NICK TIEDEMANN'S TURBO VW BAJA BUG
THE RESURRECTION OF A MASTERPIECE
Every once in a while, extraordinary things happen for all the right reasons. For Nick Tiedemann and his late father John Tiedemann, that is precisely what happened in 2006 when they hatched a plan to upgrade an aging Baja Bug into a nicer & prettier off-road platform. The goal was to keep the VW traditional while building the vehicle up with all the class, craftsmanship, and modern amenities that they could afford.
3 years later, their efforts produced a well-built 1968 Baja Bug that earned a "Masterpiece In Metal" feature in Dirt Sports Magazine 2009 August Issue #54 titled NEW SCHOOL RETRO VW. Beyond winning awards at local car shows and VW events, the car earned further recognition as Dirt Sports, "Best of the Best Top 10 Cars Ever Featured," published in 2013. To correctly highlight this very special Baja Bug, we must rewind and take a closer look at the car's history and who had their hands in helping shape this vehicle's origins.
But first, let's introduce Nick Tiedemann, owner and purveyor of TRH Wiring. Coming out of high school, Tiedemann began working for Craig Stewart at Stewart's Raceworks. After that, Nick went to work for Joey Davitian at Pro Wire USA. These opportunities inspired Tiedemann to learn the crafts of his professional trade, wiring and programming high-performance off-road race cars. These days, Nick gets a lot of knowledge and support from James Lin, who has helped take his skillset to the next level. After years of experience working with the best in the industry, TRH Wiring is regularly commissioned by Alumi Craft Race Cars, JimCO Racing, Jake Velasco Race Prep, Wilson Motorsports, RPI Racing, and many more.
Nick hails from San Diego's East County, widely known as an early hub of the off-road motorsports industry. Nick's father, John, had a larger-than-life passion for off-road racing and was one of the early adapters pushing for and advancing safety equipment. Which directly led to John's involvement in supporting various big-name teams and high-profile racers, such as; John Marking, Dave Ashley & Dan Smith, Ivan Stewart, Craig Stewart, Mark Newhan, and John Cooley, to name a few.
Switching focus back to the car, the 1968 VW was initially purchased by Nick's father in the late 70s as a standard bare-bones "Baja Bug." Common to the day and age, it was nearly all stock, no-frills, oddly streetable, and hosted admirable off-road capabilities. Equipped with the basic swing axle rear suspension and just some KYB shocks, John Tiedemann cruised up and down Baja California, for many years at hundreds of miles at a time.
Wanting to stretch a little more performance and improve the vehicle's safety, in the late 80s, John took it into JimCO for upgrades. The plans called for a beefed-up fabricated chassis roll cage and a rear suspension conversion to IRS with Torsion Bars. After these modifications, Tiedemann had something similar to a mild version of a 5/16 type car. At the time, John Marking (FOX Shocks) and John Cooley (Alumi Craft Race Cars) were both cutting their teeth and learning the ropes under the JimCO roof and they all poured their craftsmanship into what would eventually become a true "Masterpiece In Metal.”
It is no wonder that when little Nick grew into his own and developed an affinity for off-road racing and eventually a 2-1600 racing habit. Nick began using the aging family Baja Bug to prerun in the 2000s to support his program. Along with those off-road dirt miles came off-road abuse and needed repairs. When Nick sold the 1600 car (which became Luke McMillin's first race car), the Tiedemann's decided to pour the funds over into the Baja Bug for a proper restoration and started the complete rebuild in 2006. During this update, Nick enlisted help from his friends and fellow craftsman; Kurt from PRD Fab, Scott Kell from Alloy Studios. The three of them gutted the car and built from scratch everything from the floor pan to the cage itself. Only 2-3 tubes in the car are still original from the 80s and everything else has been meticulously fabricated to their professional standards. All the aluminum work was done by Scott, Nick and Clinton Pierce. Additionally, John and Nick did all the plumbing. It was essentially a brand new car.
As mentioned, three years into it, the car was finished to form and debuted in a 2009 issue of Dirt Sports Magazine. In 2014, Nick gave the car a modern electronic overhaul to provide the VW technically advanced wiring functions to help perfect his craft and promote TRH Wiring’s capabilities. Going from Auto Meter gauges, traditional switches & breakers to upgraded Motec electronics, PDM, keypad, Kustom Components AC, and a c125 color dash was just the final touch every wazoo off-road car needs. Completely street legal with working turn signals, license plates, power windows & locks, and now Air Conditioned. A retro-style Baja Bug with modern amenities that can blitz and bomb off-road at speed. In our eyes, it is the ideal Baja Bug, born with a proper pedigree, dreamy looks and well-performed craftsmanship inside and out.
A Father & Son worked tirelessly on an old VW Bug through several different evolutions of upgrades, ultimately generating this modern off-road gem we now have featured here. Nick enjoyed the car together with his father for many years until Johns passing in 2017 and still owns the Baja Bug with no plans to sell.
In fact, the upgrades are still being added. In 2017, Nick added a third seat for his son and in 2020, further enhanced the vehicle performance with VW Paradise of Escondido Turbo Charging the Type 1 2276 Motor. The car is estimated to crank out 200 HP and confirmed top speed 105 MPH.
With more ponies available, Tiedemann knew the best way to get the car to work better was by adding taller tires. Nick selected Tensor DSR 35" x 10.5" Tires for the rugged performance, soft compound, and comfortable ride quality. "These are great tires," Nick shared. "The taller tire helps so much to get through the bumps. The holes are getting huge and the 35s keeps us from riding on the skid plates all the time. With the VW power, we actually can move pretty good in part to the weight saving advantages from the DSR tires. As an added bonus, it is much nicer to have better ride quality and I know the Tensor will hold up to the rugged terrain. I prefer running 15-20 lbs. of pressure in the Southern California deserts and I don't ever have to worry about running a spare tire.”
Tiedemann continued, "I love how the car turned out. It's a treasure that allows me to cherish the times I spent with my father and now my family. I love the Baja Bug and even more with the Tensors. I like them so much; I purchased a set of them to put on my 4-seat dual-sport car."
|Builder/ Owner||Nick Tiedemann|
|Chassis||1968 VW Bug|
|Engine||2276 VW Type 1 Turbo Charged By VW Paradise|
|Gear Box||VW Configuration Bus Box W/ Weddle Internal Gears Power Box Trans|
|Brakes||CNC Disc Brakes, Single Piston fronts & Dual Rear W/ CNC Master Cylinders|
20 Gallon Fuel Safe Cell
Tiedemann Racing Harnesses
15x4 BTR Beadlock Wheels
|Tires||Tensor DSR 35x10-15|
10" Over Beam, 4" Longer Arms - 12" Wheel Travel
3x3 Over IRS Arms - 17" Wheel Travel
|Lighting||Hella Hid Lights|
|Seats||Custom Taylor Made, Built By John Tiedemann's Shop In 90's|
Friendly Auto Upholstery
Power Windows, Door Locks, & Wipers
Kustom Kompoents Electric AC
ECP Powder Coating