Articles, activities for boomers & seniors
There are many people who are mechanically inclined and there are people who have imagination. When you combine those two traits the result can be truly remarkable. Thirty years ago Harry Wohlbach, a Macungie resident, took $700, a transmission-damaged VW bug and a crash-damaged 1982 Suzuki motorcycle and created the “Walbug”.
I sat with Harry as he recounted the adventure.
The front end is the VW bug and the back end is the motorcycle. He discarded the VW’s transaxle and the front fork of the motorcycle. To his surprise the Suzuki fit nicely into the VW frame. The fuel tank is original Suzuki. All the gauges, except the VW speedometer, are Suzuki. He designed it so that the brakes work fine along with its signals and all other mechanical and electrical parts.
The body’s frame is covered with tough canvas, has a protective roll bar, is the first of its kind to have seat belts, his acrylic windshield folds down - a custom steering wheel and fiberglass seats round out the radical custom design.
If you think this is a thrown-together mish-mash of auto parts, you could not be further from the truth. Harry takes the “Walbug” in for inspection every year. He rides it regularly. His vehicle is cheap on gas and when you compare it to owning a “regular” motorcycle - he not only saved a ton of money, he created a conversation starter. When he pulls up anywhere people come right over and chat with him about the “Walbug”.
Harry knew that I ride motorcycle so he asked me if I would like a ride with him. Faster than you can “Volkswagen” I grabbed my helmet, jumped in the passenger seat and off we went.
You are much lower to the ground than usual so you really feel you are one with the road. As Harry took turns you feel the inertia press you against the sides. Even at regular speed it feels faster than the speedometer reading. It was a great ride. After we arrived back at his home, it took 5 minutes for the smile to come off my face.
I must admit I admire Harry. His work on the “Walbug” is impressive, ingenious and his vehicle is just pure fun. Many gearheads might think of a similar idea, but few can put it together and invent such a cool ride.
Maybe I should consider taking on a similar project. Then again maybe I should leave it to more skilled people. My ability with a wrench is limited to my ability to spell “wrench” correctly.
Harry is justly proud of his invention. His efforts have paid off with years of riding his own unique invention - the “Walbug”