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Florida Bug Jam 2015: Bug Wars

Bryce Womeldurf November 13, 2015 Car Shows, Featured, Nostalgia 7 Comments

Blue Volkswagen bug

Many of you can probably remember when Volkswagen was known more for making small, cheap, ubiquitous cars with character, known as the Beetle, than they were for a diesel emissions controversy. Last Saturday, I was able to travel back to those good old days at the Florida Bug Jam, a family-friendly judged classic Volkswagen car show with a poker run and some dirt track hooning. I don’t think I spotted a single water-cooled VW while I was there, besides the one that I arrived in. 

"Gulf Ghia" Karmann Ghia

Soon after arriving, I spotted this Karmann Ghia, known as the “Gulf Ghia.” The Gulf Ghia and several of these low sitting Microbuses were fitted with hydraulic lift kits. Shortly after I took the above photo, someone got in it, and the car stood up while he backed it in underneath a shady tent, where it would sit back down, staring out at the crowd from the cool shade.

Gulf Ghia sitting in the shade under a tent

Rusty VW Microbus known as the Demon bus

This rusty bus, sitting nearby, is known as the Demon Bus, according to Demon Motorsports’ Facebook page. Both the buses and the Gulf Ghia seemed to have had their hydraulic systems installed. This decaying bus was definitely unique, sporting a boat load of patina and park bench seats inside.

Gulf Ghia and Demon Bus images

Blue bug and Glitter bug the beach buggy

The beach buggy on the right had a European vanity plate with the words “Glitter Bug” underneath its surfboards. Try to say “Glitter Bug” without getting “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” stuck in your head. I dare you. No? Just me?

Orange halloween-themed Beetle

Boats wagon

Later on, I was walking along a path headed toward the dirt motocross track, when all of a sudden… was that a boat? Yes, a boat on wheels with Beetle fenders. It said “Boats Wagon” on the back. There’s something you don’t see every day. Another rarity, though much less shocking was the Beetle convertible with fender skirts, something you’re more likely to see on a late ’50s Cadillac than on a Beetle.

Dune Buggies flying off the ground

Further down the hill at the dirt motocross track, there were sand rails, dune buggies, Beetles, and beach buggies running display laps. Some of them, like these two, would run pretty quickly through the course, while others with less safety equipment took some slower laps, only speeding up to get sideways for the crowd up at the front, or to hop over a hill.

Driver in beach buggy leaning into turn

Dune buggy drifting sideways

Montage of muddy Beetles

This black Beetle had dirt all over the seats and the floor from running on track. The owner was in the process of sweeping it out as I was walking around. We both paused to watch a sand rail go flying past. There was also a tan-colored Beetle there with a winch and a slight lift, or perhaps it was just the larger heavier-duty tires. It was unfortunately stuck at the entrance of the track for a while with a dead battery. But at least while it was stuck, I got a good shot of it sitting there.

Dune buggy with de-beaded tire

This poor guy seems to have de-beaded his front tire.

Dune buggy going sideways in the dirt

However, the best was yet to come…

Beach buggy flying over a dirt mound

Without a doubt, this was the best shot of the day, a beach buggy in mid-flight, jumping over a little dirt mound!

He was going slowly around the majority of the course, which was smart being that he had no helmet on, but then to show off a little he floored it over this mound. Best thing I saw all day! The timing of the shot was perfect.

Unfortunately, I was only able to attend the Bug Jam on Saturday for a couple of hours, and most of the cars that were to show up were said to not be arriving until Sunday, according to the lady at the gate. Seeing what’s shown here, it was tough to leave, but I had grad school work to do at home. On the way home though, I got to see a rolling car show of old VWs and a ’57 Chevy that were just driving in. Needless to say, I can’t wait to come back next year.

Photos Copyright 2015 Hooniverse/Bryce Womeldurf
Larger scale images can be viewed in the Flickr album.

  • Batshitbox

    I hope at least one of these showed up. (Possible source of the Fender Skirts?)


    • Wow, I haven’t seen one of these in a very very long time. They do look like the same skirts, though. I’ve seen them with similar front treatments before, but I don’t know that I’ve seen a Volks-Royce before.

    • Jeepster

      I waddn’t lookin at his neck man..

  • Rover 1

    That bus has more ‘patina’ than metal.

    • bv911

      What the Shell…??

      • Rover 1

        Begging the question. What happened to Gulf Oil?

  • Monkey10is

    But if you were reminded if one of Wham’s finest moments, then surely it must have been a ‘doodle-bug’?