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Airmighty Page
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Once again, I want to give you, my dear Airmighty readers, an exclusive preview of one of my latest discoveries in terms of Nostalgia. This new chapter is entirely dedicaced to an unknown pioneer in the world of performance Volkswagens : Garland RUSH.

How nice is this picture with an all-smile young Garland... Notice the Type 3 Squareback in the background...

Most of you have probably never heard of him... and to be honest, up until a few months ago, I'd never heard of him either... That is, until I stumbled upon a few period stickers I had completely forgotten about, from a company named BUGS ltd. located in Daly City in California. Its logo pictured a yellow beetle with a Stahlhelm, a german WWII steel helmet. Damn it, I counldn't remember where these stickers were coming from, until my memory came back : they were inserted in an Auto-Haus catalogue I purchased a while ago on The Samba!

Without hesitating I checked my emails and contacted the seller to try to fish up some more information about those mysterious period stickers. Just imagine my astonishment when the guy told me he was none other than the actual founder of 'BUGS ltd' and that he was the owner of 'CENTIPEDE', a Gasser from the good old days, which is not very well known, even though it made the cover of Volkswagen Greats magazine at the time. This car had always intrigued me, so let me give you the full background story on it...

Later that year, Garland decided to leave the telecom company he was working for to start his own shop, 'BUGS, ltd' focusing mainly on off-roading (those were the days...).

BUGS ltd. Speed Shop... OMG, all those fiberglass parts everywhere...Notice the COLEOPTER yellow frame...

He built a fully-dedicaded race car, named the COLEOPTER, in which he participated in the Mexican 1000, the Baja 500 and the Mint 400 (and thus also the Bug-in 7, because the technical inspection of the Mexican 1000 racecars was organised during the event).

Typical foggy Bug-in early in the morning in the Mexican 1000 tech inspection line...

He sold several copies of his creation, which were built on Type 1 or Type 3 chassis with the floorplans removed, and which could be powered by a Volkswagen or a Corvair engine. With its funky fiberglass front lid, the buggy did indeed look like a Coleopter on four wheels.

This is a rare Bug-in 7 parking picture. If you look closely you will see Garland Tow truck and the Bill CLARKSON Competition engineering truck...

Garland's interest in drag racing grew rapidly, as he thought it was a good way to gain some extra publicity for his shop. He built a new race car called CENTIPEDE, dedicaced to the 1/4 mile this time, which he painted in a psychedelic pattern typical of the period.

Perfect Race/Show Car... Note the spindle mounts front rims and the groovy flowered paint inside... Neat in every way...

Since it was a '68, the base car was pratically brand-new. Garland remembers it was very well-built and even won best-in-shows awards. It was initially equipped with Porsche 356 front wheels, and the photos with this setup are extremely rare, so I hope you appreciate the ones shown in this article... The wheels were later replaced with spindle mounts, and it's in this configuration that the car became (sort of...) famous.

Side view. Seems Garland attended a car exhibition in a shopping mall...

On the mechanical side of things, Garland adhered to the 50's Hot Rodder 'no substitute for cubic inches' motto, so he chose to use a stock 140hp Corvair engine that allowed CENTIPEDE to run a best ET of 13.70.

Corvair engine seemed pretty cramped in his bug compartment... I love the chrome headlights... Unusual on a race car...

In the early 70's, in order to stay competitive, a lot of cars went under the knife (or rather the hacksaw) to have their roofs chopped off. Garland followed the trend, and purchased an accident-damaged '56 shell, which he top-chopped and covered with a crazy psychedelic paintjob, as was the trend during the golden age of the gassers. The pictures of this new version are extremely scarce, to the point that Garland only possessed one... Consider yourself lucky to be able to see two in this page...

The Top Chopped Centipede was an all new car with another psychedelic paintscheme...

Once again, Garland employed a Corvair engine, bit this time not just any Corvair engine... He managed to get his hands on the actual engine fitted in the Dune Buggy driven by Steve McQueen in the Thomas Crown Affair! Actually, McQueen thought that the buggy was too fast with this motor combination, especially for the footage in the sand dunes. This engine had been built and tuned by Crown Equipment, and its main claim to originality was its custom-made intake manifolds, which enabled the use of three-barrels Weber carbs normally used on Flat-six Porsche 911S. With its alleged 300bhp, it pushed CENTIPEDE into 10 seconds territory, until Garland decided to throw in the towel because he couldn't compete with the heavy artillery deployed by EMPI and its 18 wheeler...

Only picture I have ever seen of the complete car...

VW Greats magazine Summer 1973 issue with a Centipede at speed... It was the very first color picture I have ever seen decades ago...

Close up view picture... Seems to be Irwindale Raceway...

The Green SAFARI Buggy :

Such a great picture with 70s lovely ladies...

Garland's interest in Volkswagens started in 1969 when he fell in love with a Manx buggy, powered by a chrome Corvair engine, at a Can-Am race at Laguna Seca. After the event, he immediately went and bought a Safari buggy shell, finished in green metalflake, which he put on a '64 beetle pan he'd bought for next to nothing.

That Safari buggy was a real show car. Seems this is the same shopping mall exhibition...

Love that white header. Neat buggy...

Originally, the engine was a stock 1300cc, but it was later replaced by another flat-four motor extracted from a wrecked Porsche 356B.

Safari buggy rear view with stock muffler and a proud Garland... Green metalflake paint looks great under the sun in the grass...

Another rear view..

The buggy not only looked cool but was also super fun to drive, if we believe the period pictures I managed to get my hands on.

Seems it was a really fun car to play with... Look at that crazy jump! Looks like Bruce MEYER Hot Rod cover shot... Awesome...

Early CENTIPEDE pictures :

Fiberglass parts were de rigueur : scooped front hood, wings,

Seems it was Centipede first pass ever... Talk about a rare picture...

Oldest picture to date... ...

The very first race day again, with a 13.70 pass...

I hope you appreciate this little-known nugget of VW drag racing history, which proves again that there are still cars and stories out there to be discovered...

Copyright 2020 El Dub - All rights reserved.

E-mail : eldub@cal-look.com


Bob HOFFELD picture from October 1971


Close-up view of the Corvair engine.


Some pictures of the COLEOPTER little fun buggy that Garland built to attend the numerous off-road races that took place in the 70s : Mexican 1000, the Baja 500 and the Mint 400.

Back from fun action in the sand.

This was really a lovely little buggy.

The kit was formed tubing and a glass hood to be weldd to a Type 1 or Type 3 tunnel ands suspension with the floors removed. Tucked under sides were to slip through sand and worked well.

Ready for some fun...

Now Corvair powered.

The buggy should have been impressive in the sand.


This is the black '56 that was used to build the top-chopped Centipede, number #2 as Garland call it nowadays...

It was a 20$ donor car from what Garland remember... Those were the days...