The VW Hormiga is rarely seen north of the Rio Grande because these little trucks were built specifically for less developed countries like Mexico.
In fact, Hormigas are one of the rarest VWs ever built so they’ll attract rock star attention at every car show.
A lesser known trait is their connection with organized crime.
Ken Kennedy has been fascinated with Hormigas for years but these little are nothing like a search for a ’69 Camaro because they are so rare and a world apart from North America.
Ken explained how his search went in the early days: “I saw a few for sale but trying to deal with people in Mexico is nearly impossible and then I saw this one in Florida”.
This Hormiga had been in the States for nearly 20 years: “It got there in 1996 and it had been traded many times. It took two months to get a title because it was painted three times and it took me a long time to get down to the VIN.We live in Florida during the winter and after I got it I spent most of my time getting parts and getting it up to snuff. It was the first one I’ve ever touched”.
These trucks had quite an international flavor as Ken explained: “The pieces were built in Germany and then they shipped it to Mexico for manufacturing. It was considered a commercial vehicle 3 but not many came out of Mexico. It had parts on it from 1973-77. It was mix and match”.
Part of the reason is clearly found in the truck itself because these vehicles don’t look like something that you’d want to do a long haul in—they’re functional to the point where a six-cylinder manual everything, radio delete ’61 Ford Falcon looks like a Ferrari when it’s next to a Hormiga.
Clearly, the Hormiga driving experience is unique and Ken confirmed it: “They are a blend of parts, things like the rear sub axles are off a ’73 van and the front ones are off a 60s bus. It’s front wheel drive and the best it could do is probably 50 miles per hour. It’s really heavy in the front. I’d like to stiffen it up a bit too “.
Ken worked on a few things to make this Mexican pickup a bit more North American: “It’s got add-on signal lights and I didn’t like the 7-inch drum brakes in the rear so it’s got disc brakes now“.
There are other things associated with Hormigas that Ken never considered and one of them is his Hormiga hat. He found out the name is associated with a street gang so he was heavily scrutinized when he proudly wore it in public but that’s small price to pay for an extremely rare VW. He thought it was funny.
Hormigas are boxy looking mini-trucks but the reality and the math is simple—you are far more likely to see a ’70 Hemicuda at a car show than a 1977 Hormiga.
Ken wants to do the car show circuit in his Hormiga but he’ll have one more modification left before it’s driven into the spotlight:
“I want to put a hay bale in the back to show this as a working truck”.
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