Schollen's Woestijnrat, strongly inspired on the American
Dearborn's Deserter, was in 1969 one of the very first Buggy's
available in Europe.
At the end of the sixties, the success of the "buggies" ("beetles"
or "fleas") reached it's height in
America. Little fun cars, always with the same specific features : light weight,
easy maneuverable, huge wheels and tires, and approximately 3/4 of the total
weight on the rear wheels. These sand fleas were made by the thousands and used
by people who love sporty terrain rides in hills, dunes, prairies and shrubs. It
has estimated at that time there were 20.000 buggies more or less in the United
States. The owners (called "buggistas") mainly were united in Buggy-clubs and
released their own magazine and published 70.000 copies every 2 months.
In the beginning the fun cars were exclusively used as a means of
transportation on fun trips on rugged terrain. It was driven to go fishing,
hunting, or swimming. But as could be expected : pretty soon Buggy-championships
were organized, like long distance cross-country-rides and slaloms through sand
Most of the Buggies were (besides the body) completely built from
Volkswagen-components. The standard-recipe was : shorten a Volkswagen-chassis
with about 30 centimeters, move the fuel tank to the back seat area, protect the
bottom of the engine with a plate against stones, and mount wide rims and tires.
Most of the buyers and builders were already satisfied with a stock 1300 cc
Volkswagen-engine, but it was also possible to use a tuned or even a
Porsche-engine. The general rule was : for the right amount of extra money,
everything is possible.
In 1969, the Buggy also found its way to the
Benelux, as a turn-key vehicle or as a do-it-yourself kit. Those who chose for
the second option, for instance, could take their post-1962 VW-chassis
fiberglass body builders and Buggy importer Henk Schollen in Tilburg, for a
professional shortening of the chassis. He also supplied the fiberglass body
which you could take with you to assemble at home. With the goal to assist
future Buggy-owners, Henk Schollen founded the "Buggy Autodynamisch Centrum
Schollen's "Woestijnrat", (the way the Buggy was baptized), really felt at home
on sandy terrain with its big wheels. To prove its fluent off-road capacities,
they organized an informal race in the dunes near Drunen; competitors were a
B.A.C.-prototype and an army jeep. Together with the jeep, witch is supposed to
be the best off-road vehicle, they climbed a hill. The Woestijnrat conquered the
hill without any problems in second, even without pushing the pedal to the
metal. And the jeep disappeared in the dust thrown up by the Buggy.
At the end of '69 B.A.C. and several VW-dealers got that many orders that APAL,
where the bodies for Schollen were produced douldn't handle the growing demand
anymore. That's why a second supplier for Woestijnrat bodies was searched and
found in the company Johanta from Oud-Gastel. Johanta's former director, J.A.
Huysmans, sold the molds to J.C. Eisinga in Waspik in 1967. The mold was
adjusted; both front and read mudguards were shaped more round and more wide.
Buggy Autodynamisch Centrum (B.A.C.)