I couldn’t have given this VW Camper a second chance of life and become a superb wedding car, without the help of these people…………………………… Caroline & Kirsty at Vee Dub Ya Upholstery for making a superb job of the interior, all the guys at AH Schofield for their technical help and the best prices on Dub parts and Tony at Cross Garage, Clowne for the superb paint job.

This is Macy, a 1971 Volkswagen Bay Window Camper, the last of the early bays which were manufactured from 1968 to 1971. She has always been a camper and was converted prior to being delivered to her first owner by Devon Conversions of Sidmouth, Devon.  Originally the bodywork was painted in orange and white, a very popular colour in the '70s. The original interior, which I removed was in yellow Formica, with orange moquette cushions. She had been sitting in the previous owner's garage for 13 years awaiting some tender loving care, and then I bought her in May 2015 and that is when the labour of love began. My intention was always to restore her back to as close to new as possible, not just a lick of paint a and a wipe down with an oily rag.

Just a few of the camper restoration images

I have restored old VW's in the past, and I know how rusty they can be, and this old bus was no exception. The video below shows just a few of the thousands of photos I have of the three and a half year restoration.  The first job I did was to make a "rotisserie" to enable me to spin the bus on its axis so that I could work on the chassis in comfort and give me good access so that I could carry out the work correctly.  There are so many vintage and classic cars out there that have poor repairs carried out. From the beginning, I enforced the ethos that if any parts were beyond reasonable repair they would be replaced with new, and that started with the chassis.  Some parts of the chassis have had brand new sections fabricated and welded in place, but many have been replaced with new factory manufactured parts, and you can see the results in the photo below.

Chassis Complete……………………..

Once the work on the chassis was complete, my attention was focussed on replacing the braking system. That meant all brand new solid and flexible pipework throughout; a new master cylinder; new rear slave cylinders and new front disk callipers. When this bus was manufactured it did not have a brake servo unit to boost the peddle pressure, so after much research, I decided not to fit the standard brake servo unit, but instead to fit a dual remote brake servo, the type used in vintage and classic race cars, and this has proved to be a very good decision, as the brakes are incredibly efficient and comparable to the brakes in a modern vehicle. It wasn’t much of a decision when it came to the vehicle wiring, as it was mostly original and had had some poor quality repairs carried out over the years, so a brand new custom made wiring loom was installed.

Macy’s Video Story

The standard ride height on a bay window camper is quite high, so it was always going to be lowered, but definitely not slammed.  The front beam was rotten, so I bought a beam from a ’78 bus that was rust free.  I welded in adjusters and also fitted drop spindles.  The standard rear spring plates were replaced with adjustable drop plates and the combination of this suspension mod retained the ride quality, but more importantly, the original geometry was maintained and therefore safety was not compromised. After removing every bit of paint from the body, and there were a lot of layers, most of the body panels were replaced with new. These included a completely new front panel, both seat tubs, inner and outer front and rear wings, rear lower quarters, both cab door skins, inner, middle and outer sills along with many other smaller sections.
The pop-up roof was falling to bits and had obviously been leaking quite badly, maybe it could have been recovered, but I decided to fabricate a new one from scratch and installed a vinyl covering to make it waterproof, and each of the 250 plus rivets was sealed with Sikoflex. The interior was specifically designed for comfort and to maximise space for the bride and bridesmaids.  I initially designed the seating in AutoCAD to ensure it fits perfectly and so that the stitching on the seat cushions matched the back cushions, so the lines flowed through, especially in the corner. The seating and interior panels were made Caroline of Vee-Dub Ya Upholstery at Ripley, and I'm sure you will agree,  she made an amazing job.  From the beginning, I had got a clear vision of how it would look and that included the “yacht” flooring. Well, that is all the geeky stuff done with, but most importantly you can be assured that after a three and a half year, no expense spared restoration, you will not only be comfortable but you will be SAFE.