A Pipe Dream: Todd and Libby’s 600 Horsepower LS3-Powered Rail Buggy

There are a ton of unique one-off creations that capture our attention, some of which we’ve been lucky enough to write about. Todd and Libby Krupinski’s Rail buggy has to be one of the neatest, most unorthodox builds we have ever seen. This car started its life without any designs or even a gameplan, for that matter, just a dream and a ton of creativity.

The buggy, known as D-MAG by the Krupinskis, was a collaboration of a few creative brains. In the winter of 2014, original owner/builder and friend of the Krupinskis, Justin Miller, decided to put a vision he had of a V8-powered dune buggy to fruition. Justin set up a wooden table to use as a jig, then with little fabrication experience started tactfully bending and welding pipes together. Justin’s friend, Kevin Porterfield was a great asset to have to assist with this project, as he had years of expertise building rock crawlers. It may have been the time Justin spent with Kevin at ULTA4 off-road events that sparked the need for a tube-chassis toy. The chassis itself took about a year and a half to create from a pile of pipes and a stack of sheet-metal. The buggy would live in bare metal, for its first two years of existence, being wiped down with scuff pads and WD-40 fairly routinely.

Miller set up the chassis around a 3.54:1 geared Ford 8.8 rear end housing, a set of Corbeau bucket seats and Total Cost Involved Performance (TCI) Mustang II front-end kit. He made a custom 3-link rear suspension system that used a panhard bar, similar to that of a GM F-body, for those who are familiar. Ridetech springs and shocks were used on all four corners for this specific application. Todd Krupinski had a lot to do in terms of helping source the performance parts and developing a plan to make the buggy roll, stop and handle correctly.

When it came time to source a powertrain, Todd was given the reigns and went with a setup that closely resembled a combination he was familiar with. Todd and Justin chose a Chevrolet Performance LS3 crate engine and a Turbo 400 built by RPM Transmission, with a 2300 RPM converter. The buggy was initially set up with a carburetor, assuming there would be power adders down the road. With all of the fabrication practice from building the buggy’s chassis, it only made sense that Justin would bend his own headers.

As hurdles throughout the build presented themselves, the builders overcame them in a true MacGyver fashion. The interior was rather tight, so the choice was made to use a removable steering wheel as both a theft deterrent and way to make entering and exiting feasible for Justin, who was 6-foot-1. There were also various items out of production vehicles that meshed themselves into this custom creation. For example, in order to come up with a windshield to accommodate a tall driver, a Mazda Miata unit was used.

The LS3 sitting in the engine bay uses an aluminum oil pan out of a 2000’s GM pickup truck. You’ll also notice fifth-generation Camaro wheels which were widened to 11-inches in the rear to fit the massive 345 Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. Wilwood Disc Brakes answer the call when the buggy needs to come to an abrupt halt or while entering the corners.

 

 

Justin’s first car show with the completed buggy was a Goodguys event in Columbus, Ohio, over two hours from his home. The Krupinskis met Justin and D-MAG there to find a swarm of people around the buggy. Todd recalled waiting two hours to even get close, there was such a long line that first day. Following the next day at the Goodguys meet, Todd and Libby met Justin at a nearby Quaker Steak and Lube with their Cobra. As expected, people flocked to the buggy just like they did all weekend at the show.

The Camaro wheels look perfect on the buggy as do the Wilwood front brakes.

The rain came in that evening, and Justin was about to endure a long, wet ride home. Todd and Libby offered to trailer the buggy to their nearby home, where they would keep it under cover for a few weeks. They took it to a few local cruise-ins in the meantime. The Krupinskis finally drove the Buggy back out to Justin once they caught a stretch of promising weather.

That next season, Todd and Libby went out to Eastern Ohio and the buggy and trailered it to the Goodguys show. Even though the odds were on their side by planning for the rain, Mother Nature still prevailed. The next winter, Justin and Todd pulled the buggy completely apart and sent out all the pieces to powder-coat. It was at this point in time where Justin decided it was appropriate to no longer have a slower car than Todd.

It wasn’t until after a couple seasons of driving around in a 425 horsepower roadster, that Todd finally convinced Justin to install the same Magnuson TVS2300 blower and fuel injection combination that was in his Cobra kit car. With the help of Todd’s tuner, Eric Sgambellone from Crucial Performance, they were able to download the file from the Krupinskis’ Cobras, and conservatively make 600 horsepower to the tires with a lot of room on the table for safety.

After another season filled with car shows and tons of turned heads. Justin decided it was time to part with the buggy and begin a new project. Seeing as how the buggy was already familiar with the Krupinskis’ garage, and Todd had a large vested interest in building it, there was no way that any other person would own that car but Todd and Libby. Nestled right next to the Krupinskis’ two supercharged cobras, D-MAG found its new forever home.

The Krupinskis continue to take the buggy all over creation, showing off the creativity, ingenuity, and the story that went into creating such a unique vehicle. Libby talks about how impressive the buggy is to drive, being so light and harnessing so much power. It literally is a 600 horsepower, adult version of a go-kart. As with any hot rodder though — don’t kid yourself, you’re just as guilty of it too if you are reading this magazine — Todd and Libby have been considering chasing some more power and trading the blower in for twin turbos. We wouldn’t touch a thing!

About the author

Jake Longolucco

Jake’s itch for hot rods and musclecars stems back to when he first learned to walk. He built his 1967 Chevelle at the age of 14, which he still pounds the pavement in today. Jake is a graduate of Roger Williams University, and has a career as a firefighter in southern Rhode Island. His free time is spent wrenching on, and drag racing, GM musclecars. Jake believes all hot rods should have a third pedal. His aspirations include: winning a Wally and driving one of his old cars cross-country.
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