Sunliners of Melbourne

6 04 2017

I stumbled about this beauty yesterday during a visit to Melbourne: A T2b late bay window Volkswagen campervan, probably from between 1976 and 1979 (see the engine lid hinges), in what could be Neptune blue (L50K). The campervan conversion is from Sunliner, a company based in Melbourne and still active, but nowadays converting various non-Volkswagen buses. Here is a link to a beautifully restored Sunliner late bay camper we spotted in 2015 in Geelong. This bus here comes with roo bars in the front and rear, spare wheel on the front, a pop-up roof in the rear with a luggage section above the driver’s cabin, and nice wooden furniture, with the kitchen block with gas cooker and fridge behind the passenger seat and a compartment for the gas bottle behind the driver’s seat. Funky 1970ies white and blue stripe design on both sides.

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This van seems to be parking in this spot and in the harsh Australian sun for a while already. The lining of the driver’s door is peeling off from the heat, the plastic glasses of the front indicators have gone blind, and there is extensive rust on the roof. Usually you will never see this type of surface rust on campervans in Germany. With the long German winters with salt on the roads, the buses have rotten away from rust in the wheel houses, the sillboards and the complete underfloor, years before any rust on the roof can develop. The wheel houses on this one, however, are in an amazingly good condition. It is a bit of a sleeping beauty and will need some work to fix all the little problems and conserve it for the future. But great to see it has survived so long, in probably pretty much original condition!

Jumping two decades forward in time, another Sunliner parked just around the corner. This one a campervan based on a Mazda E2000 van, probably from the mid- to late-1990ies. It also comes with a roo bar with spare wheel on the front and a small bar in the rear. Here the gas cooker and fridge are placed behind the driver’s seat while the sink and a microwave are behind the passenger seat. Fiamma awning on the left side, solar panels on the roof. And the long wheel base allows for a large bed in the rear that turns into two opposing benches and a central table. Not the coolness factor of a Volkswagen kombi, but also a very nice campervan.

 





The Berlin VW Bus Festival 2016!

28 08 2016

We spent last weekend at this year’s Berlin VW Bus Festival, on an old airfield about 60 km south of Berlin. It was the first camping event for us this year, and also the first one as a family, with parents and now two children, in the small bus. We set up the big bus tent we bought last year and used it a bit as veranda, but mainly as a shed to put away all the kid’s related equipment. We had mixed weather with great sunshine and also some serious rain, but all doable when there is a dry tent and bus. Wonder-daughter enjoyed her very special bunk bed above the driver’s and passenger seats and discovered two routes to climb up to the roof rack – via the passenger door window and via the sliding door, using the Porta Potti box as base camp. Great to see her so happy and excited about the bus!

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With a one-year-old and a 4-year-old on board, we skipped the four-wheel-drive syncro trial on Saturday morning and instead took part in the kid’s program, bouncing castle and kombi painting. Turned into a whole-family event, with a beautiful hippie buy as our joint outcome:

Over the years the mix of buses at this meeting has slowly changed from almost exclusively T3 to now still mostly T3, but with large numbers of T4s and T5s thrown in the mix, while there was just a handful of late bay window buses and only one T1. So my slightly biased selection of fotos below shows basically all the air-cooled buses that attended.

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On the T3 end, again very many of the four-wheel-drive syncro buses, and many of them trimmed for serious all-terrain action. Here is a truely awesome one, from a visitor from the Netherlands:

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The Czeck Syncro club came with around 9 of these monsters. Very cool!

And there was something I haven’t seen before: A T4 syncro with a seroius all terrain attitude – cool!

We had a great weekend – thanks to the crew from the Berlin Kombi club for organizing such a great meeting! See you again next year!

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Happy 40th Birthday, Taiga Lily!

3 06 2016

Forty years ago to the day, Taiga Lily started her life on the road! She was first registered on June 3, 1976 to her first owner in West-Berlin. And her M plate reveals that she already was delivered as a sage green and pastel white microbus which she still is today. It also says that she is a 1976 model, but was built already in November 1975 (“planned production date: 25. Nov. 1975”), at the time already for a customer in “Germany, West-Berlin”. Over all forty years her home base kept being Berlin, although she changed hands seven times in those 4 decades: After 2 years she was sold the first time. Owner No. 2 kept her for 21 years and sold her only in 1999. Owners 3 and 4 each kept her for only one year. After almost 27 years on the road, owner no. 5 de-registered her in May 2003. At some point between 2003 and 2010 she was bought by a friend (owner-6) who kept her off the road, took her apart and gave her a fresh paint job (in the original color scheme).

We finally bought her in July 2010, partly disassembled and with an engine in very bad condition, but with a mostly rust-free body. Which was already very rare at the time. It took more than a year until she was fully up and running again and passed her exam as a historic vehicle in Nov. 2011. Her mileage over her first 27 years is lost in time. When we bought her in 2010 the speedometer read 79810 km, but it turned out this was totally meaningless since the whole instrument unit is from April 1979, so is not the original one any more. In the 6 years we have her now, we added only 16.000 km, so she really has an easy life with us. And she spends half of the year in winter storage anyway. Hope you will stay with us for a very long time. Her is to you, Taiga Lily!

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PS: Fotos from last week when we started into a camping weekend. Nice random encounter with another T3 Joker campervan.

 





Geelong Sleeping Beauty

17 05 2016

Here is a late bay window kombi we saw last November somewhere in suburbia in Geelong, Australia. It is a Sopru campervan which may have started its life in yellow and was then re-sprayed in light green. Sopru pop-up roof and Sopru roo bars at the front. Front wall panels and bench matrasses in the rear newly upholstered at some point. Furniture in there rear looks a bit self-built, but then I do not know the Sopru conversions in detail. Another customer of “V-Dubs Only“. Looks like put away and waiting for the next holiday season. Hope it has a lot of holiday trips ahead!

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Bay Window Get-Together

14 05 2016

Two bay window buses on a sunny summer day last December in Geelong, Australia. The green one is in overall better condition. It is from 1978 and comes with a CJ engine (2L, 70 h.p.) and an automatic gear box. The red one, with some severe rust, is from 1974 and comes with an AP engine (1.8 L). Looked like the home of a Volkswagen lover, with a more modern VW Golf in the drive-way. Stickers advertising for “V-Dubs Only – VW Air Cooled specialist” on the rear window. I was spotting these stickers on several buses during this visit- perhaps a new player in the field of Classic Volkswagen workshops in the Geelong area? They don’t seem to have a web site, but this facebook page. Will add the address to the list of VW garages to the list in the section above.

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New Muffler, New Tow-bar, New TUEV!

7 05 2016

Taiga Lily started the new season with some nice updates. Every two years every car in Germany has to pass a technical inspection with the Technical Surveillance Authority, or TÜV (Technischer Überwachungsverein). Always a time to get the car up to scratch, which this year involved a new muffler. The old one had several rust holes and started sounding like it last summer. Given that it was manufactured in 1989 (before the German re-unification, still stating “West Germany”!) it had served me and the previous owners well. With the new one came a new exhaust pipe, this time in stainless steel (not much more expensive but will hopefully stay longer in good shape).

Seeing that we plan to borrow a pop-up trailer caravan from a friend for part of this year’s summer vacation, I got a tow-bar installed! It’s a used one from Oris (Type E 55/3) and in very good shape. Manufactured in 1991 in Germany, it’s the heavy duty version that is registered to tow up to 1800 kg. Beetle Clinic added a new socket (13- instead of 7 pins) and attached it to the main frame with the full set of bolts so that the 1800 kg could indeed be towed: Three bolts up into the main frame of the car and two bolts horizontally through the frame, on each side (see photos below). The holes for the horizontal bolts appear to be present in the main frame only from 1977 onwards, so had to be drilled for our 1976 bus. The TÜV examiner was very happy with the installation which makes me happy as well. The tow-bar replaces the two original bumper holders and comes with a solid rectangular bar behind the bumper. This bar closes the gap between bumper and car when you look down on the bumper from above. Taiga Lily’s papers come already with a remark for a maximum tow weight, so the new tow-bar does not need to be added in her papers (Fahrzeugschein). Less administrative hassle. According to her papers she is allowed to pull only 1200 kg, not the 1800 kg the tow-bar would be capable of, but the trailer we are planning to use weighs only 650 kg, so all is good.

Me and wonder daughter used yesterday’s Father’s Day to get the Porta Potti and its box from the attic, kitted up and into the car. Good to have this option for emergencies when you travel with children. So here we are, ready for the summer!

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Our 1976 VW Bus Taiga Lily

 

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Now with new muffler and end pipe, …

 

 

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And a new tow-bar, …

 

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And new TÜV, till May 2018!

 

 

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A Subway / MuzzBuzz Coffee Van

9 01 2016

This kombi used to park at an intersection in Geelong on a corner shared by a Subway restaurant and Muzz Buzz, a drive-through coffee place. Interesting paintjob: Depending on the angle you look at it, it would look like a billboard for Subway or like a Muzz Buss coffee van (love the “Mobile Caffeine Response Unit”). Perhaps they served the coffee out of this van before the little coffee shop on the site was erected? I believe this was originally a Sopru camper. Suddenly I see Soprus everywhere. The pop-up roof looks like a Sopru, and the typical Sopru front roo bar has been chopped down to a front wheel support. The seats are newly upholstered in the Muzz Buzz colors. When I took these photos in April 2014, it was retired from active service, parked in a corner and had suffered from a break-in (window in driver’s door smashed and shattered over the front seats, fixed with a plexiglass). Now, 18 months later, it is gone. Hope it is on good hands and perhaps has started its next life.