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Building a Wood Slat Mk1 Roof Rack

You’ve seen them. A vintage coke cooler on top of a wood slat roof rack, on the right car, its perfect..


I have made a few over the years ( I like them best on Jettas personally).  A few years ago I had some purpose built towers made to hold the roof rack as tight to the top of the car as possible, making it more aerodynamic (or aero-dramatic, same same)  
These are made from 304 Stainless, so you can run them in a raw finish, polish them, or have them coated, but you don’t have to worry about them rusting.


You can pick up a pair here  to start your rack project.





Now onto my Jetta and its new roof fixture.


I made my crossbars from some aluminum flat bar that I had bent to a 2.0″ ID and 1/2″ legs, but you could use some channel, or rectangle tube, even some hardwood like oak, teak, walnut etc..

I made the cross bars 40″ long, that keeps it from sticking out over the drip rails of the car and risking my clumsy ass from splitting my head open getting in and out..

You can see there is some room to make them alittle longer but this works out well for the spacing I wanted.

Off to homedepot for some cedar, 6-7 1x3x8 boards, my poor mk6 tdi has to be a truck sometimes.. 

Back at the shop I cut the boards down to 48″ and 2 to 41″


The next bit is to get the spacing you want, I ended up around 1.75″ between each slat giving me at total width of 41″ (that will overhang my crossbars by 1/2″ on each side, which helps to bury it where you cant see the bar ends, if you have a taller cross bar you may want to make your overhang greater than 1/2″ but I wouldn’t exceed about 1/3rd the width of your slat.

After your have the spacing you’re happy with, sand/prep your slats for stain/paint/sealer.  I rolled all the edges of mine with a palm sander to ease some of the sharp cut edges off and make them a bit more “weathered”


Now you are ready to glue and screw/nail/staple your boards to the wooden cross bar (if you’re not using a wooden top cross bar, you’re ready to stain/paint/seal your strips and attach them each individually to your tower cross bar) I glued mine and used a galvanized 1-1/4 crown staple to attach the slats to the wooden cross board. You also could use screws from the bottom side (so they are hidden).




Now I needed to stain my assembly (Staining after allows the glue to adhere to the wood and not to the sealer) I used a thompsons water based sealer for fences and decks, I had some left over from my summer deck project last year.






Last thing to do is to attach the unit to the cross bars, I counter sunk some M8 allen head screws, and tapped my cross bar for m8x1.25 in 4 places, drilling all the way through both layers of the roof rack.  Use a locking nut from the bottom for added security against the bolts backing out with vibration.

Time to throw some gear on top and cruise around, one of my favorite parts of a roof rack is opening the sunroof, you get the wind, and the open air feel, without being baked by the sun.


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It is for no better explanation, a sales pitch.  Grumman Olsen was trying to get the USPS bid for manufacturing the postal carrier vehicle..   between 1983-1985 they produced 500 kubvans in 2 different models (70 and 100) with a couple different options.  High or low Floor (cargo area) dual or single rear doors, automatic or manual shift and right or left drive.

Most were automatics, almost all were diesel, I have heard that a few may have been ordered with the CIS gas engine.

Mine is a 100, with a manual trans (1/23 supposedly) single rear door, high floor.  I looked for almost 4 years for one, and in January of 14 I found one in Ohio.  After alittle time talking with the owner we struck a deal and it was on its way to me.

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I drove it around the neighborhood for a while trying to find out what worked and what didnt .. all the while thinking of paint schemes and engine options.

With a local show coming up in April I wanted to have it there and the simplest way with our work load and project list piling up was to work on the exterior first and then pull the original drive train out after the local show.

kubvan 003 A little bit of OD Green and Raptor tintable bedliner produced the finish I was looking for, and I can scrub it with a brush if it gets dirty and not worry about scratching the paint.


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We added a bullbar for safety… you know how rough the city streets of Chattanooga can be..



Final touches were a set of wheels that I use on every car, but never sell with a car. My Ronal Turbos. They were not what I had in mind but with the fenders and the offsets I was going to have to work with, these fit the bill.  We also added a roof rack and a functioning ladder to access the rack.

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It made it to the local show and we had a great time.




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From the local show to SOWO14 was only 30 days, so we were still under a bit of a time crunch to get the new driveline inplace to make it to Helen GA.

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The rebuilt ALH motor from an 03 Beetle TDI was painted CAT yellow before installing the accessories or transmission parts.


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With all the accessories on we were ready to try out the new MK1 02A mounts and mk1 02J shift linkages we had made.  Of course they fit like a glove and work even better.  The Eurovan Cable Clutch conversion kit was also used on this chassis to simplify the mk1 02a/j conversion.  Scirocco 16v axles were used with the standard mk1 hubs.











With those installed we were onto wiring, inter-cooler plumbing,and maintenance parts on the spindles and hubs.

kubvan 020After a snafu with the VNT 17 turbo we put on it having locked up vanes, we got a new one in a hurry and installed it, made about 20 miles of test drives and set off for SOWO14.  We received our new decals as we were pulling out of the shop

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We made the trip with out any issues,  had a great time cruising around town seeing old friends.  They had a mobile dyno setup so we crawled on top of it to see how we did. kubvan 017kubvan 016kubvan 023 The video is not that great as we were having issues finding a tach signal to work off of.  After that was sorted we got 3 good pulls and managed 325ft/lbs of torque and 146hp.


Overall I am very happy with the performance and drive-ability of this vehicle,  I have put a total of 1000 miles on the swap as of 6/4/14 and will continue to update as we add new parts.

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