Crumco built the Class 5 chassis, although McGinley upgraded to stronger 1-3/4-inch chromoly tubing.

TOP COP'S BAJA

When El Centro Police Chief Jim McGinley decided to build a multi-purpose vehicle — for both racing and pubic relations use — he chose a Class 5 off-road racer
By Bruce Simurda | March 20, 2015

Photos by Bruce Simurda


El Centro, California Police Chief Jim McGinley is one of those guys who always seems to have some kind of VW project lying around. Since buying his first dune buggy in 1976, he's owned a variety of Baja Bugs, sandrails and 'glass buggies, and has raced Class 5-1600 in several of the Superstition Series events out of Plaster City, which is only a few miles from El Centro. So when McGinley was appointed the city's Top Cop in 2009, it was only natural that some of his enthusiasm would rub off on the department. According to Jim, he wanted to blend his passion for law enforcement and his years of off-road racing experience to create a vehicle for better public relations, and to provide a positive link between the off-road community and the City of El Centro.
Race interior with VDO gauges, Latest Rage highback buckets, Tiger harnesses, and Kenwood/PCI race radio.
His idea was to build a Class 5 racecar that would represent the Police Department of the City to use in parades and a variety of events throughout the City, as well as race it on occasion in the Superstition Mountain Recreational Area. It should also be noted in these economic times that McGinley is the sole owner of this Baja Bug, he coordinated and financed its construction, and that no City funds were used for the project.
Owner-built 1914cc engine runs single Dellorto 45 DRLA carb.
The project started with a fairly solid 1968 Bug that McGinley picked up for $200, which was quickly stripped and readied for the project. His search for a chassis led him to Crumco Motorsports in Palmdale, California, who offers a special complete Class 5 racing chassis made of DOM tubing. Jim liked what he saw, but decided that he wanted his chassis fabricated with 1-3/4-inch chromoly tubing to pretty much make it indestructible. After a few calls back and forth, and both sides agreeing on the project, Jim delivered the Bug body, a truckload of chromoly tubing, and a bus 002 gearbox to Rick Crumb in December of 2009. Three months later, McGinley went back to Palmdale to pick up his completed rolling chassis with body.
KC's HD lights we chosen for night racers.
The Crumco chassis is a complete Class 5 racing frame, featuring a 115-inch wheelbase, beam suspension up front and IRS in the rear. Front travel amounts to 13-1/2 inches through the use of Crumco's 12-inch wider chromoly beam (made with 2-inch tubing) and heavy-duty tie-rods, Tatum aluminum hubs, along with Latest Rage's 2-1/2-inch longer chromoly trailing arms, chromoly Combo spindles, rack and pinion, disc brakes and tie-rod ends. Controlling the action are King 2.5 bypass shocks with coil-overs. One unique item we spotted on Jim's car is a special steering quickener with custom shaft, which was installed after delivery by Cowan Fabrication in Imperial, California. The quickener was actually installed in reverse, which slows the steering but makes it easier to control, eliminating the need for a horsepower-robbing power steering unit.
Dual King 3.0 shocks, (one with coil-over) deliver 22 inches rear travel!
Rear suspension features tough Crumco boxed trailing arms, 300M axles, 4340 chromoly 930 CV-joints (fully polished and finned for cooling) and disc brakes from Latest Rage, chromoly flanges, and chromoly micro stub axles. A pair of King 3.0 bypass shocks are used at each wheel, one with coil-overs. Total rear wheel travel is an impressive 22 inches!
When Jim picked-up the rolling chassis with body from Crumco, the fiberglass front end was already installed, as was Crumco's trademark taillight which is grafted into the roofline. And once back in El Centro, McGinley went to work to complete the car in only two short months. To complete the body and paint, it was sent to Jesus Laguna in Brawley, California where the bodywork was completed, and everything sprayed either black or white, using Ford colors. The car next went to Jason Jernigan at Mad Graphix, where the "El Centro Police" graphics were applied, along with the car numbers and assorted decals. The exterior was also dressed up with a pair of KC Racing lights, a pair of motorcycle driving lights, and fully functional front and rear flashing patrol lights — which are especially fun during City functions ....
Jim McGinley, Police Chief of El Centro, with his new Class 5. Note: no City funds were used in its building!
Being into VWs for so long, it was only natural that Jim would build the engine himself. As he put it, "I built my own engine so, when it broke, it was my own fault!" This particular engine is a 1914cc built around a AS 41 case with welded gussets and braces, and stuffed with a stock 69mm crank and balanced OEM rods. Mahle 94mm piston and cylinders increased the displacement from the standard 1600cc, and are topped-off with CNC 044 heads with stainless steel 42mm intake and 37.5mm exhaust valves, and were ported and polished by Bugpatch. Jim chose an Engle W-110 camshaft to operate those valves, and utilizes German lifters, CB Performance chromoly pushrods and Scat 1.1:1 rocker arms to achieve .430-inch lift and 284° duration. Air/fuel intake is further controlled by a single Dellorto 45 DRLA carb, and a ceramic coated Class 5 race header allows the exhaust to escape with a minimum of resistance. Ignition is handled by a CB Performance MagnaSpark billet distributor and coil, with a Bosch blue coil mounted as a backup. A large canister filter was used to supply plenty of clean air to the engine, even in the dustiest of races.
Huge canister filter feeds plenty of clean air to engine.
The bus 002 gearbox was rebuilt by Off-Road Buggy Supply in Yuma, Arizona, and features custom gearing to match the weight, horsepower, and tire combination of the car. With a Weddle 4.86:1 ring and pinion, the Weddle gear stack combination is now 3.33:1 first, 2.25:1 second, 1.67:1 third and 1.32:1 fourth and, according to Jim, pull the 33x10.50x15-inch Yokohama Digger IIIs on KMC beadlock aluminum rims nicely.
CNC pedal assembly, with reverse-mounted steering quickener above it.
Th fresh air system for both driver and passenger's helmets.
Finishing the multi-purpose Baja is a complete wiring job by Fernando Negro of J.T. Towing in Imperial, Latest Rage highback bucket seats and 13-1/2-inch steering wheel, Tiger 4-point harnesses, Crumco race shifter, , a variety of VDO gauges, CNC pedal assembly from Kartek, Kenwood/PCI race radio, and one very loud siren! A 16-gallon Jaz fuel cell and fire extinguisher are mounted in the rear.
Front and rear LED warning lights and siren were supplied by Kelly Baker at Airwave Communications in Imperial. Rear light is a Crumco special, fuel cell is Jaz.
As we said, no City funds were used in the construction of this unique Baja Bug, but you can bet they reap some of the public relations benefits it creates. And although it has not competed in any races as of this writing, it has seen action in parades, school events, and other local functions. It even took the Sponsors Award at the 2010 Cops and Rodders Car Show, which was sponsored by the San Diego Police Historical Society. So if you're ever racing around the Superstition Mountain area and see flashing lights coming up from behind, be sure to pull over and let 'em pass, because it might just be the Chief chasing you down!
Crumco 12-inch wider chromoly beam is topped off with a long list of race items, including Latest Rage disc brakes and King 2.5 bypass shocks with coil-over springs for 13-1/2 inches travel.
ENGINE/VW TYPE 1; DISPLACEMENT/1914cc; BUILDER/Jim McGinley, El Centro, CA; CASE/AS41, welded gussets and braced; CRANK/VW, 69mm, forged; RODS/stock VW, balanced; PISTONS/Mahle 94mm, Mahle cast iron cylinders and rings; CAM/Engle, W-110, 284° duration, .430-inch lift, straight-cut gears; LIFTERS/German; PUSHRODS/CB, chromoly, stainless tubes; HEADS/CNC 044s, ported and polished by Bugpatch, stainless steel 42mm intake and 37.5mm exhaust valves, heavy-duty single springs; COMPRESSION RATIO/11.5:1; IGNITION/CB Performance MagnaSpark II billet distributor, MagnaSpark II coil and Bosch blue coil (backup), NGK plugs; INDUCTION/single Dellorto 45 DRLA carb; EXHAUST SYSTEM/ceramic coated Class 5 special; OIL PUMP/full-flow; OIL/Valvoline, 30W; OIL COOLER/dual Tru-Cool remote; VALVE COVERS/Bugpack, aluminum; FLYWHEEL/VW 200mm, 8-doweled; CLUTCH/Kennedy Stage 2 pressure plate, Daiken disc; HORSEPOWER/120 (estimated); TRANSAXLE/Bus 002 IRS; BUILDER/Off-Road Buggy Supply, Yuma, AZ; RING & PINION/Weddle 4.86:1; GEAR RATIOS/3.33:1 first, 2.25:1 second, 1.67:1 third, 1.32:1 fourth; SPECIAL MODIFICATIONS/Weddle gears, Super Diff.

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