1973 Geelong Early Bay Camper

28 06 2014

I saw this beauty at the National VW Bug-In at Geelong this April. It was delivered as a new car to Geelong in 1973 and is still in the hands of the first owner. How cool is that? The complete history of the car in one hand – no previous owner to blame if something is somewhat wrong. Not that anything is wrong with this car. The owner had it restored recently and it now beams as if it has just come from the production line. Perfect in every detail. Minimalistic campervan conversion with bed-bench-combination (very neatly re-upholstered) and a kitchen block with sink and fridge behind the driver’s cabin. Interesting installation of the 220V-inlet, hidden on the left side within the engine bay, avoids cutting any extra holes into the body of the car. Super-clean engine bay and engine itself (AP motor). Dashboard with a series of additional instruments below the radio. Some kind of non-original exhaust system. The color could be Sierra Yellow (L11H). The bus is actually an early bay/late bay (T2a/T2b) hybrid, with the front mask and the bumper bars still from the early bays and the rear air intakes and rear lights already from the late bay window version. I understood these models came from the transition period around 1971-1972. But that would probably also fit with delivery of this car to Australia in 1973. What a wonderful bus!

Added July 1st, 2014: I wasn’t at all aware of this, but VW buses of Australia actually feature some original colors which have never been used by Volkswagen in Germany or Europe. You can find a list of a these colors and their paint codes at this page of the Australian Club VeeDuv. Bottomline is that the color of this bus is not Sierra Yellow but probably Mustard (Dulux colour code 13974). Thanks to Greg for pointing this out in the comment below!

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Beautifying Taiga Lily

15 06 2014

Couple of details fixed in mid-May in our 1976 VW microbus Taiga Lily: Worn out inner door handle of the passenger door replaced with an original part found on Ebay (guess they are still being produced in Brazil). Heater tubing system under the dash board finally put back in (never got around to do that after buying the bus in 2010 and replacing a broken windscreen in 2011). Aged black plastic covers for the air vents on the dashboard replaced by new parts (from bus-ok.de, part numbers OK17099 and OK17086). And a pair of in-sets in the warm air channels through the dividing wall behind front seats finally put in. I had re-discovered these parts only after I had already assembled the air channels in 2012.

Worn out door handle.

Worn out door handle.

New original part.

New original part.

Original air vent cover (lower section) and new repro part.

Original air vent cover (lower section) and new repro part.

New air vent cover in place.

New air vent cover in place.

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Taiga Lily on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Taiga Lily on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

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Geelong Late Bay Camper

13 06 2014

1975 campervan spotted in May in Geelong, Australia. Roo bars back and front. Also a pop-up roof one sees a lot over there, but not sure which conversion (Sunliner, Sopru?). Nice original-looking color with 1970ies stripes on the side. Large roof rack bridging the pop-up roof, with awnings on both sides, and plastic tubes at front and rear for addional storage. Fan pull switch in the dashboard I did not know yet but have seen in many late bays during this visit. What a very cool and down-to-earth camper!

PS, @Zero-to-sixty: Gear shift scheme on this ash tray (and in all late bays on this Australia trip) without the N for Neutral. But all were T2b’s or T2a/b hybrids, no T2a’s. Greetings from Berlin!

PS2 (Jan 2016): It is a Sopru camper, not a Sunliner. See also this Sopru blog post.

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Australian Karmann Ghia

5 05 2014

Not a kombi, but a close cousin, and what a beautiful one: Here comes a Karmann Ghia, spotted 2 weeks ago at the National VW Club Bug-In in Geelong. In the Volkswagen nomenclature, this is a Type 14, built on the mechanical base of the Type 1, the beetle. Like the beetle and kombi, it came with a flat-four air-cooled engine in the back. Volkswagen outsourced its production to the German coach builder Karmann, while the design came from the Italian company Ghia. The Type 14 was built between 1955 and 1974. Based on the tail lights, this model was produced between 1960-1969. Another Karmann from the same period was featured in this older blog post.

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1977 Australian Sopru Campervan

27 04 2014

Here comes a VW campervan conversion I haven’t seen before: Spotted at last weekend’s National VW Club Bug-In in Geelong, Australia, this one is from a company called Sopru from Adelaide in South Australia. The owner told me they still existed and that at the time they were one of the campervan converters officially approved by Volkswagen. This one comes with the less usual automatic gear box and the 2L CJ engine. The pop-up roof looks like a Devon conversion, but differs in detail. Kitchen set-up with fridge and cooker behind the passenger seat, similar to the Westfalia Helsinki set-up (here is a web site with more photos of the interior of a similar 1972 Sopru conversion). Aussie roo bar with spare wheel at the front, and a rain water drain tube attached to the roof rack, as practical solution for tent poles etc. Cool “VW Campmobile” label at the rear lid, and 1970ies color strip along the sides, probably both from the original Sopru conversion. What a great campervan!

PS: Thanks to Earth Jive for setting me on the right track with Sopru, not Sapru! Had that wrong in the first version of this post.

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Hawaiian Kombis, Part II

23 12 2013

The Volkswagen kombi seems to have a firm place in the Hawaii tourist folklore, with toy buses with glued-on surfboards lined up in every souvenir shop. But today’s surfers drive pick-up trucks, four-wheel-drives and SUVs, no more kombis on the beaches. Good to see that at least some of them have survived and are still in use. Below is another one: Found this green metallic beauty in the eastern part of Maui. It’s a 1974 Westfalia camper with 1.8L engine, interior rebuilt in bamboo wood, including the floor and the panels for the walls and doors. Cool battery of switches under the dashboard to operate an LED and laser light show all over the inside ceiling of the van. Originally fitted front spare wheel holder has been removed and the holes were carefully closed for a simple and clean look.

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The winding coastal roads with lots of one-way bridges, the surfer beaches and the beautiful warm and sunny weather reminded me a lot of New Zealand’s South Island and Australia’s Great Ocean Road. The small size of the island of Maui and its remote beaches and bays look ideal for a kombi holiday. I searched the web and found two rental companies that offer VW buses: Aloha Campers has a range of T3 Westfalia campervans, and Maui Camper Rentals rents out T5 Westfalias. Drawback seems to be that there is not really a great camp site infrastructure, and wild camping is unusual or even illegal. Interesting discussion thread on The Samba.com if you want to read up more on this topic.

Beach near Kihei on Maui, Hawaii.

Beach near Kihei on Maui, Hawaii.

Hookipa surfer beach northeast of Kahului, Maui, Hawaii.

Hookipa surfer beach northeast of Kahului, Maui, Hawaii.

Sun set on Hookipa  beach .

Sun set on Hookipa beach .





More Switches!

22 11 2013

I finally got around installing two more switches on Taiga Lily’s dashboard: One for the petrol-driven auxiliary heating system and one for the rear window heating. I had taken both out when I fully stripped the dashboard in July 2011 and had replaced it with one less damaged around the radio slot. Since then I had never gotten around to fit these switches back in again. They were dangling a bit undignified somewhere in the dark under the dashboard. The replacement dashboard came with one extra hole which I now widened a bit to fit the rear window switch. For the auxiliary heating switch I had to drill a new hole. Shame that I forgot to take photos of the original positions of these switches. The wire to the rear window is half a meter too short for where I placed the switch now. So originally it probably sat more on the right, under the glove box. In the meantime the auxiliary heating unit, originally installed under the floor in the back, has gone. Too expensive to update it to the requirements of TUEV, the German technical surveillance, and at the time I thought of fitting a gas heating system anyway. But the heater’s electric wiring is so deeply integrated in the wiring of the rest of the car that I kept all cables in place and have the switch now more for decoration. With the rear fog light switch installed in August 2012, there is now a really nice battery of these old pull switches. Love them!

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Before…

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… and after.

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PS: Will add some photos of details of the original wiring at the switches, in case someone needs to figure out which wires belong to which socket. These are all from a 1976 T2b late bay VW microbus.

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