Brandon’s Axial EXO RTR Terra Buggy goes Baja Bug!

The Axial EXO Terra Buggy stands out due is its unique looks and construction.  The integrated cage and multi-piece body seperates it from the norm, eliminating the standard body posts and bouncy lexan body found on most RC’s.  So what do you do when you feel the need to change the look of your EXO Terra Buggy?

First thing I did was find some inspiration.  While surfing the classified’s section on race-dezert I came across this heavily built VW Bug with an LS1 out back.  Perfect!  The EXO Terra Buggy is also V8 powered thanks to Turnkey.

Browsing Pro-Line’s website I found quite a few Baja Bug bodies.  After talking with them it looked like the Volkswagen Baja Bug Body 3283-62 was the best fit.

A few days later the fun began!  A quick trim and mock-up showed that this project had some potential. I started the build on my EXO Kit, so excuse its rough looks.

Some more trimming, fitting, and head scratching resulted in the following:

I immediately knew this body needed something to top it off…  How about Axial’s Universal Light Bar?  Part number: AX30709

Decision on the paint scheme was easy.  I know this is a VW and not a Toyota, but I couldn’t resist.

To finish off the lighting I installed a pair of the small round buckets included on the Axial Light Bucket Set.  Part Number: AX80045

Now for the fun part.  My AX90024 Axial EXO Terra Buggy RTR is still fresh and right out of the box.  Let the modifications begin.  With the body already trimmed to fit and the basic modifications required already laid out this was an easy build!

First things first, I removed those awesome green body panels. The rear wing was also removed for now.  Still undecided on the look with/without the wing.

Because the hood of the VW body is longer I had to look at finding a way to move the front bumper out of the way.  So for now I simply removed the bumper brace.  Add that to the pile of removed parts…

I also wanted to give this build more of a long travel stance.  Out of the box the EXO sets at about mid travel for ideal handling.  I decided to use some longer rear springs in the front to achieve the look I am after.  Some 14x70mm Firms did the trick.  Part Number: AX30221.

New longer springs vs. the stock front springs.  Both are Firm (Yellow) Springs.

End result, the new front stance.

To mount the VW baja body I decided to avoid using the existing hardware that was used to mount the EXO Terra Buggy body.  Instead I fabricated some body mounts.  Lots of ways to do this but here are the parts and placement I decided to go with.

I picked up some some threaded posts.  They were included with Traxxas TRA3727A.  The simply threaded into the existing hole that held down the old hood.

I also trimmed the hood mounts on the front to allow the body to sit as low as possible.  The two mounts circled in red were cut flush.

For the rear body mounts I dug through the parts box.  These started life as AX10 body mounts.  Part number: AX80005

I simply cut them to the required length and drilled a new hole in them.

Once my cut was cleaned up and I confirmed the length I used the existing holes on the EXO cage (where the original body mounts).  I used some M3x15mm Tapping Buttonheads that used to hold on the bumper compression brace.  Perfect length for this, and a great way to re-use parts from the “removed” pile.

The end result looks factory.  I even have some adjustment left to fine tune the fitment of the VW Baja Bug Body.

Next I decided to remove the rear light bezel.  The roof of the VW Baja Bug body will cover this, and removing this allowed me to get the body to set at the desired height.  Plus this gives me easy access to install the radiator.  Note: It is possible to remove the light bezel without removing the cage, I used an Axial 2.0mm ball driver.  Axial Part Number: AX20021

Guess what is included in the spare parts bag of the Axial EXO Terra Buggy RTR?  How about an officially licensed Griffin Radiator.  Score!

This parts tree is available separately as well.  Its a great accessory for your SCX10 or Wraith.  Part Number: AX80103

I decided to cut the radiator off and lay down some silver paint for scale realism.

Radiator assembly and installation.

Did you catch that additional parts tree with rod ends I showed in the picture of the radiator?  They provided a perfect solution for adjusting the position of the front bumper to fit the VW body.  I picked up some M3x25mm threaded turnbuckles, Part Number: AXA1633 to complete the assembly of the links. The following screws and nuts were used to mount the assembled links to the bumper and bulkhead:

M3x45mm Cap head.  Part Number: AXA0094
M3x18mm Button head.  Part Number: AXA118
M3 Thin Nylon Lock Nuts.  Part Number: AXA1052


One thing I really liked about the 1:1 inspiration was the overall width and stance.  I decided to mimic this look by simply installing some front wheels and tires on the back of the EXO.  The EXO Terra Buggy comes with narrow front wheels/tires and standard rear wheels/tires.  To match the narrow wheels/tires on all 4 corners I needed the following parts:

2.2 3.0 Raceline Renegade Wheels – 34mm (Chrome/Black) Part Number: AX08106
2.2 3.0 Hankook Dynapro Mud Terrain Tires 34mm Part Number: AX120107

Getting close!!

Here is my final pile of removed parts.  Looks like my EXO Kit gets some fresh body panels and a new wing now!

Here is a shot of the cutouts on the hood to clear the shocks.  Also note the cutouts for the front bumper, this wasn’t necessary but I didn’t want to take away too much clearance from the front by pushing the bumper any further forward.

Hmm, something is missing back here.

Ahhh, my Turnkey V8!  Axial Part Number: AX04031

This also includes the seats and dash, I’m saving that for a potential part 2 of this build.

Trimmed, painted, and stickers applied.  Too easy!  My EXO RTR should be much faster now…

Install time, simply remove the 2 button head tapping screws holding on the center brace from each side and it comes right out. (4 Screws total)

I grabbed 4 of the M2.6 button heads that held all the original green body panels to the cage.  These will be used again to mount the motor.

Once mounted it simply slides into place.  The detail of the motor and radiator should definitely make this VW Baja Build stand out.

Ready for it?!?

The completed build is definitely very unique.  It was surprisingly simple to do as well!  The EXO Terra Buggy platform has a ton of potential for scale builds and replica’s.  Already brainstorming the next EXO based project, hope you enjoyed this one.

RD’s Adventures – Borrego Springs

I headed out Friday about 2:00 PM in an attempt to find a camp spot before the sun went down. I met up with a couple friends at Stater Bros in San Clemente for some last minute “essentials” and then started making our trek south to the 78 and across to Borrego Springs, CA. We opted for the Julian route to Borrego…. According to Google maps, it’s a 2h 45m journey and a nice scenic route that drops in to the desert floor with some pretty amazing views.


As we came to and through Ramona we had to face some slight rain and then some serious hail that was coming down pretty good.


We stopped for some gas and then proceeded to go for Julian, not sure if we were going to get some snow.


As we were headed out of Julian for Banner we found some turkeys on the side of the road.


And then I decided to chase them, check out the video.

We stopped at a turn out on Yaqui Pass Rd just past Tamarisk Grove Campground (Closed) to admire some of the blooming desert.


As Yaqui Pass Rd winds down to Borrego Springs the views that you get are as far as the eye can see. The weather was looking to be perfect for the weekend.


As we passed through the desert I was telling my friend about a side route of the S22 called the Truckhaven Trail and we noticed an RV that appeared to be stuck. We took the next turn out to the trail and back-tracked to the RV and sure enough it was stuck. Tail and trailer buried in the sand wash.


As we started talking to the guy, he said that he had already been stuck there for an hour and not one person came by. I told him that we saw him and knew he was stuck and that was the reason we came down the road. After we had talked for a bit it was agreed that he should not continue down the trail and should turn around and head back to the main road. What we thought would be a quick recovery using both Jeeps turned into an adventure in RV U-turns on a Jeep trail using straps, shovels, and snatch blocks that lead into the dark of night.





Once we finally got the RV turned around, we hitched his trailer up to Johnny’s Jeep and escorted the RV back to the main road. The guy was very thankful that we had stopped to help him so he could get back on his journey…. And so did we.


We made it to our canyon of choice, Coachwhip Canyon, and set out to find our camp spot for the weekend. I think it was around 9:00 pm when we found the spot that we liked and was time to set camp and get some grub in our bellies. Dinner Friday was a delicious BBQ chicken, baked potato and salad, and after that recovery we had a big appetite brewing. And I gotta say it turned out on the BIG TASTEY side of all dinners. After dinner we had some chill time so I figured I would work a little on my photographic time-lapse skills for a bit.


We were in a great place to wake up Saturday morning. The skies were clear, the sun was peaking over the canyon walls and the wind was nil. I brewed some coffee and headed out for a quick early AM hike up a canyon to catch a view and some sun.


We packed up the Jeeps for our outing that day and headed for one of my favorite spots, Fonts Point.



Next stop, Calcite Mine Area off the S22. This is a really cool place to be on a clear day as you can see all the way to Salton Sea and around to Borrego Springs. You can even see the entire Ocotillo OHV area from here. This was my first time coming to this location and I will be coming back.







Here’s a 360 video from the Calcite mine Area Plateau.

We stopped for lunch down in a canyon where we had the best deli sandwiches ever made, and then headed over to the Ocotillo Offroad Park. This is a new place that opened that is “enter at your own risk and don’t get stupid.”



We were pretty well tired out after cruising around the desert so we headed over to get some gas and then headed back for camp to relax a bit before dinner.



Saturday night’s dinner was kabobs, corn on the cob, and more salad…. We had been eating like kings this weekend, and then it was time to watch the stars and enjoy some much needed down time.


Sunday was upon us and we weren’t ready to head home yet. I know, let’s go to Coyote Canyon and have some of those kick but deli style sandwiches again… so we did.






And that brings us to a close for the weekend in Borrego Springs Desert State Park. The desert bloom time is a great time to go see the plant life that seems dead year round. It is by far my favorite time to go to the desert and take in the views and enjoy the down time. I look forward to making the trip again next year.

RD’s Adventures – Ocotillo & Anza Borrego

RD’s Jeeping Adventures

This past weekend seemed like a great opportunity to head back to Ocotillo and capture some images of the life in the desert. The weather was 80 degrees in the day and 55 at night, clear skies and almost a full moon.

This is my camp before the wind picked up and I had to pack it all back in the Jeep.


I headed over to fonts Point to take in some more of this amazing view of the badlands.


First ever SCX10 to be at Fonts Point


Go ahead, take the trail less traveled.


So I did, now which way do I go?


Rare moment of a bird flying around.


Looking ahead at the Historic Truckhaven Trail.


Erosion. It is cool to see that the rock is still on top of the dirt


Ocotillo in bloom, trail side on Truckhaven Trail


And at the end of the wash I can only see the other side.


Why go around when you can go over?


Taking the trail less traveled


And sometimes the jeep won’t fit.


This is a view of Coachwhip Canyon.


A road trip is not a road trip without passing by the cows.


Though this was a solo adventure, it was a good time to chill and enjoy the desert as it is alive right now.