Were they using it to pull stumps? Pull wheel stands out of the stoplights?
The one in progress is coming along nicely - nice Bling, too. The very last buggy I built, I went with chrome everything on the 1915 engine for the bling factor (Everybody was chroming everything in sight back then) and I ran a small single Holley carb and loved it. Never really had any cooling problems with chrome tins but only had it in the sand twice and then it sold.
That electrical conduit to run the harness is really cool - that stuff bends nicely with heat and I did that around corners of a pergola we once had. I'm surprised the wires pulled through easily - never happens for me! We used to use a silicone grease for pulling bundles of wires in data centers and it made a YUGE! difference, but Dawn dishwashing liquid works almost as well for small jobs. Smells better, too.
I remember buying a used '69 transaxle (synchro first and IRS) at a junk yard for that buggy. Cost me all of $25 bucks.
I like your idea of "slowing down" in retirement, too......