Mike's Yellow and Grey Lowered Bay Window
After years seeing Matt Wheldons brother cruise around in his dumped pre 66 beetle visiting endless car shows, reading tonnes of custom car magazines and many trips to Newquay, I realised there must be a better time had in a veedub van than getting very drunk and sleeping in a stinking tent!
It was time to get a VW!
I bought the bus from a guy in Dawlish in 1996, the previous owner seemed
very weird; well he thought a good selling point was to say "it helps
me save petrol when I go to college as I just drive the van over to Exmouth
on Monday, sleep in the van all week, I've not been late for a tutorial
We had decided he was tight for cash and would take any money for the bus given its bad condition. We tried to offer him £450 but he said his brother had done a lot of welding on it, he said £600 so I said £500 we settled at £550! We thought we'd let him feed his kids for the week!
We decided to buy the bus as the bodywork was good and the engine needed some work, bargain (I thought)!!!
My Dad collected it that weekend because I was working and it actually drove all the way home and he thought it was the best thing ever, if a little slow.
Immediately the dirty 70's interior was removed and huge amounts of Dettol and bleach were used to disinfect it. It started to look better already, ("better" I didn't say it looked good).
The brakes needed to be overhauled, the steering was pulling to one side. The disc brakes on the front had seized callipers, so whilst the brakes were off we decide to put in new wheel bearings all round. Also on the back we had new backing plates, cylinders, bearings, shoes and drums - not a cheap start, but if a jobs worth doing! All the rust was stripped from underneath the arches and coated with black rust proofing.
I bought all the bits to service the engine too. After changing the oil
I started the engine
a massive thump, thump, thump noise was heard.
We realised at the time it was serious but didn't realise how serious.
After reading Volksworld's diagnosis, we decided it was the flywheel oil
end seal (obviously not knowing a lot about engines then! And not noticing
the four-inch end float).
The van was pushed on the back of a friend's trailer and taken to Dial-a-mig (who should be called dial-a-mug)! They said they could fill in the rear engine hatch take off the doors handles flatten the front end, making it completely smooth and fit a type 4 Porsche 914 engine. It all seemed too good to be true . and it was!
It turned out to be the poorest welding ever seen and they bent my bus
to pieces. They welded the new front panel on too high so the windscreen
would no longer fit in place.
Then they obviously got bored or realised they were shit and left it
with no windscreen, bare metal and no door handles, outside in the rain!
The only thing they did get right was the height but they cocked that
A mate had heard we had a camper and said he knew of so well old Porsche wheels "that look naff" the next day he pop around with a set of Porsche Fuchs!!!!!!!!! Of course I bought them there and then. I had them all refurbished, but whilst they were with my van (at Dial-a-mug) the centre caps were stolen, along with my standard bus wheels. To fit the wheels a phone call to machine 7 soon had the adaptors for Late Bay to Porsche 5 stud on their way.
Time to get the suspension sorted properly! Adjusters from Karmann Konnection, Spax and Koni custom shocks, all top stuff and cost a mint but wasted on the green wonky skip.
Finally we had our van back, with wallet £1000 lighter, a type 4 engine and one sorry looking camper, it was time for plan B!
A friend's boyfriend was a welder and was able to cut out and repair the shit job that they had done on my pride and joy. After spending 3 days trapped with the van he said he could do no more. It was towed home and on the way we found that the wheel bearings had become loose (a year and half after fixing) and I almost wrote off the van!!!
Next was 'The Pitstop' in Denbury, also turned out to be another cowboy.
Everyone thinks that they can repair Vw's 'as they're simple cars' but
it turns out most don't know a thing.