How to Build the Fastest Split Screen Panel Van in Europe

About a year ago, Bugs VW, a UK garage specializing in early T1s, set about trying to break the European ¼ mile record for split screen T1s with a street legal car.

To do it, they knew they’d need a special engine, so they looked to Powerhaus. The California company complied. Powerhaus offers turnkey engines with turbocharging, new carburetion, new camshafts, and new just about everything else. The 4-cylinder air cooled VW unit that Bugs VW got, though, produced 646 hp, which works out to about 600 more than the panel van would have had originally.

To get all that power down, the Bugs VW panel van sends power to the rear wheel through a Holinger Porsche 6 speed sequential transmission.


The result was fairly hairy, says Andy Morgan, of Bugs VW.

“We pulled a massive wheelie last year and broke an air controls valve,” he says. The panel van survived, but the extent of the damage wouldn’t be known for some time.

“We only found this out by chance the other weekend and this was the reason that we were loosing boost,” he explains.

Ultimately, though, the panel van couldn’t be kept down. Only recently, the team was at Santa Pod  raceway and their panel van covered the quarter mile in just 11.2 seconds, beating  the European record for split windows.

Unfortunately, despite breaking the record they didn’t meet their challenge to build the van in a year. “We didn’t get there as it took us 14 months from first test run to the 11.2 that it ran as the fastest in the world,” says Morgan.

Although they didn’t hit their target, the team still had a great time. The van “preferred to sit up on its rear wheels than get down the drag strip in the time we wanted, but we had fun doing it and learnt a lot,” they say on

The team still isn’t done. The panel van is now headed off to America to have its engine rebuilt and have some extra work done to it.

Visit for more pictures of the build.