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gas tank in front?


New member
hi guys --

i'm contemplating how to build up this whipped cimbria ss body i'm going to be getting soon, and am trying to get some things sorted out. this is all in the dreaming stages at this point, but i'm trying to be wise about what all i'm facing in the project.

the body, unfortunately, has almost all of the monocoque stuff underneath cut out -- no fiberglass floor pans, nothing closing in the underside of the front or rear ends, no gas tank support compartment in the rear, no firewall nor rear passenger compartment wall. not even a dash, for that matter. it's basically just an empty outer shell that needs a lot of fiberglass work & partition fabricating. plus (my kind of luck!) the guy i'm getting it from has been using it as a backstop for shooting his .22 (fortunately, most of the shots passed through the body from front-to-rear, through the empty glass areas).

since this shell is pretty much an empty slate, and already-hosed, i've been thinking about trying to section the body, and have the front & rear ends as flip-noses, kinda like the kellison gt-40k from the 1960's. the ease of mechanical access of the flip-nose thing has always really appealed to me. i'd like to position the gas tank on front frame-rail extensions under the hood, along with the battery, for better front-end weight distribution, but am wondering about the legality/safety issues with that idea.

can tanks legally be placed in the front?

correct me if i'm wrong, but didn't all old beetles have the tank up front? were there safety problems with that? i was thinking of one of those cylindrical aluminum aftermarket tanks, like on sandrails. possibly also some extra caging added onto the frame around the tank, for crash protection.

i would guess that i'd definitely need a good firewall, and perhaps a tank with a bladder. it also seems like a fuel gauge sender wouldn't work accurately in a cylindrical tank on its side.

i kind of like the bare-bones, stripped-down, race-car aesthetic, which is what this clapped-out body probably would force me into.

i'm also thinking about routing out the windshield seat area & reinforcing the A-pillars so as to be able to use sterling glass.

still unsure if i should even attempt using this body. i'm reasonably handy & mechanical, but don't want to cross into utter insanity with this particular rotting hulk. please forgive me if this whole thing is totally absurd -- i've been looking, but sterling-related cars don't come up available often -- especially within my infentesimal, pathetic budget.

thanks for any info or suggestions!

drew j.
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Honorary Admin
I hope you have lots of patience and some deeper pockets. A shell that's been that cut up is going to be very hard to reinforce correctly, unless you build a tube chassis under it to support the critical areas. Tipping body panels isn't a new idea, and there is no legislation that I know of that limits where the gas tank needs to be. Look at this guy's thread http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=295854&highlight=gt40 for exactly that.

It sounds like far more work than it may be worth since you'll be fabricating everything. If you have done something like this before then by all means, proceed! A clapped out road rocket would be cool to see as a Cimbria. Better, if you can afford one of Dave's tube chassis' as a starting point, half the battle would be won. You'd have to change the tubes where the doors would sit, but that's fairly minor surgery!