only very specialized machines generally can handle rough bumps like that.
We had a lot of fun. We jumped it and then we’re like wow, that was pretty good. Okay, let’s try again. And we jumped it again, bigger and then bigger. And then at this point, the director is like ‘hey, I thought you said this thing wouldn’t jump.’ I don’t know, let’s jump it again! We just kept going bigger. It was so much fun. But eventually, it was the end of that car’s life.”
Where Should I Start My Beetle?
The point of the series is to showcase what you can do with the right aftermarket parts on your (formerly) stock car. So we asked Tanner what he’d suggest for anyone wanting to make a Baja Bug out of the later New Beetle platform.
“The first thing that you would probably do is widen the track in order to get longer travel. With independent suspension, you have drive shafts that only have a certain angle of deflection. So you’re limited to how much travel you can obtain.
“But if you go wider and lengthen those arms, then your travel can get much longer. So if you really are going to do jumps and really are going to go off road then getting longer travel, higher ground clearance. And then thinking about some safety items in the car would be some of your first steps.”
What was it like working with ‘Between 2 Rides’ host Collete Davis?
“I have raced alongside [Collette] before, but have never worked with her on camera and she was excellent. She has such a diverse knowledge of cars. She has done drifting and off road and rallycross and go karting and builds cars and works on cars.
“Now she lives in a place where they can play a lot more and test cars. So I think she was a perfect choice to host this show. She was very passionate about machines and modding cars so it was a lot of fun to work with her.”
How did she handle riding shotgun on your off-road shenanigans?
“We had fun! Colette, she’s a trooper and very game. Because I don’t know if I would strap in the passenger seat of a stock car and just start jumping through fields. It was pretty fun.”
The Beetle episode of ‘Between 2 Rides’ is live on the eBay Motors YouTube channel now, along with the first two episodes of the series. Three more episodes will be released in the coming weeks.