VW Platform

VW Platform

This is the second Motorkhana Special built by Alan Wheeley.


The VW body was taken off a chassis by John Virtue early in January, 1977 and it was parked in his workshop in Kingston.  Preparations for competition consisted of welding a full width roll bar onto the car with braces to the rear.  The first motorkhana that it ran in was the Holden Torana Car Club event on Sunday 20th March, where it came third outright.

It was transported to my home in April, 1977, and was test driven in the street on 1st May.  It ran at the QMROA Motorkhana at Capalaba where it won outright.

Lights were fitted to the trailer on 19th May, and the trailer registered on 1st June.  The rear suspension was reset on 15th June to bring the wheels back to upright without the weight of the body on the chassis.  Greg and Christine Evans bought third shares in the vehicle, and all three drove it in events.

On Sunday 19th June it competed in Queensland Motorkhana Championship Round 4 run by QMSC, but the oil cooler sprung a leak at the sealing rubbers inside the fan housing.  A new set of wheels were bought for the car on 9th July, and fitted with tractor tyres for the dirt.

The Interclub Motorkhana was held at Toombul Shoppingtown on 14th August, and the next event was the QMROA round of the Queensland Championships held at Dalgety’s Paddock at Rocklea.  It ran at the Renault Car Club Motorkhana on 30th October, and the last round of the QMC on 27th November, 1977 at Labrador.

Greg and Christine took over the ownership of the car when Alan Wheeley started competing in his “Wusten Rennwagen” in 1978.



Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Gonzales was the sixth motorkhana special built by Alan Wheeley.  It was originally planned and sketched in March 1988 when a Kawasaki Z1000 motor was bought from a 1982 model Z1000J bike.  The original design was for the car to be front wheel drive, ARTICULATED, with a Toyota Toyoglide auto sun gears to provide the forward/reverse.  The name chosen was “Artie Q”.  After months on the design, it was realised that because the previous vehicle had been banned, building another car that had very unusual desigh features was an invitation to the knockers to ban this car also.  A proof of this concern was demonstrated when a spoof design of a diamond shaped car with a very wide single drive wheel in the centre, steering wheels in the centreline at front and rear, and outrigger casters put outbound from the middle of the car was published in a car club magazine.  The spoof design was mentioned at the national level of administration with plans already in place to outlaw it.  So the design was toned down greatly, with the bike engine mounted east/west behind the driver, with chain drive from the bike gearbox into the toyoglide gearset inside a home made gearbox behind the solid rear axle, and then driving forward by chain to the rear axle.  A number of tentative names were mentioned, but finally decided on Gonzales (the fastest mouse in all of Mehico).  Kart handling principals were designed with the solid rear axle by using shaft to hub connectors locking the wheels onto the axle, and rear track was then variable by sliding the hubs along the axle.

Construction started in November 1993, and the car had its debut at the old Brisbane Airport on 20th February, 1994.  One of the shaft to hub connectors could not stand the pressure, with the result of one rear wheel coming off to make the vehicle a trike.  The connectors were then discarded, and solid hubs made to key onto the axle.  Continual trouble was had with welds in the drivetrain not being strong enough, and all drive to the axle lost.  The output shaft of the Toyoglide was made of super hard chromed steel, and a keyway could not be cut in it.  So a shrink fit was tried, but this did not work either.  At the christmas rebuild, the gearbox was taken apart to check the internals, which turned out to be OK.  When installing all the parts and the gears, something got out of alignment, and as soon as drive was transmitted through the box in the first event, the whole internals sheared apart.  So a new design was started on a gearbox using Chryslet Torqueflite gears in a home made gearbox that had all the bearings in the wall of the box, and a simple lid.  This design allowed everything to be set up, tested by hand, and then simply filled with oil, and sealed.  This worked well except for the continuing problem of welding the output sprocket.

A full cage was grafted onto the car in May 1997 to make it safer, and a Holden HT gearbox installed in  the rear to replace the auto transmission setup.  This still had the welding problem until some special chromealloy rods were tried.  The front suspension was changed to pushrod operation in April 1998, but the handling was still diabolical without rear suspension.  The inside rear wheel would sometimes be 250 millimetres off the ground befor the rear end would slide.

The car was weighed in September 1998, and it came out at 308 kilograms, with approx 26 % on the front wheels.

The front dampers were replaced by ones from the rear of a Suzuki GS 1000 that featured air pressure over the oil reservoir to soften or harden them.  The front was gradually hardened, but the problem was only partly solved.  A full rebuild was done in January 1999, and this time the second and third gears were left out of the HT gearbox to save a little weight.  At the May 1999 event at Coomera, the 2/3 gear selector jammed in the other gears, and punched a hole in the casing.  All the oil was drained out, and the box survived the last 3 tests with no oil in it.  An Aquabond plug patched the hole, and worked perfectly.  Below is a photo of the car when it was fun to drive; tail out slightly, power sliding away from a pole.

In July 1999 the cage was extended 150 millimetres upward to satisfy new roll bar regulations.  It was towed to Nirimba in Sydney for the Australian Motorkhana Championships of 1999 which were called off after a cloudburst flooded the grounds.

New links on the front suspension and dampers pumped up to 45 psi helped the handling enough for it to win its first ever Queensland Championship round in October 1999 at Coomera.  The motor was starting to get very tired early in 2000, so the car was taken to a bike expert to get the motor tuned.  However at the Australian Motorkhana Championship on 13th August the motor was running very poorly, and needed half choke just to keep it running.  New plugs were tried, but made little difference.  Then in the Paddy test, the motor started to come good, and in the high speed reverse to the finish garage the motor came on song, but the reverse flick into the garage went wrong with the front tyres suddenly gripping when sideways, and the car rolled over into the garage.  During the rollover, Alan’s hands got outside the cage, and hit the bitumen, tearing all the skin and flesh off the backs of them.  The car was pushed out of the way, and dumped on its trailer while the driver went to hospital to get his hands bandaged.

This evil handling and troublesome car was retired on the spot, and plans started on a better handling replacement.  The phots below taken at Hervey Bay on 16-8-1998 shows how small and narrow the car was compared with a RWD Renault Special, and two Front Wheel Drive Mini Specials.



Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Radenkerbtier was the fourth motorkhana special built by Alan Wheeley.  The name came from two German words because it was made mainly from Volkswagen parts.  “Rad” is wheel in German; and “Kerbtier” is buggy in German.  Therefore “Wheel’s Buggy” became Radenkerbtier.  It was built to replace another car that had design deficiencies that could not be overcome.

Independant rear suspension was deemed to be better than the previous swing axle setup, so the rear suspension from a VW Station Wagen was purchased from Langdon’s Wreckers, together with a Superbug gearbox, and a ball joint front end out of a VW 1500 Type 1.  This front end had big disc brakes for better stopping, and 4 stud hubs for the newer wheels.  Unfortunately the front end is designed for a lot more weight that you get in a motorkhana car, so the top tube was cut in two places, and a Meyers Manx “Select-A-Drop” welded in place.

The actual rolling chassis was welded up on Sunday 22-10-1978, and an alloy framed steering wheel fabricated in July 1979.  Tho old motor out of Alan’s VW Beetle was taken apart and rebuilt with 86 mm barrels and pistons, then bolted to the chassis on 10th August.

It had its debut on the IWMAC Purga dirt grounds on 12th August, 1979, but the brake pedal mounts broke off.  Completely new pedals were manufactured for it, and new wheel bearings fitted before towing it to the Australian Motorkhana Championships in Adelaide on the 26th August.  It then competed in the motorkhana part of the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers in the main street, in the rain.  Construction of a special purpose trailer for the car was started in October, 1979 and first used for towing it to Surfers Paradise for the Speed Week Motorkhana on Thursday night 1st November.  The car had its first outing at the Echo Valley Dirt Hillclimb in Toowoomba on 11th November.  The car was weighed in this trim and came in at 430 kilograms, with 17% of that on the front wheels.

An innovative air operated turning brake mechanism was built in February, 1980.  The sizing of the cylinders was wrong, so larger cylinders were obtained and fitted.  The whole car was taken to Denis Hall of Spartan Paints in March 1980, and painted in Spartan Ultrathane in brilliant yellow.  The trailer was painted in equipment enamel.  Signwriting was done by the owner to thank those firms that had helped with equipment used on the car.  A new “Scat” over the top exhaust system with megaphone trumpet tailpipe was fitted for the first run at Mt Cotton Hillclimb on 16th March, 1980, and it sounded wonderful.  However the air operated turning brakes still did not work well enough, so they were replaced with normal hand operated cable brakes.  The car was towed one thousand miles north to Townsville for the second round of the Queensland Championships where it won outright.  The next weekend it was at Rockhampton to run in the Round 3 on the grass, where it placed second.  Around this time a SAAB 900 was taken to Surfers Paradise to try to beat the 24 hour record, and lots of Pirelli P6 tyres were supplied for the attempt.  However the Saab chewed these tyres to shreds on the abrasive surface, and they were thrown on the tyre scrapheap.  Alan found the 4 best of these, and fitted them to some 6″ wide rims to use on the bitumen, and made an enormous difference to the handling.  In July 1980, the car ran at a club day at Sutfers Paradise, where the high speed handling was tested to the limit.  Then it was taken to the first IWMAC Autocross held at Coominya, on a tight sandy circuit.  Lots of high powered desert racers turned up to be trounced by Radenkerbtier because it was better suited to the track.  however, a month later when the next Autocross was held, the steering box came loose on the front of the car with a high speed excursion at the finish line resulting.  Keeper plates were welded on to stop that happening again.  A hot dog muffler was fitted to the flange joint in the exhaust to quieten the noise for events where there were restrictions.

It was towed to Melbourne for the Australian Motorkhana Championships in August 1980, where it scored second in class, but the trailer succumbed to problems on the way home.  The wider wheels and extra components had now increased the weight to 470 kilograms when weighed in October, 1980.  The high speed handling was again tested when it was taken to Lakeside Circuit in November, 1980.

In February 1981, the air cooled VW motor was taken off and a Mazda Rotary motor installed, with an RX2 radiator mounted at the front to try to counteract the motor weight.  However when it was tried out at Lakeside, the front wheels would instantly launch into the air on application of power, and the steering did not work with the front wheels off the ground.  Rotary motors may be small, but they are very heavy.  A bearing in the motor siezed, so the VW motor was replaced.

It was towed to Townsville in April where it again won outright.  The following Saturday it ran on the bitumen at Rockhampton, and then on the dirt on Sunday to record third outright.  The next weekend was a demonstration event at the Boonah Show, and a cow cockie looked at the radiator mounted (still) on the front, and the VW motor on the back, and believed the story that this was one of the new water cooled VW motors.

In May 1981 it was towed back to Rockhampton for the Motorkhana School, where it won outright, then down to Coffs Harbour in NSW for thr State Of Origin motorkhana where it again triumphed.  A month later it did it again at Ipswich, but then the bubble burst at the QMROA round of the Championships where it was a victim of some bastardry between the Clerk of Course and the Scrutineers and declared illegal.  All of the major chassis tubes had been built from 25 x 3 square tube, and these sections were used in the bracing between the front and rear roll hoops, and the cross bracing to the rear of the chassis.  The CAMS regulations had been changed to outlaw non circular sections in any roll bars.  It was argued that if the bars between the front hoop and the rear hoop were cut off, then the car would then become legal, but very dangerous, but the scrutineers held firm.  Rules are rules, regardless of whether they are stupid.  The car then had the square section braces cut out, and replaced with circular section of less strength, but it was back being legal.

Around this time Tony Poulos ran his Alfa Romeo at the Surfers 12 Hour Sports Car Race, and the Dunlop slicks he used were still in good nick after the event.  A deal was struck to “borrow” them for Radenkerbtier for bitumen events in return for giving Tony a co-drive in the car.  However the car did not give him the thrill he expected, but the slicks were kept for motorkhanas on bitumen.  It was towed to Canberra for the Australian Motorkhana Championships in August where it scored fastest time in the Lazy Eight test, but a motor stalling problem saw it end up in 4th in class.  Driver errors at the Surfers Paradise Speedweek Motorkhana caused a poor performance, but at Toowoomba the next month it was fastest outright.

1982 started well with another first outright at Ipswich, and then it was taken to the porsche Motorkhana School at Kooralbyn in March.  A poorly timed front-end throw at Townsville in April resulted in second outright, and the following weekend in Rockhampton it was third outright.

The Australian Motorkhana Championships were held in Brisbane in 1982, and the car won its class in that event.  But the seeds of a radical new design were sown on that weekend, and the car was sold to Malcolm Ryan in December 1982.  Malcolm towed it with him when he shifted to Melbourne on 1st January, 1983.  He ran it at the AMC in Melbourne in September, and started on overhaul after the event.  He towed it back to Brisbane in 1984, but suffered a major road accident when towing it to Nambour to get the motor rebuilt.  It was not until April 1985 that the car ran again, and it had only two outings in that year.  It was taken to Coffs Harbour in 1986 for the State of Origin Motorkhana where Alan Wheeley (the previous owner) won outright.  The car was then left on the trailer in Malcolm’s yard while he had some family troubles until September 1990 when Alan Wheeley organised to take over the car, and start to fix 4 years of erosion.  In April 1991 the car was taken to Steve Sheehan for him to work on in a deal where both he and Alan would drive it in events.  Alan’s radical new car had been banned, and he had nothing to drive.  Steve did a freshen up of the motor in June 1991, and repainted the car in August of that year.  Both drove it in 1992 and 1993 before Alan started work on his new car designed to the new regulations.  Steve built a “Killer” VW engine for the car in 1994, but it detonated.  He built another in 1995 with the same result.  Both drove the car in occasional events in the following years.  Ownership of the car was given to Steve Sheehan on 8th December, 2001 and it ran occasionally in 2003 and following years.  Unfortunately it has not been driven since 2008, and is stored in Steve’s shed.

In November 2013, Geoff Johnson took over ownership of the car after his similar car was stolen from his home garage.  He is in the middle of a complete rebuild of the car, and hopes to be competing in it in 2014.


Wusten Rennwagen


Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Wusten Rennwagen is the third motorkhana special built by Alan Wheeley.The name comes from 3 German words:- “Wusten” meaning desert; “Renn” meaning race; and “Wagen” meaning vehicle or car.  Therefore Desert Racer is Wusten Rennwagen.  The vehicle was originally built by a desert racing person, but found that the wheelbase was far too short for that sort of competition.  Alan Wheeley bought it as a rolling chassis, fitted with a Kombi gearbox, on 18th July, 1977.  The reason for the Kombi gearbox was to a lot of ground clearance under the car, but because that is not a consideration for motorkhanas, the Kombi box was replaced with a VW 1500 swing axle box.  This unfortunately had bent axles, so it was returned and replaced by a VW 1300 swing axle box.  The Kombi front suspension had Holden hubs grafted to it when it arrived, and that setup was left alone.  The original front and rear roll bars had a single tube between them on the centreline (like a Targa Top), but because this was not legal, nor safe enough, two pieces of heavy wall steam pipe were cut and welded into the outside corners of the hoops, and then the original tube cut out.

An 1100 cc VW Beetle engine was purchased second hand, but when it was fitted and first run, bad noised came out of it as half an inch of crankshaft end play became obvious.  This motor was returned and replaced by a 1300 cc 40 HP motor.  When it ran poorly, it was taken apart to reveal a cracked head and lots of untightened bolts.  So the old 36 HP motor from the previous motorkhana VW Platform was borrowed.

Its debut event was the BSCC Autocross on Sunday 14th May, 1978.  At the Lakeside dirt motorkhana, the gearbox mount broke, and was replaced.  It was then towed to Coffs Harbour for the Queensland versus NSW Motorkhana at Red Rock on the Queen’s Birthday Weekend.  The following weekend the motor was returned to Greg Evans, and work started on a proper rebuild of the 40 HP motor.  That was finished in time for the BSCC motorkhana at Toombul, then the QMROA motorkhana at Capalaba, and the HTCC motorkhana at the same place.  There was an oil leak that was traced to the oil cooler, so the sealing washers were replaced to fix the problem.

It ran 9 events in 1979 before being sold to Gerard Healy of Southport for $450.

Gerard ran it at one motorkhana in 1980, before crashing the car at a sprint meeting at Surfers Paradise Raceway.  I do not know if it was ever repaired.





































Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
Kwakakart is the 5th special built by Alan Wheeley, who started with a clean sheet of paper, and with the then current rules in mind decided to build a rear wheel drive car to be as competitive as the front wheel drive cars. Principal parameters were a vehicle as small as was possible, as light as possible, and as powerful as limited money would allow. Construction was started in August 1982, and the debut of it was on 27th February, 1983 on a dirt surface.

An old circuit racing Go-Kart was purchased to get the wheels, tyres, brakes, hubs, axles etc to keep the vehicle as small as possible. The chassis was modified and lengthened to the minimum wheelbase of 1800 mm, and a full cage incorporated for safety. For power, a Kawasaki Z650 wreck was purchased to get the motor, electrics, exhaust pipes etc. The design of a forward/reverse gearbox was started. This transmission was based on the gears from the bottom leg of an outboard motor (rated at 55 HP), built into a home made casing located in the centre of the rear axle, and fitted with disconnect dog clutches on either side of this transmission. The dog clutches were kept engaged by springs, and disconnected by small air cylinders operated from solenoid valves controlled by switches in the turning brake levers. No suspension was originally incorporated, but corner weights were able to be altered by threaded rods in the cage front mounts. 5 inch diameter wheels front and rear were of 5 inch width at front and 8 inch width at the rear, and fitted with sticky slick tyres. At the time there was a big war between the three tyre manufacturers, and every 6 months a better compound was brought out and nobody then wanted the just superseded compounds, which could be bought for about $20 each. These tyres lasted for about 9 months, and by that time an even newer compound would be on the market.


This car had a motor that revved to 12,500 rpm, it was half the size of the other cars, half the weight, and revved twice as hard. It was spectacular to watch, and not easy to drive. The original kart steering had one quarter of a turn from lock to lock, and this was changed by using some sprockets and chain from a WW2 aeroplane to get it to three quarters of a turn. This chain broke during the Australian Motorkhana Championships in Melbourne in 1983, so the original kart steering was re-fitted. The whole car at this time weighed only 275 kg.
The motor was in the rear, and mounted longitudinally, with the drive taken by chain to the input shaft of the reversing box. All “hot” parts were on the left hand side, with the exhaust system going from 4 into 1 beside the motor, then into a “hot dog” muffler, and then to the rear. To save costs, Alan decided to build this exhaust himself, but realised that the only way he could do it was to buy lots of bends from an exhaust pipe shop, and cut them up and weld them together. So the job was given to a specialist exhaust man, and he did exactly the same thing. All combustibles were on the right hand side of the car. A mower fuel tank fed by gravity to the carburettors, but it was found that cornering forces were so great that the carburettors either starved on left hand turns, or flooded on right hand turns. An electronic fuel pump was then fitted, supplying pressurised fuel to a log manifold in front of the carburettors, with a return line to the tank. Because fuel pressure regulators are expensive, a piece of copper tube was fitted inside the return line, and the tube was bent gradually till the correct fuel pressure was obtained.
The first time the car ran on bitumen was the Mt Cotton Hillclimb on 20th March, 1983. A problem was found in that the return road to the pits was just two strips of concrete, but with a track dimension of less than 1100 millimetres, only two wheels were on the concrete path, and the other two on the rough dirt and rocks between the strips. The result was the whole aluminium floor tray was torn up and destroyed. The next time the car competed at Mt Cotton, it was organised to be allowed to do a spin turn after crossing the finish line, then go back to the pits via the track and start line.
The first bitumen motorkhana was at Rockhampton on 3rd April, 1983 still in its unpainted state, and the photo of some of some of the cars emphasises the size of the car. On the left is a Volkswagen Special, then a Mini Special, then a Citroen Special, then Kwakakart.
The other photo shows how hard it cornered by lifting the inside rear wheel.
There is videos from that date on youtube. www.youtu.be/isJDjJOFWLw www.youtu.be/wWCYKMKxv9E www.youtu.be/moOxjCzLY5o
The car was painted in June 1983 by Denis Hall. The third Championship Motorkhana it ran in was at Warwick on 3rd July, 1983 where it won outright.
Videos of this event are :- www.youtu.be /aT9eyPMhi2k www.youtu.be/AM_E5G_P_ow
The car was towed to Perth for the 1984 AMC, and won the RWD specials class, but the abrasive surface tore the rear tyres to shreds. It ran again the following weekend (after 5 days towing it back across Australia) at Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast.

Video is :- www.youtu.be/zA12mAz84E4
When driven hard around corners, the car started to bounce excessively, and after watching a video of the trouble, a solution was found. The rear tyres were gripping until the outside edge lost adhesion, and the car would bounce sideways till the edge gripped again. The rear wheels were then fitted with two front tubes side by side with the inner tube inflated to 20 psi, and the outer to 15 psi. This profiled the tyre slightly, and the bouncing stopped.

For events on dirt, some 6” diameter wheelbarrow rim halves were fitted with mower tyres that were hand cut to reduce the amount of tread blocks touching the ground, and therefore increase traction. At the Echo Valley Hillclimb at Toowoomba on 28th October, 1984 the speed at the end of the straight was calculated at 130 Kilometres / Hour; which was way above the recommended maximum speed rating for the tyres of 20 KPH.

It competed in the 1985 AMC that was held on the gravel at Albury – Wodonga, but the furrows that got to 150 millimetres deep made it difficult to drive a car with only 40 millimetres clearance under the chassis. Video is :- www.youtu.be/LeQUveKxLBQ
Unfortunately some of the other competitors did not like anything different from the normal type of car, and steps were put in place to outlaw the car. The car was perfectly legal, so the rules governing motorkhana cars were changed after only three years to make the car ineligible. From now on wheels were to be of a minimum of 10 inches diameter. The car ran a few times in club only motorkhanas, but when the gearbox shredded a spline again, the car was retired to gather dust under the house. www.youtu.be/SBToD6Gz4yU