AUTObiography Crestfallen’s 1968 Baja Bug

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Next up is VWvortex reader: Crestfallen

How long have you owned this car?

Almost 8 years (since I was 11).

Is there anything unique about the history of this car?

It was just an old shell from North Carolina.

What drew you to this specific car?

It was cheap and solid.

What other cars did you consider? 

We (Dad and I) looked at some Bajas around home but decided we should just build the car ourselves.

What was your objective with this car? 

To make a great daily driver for the warmer months that could be shown and off roaded.

What tuning style would you describe this car as? 

A Baja Bug.

Who helped you build this car? 

My dad and my uncle Mike.

What makes your car special? 

Its paint job, the many custom parts, and the fact that it was built in my garage.

What is your favorite part/feature/function? 

A tie between the lund visor, which my dad sectioned to fit the car, and the one-piece body lift.

Who or what inspired the direction of modifications on this car? 

I made the car I always wanted.

What don’t you like about this car? 

It’s too low-geared to be a great interstate car.

What was your biggest obstacle in building this car? 

Working with my dad on a daily basis and just finding the time during school and work.

How did you overcome the issue?

I didn’t, the car took almost 6 years to finish.

What would you change if you could?

Go dual-port and raise the car more (3×3 trailing arms and a Thing beam).

On a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied are you with the outcome of this project?


What would you do to the car if money were no object? 

More lift, bigger tires, a five-speed to help gearing, and a bigger engine.

Who has been your biggest critic of this project? 

My mom.

What do your family and friends say about this car? 

They tend to like it, I grew up in a town where 4x4s were the norm, so the baja fits in pretty well

What is your most memorable/humorous/embarrassing moment with this car? 

Locking the keys in it at school and while my friends laughed, I opened the vent window and pulled them out of the ignition.

What is your favorite story about this car?

Driving it to the Bug Out and beating the 2 trailered cars that were in my class.

Has this car competed in any events? 

the Bug Out in Manassass, VA twice (1 second and 1 first place), Volksfest in Columbus, OH (2 first places) The Pittsburgh classic (1 first place).

What is your favorite place to drive this car? 


What is your ideal day with this car? 

A sunny and warm summer day that’s not too hot.

Who gets to drive this car? 

My dad has driven it a few times, but otherwise only I drive it.

If your car had a motto, what would it be? 

Subtle sucks.

If you had to name your car, what would you name it?

My license plate says “BIG BUG” but in High school my friends called it adolf (don’t ask).

What was your previous project?

This was my first car.

What is your next project?

Don’t have one yet.

What one word best describes your car?


Any regrets? Tell us about it.

Keeping it single port. It doesn’t flow very well.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Thanks Dad and Uncle Mike!

Owner Information:

Name- Kolben Hillbery

Address- Benwood, West Virginia

VWvortex Username- Crestfallen

Occupation- College

Club Affiliations-

Vehicle Information:

Year- 1968

Make- VW

Model- Baja Bug

Mileage- 73xxx original

Color (Include original if applicable)- original unknown, White, black, Sublime green, and Plum Crazy purple

Engine- 1835 C.C. single porrt

Engine Modifications- Crower Cam, Weber 40 Carb

Exhaust Modifications- Tri Mil ceramic coated baja exhaust

Transmission Modifications- 4.86 richmond gears, heavy side plates, super diff, Welded gears, Thing axles and stub axles

Suspension Modifications- turned torsions for lift

Brake Modifications- Ghia disks up front, stock rear

Wheels and Tires- 28×9 front and 30×10.50 rear super swamper TSL radials

Exterior/Body Modifications- paint, baja kit, Lund visor, oil cooler scoop

Interior Modifications- Gravi-tex’d floors, custom headliner, junkyard seats, roll cage

Audio/Video/I.C.E.- Pioneer head unit, 2 6x9’s, 2 4x4’s, 1 8” sub, pioneer amp

Thanks/Props- Dad, Uncle Mike, Danny Myers, Brian Workman, All my friends, and Mom for letting us build it!