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Pinoy Volks

Sakbayan

The Evolution of the Sakbayan:

1968-1980

 Researched by Wilfred T. Ruiz

Club Historian, Volkswagen Club of the Philippines

          In 1968, the Country Buggy was imported by DMG from Australia in CKD form. This left-hand drive version was assembled here. There was no "tooling" provided for the Philippines. Soon after, the simple body was replicated easily by the Filipino engineers of DMG (the local assemblers of Volkswagen Beetles Kombis and Type IIIs).

When Australia run out of Country Buggys for export to the Philippines, DMG sourced from Germany. DMG was able to get a different design & size pans (181), engines, drive trains and other non-Philippine components. The Philippine-made body was then adapted to this new components from Germany.

Again, when Germany run out of components for export to the Philippines, DMG again sourced from Brazil. They were able to get a different pan, engine, drive train and non-Philippine components. The body was adapted again to this new components from Brazil

So, there are 3 distinct versions of these utility vehicles:

1st version - Australia-sourced

2nd version- Germany-sourced

3rd version- Brazil-sourced

The 2nd version and the 3rd version were substantially different from the 1st version, The body also had significant changes from the 1st version.

In my opinion, the terms "designed", "developed" and "adapted" can be used interchangeably in this situation.

The two later versions were really "designed" by the Filipino engineers at DMG.

Name-wise, these utility vehicles evolved from being the Country Buggy to Sakbayan 815 and finally to Sakbayan. To most Filipinos, they are all called Sakbayan

The "Country Buggy" was first advertised in 1969 with the 1300 engine.

The "Sakbayan 815" was advertised in 1972 with the 1600 engine

The "Sakbayan" was advertised in 1973 with the 1600 engine and finally advertised in 1975 with the 1500 engine.

(Note: I based the "advertising dates" on the dates appearing on my collection of magazine clippings of VW ads.)

Based on the advertisements, it could be said that the (Philippine) "Country Buggy", the "Sakbayan 815" and the "Sakbayan" were all designed for rugged country work characterized by rough farm roads, unpaved roads, as well as field work for the construction and services industries. The Philippines largest telephone company, PLDT, had at one time used a fleet of them. Even the government owned Philippine National Bank has a fleet of them.

To date, we are not certain how many Sakbayans were made. The production records of DMG were destroyed in a fire. I hope that someday, when the vehicle registration records of the Land Transportation Commission is fully computerized and made readily available to the public, I might be able to extract some data.

One thing for sure, based on the examples I have seen running or not running, the fewest is the Country Buggy, followed by the German-sourced version and comparatively most plentiful, the Brazil-sourced version.

To date, a few are in the hands of collectors. Most are grounded and parted for spareparts.

Evolution based on advertisements

Model as named in advertisements

Country Buggy

SKB 815

Sakbayan

1st Month-Year advertised

Nov 1969

Nov 1972

(the only ad)

Dec 1972

Last Month-Year advertised

Feb 1971

 

Nov 1975

Engine

1300

1300

1600 (1972)

1500 (1975)

Doors (based on pictures)

none

none

none

Top

soft

Soft w/ Optional fiberglass

hard

Rear axle

No mention (swing)

No mention (swing)

double jointed

Note: I used the above tabulation only to guide me as to the year of manufacture and the chronological transition from one name to another.

The comparative table below was created after interviewing the most knowledgeable Filipino VW enthusiast, Mawie Chanco (a close friend of mine) who happens to be on the Restoration & Race Preparation Business from the DMG days to the present. Also, the data were confirmed by other VW "Sakbayan-watchers" (too numerous to mention) who had actual hands-on scrutineering of the 3 versions of the Sakbayan.

Evolution based on actual scrutineering of available models

Version

1

2

2A

3

3A

Non-Philippine component Parts Source

Australia

Germany

Brazil

Most probable production years

1969-70

71-72

73

1974- 1980

Pan

Beetle

Thing

Beetle

Brasilia

Engine

1300

1600 dual port

1500 single port

Wheels

15"

14"

15"

Studs

5

5

4

Front suspension

kingpin, link pin for early Kombi

Both Upper and lower Balljoints mounted face down

Standard ball joint (upper balljoint mounted face down: lower ball joint mounted face up)

Struts for front suspension

none

provided

none

Rear suspension

Swing axle

Swing axle

IRS

Swing axle

Reduction gear

yes

yes

no

no

Fuel gauge

none

electrical

mechanical

Charging system

6 volts

30A Generator

25A generator

steering wheel

3 spoke

2 spoke Beetle type

2 spoke standard beetle

4 spoke

2 spoke Brasilia type

headlights

bug eye

upright sealed beam

upright sealed beam

windshield

folding

choice: fixed or folding

fixed

top

soft

choice: Fixed hardtop or detachable fiberglass top

detachable fiberglass top

soft

doors

none

choice: None or 2-door or 4 door

none

Wiper switch

In dash

In dash

In Steering column

integral in wiper motor housing

Brake drums

Type 2

Type 181

Standard beetle

Hand-crank starting adaptor

provided

none

none

Note: The table above is only a guide. I think it was the policy then, of VW Germany, to allow foreign assemblers, to use whatever stock of parts that are in surplus. They tolerate the practice of adapting or the continued use of these parts, for subsequent models or versions, until the supplies run out. The project then becomes cost-effective.

As in most VW products, there are "running changes". Expect examples that will not fit exactly as tabulated. There is always a model that is a "transition model" from one year to another or from one version to another. The beauty of the Volkswagens is that most parts are interchangeable or adaptable. Your VW will never be grounded for lack of the correct parts. You could always upgrade, even downgrade, adapt or improvise with another VW part while searching or waiting for the correct VW part.

What stands out from the table is the Version 2A—The German-sourced 1600 model with IRS, sturdier 5-stud brake drums that are wider and thus more powerful brake-wise. Another outstanding feature is the presence of a pair of special stamped-steel braces (struts) to provide additional support to the lower & upper tubes of the front axle. It is bolted to the pan to help strengthen and share the load to be carried by the frame head in case of excessive abuse or front collision (I presume). The mountings of the ball joints are also different from the standard method found in ball-jointed front suspensions. I presume this has something to do with improved ground clearance.

It has also, the then new steering column with the matching 4-spoke steering wheel with integral signal lights switch, high-low dimmer switch and wiper switches. As they say, you cannot ask for more. The case serial letters &/numbers matches the 181 cases.

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  bUg mE uP!!!