This is a Wombat, it looks like the kid brother of the Humvee but it has no relation to it – it’s one of hundreds of cars that have been built from kits supplied by the Wombat Car Company of Vancouver, Washington.
Each Wombat starts out with a VW Beetle chassis, the new fiberglass body and its steel subframe bolt into place using the pre-existing body mounting points, and the whole kit goes together in as little as 80 hours using basic hand tools.
Fast Facts – The Wombat
- The Wombat was developed by the Wombat Car Company of Vancouver, Washington as an evolution over the earlier (and similar-looking) Hummbug. These vehicles have styling cues taken from the Humvee and the Jeep, but they’re lightweight, mechanically simple, and easy to build.
- Each Wombat starts with an unmodified VW Beetle platform, the fiberglass body has a steel frame for better rigidity, and it all bolts into place using the pre-existing Beetle body mounting points.
- Many Wombat owners use their cars as weekend fun vehicles, some daily drive them, others tow them behind their RV when touring the country so they have an “around town” car on hand whenever they need it.
- The VW Beetle platform has a long history of being used for military and off road vehicles, including the WWII-era Volkswagen Kübelwagen, followed later by the Meyers Manx dude buggy and countless others over the decades.
- The Wombat you see in this article is a yellow example based on a 1969 Volkswagen Beetle that now benefits from a slew of major suspension and engine upgrades for better off road performance. It’s being offered for sale out of Manhattan Beach, California with a clean California title the seller’s name.
The Wombat Car Company
The Wombat Car Company was founded in 1997 by Karl Kanthak to build a unique kit car that combined the best traits of the Humvee and fiberglass-bodied dune buggies. The American military operations in the Middle East a little earlier in the 1990s and popularized the rugged Humvee, officially known as the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV or Humvee), and many Americans wanted one of their own.
The high cost and low practicality of the Humvee resulted in plenty of demand for alternatives, and that’s where Karl and the Wombat Car Company come into the picture.
Anyone wanting something akin to a mini-Humvee in their driveway had two options – they could order a kit from Karl and build it themselves on a VW Beetle platform, or they could order a complete turnkey car in the color of their choice with a number of additional options – including a higher-output engine.
In the years since, over 300 examples of the Wombat and its earlier sibling the Humbug have been built, making them a common sight at kit car shows. Wombat owners like to joke that the vehicle requires two people to refuel – you need one to pump the gas and another to answer all the questions.
Many surprisingly capable off road vehicles have been made using the VW Beetle platform, starting with the WWII-era Volkswagen Kübelwagen that was essentially the Wehrmacht’s answer to the Willys Jeep.
The Beetle became a common donor car for the kit car industry due to the fact that so many millions of them were made after the war, their prices were low, and the body could be removed leaving a platform-type chassis with the drivetrain and running gear still in place.
Some kits were replicas designed looked like Ferraris, or successful racing cars like the Ford GT40, and some were based on the styling of early Bugattis. One of the most famous, and most enduring Beetle-based kit cars is the Meyers Manx. The original dune buggy developed by Bruce Meyers that founded an entirely new automotive genre, won countless off road races, and spawned untold numbers of copycats and imitations.
In some respects the Wombat is part Kübelwagen and part Manx, it’s a simple, practical, and inexpensive vehicle that’s surprisingly good off road thanks to its low weight and the fact that the weight of the engine and transmission is over the driven wheels.
Wombats have been used for a wide variety of things over the years since the design debuted. Some daily drive them, some use them for fun on weekends in the summer, and others tow them behind their RVs so they have an “around town” car when they need it.
The Wombat Shown Here
The vehicle you see here is a yellow Wombat based on a 1969 Volkswagen Beetle. Unlike many of its siblings this example has been fitted with significantly uprated suspension including A-arm-style front suspension with rack-and-pinion steering, adjustable upper and lower control arms, and Fox adjustable coilovers with remote-mounted fluid reservoirs.
The rear suspension consists of 3×3″ boxed rear trailing arms, suspension limit straps, and Fox adjustable coilovers to match the front. As a result, the vehicle sits higher, it has improved ground clearance, and more wheel articulation when its needed.
Front disc brakes have been added to replace the original drums, with the Beetle drum brakes remaining in place in the rear. It rides on chrome 15″ steel wheels are mounted with 235/75 Toyo A/T Open Country light truck tires, including a matching spare mounted to the rear swing-out carrier.
Power is provided by a modified 1,835cc VW air-cooled flat-four with an aftermarket engine case, 92mm pistons and cylinders, a 69mm crankshaft, a full-flow oiling system, dual Weber 44 IDF carburetors, and a 009-style distributor with electronic ignition.
Inside the car you’ll find SCAT Procar Classic 1500 bucket seats are trimmed in black vinyl, a matching rear bench seat, a Gene Berg shifter, AutoMeter instrumentation, a roll cage, and gray carpeting.
The Wombat is now being offered for sale out of Manhattan Beach, California with a clean California title the seller’s name on Bring a Trailer. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of Bring a Trailer
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.