So, I'm 19 years old and I'm entirely new to the forum. A few weeks a ago I absolutely fell in love with a GT2 that I found for sale that seems in good enough condition to work on, the windshield is intact. Otherwise my knowledge of cars is limited, but my family is talented. My knowledge of Volkswagen and Bradley's is near non-existent. My plans were removing the headlights, lowering it one inch, adding a limited slip, disk brakes all around, lexan replacements for the windows (not intact on this car). And either boosting an aircooled engine or attempting a Subaru boxer 2.5L swap with some custom aero work to cool the radiator down. My dad is experienced with cooling slow speed, high rpm rock crawlers so he seems confident in being able to cool it down. I dont have the 1500$ to buy it so this dream build I've planned may never come to fruition unless that cash falls from the sky, but any advice I could get just incase would be very helpful. Things to worry about and monitor, strengths and weaknesses of certain engine swaps, what the car is actually worth, etc...
Welcome to the exciting world of classic kit cars. I have restored MANY of these kits and therefore have a lot of first hand knowledge of them.
So....lets look at some of your questions. And please don't mistake a short response for anything other that I am a bad typist and kinda busy.
Removing the headlights.....you need headlights. The stock GT2 set up sucks but a nice linear actuator solves the majority of the issues. If you are thinking of some sort of projector beam headlights they are possible. Its fiberglass so its easy to work with but you will have to craft something by hand. I have used spray foam to form things and then covered the foam with glass.
Lowering a VW chassis is easy. They make adjusters that weld into the front beam or you can go with dropped spindles. The rear is easily adjusted by indexing the torsion bars. You would probably want a later model chassis and avoid the swing axle rears as they do not adjust well.
Limited slip? On a VW tranny? Hmmmm....nope. No reason for it. A VW engine (that you can afford) won't spin any tires.
Disc brakes are a fine upgrade. But don't forget...this thing will maybe have 80hp. You won't be beating a Yugo with it so the drum brakes will stop it just fine. But again...nothing better than upgrading brakes.
Engine swap is amazingly complex and expensive. You have to buy the adapter. You have to find a way to cool the motor in a body not designed to house a radiator. There are so many space constraints its not funny. Such a motor swap will be at least the amount of the purchase price if not more. And that's if you do it all yourself.
So now some general advice.....these old kits look great but generally suck. Yes, with lots of time and lots of money and lots of talent you can make them decent but they aren't sports cars. They never will be. They are on 50 year old chassis. They have poor driving positions. Their steering systems are basic. They don't have heat. They are just around town drivers that get lots of looks. You would have to have a second car.
Now...my advice....if you want to try building one of these go for an old Dunebuggy. You can do a lot with them for little money. They are generally available. They can be fun as hell to drive and are FAR easier to build than a GT2. And the market is strong for well built ones. Remember...you need to rebuild brakes, fuel, suspension, wiring, etc etc etc and on a car like the GT2 that can be very daunting. There is a reason why there are tons of abandoned ones available.
Thank you for all the help, I guess I should have mentioned the state that the GT2 I wanted to buy is in. The person selling it already installed disk brakes on all four wheels, fox coilovers, custom machined Ford half shafts with a 5/4.5 bolt pattern, widened the wheel base, and made some reinforcements to the fiberglass body. I would replace the headlights with Corvette C5 headlights. In terms of drive train the car is already astounding and well on it's way to BEING a sports car. It is built on a 1966 beetle chassis. So my plans were to replace the transmission with a vw bus 002 transaxle with the limited slip and purchase the adapter plate for a Subaru engine. I'd be putting in am EJ255 with EJ20 heads for higher compression and a narrower motor. I would aim for 200 horsepower naturally aspirated and eventually 350-500 (500 is possible but stupid and I'm not comfortable with that much) turbocharged. As for cooling I would cut a channel from the pan and install a radiator with dual electric fans in the spare tire spot parallel to the ground using fiberglass to create ducting that is air tight. Building a magnified inlet on the top of the hood would allow perfect airflow to push through the intercooler, and a bus transaxle should be able to handle 300ft/lbs because the buggy people do it all the time. Then with a water cooled engine I have nearly 6 inches for a channel down the center of the car to duct defrost and heat from a stock Subaru heat exchanger. If the vw transmission isnt tough enough I'll buy the reverse cut ring and pinion gears to flip the rotation direction of a Subaru tranny and use that instead. The Subaru engine swap actually only adds around 89 pounds to the car because of the aluminum block. Then I'd be looking at a car that would need 29inch wrinkle walls to STOP the tires from spinning. I should also mention I'm in a desperate race to prove to my friend that I could absolutely make a fool of his 383 stroker with a four cylinder and he couldnt stop me. Theoretically my power to weight ratio would be 2.4 times higher so its possible. Its going to cost a lot but frankly I dont care, I love the size and the aesthetic of the gt2 too much. Criticisms of this plan?
Criticisms of this plan? Sure.....if you really want them.
"fox coilovers"...On all 4 corners? Make sure your teeth are tight because those will rattle you to a concussion.
"custom machined Ford half shafts"...I don't think so. I bet it likely just has simple wheel adapters or maybe rotors drilled for the Ford patter. If it is VW powered you likely have a swingaxle tranny on the 1966 pan.
"It is built on a 1966 beetle chassis"...You understand the limits of the front VW torsion suspension right?
"Corvette C5 headlights" Entirely possible but the Bradly has a totally different curvature then the generally flat C5 pop ups. There will need to be expensive fabrication to support the Corvette units and extensive body mods (or mods to the headlamps themselves) to make them look good. Fiberglassing upside down is not easy. You might need to remove the body, flip it, and try to support it enough to prevent cracking. Its will be a very exhausting endeavor.
"vw bus 002 transaxle": The R&P ratio might be an issue with your possible engine swap. You might want to research that.
"As for cooling I would cut a channel from the pan and install a radiator with dual electric fans in the spare tire spot parallel to the ground using fiberglass to create ducting that is air tight"...There is no "spare tire spot" for you to install a radiator. There is really no real room up front. And certainly not any real way to get airflow sufficient to keep an engine cool. Have you considered of the stock Subaru water pump would be able to keep coolant flowing for 16 or so feet? Plus you have to understand that the tunnel is essentially ALL of the structure in a VW pan. When you cut from that you are making some serious structural changes in the ONLY structural part of the Bradley. You will need some serious re-engineering to make sure your little rocket doesn't fold in half at the first bump. Don't forget that you have a shift rod in the center tunnel that needs to be able to move without restriction.
"If the vw transmission isnt tough enough I'll buy the reverse cut ring and pinion gears to flip the rotation direction of a Subaru tranny and use that instead."....I hope you know how to weld REALLY well.
"Its going to cost a lot but frankly I dont care"...you should. What you are envisioning is an over powered, terrible handling death trap. You are hanging a ton of weight off the back of a car that essentially has zero weight up front. Read up on how bad of a thing that is. Plus you are pushing a ton of HP and torque through a chassis designed to work in conjunction with a steel body (adds to the structural rigidity) and 60 hp. Think about that for a moment. If you don't care about money than step one would be a custom chassis designed around the Subaru platform. You will still have to deal with custom radiators but you will maybe be able to get a better front suspension. If you can do ALL the work yourself (paint, welding, wiring, fabrication, engineering...etc etc) you might be able to get it done for $30k if you get some deals. Think about the nice, reliable, good lucking car you could have for that money?
So..listen....dreams are cool. And I don't want to burst that bubble. I had that same dream...and I was able to build 10 old kits (Manta Mirage, Kelmark, CMC Speedster, Sterling, Bradley GT, Bradley GT2, Avenger, Deserter, MAnx, and another Dunebuggy) because I followed that dream. And one thing I learned was that building a car, even as designed, is REALLY hard. The odds are you will either get in over your head or run out of money. And at 19 you can do a LOT more with your money than investing in a Bradley GT2. Don't forget you bust a windshield and all your money basically goes bye bye.
So go onto autotrader.com and search what kind of low mileage cool cars $30k can buy you. Or...reconsider my advice and find a cool dunebuggy. Build it to stock specs and sell it. If you can accomplish that then move to the next level. If you either get in over your head or run out of money at least the lesson won't sting too badly.
I have done the C5 headlight swap and it's not easy. Federal regulations require that headlights be a minimum of 20 inches above the roadway. This puts the headlight module directly on top of the front axle and there is very, very little room for the support structure. Headlight adjustment requires body removal so you better get it right the first time. Another thing to keep in mind is that these cars are like moving glass bowls. AC is needed unless you only drive at night or in the winter. So there is another radiator you need to find space for. Perhaps an easier repower would be with a Corvair engine. I built a Beetle with one back in the 80's that would run low 11's. It was balanced/blueprinted and stupidly overpowered. It was a scary death machine that could pull a wheelie in any gear at any speed just by tapping the pedal. I'm with jspbtown here...hone your skills on a buggy first. They are less embarrassing. Both cars are based on 50+ yo technology. People expect buggies to break down periodically, it goes with the territory. When you build your sweet sports car it is expected to work flawlessly forever simply because it appears more "engineered" and finished. This expectation is shared by you (after all you built the masterpiece) and the public at large therefore a buggy won't let you down for long but a Bradley sitting beside the road must have something inherently wrong. Things are easier to get to on a buggy so you don't have to be a contortionist like you do when working on an assembled Bradley. Besides if you build most models of buggy you will have a convertible when you are done.
glfourniercomcast: I have a Bradley GT with wind shield and other glass doors, would like to sell whole car but if I have enough interest in parting it out I would do so. If interested in parts or whole car call me at 941979-7503 ask for George.
Oct 25, 2018 14:04:52 GMT -5
jchr7485: Hello peeps! Just wanted to let all Bradley fans know that I've got my late father's BGT1 up on E-bay and CL. Would have felt bad about getting rid of it without letting current fans know, just in case. Love the car, just have a few too many. Have a gre
Nov 5, 2018 8:01:17 GMT -5
jchr7485: BTW- Anybody have a spare rear window?
Nov 5, 2018 8:43:13 GMT -5
coach: i have a 78 Bradley GT ( rolling Project ) for sale in NC $1500 call 336-684-6894 for pics Mike
Nov 15, 2018 12:28:59 GMT -5
vw2themaxman: I have a bradley GT2 for sale need some work chicago area reply for pictures $2500
Jan 6, 2019 23:38:40 GMT -5
cocacoladodge: Does anyone know if Skip20s family has plans to keep his projects or undecided at this point? Who to contact? Heck he was one of the first to talk to me on here, I feel like a good friend is gone before his time.
Feb 23, 2019 18:54:39 GMT -5
modnar: sorry things happen, moved, been off line, crazy times. hope you found a rear window.
Mar 30, 2019 17:55:20 GMT -5
modnar: again sorry for not answering.
Mar 30, 2019 17:55:34 GMT -5
jdawg01: Anyone have spare rear window and a driver's side window as well or no where or a distributor?
Apr 1, 2019 13:08:27 GMT -5
bhackler: I have Bradley GT2 in Nashville has been sitting in garage for 30 years at least. Have all parts to complete assembly except windshield of course. Sitting on nice 1969 beetle floor pan with rebuilt engine. Doors and glass never installed $1500.00
Apr 9, 2019 9:18:08 GMT -5
bradleycrazy1: Hey, you still have the garage of parts?
May 9, 2019 20:00:51 GMT -5
wantabradley: Any body have a rear window for sale?
May 15, 2019 8:24:10 GMT -5
aquaticharpy: What's happen to skip20?
Aug 4, 2019 13:53:26 GMT -5
bobevans41: I have about 90 rear hatch glasses for gt2s
Sept 25, 2019 20:21:30 GMT -5
bobevans41: I have lots of Brad gt 2 parts....Just let me know what you need
Sept 25, 2019 20:23:52 GMT -5
awolprod: looking for a bradley gt windshield...
Oct 1, 2019 20:47:56 GMT -5
jbrancazzu: hi i have a bradley gt with the full lexan doors im trying to locate the piston things that open the door ,hold them up please help also has anyone installed linear actuators on them if so how thank you all
Nov 6, 2019 18:32:52 GMT -5