Custom Speed Buggy
Yannick Sire is a 38-year-old West Los Angeles hot rodder who had a hot rodding youth drenched in the earliest days of the handling-muscle-car resurgence. He blasted corners at Willow Springs International Raceway with his '68 Chevelle while working for Ted Toki at Westside Performance and developed a fondness for dry-sumps and short-stroke Rat motors that matured into building corner-carving muscle at his own shop, Sire Custom Performance in Inglewood, California.
But familiarity breeds contempt. Yannick has been feeling kind of worn out on all the normal blah-blah and says, "No one has been building anything really cool. They say they want Pro Touring or whatever, but it's all heavy cars with a lot of power and not enough brakes, and nothing is really different. Don't get me wrong, I still love Chevelles and those. But I just had to get out. I had a break in my workload and wanted to finally put together something unique that connected an IndyCar look with rat rods. Rat rods are fashionable and everything, but they don't really perform and are uncomfortable. I wanted a car to be reliable and really work and drive anywhere."
The product of his irksome craving came at the perfect time for our moods, too. It was just last month's issue where we ran six pages of tube buggy 4x4 rock racers and begged readers to take a clue and scratch-build street/strip/track speed buggies of their own. Moments later, we stumbled onto some online photos of Yannick's creation at a George Barris car show. Eureka. It was exactly what we were dreaming of.
And you may not have picked up on this yet, but the thing has two engines in it. Just because.
Most of the chassis is made of 1 3/4-inch chrome-moly tubing, though there are 1 1/2 and 1 1/4-inch support bars. The car sits on a 128-inch wheelbase (comparison: a Chevelle is a foot shorter), is 82.5 inches wide, and the roof sits 42 inches off the ground.
So it's kind of a freak show, but the entire car was scratch-built by Yannick from a pile of tubing, some leftover parts from cars at his shop, and a few new items purchased for reasonable prices. Not to say that this is dirt cheap-nothing with two complete AFR-headed engines could be-but it's certainly repeatable by a regular guy if that dude just invested in a tubing bender and a welding class, and especially if he was happy with a single engine. The entire chassis is constructed of home-bent tubular chrome-moly. The suspension is likewise homegrown, though off-the-shelf components could be used instead. There's no fancy IRS, just a Dana 60. Even the wheels are takeoffs from a BMW X5 SUV, which is maybe the cheapest route to a set of 20s. The interior is affordable via minimalism.
And the possibilities are endless. The style and capabili-ties of a car like this are limited only by the time and creativity of the builder and not by the confines of sheetmetal or accepted styles that separate the heroes from the outcasts at your local cruise night. Yannick does intend to build a complete one-off aluminum body for his creation, and while that will open new opportunities to collude form and function, we say a speed buggy can be perfectly done by being not exactly finished. Add a firewall, road-legal lights, perhaps dress up the front radiator a bit, toss on some nerf bars, and the unfinished creation on these pages would be complete enough for us.
The simple interior is dominated by the two Procar by Scat bucket seats. The B&M shifter controls a Mike's Transmissions Turbo 400.The rest is Auto Meter gauges, a steering wheel from an old truck, Lokar pedals, and bare metal.
In past years we've heard editors and publishers claim that magazines create trends. Not. All we can do is spot what's going on in the real world, amplify it to a large audience, and see if it sticks. If you're feeling like a six-page feature story on a weirdo car is cramming the concept down your throat, then you're probably right that we love it just a little too much. We know the speed buggy idea is too far out for the mainstream to embrace it; unlike the world of 4x4 rockcrawlers, hot rodding is saturated with emotional connections to body styles and eras that, for most of the audience, trump raw performance. Likewise, the hot rodding masses of the last 40 years have stepped away from the welder and bellied up to the bolt-on parts catalog, leaving fewer and fewer original thoughts. Flying in the face of all that has merit and appeal and is why we'd be happy if a speed buggy trend became even a mild plop in the stream of gearhead niches. If you look at muscle car prices combined with the sludgy economy and mix that up with today's higher-than-ever expectations and interest in handling and real performance, then you'd think that building a homemade screamer would have lots of value right now. We've added building one of these to our lengthy must-do list of dreams, but readerland can pull it off with more purity than we can. What have you got?
Reprinted from Hot Rod Magazine