EMPI Imp #1013 - Bob Johnson

My EMPI Imp is a 1969 model serial number 1013. It is currently being installed on a 1964 VW pan (first installation, I found this one in an original, although weathered, condition and it has never been used until now.)

The transaxle remains a swing axle version, although updated to a 12 volt model and the engine is a late model 1915cc with dual port heads, dual Delortos and a modified stinger type exhaust which has been converted to a single muffler outlet.

Installation of dual carburetors requires a modification of the fiberglass body support ribs which I would be glad to share with anyone interested. The body also requires a small modification on the rear to provide clearance for the generator, especially when removing/installing the engine. The modification I'm referring to actually improves the cars appearance in my opinion.

The unit I have is green metal flake and originally came with a hardtop which sadly was destroyed by the previous owner. I would be interested in finding a replacement if that were possible.

My address is bjohnson@sunflower.net. Hope to see more people signing up for the registry, as you know we EMPI IMP owners are in the minority as fiberglass dune buggies go but from what I can tell these are some quality units.

Bob Johnson

Imp #1013 Front

Update from 2/14/2001 - 

Its been a while since I updated the notes on my EMPI Imp and a lot has changed so hereís an update. My Imp is a 69 model serial number 1013 with a 64 VW chassis. The engine is a 1915 cc dual port type 1 with a single Weber progressive carburetor. The transaxle is a swingaxle with short axles and a later model center section using 3.12 to 1 ring and pinion (which isnít low enough for 31 inch tires) and stock gear ratios. Originally I used dual DeLorto carburetors on this unit but I have changed to a single progressive Weber and found it to be much more drivable (on everything but sand) and to have better low-end torque.

My original plan was to repaint the green fiberglass due to its sun fading but instead I sanded it with 320 grit down to the original color, and then clear coated it. The result might not be as good as new but I think it looks excellent, and itís nice to have the original color.

Iíve made several additions since originally completing the Imp including:

A bikini top (similar to tops used on Jeeps)
Aluminum coated the exhaust (by HPC) 
Chromed the front bumper/tow-bar mount 
Front fender braces (badly needed for off-road use) 
Reinforced the parking brake opening on tunnel. 
Chrome and black EMPI Imp badges 
CB radio and AM/FM cassette radio 
Installed front seats from 1885 Pontiac Fiero 

I am particularly pleased with the aluminum coating on the exhaust and the Fiero seats. The HPC coating does not rust or blue and makes a very nice improvement to the appearance of the buggy. The Fiero seats, which are narrow enough to fit the Imp, are recovered in black to match the rear seats and use the Pontiac seat mounts bolted directly to the VW floor pan. The driver seat even includes a tilt feature. Not only did this greatly improve the comfort of the buggy, but Fiero seats have radio speakers mounted in the seats. These are the only radio speakers in the car and by wiring one seat to the rear speaker wires and the other to the front speaker wires I can individually adjust the volume to each seat and (believe it or not) the radio is now functional when youíre out cruising.

With regard to the parking brake opening, we have found that cracks will develop around this opening if the buggy is used in off-road situations. It can be re-welded and reinforced by adding some 1/8 inch thick strap around this opening and I would recommend this modification to anyone building a new buggy.

I tow the Imp behind my motor home and it has seen a lot of country. We have driven most of the Baja 500 race course in Mexico; been up Oldsmobile Hill at Glamis, California; driven the dunes at Little Sahara in Oklahoma; seen a good portion of the Ozarks in Missouri; seen duty as a Hot Air Balloon chase vehicle at the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and spent a considerable amount of time in the mountains of Colorado (Engineer Pass, Imogene Pass, Tincup Pass, Pikes Peak and more).

Yet to be done for the Imp is a change to a hotter ignition coil and wider gap plugs (the stock unit has trouble keeping the plugs firing above 12,000 feet with limited air) and a 4.86 to 1 ring and pinion. When you get in severe off-road situations, especially at the higher elevations you desperately need a lower gear to go slower. In addition, with 31-inch tires, I rarely use fourth gear except on the highway. The lower ring and pinion should help all three problems.

Keep up the good work on the Registry.

Bob Johnson

Hays, Kansas


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