1969 Volkswagen Bus Restoration
It’s funny how some things will move you. I had my doubts on this particular build from the get go: it wasn’t for the faint of heart. Over the weekend a long time client brought this old bus in for us to take a look at. His pride and joy that had suffered extensive damage to the front end and although at first glance it didn’t seem so bad, a quick look “under the hood” proved otherwise.
For starters, the inner heater channel had pushed back the emergency lever causing the rear brakes to lock up; the entire dash had buckled like a potato chip; all the gauges were cracked; all the internal tin was demolished. You get the picture.
Now I know what you’re thinking: just bang it out and slap on a little bondo and she would be good to go, hell, they don’t make the replacement tin for that year so its all justified…but that’s not the kind of work we do and I left the shop dizzy, what the hell was I supposed to tell him, that the bus was done..let the insurance company file for salvage and scrap it for parts.
That night over dinner I remembered a photograph the man had showed me a few years back of him with his family in Baja California, with the bus overlooking the crystal blue pacific ocean. Somehow I needed to get the bus back to Mexico, the next morning I began to scour the online ads for buses (68-72) that had seen better days, two days later I located this bus in East L.A. It was a young couple who were tired of having this “Dump” in their driveway and just wanted it out of there.
It wasn’t pretty but it had what I wanted a face that was pretty much untouched! Once we had both buses back in the shop I was able to use the donor bus as a guide the original plan was remove the outer skin and clean it up then graft it back on but after more discovery we realized that all real damage was internal, we needed to cut the entire face off the bus!
At point I hesitated looked over at Louie who remarked” this is it there is no turning back Our beloved Client is going to kill us and I will be cast out of the restoration business to live a life of shame and hidden remorse but somehow I felt the muses were with me as I fired up the torch!
After two days of cutting, lining up, measuring, trimming, installing the doors then installing the front windshield literally 20 times before we were satisfied that all our ducks were lined up and in their proper place.
The interior was great shape for the amount of use the bus had been through, everything was there, I wanted to get rid of the drab curtains and fought with the client until we both compromised…we would keep the original fabric, but that I could dye them a darker color to dress up the windows and match the exterior color change…..
As for the exterior colors, the thought of going back to the original white just wasn’t in the picture we both agreed that the initial goal was to get the bus back to Mexico that crystal blue ocean was calling my name…so that’s the reason behind the color change using a softer white to reflect the soothing white caps of the surf down south.
Once the bus was painted, we waited 12 hours then used 1000 grit sandpaper to scuff up the clear and allow any impurities to rise to the surface which we allowed to fully cure for 10 days before we went back to do the final color sand a buff with a wool pad.
We swap out all the front windshield seal and the weatherstripping in the doors, chrome hubcaps door lock seals detailed items that needed to be taken care of with the help from the guys at E&C auto parts in Reseda.