An Idaho farmer, Mike parkinson only lives two miles from the popular St. Anthony sand dunes, making it a natural to build this buggy
As they say, when in Paris..... Well, Idaho resident Mike Parkinson may not have the Eiffel Tower in his backyard, but he sure has the St. Anthony dune complex. So instead of enjoying wine and cheese at a café overlooking the Jardin des Tuileries, on any given weekend you can probably find Mike blasting up Choke Cherry Hill in his turbocharged High-Jumper Sand Sprite.
Introduced to the sport by a neighbor (who must be really close to the sand!), Mike purchased his Sand Sprite used for $3,500, then added a few custom modifications. Overall, the car was lengthened six inches, and the roll cage raised several inches to provide more head room. After being painted with Sherwin Williams Sunfire enamel, the A-arm front suspension was bolted in place, which includes chromed trailing arms, nitrogen filled shocks from CB Performance and a rack and pinion box. Rear suspension utilizes a mid-mounted Rhino-cased swingaxle gearbox with close ratio gears from Rancho Performance Transaxles in Anaheim, California, CB performance spring plates, and coil-over shocks. Everything rolls on Sand Tires Unlimited rubber — 13-Plus Padla Traks in the rear and Smoothies up front — mounted on Douglas polished aluminum wheels.
The thrill factor is provided by a Car Craft built 2276cc turbo engine, with an estimated 300 horsepower. The big displacement mill uses a Garret turbocharger with a TO4 intake and TO3 exhaust to coax out the ponies. Specs include an 82mm forged stroker crank, 94mm pistons with Total Seal rings, Electromotive ignition, Weber 40 DCOE sidedraft carb, Kennedy Stage 2 pressure plate with 6-puck disc, and ceramic coated exhaust system. There is also a remote oil cooler, center mounted fan housing, deep sump, CB performance aluminum valve covers, and stainless hoses throughout.
Inside, twin highback bucket seats utilize belts from DJ Safety, while a center dash console holds a variety of VDO gauges, including tach, oil temp and pressure, boost, and clock. An aluminum panel below the dash hold the switches, warning lights and fuses, while directly behind that is the shifter and twin turning brake handles. Pedal assembly is CNC, and consists of hydraulic clutch and brake, and cable for the throttle. Other interior tricks include passenger grab handle and foot rest, tool/supply boxes, and polished aluminum floorboards. There is also a 10-gallon fuel tank hidden right behind the seats.
You’ve gotta admit, Mike’s got it pretty good when it comes time to play in the sand. No long drives, no planning in advance, just a quick jaunt to the local sandbox and he’s ready to go in his turbo powered sano Sprite — any day of the week!
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BACKYARD BAJA BUGNo shop-built custom here — the father/son team of Paul and Alex Mulligan of Yorkville, Illinois spent eight years transforming a bare body shell into this amazing long-travel street/off-road machine. You can read all about the build in the November issue of Hot VWs magazine — on-sale September 30th.