WAXHAW, NC – Each month the Waxhaw Coffee Cruisers meet at the Cureton Town Center in the name of charitable giving, cars, and community. This month’s featured charitable organization is the Bill Kennelly Memorial Scholarship Fund, which gives out three scholarships each year to a fire department member or child of a member, a Cuthbertson athlete, and an immediate family member of a police department employee or volunteer. The Bill Kennelly Memorial Scholarship Fund was created in memory of beloved career firefighter, police officer, and Cuthbertson football coach Bill Kennelly, who passed in 2018.
This month’s featured ride is Kyle Kuntz’s self-built custom sandrail. It’s reminiscent of a giant go-kart, and it’s surely just as fun. Even with a recent wheelie-induced transmission failure, it’s definitely one of Waxhaw’s coolest cars. In this excerpt from our coverage of the May Waxhaw Coffee Cruisers meet, Kuntz tells all about what makes the sandrail so cool and gives a little backstory on why he decided to build his own.
Kuntz has a bit of a reputation around Waxhaw for having his wheels in the air. Here’s what he had to say about that.
“A lot of people ask me ‘Are you the guy that does wheelies around Waxhaw?’ Yeah, I’m the guy that does wheelies around Waxhaw,” Kuntz said. “Sometimes that comes at a price. I blew up the transmission last week doing a wheelie. I ripped the pinion gear out, so my transmission is in the shop right now. I found another one, put it in there, and we got it running.”
Kuntz’s car is an interesting meeting of modern and classic, built with vintage Volkswagen parts and 3D printed add-ons. He said that wheelies are no problem with his setup.
“The sandrail is not really any make or model,” Kuntz said. “It’s just built off of old Volkswagen technology, like ‘60s era technology. You can see in the front end, with some of the trailing arm stuff, that the suspension is basically a Volkswagen suspension. So is the drivetrain with this one. The engine is an 1835, and the transmission is actually out of a bus, so it’s more heavy-duty. It took a little bit to rip the gears out of it. The 1835 lifts the wheels up pretty quick, especially with the big wide tires in the back.”
The car was built from the ground up by Kuntz himself. Some of the parts give his 3D printer a run for its money, but the 3D printing approach gives Kuntz an awesome level of customization.
“There are a lot of 3D printed items on the car that help me do some custom things. The wind deflector in the front is all mounted with 3D printed parts. The cargo net in the back has all 3D printed hooks. There are air-scoops that are pretty long prints, they were each 23 hour prints.”
This custom sandrail has been a dream of Kuntz’s for a long time, and he said that such a fun ride has been worth the wait. He said that the car has made a lot of people smile.
“When I was about 14 or 15, maybe 17 years old, I built a Volkswagen beetle. When I was in Pennsylvania building it, I was looking at all of the sandrails in the magazine that I was ordering parts from. Since I was about 15 years old, I had a dream of building a sandrail and driving it on the road. North Carolina allows me to do that. It took me thirty years, but I put my dream on the road, and I love driving it. It’s as fun as it looks. It’s a go-kart, and it’s like driving a go-kart on the road. You’ve got the wind in your face, and it’s so much fun. I have yet to see someone look at it and frown, everybody smiles. That’s awesome, to have your 30 year dream make everybody smile.”
Visit triwnews.com and follow the link to our Youtube channel to see the full interview with Kuntz at May’s Waxhaw Coffee Cruisers meet. For more information on the Bill Kennelly Memorial Scholarship Fund visit bigcountry235.com, and for more on the Waxhaw Coffee Cruisers, follow the group on Facebook at facebook.com/waxhawcoffeecruisers.