Storm Chasing car build

Sep 24, 2016
25
5
1
25
Ringgold, Georgia
Hello, First off I would like to Introduce myself. My name is Jordan Doane and I am currently a Photography major. I have a huge passion for storms, Thunderstorm Structure and Photography. I know i will Probably receive some hate but hey they are just ideas and plans in my head. Just trying to turn some gears. Heres some of my storm photography (not bad for being stuck in Georgia because of college)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jordan_doane/albums/72157655878251601

I will be purchasing a 2002 Volkswagen Jetta wagon TDI hopefully by the start of the 2017 season. Now i know its not ideal but I'm on a budget like most of us. Lot of space for my needs. The car can get 40mpg+ and it is a turbo charged diesel engine so it has good torque also.
s-l1600.jpg
-Tinted windows
-extra Jerry can of fuel
-Spare full sized tire
-access to tow points and tow rope
-Lift the car slightly for added ground clearance and larger all terrain tires.
- Metal Skid plate to prevent oil pan damage.
-Remove the front plastic bumper and weld up a metal one for added protection
-car length roof rack/hail protection. The would extend over my windshield also.
rack design.jpg top of rack.jpg
Optionally if i wanted i could easily weld up some hinged side window guards that would swing down from the top rack to protect 4 side rear windows.
rack 2.jpg
Now in terms of the interior:
-Power inverter probably 2000 watt.
-Ram mounted iPad Air 2 to run radar scope (short term)
-DSLR camera mount

In the rear of the vehicle id like to build a small light weight raised platform so under it in bins i could put extra clothes, necessities, medical supplies, extra food/water and anything else small. On the top of the plat form i plan to have it set up so if I'm a ways from home I can get a good nights rest while pulled off someplace, or just a place to chill while waiting for storms to fire. also the ability to black out the windows with fabric for privacy. Id like to keep the rear seats in also. This is an example of whats in my head.
d28974751f4634a36e01dd312a5fc17d.jpg

I have a good CB radio already that i will install and also plan to get my Ham radio license in the future and gain some education on using one before installing one also.
29NW_LTD_CLASS.jpg 41jM1bjmpML.jpg

Thats the plans so far! let me know what you think please! I'm sure i will receive some criticism but any love is appreciated! Thank you!
 
Last edited:
Jan 14, 2011
2,941
2,753
21
St. Louis
stormhighway.com
Looks good!

I would consider doing away with the roof guard portion to save a lot on total weight/MPG unless you are really concerned about dents on the roof. For the windows, I found that fabric doesn't block out enough light, I ended up making cardboard panels that fit into each window (spray painted black on the outside for stealth). For the rear storage (fully extended tripods, etc), I did something similar with my Ford Freestyle I drove between 2005-2009:

http://stormhighway.com/blog/april1007a.php
 
Sep 24, 2016
25
5
1
25
Ringgold, Georgia
Looks good!

I would consider doing away with the roof guard portion to save a lot on total weight/MPG unless you are really concerned about dents on the roof. For the windows, I found that fabric doesn't block out enough light, I ended up making cardboard panels that fit into each window (spray painted black on the outside for stealth). For the rear storage (fully extended tripods, etc), I did something similar with my Ford Freestyle I drove between 2005-2009:

http://stormhighway.com/blog/april1007a.php
I like your build, yeah having a place to store fully extended tripods is a must. As far as the roof rack/guard I don't think it will have a huge impact on fuel economy due to the fact that is it made from a grate like material and it shouldn't weight a lot either, not my plan. Id like to avoid dents but its not if ill get caught in hail its when haha. Also i could store a few extra slim items on top like for instance a jerry can. Thanks for the opinions much appreciated!
 
Sep 7, 2013
686
544
21
Strasburg, CO
I run a very similar setup to what your plan lays out but with a 2007 Forester XT. I certainly don't get 40mpg, but I have AWD and turbo.

I run a full length roof rack (Rola) where I carry a full size spare tire, and other items if an extended/camping trip. I can add a steel mesh panel to the rack if needed, but I've never bothered. I try to avoid hail, but that's not possible 100% of the time, but have never had any issues with big stuff. Any penalties to my MPG are offset by some protection, and carrying a full size spare outside the vehicle. Keeping a tire inside, when chasing in the hot summer days, makes the car stink unless you can get it under the floor. This is also the ideal place to store fuel, because storing fuel inside a vehicle is a bad idea.

I had planned on doing similar gear storage to what you describe, but that plan went away out of keeping the interior open for changing gear loads, plus getting in and out of the "sleeping space" was super awkward when it was raised, and frankly claustrophobic. Also, I tend to do the "boy that lightning was close "hop" " into the hatch, so the extra head room is appreciated.

90% of my modifications are reversible. Meaning if (no plans to) I did want to sell my car, it would be cake to quickly return it to stock.

This year I added a 1/8" aluminum skid plate that I DIY'd at my work. Diff protector plate is next.

Other items/space you may want to consider:
-Cold storage/cooler and where to put it.
-Cell phone signal booster.
-Power pack to supplement inverter: that can charge batteries or jump car in emergency (I'm looking into these now).


One last note: Set aside a fair budget for repairing that car...because VWs of that era are notoriously problematic, especially the electrical systems. You don't want to be trying to core punch with 4 windows that won't go up unless they feel like it. IMO get a Subaru instead and use that VW maintenance budget to offset the terrible MPGs that older Subaru's have.

Good luck and keep us updated.