As part of our Restoration Day celebrations, today we hand the Preloved blog over to Stu Howarth to share his VW Camper Van project.
With a range of projects always in the pipeline; from writing a children’s book to creating iPhone apps, and a range of restoration projects in between – Stu has certainly got a lot of projects on the go. Today he’s kindly taken some time out of his busy schedule to share his VW Camper Van Restoration story with us. Over to Stu!
VW Camper Van Restoration Part 1: The Idea
I was driving around Newquay in 2012 on a family holiday, and around every corner, I would see a smart looking VW camper van coming in the other direction. I instantly knew I wanted one and as soon as I got home I started to scour the web looking for camper vans for sale.
Finding My Dream Camper Van
I have never really been into the car scene myself, and although I have always liked nice cars I have never really got into the whole “modifying my vehicle” aspect. My research came up with vans that had all kinds of modifications from simple daytime runners, to fully fleshed camper vans.
The ideas and possibilities seemed endless and so did the amount of money I would need to buy one. I quickly started to come to the realisation that camper vans were not cheap vehicles to buy, especially ones which had already been converted.
Dreams shattered I started to think I should give up on the idea of being able to cruise around Newquay one day in my very own VW camper. That didn’t stop me continually looking and admiring other people’s creations and ideas though. One day I woke up and decided to crawl the classified sections on the off-chance of a camper van for sale, as I sometimes did. To my delight somebody was selling a camper van around the corner from where I lived – at a price I could afford.
The downside was she was an unfinished project and as such was still pretty much a builders van, one which had been resprayed and had some alloy wheels fitted. I fell instantly in love and rang the seller straight away. It only took me half an hour from seeing the ad to actually buying my very own restoration project.
Planning My Restoration Project
Upon driving the van home, the reality of the task I had undertook quickly sunk in. This wasn’t going to be a walk in the park and a lot of time and effort was going to be required to get the van looking as good as I wanted it to.
First things first, I had to empty the inside of the van out to see what I was dealing with. The exterior of the van was fine. She was clean and straight, but as this was still a builders van inside I had a true blank canvas on which to begin my conversion.
Once the van was emptied and I could see the space I was working with I could begin to design what I wanted it to look like. Being a Coca-Cola red colour and knowing I wanted to take her on road trips, I instantly had an American Route 66 style theme in my head which quickly led me to think, I wanted to design her to look like a 50’s American Diner. This meant red, white and black colours, neon lights, chequered flooring, metal surfaces and iconic seats with the white stripe or triangle.
I also knew I wanted to convert this into an actual camper van, rather than a surf day van, which meant I needed cupboards, a bed and cooking equipment. That’s a lot of stuff to put into such a small space. Could I make this work? I put together a quick mood board that highlighted the different styles that would help direct the next stage of the build where I actually start to convert the van in to the camper van I’d always imagined it to be!