The next level in the evolution of Bugzilla has been reached. The correct way to do the suicide doors has been figured out and the passenger door is basically done. The hinges were purchased from Hagan and are the hidden hinge kit. The installation of the hinges and the operation of the door is amazing. The hinge arms used are quite flat and hide themselves very well. The hinges look a little odd after they are installed as they have to be placed at a bit of a strange angle due to the curvature of the body and door at the B pillar. However, the action of the door is smooth, the spring loaded detente holds the door open as you’d expect on any modern car and the door hangs at the correct level and angle at all times. All without the large ugly stock hinges needing to be used.
Swapping the hinges from the A to the B pillar is the wrong way to do suicide doors from an aesthetic perspective. I spent some time looking at existing suicide door setups at a couple bug shows over the past couple years and I didn’t like any of them. The ones where they just moved the stock hinges to the B pillar looked the worst. Not only did you have those big old hinges still sticking out from the otherwise smooth body but you had them smack in the middle of it.
None of that for Bugzilla! You see the passenger door here as it will hang open when finished, aside from the unfinished holding welds and the primer flames Kurt was having fun with. Don’t see any hinges, do you? I didn’t think so. That’s why they’re called hidden hinges. From this angle, not only can you see the door hanging as doors were meant to hang but you can see the size of the chop in the window height and a bit if the size of the rear fender. Remember, the rear fenders are about four inches wider than stock and the vertical space lost in the chop is about four inches. Hopefully I can get the pictures of the reconstruction of the rear quarters in here some day so that you can really appreciate the amount of work that has gone into keeping the original lines, or at least the spirit of them.
At this point some of you might be saying “What do you mean it’s been chopped?” You must have read the rest of this story quite quickly, or just looked at the pictures on the way through. I can’t really blame you, the pictures are well worth looking at. One of the primary things that has been paid attention to as this has moved along is to keep as much of the original lines and shapes as possible. Sure, much of it has been exaggerated, but that’s what it’s all bout, isn’t it?
The hinges sit in about the same places they would if they were in the front. Some allowances had to be made in the supports for things like the window channel and an extra support had to be added, seen here on the lower right, to keep the whole thing from flexing when the door was opened. The hinges were originally developed for traditional street rods, like high boys and old buckets, so this application was a bit of a stretch but it’s working out beautifully.
A slight change on the interior finishing will need to be made, just behind the B pillar and along its height, to allow for the added metal from the hinges. That shouldn’t be a problem as most of the back end upholstery and paneling is going to have to be made from scratch anyway. On the back of the top hinge there’s a switch for connecting to interior lights as well. That will get hooked up, but to what I haven’t deceided yet. I was thinking about a flourescent strip (or LED) across the top of the dash, or some indirect lighting from under the dash and from somewhere in back. No dome lights in this bad boy.
That’s not all. The progress on the suicide doors isn’t the only thing going on. The tail lights have been positioned as you see them here. They are ’39 Ford tail lights and are hung in the traditional manner – point down. You can also see the license plate frame set into the recessed well built specifically for it. Aside from the handle for the decklid this is about all the shiny stuff that is going to be on the back of the vehicle.
I’m trying to find some place that can make a piece of script that says “Bugzilla” in the same font as the original “Volkswagen” script on the decklid, or at least as close to it as possible. This would get placed in the standard location. It’s the little things that make a project so fun!