Sand Rail vs Dune Buggy – A Brief Comparison

Sand Rail and Dune Buggy

What is Sandrail?

A view of a city

A sandrail is a simplistic vehicle that operates on self-propelled tires and lands on rails. They are used for racing and driving. They can be powered by either an internal combustion engine or jet propulsion. Sand rails originated in the 1920s. They were mainly used for sand dune racing during the first half of the century. By 1985, sand rail became a staple at dune buggy contests. Dune buggy races are held on natural surfaces such as dry lake beds, grassy fields, and forests. The races have been held since the 1960s. In addition to being similar in appearance and function, both vehicles can be customized with various parts to fit specific needs. Sand rails have individual suspensions while most buggies have a solid axle suspension system with leaf springs or coil-over shocks that allow wheel travel without affecting vehicle ride height when going over bumpy terrain.

What is Dune Buggy?

A dune buggy is a vehicle that has four wheels and is capable of taking off-ramps with no problem. Dune buggies originated in California, U.S., in the early 1960s. They were designed to be lightweight, durable, and provide good ground clearance for motocross races on dry lake beds. Over time they became popular all over the world.

Off-Roading Capabilities:

Sand Rails have a limited off-road capability and are just as capable on the pavement while Dune Buggies can easily be used in desserts, tropical rainforests, or jungles. Both the Sand Rail and the Dune Buggy are designed for use off of paved surfaces where they can navigate more difficult terrain without trouble. Aerodynamically speaking, if you’re going to go from one surface onto the other either vehicle is going to be able to get up to speed with little effort. Where these two vehicles differ, however, is what kind of surfaces they feel most comfortable driving on. In this category alone there’s enough difference between these two that it’s worth considering which type you’re more likely to need outside of a suburban neighborhood.


From the wheel wells to the cabin height, both vehicles are designed with different terrain in mind. The Sand Rail has an impressive wheelbase that makes it difficult to flip over while the Dune Buggy is much more likely to get flipped over by only one large gust of wind. This isn’t to say that you should never take a Sand Rail off-road, but it happens on regular basis chances are you need something with more ground clearance like a jeep or other four-wheel-drive car.​ This general rule also applies to the tires; if you’re planning on mostly driving without too many obstructions then go with either one, but if there are rocks, sticks, or even small children getting in the way then it might be time for something with a bit more suspension.


Both of these vehicles were designed to be economical and practical in most situations. The Dune Buggy is the cheaper option, though it is slightly slower than the Sand Rail which is why we’ve included both models in this comparison. Though the Dune Buggy has less horsepower, you’ll see that it’s about twice as fast when driving on sand rail due to its reduction of weight and more suited tires. Both of these cars are great if you’re looking for a car that can get from point A to point B while also offering some measure of off-road capability, but there are a few things to keep in mind depending on what kind of terrain you find yourself in most often.


The Dune Buggy is the winner of this comparison because it’s more flexible than the Sand Rail. If you need to drive through rocky terrain or deep sand, then you’re better off opting for the Dune Buggy since it’s more likely to survive significant collisions than its more expensive counterpart.

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