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.