The VW Caddy From Hell
Built To Beat Down On

It’s two in the morning, my deadline is approaching and my new Speedhunters email account is binging off the Richter scale with incoming messages as I’m rewriting this story for the third time in effort to find any possible way to describe this beast that sits before your eyes. But in reality, I can’t. I just can’t…

It’s not because it’s a Euro and I’ve grown up on a staple diet of Japanese cars, nor because of its domestic stripes. It’s because it’s a one-of-a-kind, 100-percent-garage-built, tire-slaying monster unlike any other; that’s had enough blood, sweat and tears sunk into it to make your eyes bleed. Quite simply, if the devil drove a Volkswagen Caddy this would be it.

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I wanted to go the creative route and start this story by talking about how I built skate ramps as a kid and always mixed and matched a variety of different elements in relation to this badass MK1’s interracial constructionism. But that just seemed way too fluffy.

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I tried a few different angles, but every time I closed the computer I kept rethinking what I had just jotted down and couldn’t escape the fact that it all sounded flat-out weak. And I couldn’t let it happen. This truck is just too damn raw. It deserves nothing more than to be portrayed in the purest form of sincerity as possible.

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Can you blame me? Thats the way it should be, right? The owner didn’t try and fluff the build with perfect panels and a showroom shine, so why would I dress this text up in red lingerie and stilettos?

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Fox example, just look at those fenders. Gnarly right? The Caddy’s owner, Shane Drake, had previously never even spent a single hour on body work, did them himself. And the paint job? You’d better believe it’s none other than a coat of that rattle can matte black special.

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Not to be offensive, but I think the more you look it at, the more it really becomes one of those ‘cute from a far, but far from cute’ situations. But then again, who really cares when your hand-built MK1 Volkswagen Caddy has a 5.4L Triton V8 sitting in-between its front shock towers. And since when have monsters ever been beautiful anyways?

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Oh, yeah, when they have a budget, a real work space with industry-standard equipment and more sponsor stickers than window space – that’s when. Well my friends, throw all that crap out of the equation immediately before clicking the next chapter, because this Frankenstein is all but that.

An iPhone For An Engine
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As I mentioned a few sentences ago, this bad boy is powered by a vicious Triton engine. To bring those of you who are unfamiliar with the platform up to speed, this 5.4L hunk of V8 metal is the block Ford uses for all of their most heavy-duty work trucks. Then, when produced in all aluminum rather than aluminum/cast iron form, it’s the engine that Ford uses to bring its GT500 to life. Crazy, right? Hardly…

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What’s crazy is how the engine was acquired. You’d be amazed and what you can find on the greater Atlanta area craigslist, and when looking for a plug-and-play powerplant for his donor Caddy, Shane found an interesting post for a Triton V8 listed ‘for trade’.

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For trade? For trade for what? A few text messages later and the deal was all set. A Triton V8… for an iPhone 4. The same iPhone 4 that was actually dropped in the Chattahoochee river at Southern Worthersee in 2010… Regardless of the engine’s history, I think we all know that once a work truck engine goes up for sale on Atlanta’s craigslist its pretty much too far gone anyways. So with a Caddy in one hand and an engine in the other, the work begun. See how I can’t fluff this story? The blatant facts are just too good.

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You have to keep in mind there’s really no instruction manual on how to shoehorn a 5.4L into a crooked 81′ Caddy. And though Shane has studied and worked as a Ford technician in the past, he still knew he was stepping into unknown waters. But day-by-day he worked his project; rebuilding bits and pieces of the motor and addressing one issue at time.

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Some of you may have already questioned the deceiving 4.6 intake manifold adapted to the head. The purpose was actually a failed attempt to fit a hood. Oh well, on to the next issue… I’d like to think you gearheads out there ought’a know the feeling off the bat. Where you give a project your all, only to be smacked in the face and knocked down time and time again. Blood, sweat and tears.

The Guts
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Wiring? Yeah, you can believe it was a pain in the ass. Shane admits that wiring is his game, but again, who else has attempted this task before? And after building the front clip from scratch, every wire and cord was stuffed behind the fully hand-built dash. Even the battery is back there.

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And when I say hand-built, I mean 100 percent garage built, hot rod inspired, with an electric dash cluster, iPhone bracket and USB/AC outlets included. Or as Shane explains, “I took a piece of aluminum, bent it at a 90 and boom, I had a dash.” You really can’t make this stuff up.

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I suppose in the typical fashion, It’d be about this point where I’d make something up about how its rugged Bride seats and fresh Takata harnesses skyrocketed the blasphemous factor through the roof. But why? You should all know that already. What you don’t know is that the ‘windows’ you saw earlier are actually solid plates of plexiglass bracketed into the the door sills.

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But what about whens it’s hot out? Or he wants to run errands with the windows down? I did mention this is his daily driver, didn’t I? Oh, and street legal too… Well, the slabs of plexi slide right into a little customized compartment in the cabin’s roof for a quick, spaceless stowaway. Sick, right?

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Totally. But what makes it even better is that the special roof bracket was made with an $80 welder from Harbor Freight. The same Harbor Freight welder that was used to cage, tube and entirely prepare this frail little chassis for battle. Could you imagine?

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You’ll notice the welds aren’t perfect, but give the guy some slack – not only did he build a cage with a Harbor Freight welder it was his first time really welding in general. Yes, it’s still strong, sturdy and ready to take on a fight at any moment — because it has to be.

MJones_Caddy-7

All the weight is in the front, the power is blasting from the rear and the shell itself weighs next to nothing. I was honestly surprised the whole thing didn’t just rip in half upon initial acceleration. But no. This is a garage-built project car to the T, with enough attention to detail to potentially melt our server. Even the fuel cell placement couldn’t be more on point.

Which reminds me – I feel like I’ve been rambling on for a hot minute now without touching on one actual crucial factor: the rear-wheel drive conversion. If I hadn’t already, I’ll make it quick before I totally lose you. It was a pain and it was almost nearly impossible, simply because its just not meant to be. But just as with the majority of this car, the four-link suspension was crafted from scratch allowing Shane to dial in the geometrics and make the dream a reality.

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The obviously-welded diff was sourced from an older Mustang, and after demolishing a couple of automatic transmissions Shane finally popped a good ol’ manual in and has been sliding dirty ever since.

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In a close, to throw one piece of fluff into this pile of words I’m passing off as a story, I’d like to express to you how many times throughout my shooting adventures I’ve been asked what the coolest car I’ve ever shot was. Honestly, the first thing that pops in my mind is usually, ‘the ones that actually run.’

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But to dig a bit deeper, it’s the monsters that really make me weak in the knees. The AWD, Honda K-swapped Minis, the blasphemous Toyota-swapped Nissans, and in general – the cars that just don’t make a damn bit of sense. These are the builds that inspire you to get down, get dirty and be as creative as possible. Where there are no instruction manuals, no diagrams and no boundaries. It is here where the limits of automotive tuning truly begin to be pushed; in the garages of our own.

Matthew Jones
Instagram: matthewjonesphoto
matt@speedhunters.com

BURN OUT! Bonus Video

One last thing… How often is it that you click a link and are thoroughly disappointed with the content provided, or lack thereof? Too often I bet. In the days following this shoot I realized that in the short amount of rainy time I had to photograph this demon I didn’t feel like I was fully able to capture its true hooning capabilities. And how fair would that be? To create a post rambling on about how sick and functional this truck is without properly providing an example? No sir, not by me.

So in effort to feed our addiction, I swung by Shane’s residence on my way down to Florida for a quick, dirty – and possibly out of focus – video clip of his baby ripping a perfect standstill while exiting stage right. Enjoy.

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98 comments

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1
SebastianHamilton

Well this is what is true dedication. Hats off...

2

That's a really nice full feature. Outstanding post Matt. I am eager to see the Merc you teased us from the SOWO coverage. We could definitely have more posts from you.

3

Is that a long series socket being used as an indicator stalk? =P

4

Seriously, no offense to the rest of the SH crew, but this was probably by far one of the best articles ive read on this sight. Beautiful VW. props to both Matt and the builder

5

Great job Matt! Amazing article, and pictures!! It truly encompasses the truck, honest and raw. Can't thank you enough!

6

Great article Matt! Can't get enough of that header image.

7

Your right, if ya claim functionality its easy enough to find videos to REALLY show that functionality. Nice writeup! And a mint lilttle skid hack of a truck

8

watch out Nigel Petrie!! this lil thing is on your tail!!!  great write up!

Author9

Skr1bble Im honored brother. Thank you so much.

10

Skr1bble I do not think you are offending anyone. They enjoy getting feedback. This is by definition a solid post. The last good full features were delivered by Klingelhoefer. I think Matthew can change this.

Author11

@TROLLS ROYCE Thank you so much! I have much in store for y'all!

12

What's up with the crazy ute's in the past year. The brown caddy, this caddy and the complete custom Toyota. This is NOT a complaint!

13

Yeahhh!!! I can't believe its on speedhunters! This thing is rad.

14

I love this. shove this in Corbin Goodwins face (no fucks givin rx7 builder). i love how you describe the car in this article. That he built a frame with a harbor freight welder for his first time so give him some slack. that is how i learned, diving in head first. 
to get to the point he gave some fucks and did it well with limited resources, cant say the same about "nofucksrx7".
Maybe iam slightly jealous or just a hater. but you gotta give a couple fucks during a build. 
I love this little beast of a VW.
 Keep building, and always hunt for speed.

15

AHHHH this looks So Cool....wish my City sat like that!

16

@LowFairladyNZ : Ummmm.... nope :P

17

Lol, there is so much about this little vw pickup that doesn't make sense. Like why? An old ranger or s10 would have been much easier, but he chose a caddy. Hmmm, looks great fun none the less. I am loving the wheel arches. Thumbs up for this one for car of the month

18

This and the toyota swapped caddy would be a match in heaven! Gnarly beasts with a kick of power! I'd love to see this thing sideways around a few bends! Great article and the header won it for me!

19

It may be a VW but this car is a hot-rod in its purest form. I can't even begin to describe how inspiring this read was. Everything about this car is purposeful. No money was spent on chrome plating, and no time was wasted rusting bodywork for a faux rat-rod look. I can almost smell the blood, sweat, and tears that must have been poured into this build through the pictures. Thank you for this inspiring piece. I'm going to do some work I should have finished a long time ago now.

Author20

Thank you Taryn Croucher! Im trying! Hah

Author21

Draklore It was a blast shooting with you my friend. Thank you for every second of your time. Its relationships like these that I will remember for the rest of my life. Cheers to you, sir.

22

Matt "honesty is the best policy" Jones. Brilliant work my friend.

23

I love the video at the end, speedhunters needs a video of every car feature so you can hear the soul of the car! Nice build also!

24

Lachys114  Yeah, I agree. When I first saw the car I thought that was the same car....but they are very different and yet, the same idea. I don't think that you can easily find a third one just like them.

http://www.speedhunters.com/2013/04/united-nations-of-car-culture-1jz-vw-caddy/

25

Finally not an LS swap !!!

26

Yeah, maybe I'll have to build the third! I'm pretty sure there's another one out there somewhere!

27

he traded an engine for an iphone 4!? hahaha what an idiot

28

mind = blown

awesome feature, awesome car, dude, this is the sickest car I've ever heard of, show me a car which is more unique and badass than this piece of dirty gold!

30

There are a few RWD conversions out there for Caddys, not one the same! Some even put the motor in the bed, no matter how you slice it I'm sure they are all great fun to drive and took equal dedication and effort!

31

do mine next I have a v8 big block in my 73 bug. @angryherby fb, instagram, and YouTube

32

wheels are too big, period.

33
CharlesChris15

janchuks if the wheels were any smaller, the car would appear weak, because those wheels give the car some extra height. It is a truck after all. and a monster of one at that.

34
CharlesChris15

zuberbomb your the idiot if you wouldnt trade a stupid phone for a freaking engine!!!

Author35

Angry Herby Where are you located? Shoot me an email, bud.

36

Matt Jones Angry Herby I'm located in pine bush, ny . I have a Facebook page with pics/vids , updates. Called Angry Herby. New to this email system and your email isn't showing up.

37

The fabrication on this thing isn't even amateur it's just poser. Let's put gussets on the cage without using dimple dies to cut the holes.

38

How is it a monster? That 5.4 triton motor had 230hp in 97. That thing is probably slow as fuck. Just a tire spinner.

39

Are you serious? I would be pissed if I had that 1J caddy that truck actually has excellent work done to it and shows how great a builder he is. This is junkyard trash.

40

Yeah not even close to being anywhere near as nice.

41
TimatFractionMotorsports

Speedhunters is going down hill if this is the quality of builds they are going to feature now. SMH.

42
TimatFractionMotorsports

@TROLLS ROYCE Skr1bble
I guess you've read zero articles from Chen or Rob

43

@TimatFractionMotorsports I am starting to think that in the eyes of some people SH simply can't win.

44

@TimatFractionMotorsports can't always be the top notch super sports car, man, this is what car culture stands for, the car is awesome, and some people may like it a bit ratty, so just skip this post if you don't like such cars...

45

This story highlights everything that is wrong with "enthusiasts."

Let us see here, we have someone complaining about the quality of the build. A build that was done by an average person with average tools. This car isn't unsafe. The construction looks to be well though out, and well executed. I see no quality issues here.  Sorry if every welded pieced of metal can't be double stacked tig welds done in a laboratory. 
Someone complaining about the lack of dimple dies used on roll bar gussets. Since when was that required? Honestly? There is nothing wrong with not using dimple dies on roll bar gussets. Take a stroll back through roll cage history.
Someone complaining about the engine chosen. At least it is different, creative, and original. Not every build can have  -  or needs a twin turbo LS or monster 2JZ or RB making 1000hp. I bet this vehicle has more than enough power to be a ton of fun.

I am ashamed that people see something as interesting as this build, and can only complain. Is this build my "cup of tea?" No - but I can respect the work, the design, and the vision the builder had.
Why any "enthusiast" would put down another's build solely based on personal taste - or none consequential nit-picking I will never know. Crap like some of these comments are a complete waste of an internet comment system.

I hope SH keeps coving garage built, quality, and original / oddball builds like this. Creativity, ingenuity, and originality is what drives the automotive hobby - not pointless, unconstructive comments made by people who have nothing better to do than be "that guy."

/Rant.

46
osvaldo matamoros

Georgia love baby <3 hell yeah glad to see my own covered on SH.

47

How's this not cool lol, SH has been making me plenty happy the last year+.. keep it up

48

@TimatFractionMotorsports Skr1bble Who the fuck is Rob?

49
MoreThanFreedom

theAngryMarmot So just because someone doesnt agree with your opinion you automatically claim they are wrong? I am pretty sure a comment system is designed for comments. They are not designed for a one sided nut swinging fest. Just saying.

50

theAngryMarmot Are you sure that you understand the point of gussets? They provide extra torsional rigidity if you didnt know. By building the holes without a dimple die they do not provide the extra torsional strength they are made to provide. So in actuality you have put a piece of flat metal in between your cage which provides no increase in strength and then you cut holes in it inturn making it even weaker. So if you can imagine that is what you would call pointless and maybe you should take a stroll back through "roll cage history" whatever that is.

51

@maydaydphan Skr1bble HAHAHAHAHA. He was very quick to make his idiotic assumption and made up a name in the process. The fact is that I have been reading SH since Antonio Alvendia and Carl Jarrett where part of the team. Best full features were delivered from Sean and that is just my opinion.

52

I spent half a day reading the build thread on the driftworks forums a few months back, it's well worth the read

53

230 hp is more than enough for that truck. Looks super fun to drive and has alot of character. The owner is prally a really cool guy and could care less about bragging rights and quarter mile times.

54

Honestly I get bored with reading articles about insanely powerful race cars built by a team of experts with seemingly endless budgets.
This one made me happy:)

55

what a waste...

56

There was talk on the vortex that this guy stole tools from the military to build this. I know that he was begging for money for people to help him finish it because the military was moving him to japan.

57

wow, cool build. not another shouty ls turbo swap wedged in a miniscule engine bay. plus i love seeing converted minitrucks. looks like this thing rips! props to this guy for building his own thing and not giving two shits about anything else (except safety, hence the hand built cage...)

58

The motors not from 97, read the build. With a truck like this it's about torque not HP. Tire spinner? Isn't that the point of drifting? Iirc these motors put out 340 Ft lbs of torque from the factory. More than enough for this trucks weight to have fun and get sideways... Isn't that what it's about?

59

Who cares if someone has baseless claims or negativity in the comments, SH is about a community of car lovers from all genres. Some people can't hold their tongue and that says more about them than their actual words. Regardless of the quality, the build looks like it took a lot of blood and sweat. The outcome might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I give the builder a lot of respect. I saw this in person at Sowo and the pictures don't lie, it's raw and honest like the article. I would rather see that than some bank rolled dime a dozen builds. You don't see many unique builds like this nowadays. I would be willing to bet not many could best this with no experience, and no equipment. Much respect Shane, it was great to meet you in person finally, and thank you for your service!

60

Spot on, I think that the point of the build was a Fun RWD Vw, and that was achieved. What else matters? Lately on SH I have seen a lot of comments from people frustrated with the cars featured... In some
Instances I agree, but when the amount of work and the end factor is this awesome. How can you complain about that? I mean, go ahead and do it, it just says a lot about what kind of person you are. If you think your car is worthy, shoot one of the content providers an email.

61

What, Builds that can be built by the average reader?

62

theAngryMarmot I agree 100% First time seeing a build with a Ford truck engine, love this one front to back.

63

@TimatFractionMotorsports So you'd rather read about those silly lil sports cars that are constantly dragged on their belly with stupid camber and pricey air suspension????

64

340Wtq assuming the motor is making stock power in a 2000lb truck? Maybe not some extremely high HP build, but more than enough to drift and slay tires. An AE86 makes 86HP and weighs about the same... Sooo yeah lol

65

This is bananas! 
I'm all down for a good LS V8 swap but aside from Gittin Jr's Mustang amazing to see this truck rocking a Ford truck engine. The process and execution are spot on and well put together. Nice to see more drifting trucks out there, SH never ceases to amaze me with these crazy builds.
I tip my hat to the builder and to SH, keep em coming and I'll keep sharing!

66

CharlesChris15 zuberbomb Hell, I would lol.

67

Talk is cheap, and Citing Vortex for anything is a good way to discredit yourself. I've read the build and all I saw was a member of the community reaching out to make a dream come true, iirc some douche from the MK3 section spread some misinformation and later apologized after causing a firestorm. The thread is easy to find and it's pretty clear he wasn't in the wrong, but I'm not going to convince you. Keep on SpeedHunting and maybe have some respect.

68

@JDIsm so you prefer looks and $ spent to look cool over actual function?  what about performance per $ spent?   Excellent work? what about the oil cooler hanging off the front? 

This one was built for maybe 1/100th of that car with truck panels hung on it.  This "junkyard trash" will drift just as well and i'd bet it'll be much more reliable.

Please show us what you have built!

69

@OMGnick The point of gussets is to increase torsional rigidity by tying the cage into the chassis at more places.  adding dimples does add a very small amount of additional strength to the gusset by increasing its resistance to bending but that amount is small compared to the strength added by a flat gusset.  A great cage builder will place those bars close enough to the a-pillar that gussets cant be used, the bar can be welded directly to the a-pillar.  I hope this helps you understand the point of gussets.

70

@MoreThanFreedom theAngryMarmot 
Never said anyone was wrong.

What I said was wrong is the fact that we - as car enthusiasts - can't provide CONSTRUCTIVE criticism, or respect that even though a build isn't "our" taste - at least appreciate the vision, quality construction, and uniqueness of a build like this.

71

@OMGnick theAngryMarmot 
Actually - you are wrong on many "points" you are trying to make. Do some research please.

72

Thank you everyone for the positive (and negative) comments. Criticism and insight is welcome, and I wouldn't have been able to even comprehend half of the fabrication if it wasn't from the insight of experienced pros and mistakes I made during the build. Obviously I wish I had a bigger budget and more skills and equipment, people pointing out that the gussets should be dimple die'd and that this is not on the scale of the JapCrap 1JZ caddy are completely on point! Even I wouldn't have to think for a second if the choice was between the two, Viktors caddy is insane and built by a pro no expense spared. Being a VW of course there was drama in the build thread and of course there will be people that don't like it, or could make a better one. That's what I love about the car culture, it's a opportunity to not only share experiences across platforms, but to then create a physical representation of not only your skills and experience, but your dreams and visions. Not everyone will have the same idea of what a perfect car or build is, and I'm not naive enough to think that my truck is anywhere close to perfect. I'm just grateful I was given this opportunity and I hope that I can grow my skills and shop so that one day I can truly express myself in another build. Thank you Matt, and thank you Speedhunters Team! If anyone is interested or has questions about the truck my IG is @Draklore
Thanks and I hope everyone gets this opportunity!
-Shane

73

@Dave
Good job on proving how much of a poser you are: 

"Let's put gussets on the cage without using dimple dies to cut the holes"

You've clearly never used a dimple die (or if you have your using them wrong); you don't CUT holes with dimple dies, they are not a punch, they are are a secondary process after you have already cut the hole using a holesaw or whatever other method. So why are you calling someone else out when you have no idea yourself?

74

Looks fun.......................!

75

It's a cool car, I hate vw's but this is unique and deserves respect. I'm in the middle of a complete rebuild of a Subaru and after 2.5 years building it I know what you have gone through to make this work. Cudas man.

76

Siiiiiick

77

what I can say about this VW is: the unperfect one could be a whole new level of awesomeness

78

CharlesChris15 zuberbomb i believe he's referring to the guy that gave up the engine, not the guy who gave up the iphone.

79

great build on what looks like a fun car, I need to go that route one day. Took me 6 yrs to get a car I bought in pieces back together and running. Wasn't my best work but I learned a lot so that the work I do now is worlds better. I've yet to build a frame and weld together a cage though, so always a opportunity to grow and learn some more!! Keep it up!

80

Shane is an awesome dude that came to my house and helped me install a clutch in my driveway for a 6 pack of beer. I am happy that he is getting recognition for this labor of love. Proud of you dude.

81
mbretschneider

This is mental, i love it! I myself would run something like that to carry parts around...
I`m crazy for digital dashes and displays, does anyone around here know what dashboard is that? where i can buy something like that?

82

Im not sure how much of this post I can even believe considering this kid drives an Audi A4 for his daily driver and not this truck.

He has also never drifted this truck. Burnouts is not drifting.

83

"Speedhunters is for nothing but poser drift faggots" - Drakelore (via Vortex)

84

Look up intellitronics, they make custom and universal gauge solutions for projects

85

Oh I get it.. And it's Draklore*

86

Not to start an arguement on the internet... But his IG says different, but sure we believe you

87

Comment sections on the internet (especially SH) is always amusing to read, baffling but entertaining.
I doubt few of us really know this guy or have any insight on who he is. looking at his IG he involves his daughter in garage projects. That's a cool dude in my book.
Ps-Happy Fathers Day!

88

Thanks dude!
I love to involve my daughter out in the garage as much as possible. I don't let the comments get to me, It's the internet, it's funny to see the stuff that people say. I mean, if someone says something on the internet it must be true! Happy Father's Day to you too

89

Oh man! So much want!

90

Draklore Well said sir.

Also, that's one of the nicest dashboards i've seen.

91
CharlesChris15

@Nightshift the "kid" as you called him created this monster of a truck. And you are gunna doubt the whole post because he doesn't drive it as a daily? I perosnally would'nt want to drive that as a daily either

92

i thought about going v8 in my caddy too but now im thinking four banger turbo is the way to go. but it will be rwd. hell maybe itll be cool enough for this site. ;)

93
DerZeitgeistGeistreich

Met Shane and saw this ride at SoWo. Very cool dude; very, very cool ride. 
(He also made the dash, which inspired me to make my own on a non-factory dash of my own).

94
DerZeitgeistGeistreich

Draklore I guess there are some negative comments below, I don't care wtf that says, and I'm not even going to bother looking.
I took my son to SoWo for his first car show, and I was so glad that he actually got to see a vehicle that he had seen online, before (your truck, when you were on FB). 
Great to meet you, man. You do your thing and you do it well. 
Hit me up if you come back to FB!

95

Sir you did a great and beautiful job on this VW Caddy, always wanted to build a Fat fender Caddy with a Turbo, your idea is awesome... Congrats at a great build...

96

DerZeitgeistGeistreich That's really using the  term "dash" rather loosely  it doesn't take a genius two combine to POS into one... just a lot of effort

97

A prefect example of what to do when you have two POS wrecked cars and plenty of spare time.. combine them into one

98

What an amazing bout of internet engineering. "I think he should have **INSERT A TECHNICAL REF I LEARNED ON A FORUM HERE, THUS PROVING MY GENUIS** and as he hasn't, he's clearly an idiot. 

I would suggested, anecdotally of course, and with no prior research, that the history of roll cages typically started with a cage to protect the occupant in a roll over incident... 

I would also suggest that removing material from the centre of any plate is a fine way to reduce the overall weight. Typically stiffness is borne of the distance and amount of material from a centre line. If I was adding plates, I'd do it as it looks trick. I'd probably use a hole saw in lieu of buying a press and a suitable die.

Are you talking local torsion at the plate? or of the shell, or just general shite? You'll probably find most cage builders use dies ('dimple' or otherwise) to punch the holes as its neat and quick. 

Cool caddy. Found it in a google search of RWD converted caddy's when toying with my own (and incidentally whilst procrastinating and putting off doing some real life FEA stress analysis, something I've done for around 20 years as a post grad...) 

Nice use of the old axle as a brace too. Neat.

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