Page 1






VWBUS VW How much wood?

Panel van tricks

22" rims on a T5



Welcome to the world of the modern Volkswagen bus

How low do they go?



HELP FOR HEROES T4Forum camper hand over


from Oktoberfest, Bus Freeze and Final Fling


Change the gas struts on both a T4 & T5


Van Conversion Windows

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• Sliders have Front Opening Similar to Factory Models • E43 European Safety Marked for use across Europe • Locks Securely in Open or Closed Position • 5 Year Leak Warranty • Integral Draught Seal

All van windows are NOT the same, we stock van conversion widows for the T4 & T5 in standard factory tint or our factory dyed Privacy Glass. Although very similar in style and quality to manufacturer’s factory glass, our windows are specifically designed to convert a ‘panel van’ and are subtly different to a Caravelle window. In addition to our range of opening or non-opening front windows, we also stock matching rear side windows for all wheelbases as well as rear ‘barn doors’ and tailgates. Available by Mail-Order in Kit Form or bring your van to us for fitting and receive a Certificate of Conformity for your Insurance Company. Life-Time Guarantee on Fitting. Free loan vehicle available.

••• EXCLUSIVE Online Readers Offers••• Enter discount code VWBUS11 at the checkout

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Vansport Ltd, Unit 6c Longrock Industrial Estate, Penzance, Cornwall TR20 8HX

SPECIALIST UK MANUFACTURERS OF VW ELEVATING ROOFS FOR VW T4&5 TRANSPORTERS We pride ourselves on providing not only the best VW conversion service in the UK, but also the best value, and if you don’t believe us, check our price list for more details! Fitters throughout the country, visit our website to find one near you.

SERVICES INCLUDE: Elevating Roofs/Pop tops Zip down canvas panel Colour Coding as standard Simple push, pull hydraulic elevation Roof lining Roof beds, supplied and fitted. We offer free gel coat colour coding on VW colours we do both T4 and T5 roofs for long and short wheel base vans


Email: Barkhouse Wood Lane, Birkin WF11 9LU


Hello and welcome to the first ever issue of VW Bus T4&5+ magazine

My name is James Northcott (aka Jimmer) and I’m the guy pulling this magazine together. I am an electrical engineer by trade with a love for T4s and T5s that evolved over six years ago after seeing surfers and campers alike, having everything they need to hand within minutes! After visiting a few shows and searching the internet, I finally purchased (with the wife’s approval of course) a white T4 panel van. I set about converting this myself, resulting in visits to loads of shows, lots of research and investigation, as well as the making of many new friends who share my love for water-cooled vans. After 18 months of hard work I finally had a fully converted campervan, with a pop top roof and custom paint job. The van is much loved by all the family and we have enjoyed many trips with our friends from the T4 forum including to Holland and France. My passion for these versatile, reliable (most of the time anyway – that’s another story!), water-cooled vans led me to volunteer to help project manage the conversion of the T4 forum Help for Heroes van, which was a huge success. I also persuaded my wife to change her luxury Jeep Grand Cherokee

The first issue of any magazine ends with a rush to meet the deadline. We finished our first cover photo shoot in the same manner.

with leather heated seats, for a T-reg eight-seater Caravelle. Luckily for me she loves it! How did I get involved with this magazine? Well it was a fellow VW nut and editor, David Eccles, who eventually persuaded me to help out; it went along the lines of, “you have spent so much time working on the Help for Heroes van, you are going to have loads of time on your hands soon [my wife was not around at this point]. Why don’t you do something you love?” Over the last three months I have been very busy getting the magazine together, visiting shows, doing photo shoots, sorting writers and photographers out, and also finding great vans and awesome stories to feature. In this issue there are five lovely vans from a airride T5 to a T4 with a very unique interior – if you like bare wood, you will love what Matt has done to his T4, all recycled from various places. There are competitions, so

get those cameras out to show me what great little modifications you have done. There’s a great travel feature and lifestyle pages, and of course, news and products pages. If all that isn’t enough, there is also the handover of the T4Forum Help for Heroes van; you should have seen the winner, David Hides’ face. He was like a kid in a candy shop. So all that’s left to say is read on and tell me what you think – my email address is below. I have tried to squeeze in as much as I can. If you think I have missed something out or you would like to see something else, please drop me an email. If you have a bus you would like featured, perhaps a show winner or just ‘your van’, don’t be shy, send me over a few pictures – if you love your van, we will to.

Main Cover Shot: James Northcott Contributors this Issue: Linda Northcott David Eccles Alan Hayward Ian Garrad Jo Garrad Scott Garland Philip Forsyth Louise Battery John Hutchinson Iain Strachan Dave Wayman Matt Hall Brian Moyle Follow us on or like our page on

Jazz Publishing, The Old School, Higher Kinnerton, Chester, CH4 9AJ, UK. Tel: 01244 663400 Fax: 01244 660611 VWBusMagazine

EDITOR James Northcott

PRODUCTION Justine Hart  Ext. 235

ACCOUNTS & ADMIN MANAGER Emma McCrindle  Ext. 207

PUBLISHER David Gamble

SUB EDITOR Fergus McShane

EVENTS MANAGER Shelley Bond  Ext. 303

ART EDITOR Gareth Evans  Ext. 204

ADVERTISING SALES Wendy Lennon  Ext. 314

ACCOUNTS Pam Coleman  Ext. 215


DESIGNER Owen Moran  Ext. 202

EVENT CO-ORDINATOR Wendy Marks  Ext. 305

ADMINISTRATION Jan Schofield  Ext. 219

DISTRIBUTION Susan Saunders Tel: 0207 4294073

Katie-Marie Challinor  Ext. 220

PRINTED BY Warners Midland plc

The views expressed in this magazine by the contributors are not necessarily those of the publishers. All articles are written in good faith and are based on information provided by owners. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of all material, the contributors, magazine and the publishers cannot accept liability for loss resulting from error, mis-statement, inaccuracy, or omission contained herein. Reproduction of any matter printed or depicted in VWBUS T4&5+ magazine is prohibited without prior permission. Some words, names, and designations are trademarked and are the property of the trademark holder and have only been used for identification purposes only. Having trouble finding VW BUS T4&5+ in your newsagent? Please contact our distribution company for your nearest outlet Tel: 0207 4294073 © Jazz Publishing 2011 ISSN 2047-3141




Sorted with H IC Inc 2 we eks European cover

Grea t Breakdown C over: HIC only £85 Cove Inc European r! cover Contents Cov cheap!! er: inside the van fo r clothes and surfboard – So rted through Modifications HIC on their insurance Cover: HI Free

of Ch arge


C will allow me to convert to a camper, set of alloy’s and lower it by 50 mm



0800 121 7424 Subject to

policy selec

tion and Te

rms & Cond



P60 Green Eyes

Win Stuff! 08 Steering

wheel and snap off boss kit

10 Cobb BBQ kit worth £95

19/20 T4/T5 Bonnet struts

Regular Features


Page 19


News Surfs up at Coventry motor museum, Kludo @ Camper van radio, What people having been saying about the mag


New Products, Show guides. Audiosport show us a few of there products along with Bluebird Customs


Volkswidow Listen to Jo Garrads story about how she became a Volkswidow!!




I’ve got wood

Feature Vans

How to Guide This month how to make life easier when working on your engine


West country Low Life Check out this lower than low T4 creation by Gary Saltash



T4Fest @ Beaulieu Motor Museum the biggest T4/T5 show in the country


Show time All the latest reports from Final Fling, Oktoberfest and Busfreeze


I’ve got wood Matt Bond’s one off creation


Green eyes Simon Mountford’s gorgeous looking T5 with Huge rims


Also in this Issue

Lifestyle Where [four] art thou how it all started for Dave Wayman


Bought not built By Bill de Kampa, Who else is like Bill??



White Magic Brain Moyles Standard looking van or is it?

46 Travel feature

What happened when 12 family’s travelled to Erquy in France


The lowest of the low? Iain Strachan’s air bagged T5


Rear view David’s story!!


Poster T4 and T5 face off


Help for heroes The hand over of the Help for heroes van




Roundup up The latest T4 & T5 news from around the world

T4Forum buzz

Have your say on VW Bus T4&5+

mini-geek Awesome! I guess this is proof of just how popular the T4/5’s have become..

Camper Van Radio

Artist, musician and campervan driver, Kludo White, releases his new album, Camper Van Radio, to help raise £20,000 for The Teenage Cancer Trust


e’s toured the world with bands (quite often in a VW bus), and it was whilst touring and living in his camper back in 2009 that he started working on an album. The result of his endeavours is his 2011 album, Camper Van Radio; an album made for van drivers, by a van driver that has been ‘dubbed’… “a Sergeant Pepper for Surfers”. The album is a magical mystery road trip to an endless summer, with jangly guitars, Beach-Boy harmonies, and an eclectic mix of styles. Pirate DJ ‘Captain K’ welcomes you aboard and the music kicks off with the witty anthem, ‘Camper Van Driver’. Climb in your bus, kick back and enjoy the ride; the songs are about campervan living, flip flops and waiting for waves with the album forming a great day in the life of a campervan driver – a drive, a dance, a laugh, a surf, a sing-along and a chill-out round the campfire, ending with a lullaby and Auntie Beed bidding you “goodnight” before tucking you up into your rock and roll bed. “I hope people engage in the philosophy along with the music and understand there’s an alternative way of life; the way of a ‘campervan driver’. Life’s about the journey not

the destination!” says Kludo. Kludo is quite an all-rounder; he wrote the songs, plays nearly all the instruments and sings as well as voicing the many other characters that inhabit the Camper Van Radio world. Even better is that Kludo has released the album in aid of The Teenage Cancer Trust, a fantastic charity working to improve the quality of life and chance of survival of the six young people aged between 13 and 24 diagnosed with cancer every day in the UK. “It was done for fun and people like it so we’ve put it out,” explains Kludo. “It has a really positive feel; I’d like that to pass on to those who need it. We spoke to The Teenage Cancer Trust and they’re into it. I’ve seen the devastation caused by cancer and leukaemia in my own family, of friends and kids I’ve taught. It feels good, it’s taking off and it’s thanks to van drivers who ‘get it’. “It’s a feelgood CD. Enjoy whilst driving your van and feel good about helping others – what’s better than that?”

Climb in your bus, kick back and enjoy the ride



Camper Van Radio is available to download on iTunes. Or you can buy the CD at www. or

Ian2627 Its nice hear that we are having a magazine produced for us T4 & T5’s owners shaneknotshaun Well done for getting this up and running. Just ordered mine, can’t wait it will be like Christmas coming early steveb4 a whole mag dedicated to us. I CANT BLOODY WAIT!!!!!!!!!! blitzboy wow cant wait to get the first edition in my hand, lol psycho In my opinion, it is long overdue mate!!! Tis bout time we had a mag about ‘our vans’! Tanz Good effort guys in putting this together, really looking fwd to the first copy Follow us on VWBusMag or like our page on VWBusMagazine

NEWS IN BRIEF Low Emission Zone

It has now been confirmed that as of January 3, 2012, the London Low Emission Zone will also affect larger vans, minibuses, caravans and other specialist vans. To check that your T4 or T5 is LEZ compliant and avoid a £100 fine falling on your door mat next year, visit: pb/lezComplianceProvideVRM.faces.

Life’s a Beach

Volkswagen aim to ensure endless summer fun with the launch of their new California Beach model. A new entry-level camper, it offers versatility and value with seating for up to seven people, and prices starting at £34,970. Blending the appeal of the California and the practicality of the Caravelle through various seating combinations available, this could be the perfect solution for day trips to the sea. For more information or to find your local Volkswagen Van Centre, call 0800 717131 or visit:

T4 parts from VW Heritage VW Heritage, the UK’s sole partner for VW Classic Parts will now be adding T4 Transporter parts to its already huge range. With the catalogue including sections of interior and exterior parts, panels, engine, exhaust, suspension, steering, wheels and braking as well as hundreds of exploded diagrams and helpful photos, this is a great place to start for your T4 project. To find out what is available for your T4 project, simply go online to:

Photo competition

Be in with a chance to win a steering wheel and snap off boss kit. Mark from Car Modz Direct UK is offering the winner their choice of six steering wheels and four boss kits with one of each up for grabs. For a better look at the prize, visit Mark’s eBay shop at: www.stores.

To be in with a chance of winning, just email in a great photo of your van and the best chosen will win. Send your entry to: editor@ marked with the subject ‘Photo Competition’.

Surf’s up

Coventry Transport Museum is making waves


t may be situated as far from the coast as it’s possible to be in the UK, but last week Coventry Transport Museum opened a major new exhibition that brings the sights, the sounds and swell of surf culture to the Midlands. Wheels & Waves is an exhibition of vehicles used by British surfers from the 1950s to the present day, along with a display of surf art, boards and memorabilia from the Museum of British Surfing, which runs at the museum until 18 March 2012. Vehicles on display at the exhibition include a range of VW Campers from 1962 to the present

day, including a modern T2 on loan from Danbury Motor Caravans, alongside a Beach Buggy, a twotonne 1970s VW Beetle, and a number of Woodies and hot rods. All of the vehicles are imaginatively displayed on specially constructed ‘beach’ sets within the exhibition, and are complemented by a huge range of items from the Museum of British Surfing along with newly commissioned artworks by Coventry painter, Paul Jordan. Peter Robinson from the Museum of British Surfing said: “The exhibition is actually genius, because surfers have been turning to novel forms of transport since at least the 1930s in that desperate quest to get themselves and their surfboards to the beach. Anything from a modified pram, a skateboard, an old hearse or the ubiquitous VW camper – the vehicle often defines the surfer and has become an essential and vibrant part of beach culture – almost a cult within a cult, and so the Wheels & Waves exhibition is a great way of

celebrating surfing here in Britain.” Damon Hill, self-titled ‘Racing Surfer’ said: “Surfers are a little like motorcyclists. They are just outside the mainstream of society. No shirts and ties allowed. And you need to be able to go when the surf arrives. At the drop of a hat. Surfers’ cars and vans express this ‘free spirit’. They are also ‘home’ to the smelly wet suit, meted surf wax and damp towels. If you haven’t slept in the car on the beach just to be first to the surf, you are not a surfer. Customising the van is all part of the experience. Unless you don’t have time, like me. Did you know you can get a nine-foot-four long board into a VW Golf? Well you can. Just.”

Wheels & Waves runs from 20 October 2011 to 18 March 2012 at Coventry Transport Museum, Millennium Place, Hales Street, Millennium Place, Coventry CV1 1JD. Admission to the Museum, and to this special exhibition is free of charge. The Museum is open from 10am to 5pm daily, with last admission at 4.30pm. www.transport

Did you know you can get a nine-footfour long board into a VW Golf? VWBUS T4&5+



ShowGuide To the best of our knowledge dates and venues were correct at time of going to press, but it’s always advisable to check with event organisers before setting off! IF YOU KNOW OF ANY AMENDMENTS OR OF A SHOW NOT LISTED PLEASE EMAIL: SO THAT UPDATES CAN BE MADE FOR NEXT ISSUE.

15th January The International Centre, Telford TF3 4JH 19th February


Bingley Hall, Weston Road Staffordshire County Showground 11th March

Ultimate Dubs The International Centre Telford TF3 4JH 24th – 25th March


Sandown Esher 30th – 1st March/April


Charlton Park Wilts 20th – 22nd April

Bus Types

Oswestry Showground, Shropshire 27th – 29th April

Big Bang Camper & Bus Show Santa Pod Raceway, Airfield Road, Podington, Wellingborough Northants NN29 7XA

NewProducts The latest add-ons, products, etc., for your van


Looking to modify your dash or door panels? Audiosport have two unique products available for more options in fitting your T4. Firstly, available for all T4 models with two single seats, Door Speaker Pockets priced at £165 per pair: a direct replacement for the existing pocket, this mount directs the speaker upwards for improved sound while maintaining the practicable pocket. Secondly, available for all T4 models, the Centre Console priced at £99.99:: with two single DIN slots (easily converted to one double) and a cup holder is a great choice for console. Both are quality made in GRP and are easy fit. They are available from or on 01209 212220.

Bluebird Customs

Suppliers, Bluebird Customs have a range of products available. For more information visit: or phone 01254 888416 VW T4&5 Black Diamond high performance braided stainless brake lines: they won’t expand like rubber ones, giving more responsive braking and reducing braking distances. Priced from £69.95. VW T4 Gaz shocks with adjustable damping: superb heavy-duty shocks, they work with standard height and lowered vans (up to 60mm drop) to reduce body roll and improve road-holding. Priced at £265 for a set of four. VW T4 EGR Power pipe kit for all 2.5 TDI motors: replaces the EGR valve to greatly increase and straighten-out airflow into the motor and comes with fitting kit, instructions and exhaust blank off. Priced at £75.

27th – 29th April

Dubs in the Forest Brockenhurst, New Forest 6th May

Stanford Hall Nr Lutterworth, Leicestershire LE17 6DH 11th – 13th May


Warren Farm Park, Brean Somerset TA8 2RB More shows overleaf >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>



Pro sport T5 coil over suspension kit: can fit T28 and T30, but not T32 models, this kit has an adjustable ride height from 45mm to 75mm with uprated gas shocks and is fully TUV certified. Priced at £375.


Worth £95!

Got a Cobb On Calling all you budding Jamie’s, Delia’s, Ainsley’s or even the odd little Gino, we have teamed up with Cobb GB to bring you a culinary competition. After a hard day looking around the show or just away camping, we all seem to do the same thing and head back to our bus for some culinary delights. Many of you fire up the Cobb for this activity, maybe it’s the appeal of being able to roast, bake, fry, grill & smoke food to perfection or just that burnt charcoal flavour doesn’t cut the mustard any more. So if you can take off your aprons for a moment and scribble down your favourite meal that you have cooked on your Cobb, along with the recipe, method and photograph of the dish on the Cobb. The winner will receive a Cobb Premier Oven worth £95 from Cobb GB Send your entry to: editor@ marked with the subject ‘Got a cobb on’. By the 20th Feb 2012

Bespoke Vehicles

Tel: 01752 659853 Mobile: 07522 131248 Email:

Unit 8 Haxter Close, Belliver Industrial Estate, Roborough, Plymouth PL6 7DD

Wholesale Parts? Conversion Company? Self-Builder? Parts Supplier?

Wellhouse Leisure are leading agents for Dometic, SMEV & Cramer (hobs and sinks) Vohringer laminated boards 8x4 15mm, Webasto heaters, Seitz windows, all types of electrical kits, RIB and Variotech seat systems, Fiamma & DWT awnings, bike racks, skylights, edge trim.

01484 600416

Open 7 days. Please ring for Reimo brochure. Normal booking time 6 weeks

“Reimo roofs, often imitated but without the quality� If you have a nice van why compromise with the roof?


Memoirs of a



25th – 27th May


Agricultural Showground Biggar South Lanarkshire 1st – 4th June

Run To The Sun Trevelgue Holiday Park Porth, Newquay, Cornwall 1st – 5th June

Plymouth Volksfest Newnham Park Plympton, Plymouth PL7 5BN 3rd June

Stonor Park VW Expo Henley on Thames 8th – 10th June

Bristol Volksfest Washingpool Farm Easter Compton Bristol BS35 5RE 15th – 17th June

The Bus Stopover Turnpost Farm Wymeswold Leicestershire LE12 6ST 6th – 8th July

Weston Park Shropshire TF11 8LE 20th – 22nd July

Bug Jam 26

Santa Pod Raceway Airfield Road Podington Nr Wellingborough 20th – 22nd July

Dubs at the Castle Caldicot Castle Monmouthshire NP26 4HW 2nd – 6th August

V Dub Island

Isle of Wight County Showground Isle of Wight PO31 8QU If you are running an event in 2012 please let us know so we can include it.



By Jo Garrad

So we all like the fun bits of owning a nice VW, but what about when they seem to multiply on the drive, or you find yourself abandoned again for the ‘other love’? Not to mention seeming to spend more time waiting for it to be fixed than actually getting out and using it?! If any of this sounds familiar, you are a VolksWidow


can look back and laugh now (though sometimes bitterly), as I drive in the comfort of my nice T4 Multivan. But it wasn’t always like this… After hearing many a romantic tale about my husband ig’s childhood holidays puttering through Devon in a Splitty (making my own childhood pilgrimages to Majorca and the like sound positively bland); I was somewhat forgiving when, as a ‘grown up’ he eventually rolled home one rainy night back in the 90s with what to my untrained eye, looked like a skip with windows. But I was assured that it was both a ‘classic’ and a ‘bargain’. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always liked a bit of vintage, but this was all a bit much. As I strained to make out if the green and brown colour scheme was indeed the paint job (described in the ad as blue and cream), or actually the hues of rust and moss. All the while those portrayals of childhood outings as the poster image for idyllic family excursions in a lovely old bus were beginning to fade! The bus (the ominous first in a line of several to come) was a 1972 Dormobile pop-top, “a crossover model” ig enthused. I nodded and smiled as if I either knew or cared what that meant. Net curtains from all sides were still twitching, with neighbors peering on in wonderment and disapproval after the bus had noisily chugged into the previously quiet cul-de-sac where we lived. I could see ig’s face beaming over the steering wheel as I tried to restrain myself from overly examining all the rust patches, or rather patches between the rust. The bus finally ground to an uncertain halt with the brakes making a noise like a fox yelping in the night, just to ensure all neighbors were now fully aware of the arrival; accompanied with a fading ‘meep meep’ from the horn, sounding more like a lethargic road runner (but with no promise of the speed). He swings back the sliding door to show off the ‘vintage’ Dormobile interior

Modern T4 luxury at last – an ‘interesting’ journey getting there though!

– “so what do you think then, nice huh? And it’s got one of those ‘Rock and Roll beds’ and pull-out sleeping hammocks for the kids, it’s perfect!” Personally I would have described it as looking as comfortable as the interior of a wheelie-bin, with the unmistakable odour of damp and mould, accompanied with all the dank welcome of the inside of a tramps’ bobble hat! Yet I had to force a little pretend enthusiasm as I saw ig’s ‘vision’ was clearly beyond what stood in front of us. “Yes honey its lovely!” I remarked, trying to hide the strain in my voice. “So here’s to some fantastic holidays then!” he exclaimed with delight at my apparent approval. He then gave the bus a proud little thump… but I don’t think he heard the following soft pattering of rust flakes raining onto the drive from somewhere under the front panel… I bit my lip as I wondered if that holiday apartment in Majorca was so bad after all! … So back to today; you’ll imagine my relief, finally arriving at the comparative luxury of the nice T4 I enjoy nowadays – and not as if these models cause the same distractions as the classics right?! Anyway, several campervan ‘adventures’ to get here, it has been a sometimes annoying but often funny journey; but that’s a whole other story…

ig rolled home with what to my untrained eye looked like a skip with windows


NK Group, Noisekiller Acoustics (UK) Ltd.

Unit 7 Parkside Industrial Estate, Edge Lane Street, Royton, Oldham OL2 6DS

T 0161 652 7080 E

Bus feature

Low Life Scott Garland


West Country

Well here we are with the first edition of VW Bus, and where better a place to start than in the weeds with this stunning, lower than low creation by Gary Brown of Saltash, Cornwall, lovingly named Low Life


his is Gary’s first VW bus build, a journey influenced by his brother-in-law, who at the time was onto his second. The powerful force of van ownership was getting stronger in Gary, so the decision to sell his Mitsubishi Evolution 4 was made and the hunt for a good base panel van started. This came in the form of a 2002 Tornado Red T4 2.5Tdi, 88bhp with low mileage and the added bonus of being a tailgate model, which was a must on his shopping list. So with the deal done back in October 2008, the VW lifestyle that Gary loves had begun. To give the interior a few creature comforts, the cab rubber flooring was junked and upgraded to carpet. For added warmth the rear of the van was



insulated with Space Blanket and Thermashield over the top before being ply lined and carpeted. Under foot an oak laminate floor was fitted throughout the rear, which is very practical for a daily driver and show van in a family with two kids. A caravelle triple rear seat with seat belts and skimboard table was added for the comfort of passengers in the rear, as well as an extra rear facing bench seat fabricated, with the internal space used to accommodate a split charge/ leisure battery and power inverter. Gary’s brother-in-law’s carpentry skills were used to build a roof mounted speaker unit for those all important chill out sessions. Although the body work was generally good for a six-year-

old panel van, there were a few little dents and dings that needed attention, along with a general tidy up. While in the body shop the bumpers and mirrors were treated to a few coats of Tornado Red to give the panel van that colour coded look that its bigger T4 siblings carry as standard. A De-badged grill was added and to continue this theme in the rear, the badges from the tailgate were removed. The front end was treated to some Audi-style headlights with the additional side windows added by Vansport of Penzance. To help with the stance (which we will come back to later), gloss black side bars were fitted along with the obligatory modified Golf Mk4 front splitter, for those that are in the low.

Sparkling standard cock pit.

You could eat your dinner off this engine.

With all the cosmetic enhancements going on, it was only fair that the engine had a little tweaking

Black side bars work so well.

With all the cosmetic enhancements going on, it was only fair that the engine had a little tweaking. The order of the day was off to Celtic Tuning of Roche in Cornwall for a static remap alongside a blanked EGR; and Will at Tidy Transporters supplied an induction kit which helped it breath more easily. All this brought the horse-count up from 88BHP to more a useable 130BHP. Gary also fitted a homemade de-cat single box side exit exhaust, but the engine bay pampering doesn’t stop there. Gary must have a severe case of OCD when it comes to his engine cleaning procedure, as it’s good enough to make most Show ‘n’ Shine entrees shut their bonnets up in shame… and I am speaking from experience here!

The chassis is where this van really starts to take shape, with extensive nips and tucks to get the van on the ground. Starting with the front end, to improve clearance the damper top plates have had a lot of material removed around the bump stop area (and we are not talking just the lips either side), while under the knife, material from the main connecting arm from the torsion bar to hub was also removed where it was fouling the top plate. With all the cutting and grinding, the anti roll bar drop links would need to be shortened by 35mm – this was achieved by cutting them in half and then welding them back up. The wheel tubs were also slightly modified for clearance. Having a rest from all the cutting and grinding, a 27mm spanner was the tool of choice for winding down



Bus feature

Bus Details What did the van start off as? Panel Colour? Tornado Red Long or Short nose? Short LWB/SWB? SWB Engine? 2.5tdi BHP? 130bhp Wheels & Size? Inovit DTM 8x18 Front 9x18 Rear Tyre Size? 215/40/18 Lowered? 130mm Why is it special to you? It turns heads when my sump scrapes

The attention to detail and hours of work that have gone into achieving the faultless image and low stance of this bus is applausable

Is this the lowest T4? Maybe.



the torsion arms. The arches were ground and rolled carefully with the handle from Gary’s jack. Avo adjustable dampers were fitted and wound right down “until the sump scraped” Gary explains. At the rear end the surgery continued with the bump stop tubes cut down to 60mm, while the bump stop cup that holds the rubber stop was welded back in to accept the original. The rear chassis needed a tweak by grinding out the chassis supports above the handbrake cables to give extra clearance. And the pièce de résistance that started this obsession – a set of 45mm Vauxhall Calibra lowering springs, but even these went under the grinder to have the pig tail cut down by 15mm before fitting. Finally the rear arches were ground and rolled for clearance and Avo adjustable dampers were fitted. Taking into account all the

Very practical interior always ready and waiting for the next trip.

extensive lowering, Gary still managed to squeeze in a set of gloss black Inovit DTM staggered alloys with 8j x 18 on the front, followed by 9j x 18 on the rear, all wrapped in 215/40/18 rubber for that little bit of stretch. The attention to detail and hours of work that have gone into achieving the faultless image and low stance of this bus is praiseworthy, especially as the van is used daily for work and for general social use, but is still kept in show-winning condition. And to think, this Low Life obsession all started by a garage find; said Gary, “the Calibra spring route came about by accident when I dug out an old pair of springs from the back of the garage and decided to see if they’d fit… and Project Low started. So I posted on T4 Forum what I’d done and it’s now become the norm to get low, to take the Vauxhall spring route.” Gary appreciates the time he has put into becoming a Low Life and would like to thank his wife, Caron, and two kids, Jack and Georgie, for putting up with his obsession, brother-in-law, Ian, for help with interior bits, and Vansport for doing a cracking job with the windows. Low Life must score very high in the cool ranks as Jack is having his Prom this year, and has asked his Dad if he will take him in the van along with his mates (thought he’d want a limo?). Gary has been

meticulous in his quest for low, trying various different methods to skim a few more millimetres off, giving Low Life in my eyes the best stance of any T4 around. I hope you agree, the judges who have awarded numerous trophies throughout the season certainly do.

Gary And I’d like to thank… Vansport for doing a cracking job with the windows Ian Brother in law for helping with the interior Wife Caron and tow kids Jack & Georgie for putting up with my obsession for getting LOW!



Fitting Instructions Gas Struts


Make your life that little bit easier when it comes to engine access by fitting gas struts on your T4 ONE


You will need: Two 13mm spanners 10mm socket and ratchet




You will need one strut and two brackets and bolts, washers and nuts supplied with kit.

Remove old strut, rubber and 10mm bolt, but keep hold of the bolt.



Fit bracket with the old bolt, then fit the new bolt as shown with washer and nut


Fix the bottom of the strut to the bracket already installed with nylon nut and washer.

Fit the top bracket on the bonnet and install the new strut with nylon nut and washer as shown.


For your chance to win simply email in an example of how you have made/ installed something simple that makes life easier for you or makes your van work or look better? The best one will win a T4 bonnet strut kit worth £32. Send your entry to: editor@ vwbusmagazine. com with the subject ‘T4 Struts Giveaway’. To get hold of a pair contact camperwagen on the T4forum Delivered to your door from £32 with recorded delivery. Email a.1.carsales@ for more details.

ill . Your bonnet w ld look like this ! ou ad sh he m ur ite yo d on he The finis d not fall by the strut an now be held up




Fitting Instructions Gas Struts If you are a T5 owner and also want an easy access engine, here is how to fit gas bonnet struts on your van ONE


You will need: Two 13mm spanners




Remove the old ball joint from the bonnet.

Get the end of the strut and pop out the ball joints.



Screw in the new ball joint into the bonnet.

Screw the ball joint into the front panel.



Pop on the strut with the thicker end at the top and replace the clips.



We have two T5 bonnet struts up for grabs. For your chance to win, email in an example of how you have made/ installed something simple that makes life easier for you or makes your van work or look better? The best two will win a T5 bonnet strut kit worth £22. Send your entry to: editor@ vwbusmagazine. com with the subject ‘T5 Struts Giveaway’. To get hold of a pair contact camperwagen on the T4forum Delivered to your door from £32 with recorded delivery. Email a.1.carsales@ for more details.

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Bus feature

T h e lowest o f t h e low


Some say VW ownership gets into your blood. In the case of Iain Strachan this is certainly true. Cut Iain open and you will see VW running down the length of his extremely long body, just like a VW stick of rock! Iain Strachan


aving owned Beetles, a 1965 Type 3 Notchback, a 55 splitty, a ’70s bay and three T4s, he is now onto his second T5. Iain is also the ‘i’ in iKustoms, a bodyshop he started up less than two years ago where vehicles are transformed – some of them arrive as downright ugly rust buckets, but all leave iKustoms as mean, beautiful works of art. Yes, Iain is a master craftsman, and is right in deep when it comes to VW! The T5 adorning these pages started its life in Aberdeen, Scotland, belonging to a wellknown lease company. It was a



very basic 2008 white panel van and had been used by goodness knows who, but it was three years old and had only done 65k. When Iain spotted it for sale it was based near Birmingham, so within an hour of it being advertised a phone call had been made and a viewing arranged for the very next day. For its price, it was the best T5 Iain had seen for quite some time, so with money changing hands, in no time at all he was driving his new purchase home. On day one the credit card got a battering with new parts. Day two it was stripped down to a rolling shell, windows cut out, a few small


AccuAir control unit.

Choosing the hue for a full colour change is not something to be done in a rush – even owning a bodyshop you really don’t want to get it wrong

Don’t crane your neck, this is how you can ride on air bags.

repairs done, and an iKustoms signature front end conversion. Iain did ponder about a face-lift (the T5, not himself), but he prefers the look of his smoothed out badgeless front (maybe that is Iain, not the T5?). A genuine VW rear door spoiler was added and everything was fully prepped, ready for a colour change. Choosing the hue for a full colour change is not something to be done in a rush – even owning a bodyshop you really don’t want to get it wrong. But after driving home from surfing in Devon one weekend earlier in the year, Iain spotted a Porsche fly past (well

3SDM 20-inch monster rims.



Bus feature

they do, don’t they). Getting home and half-an-hour on Google, Porsche Carbon Grey was selected as the colour for his next van, months before he’d even bought this one. With all the painting and baking done the rebuild began: fixed privacy glass windows in both sides and the rear collected from Paul at Leisure Vehicle Windows ( and

then bonded in; the five doors were refitted, aligned and built back up, with smoothed and colour-coded handles; a new bumper finishes off the smooth front end; at the rear the original bumper was used, but has been smoothed and colour-coded; everything else was bolted back on and it was starting to look awesome. Wheels and stance make a huge difference to any vehicle. Iain likes his vehicles low and wheels big. So

The very simple to operate touchpad controller is mounted in the cab for easy-to-access funtime!

Bus Details What did the van start as? Panel Colour? Porsche carbon grey LWB or SWB? SWB Engine? 1.9tdi BHP? 130bhp Wheels & Size? 3sdm 20-inch Tyres 255/35/20 Lowered? 145mm Air Ride Why is it special to you? It’s all in the build

Range Rover seat Finished in black leather and the illusive VW tartan.



with a lot of research into air ride and some good advice from UK distributors, the full air ride kit was ordered. A new company to the air ride scene had T5s listed in its books. He couldn’t find anyone who had used this kit before, so with no recommendations (or slatings), he decided to take the risk. The original front struts and springs, and the rear springs and dampers were replaced with fully rebound and damping adjustable front struts and bags, and rear bags and adjustable dampers. Each corner has its own independently adjustable bag. Now the front of the vehicle will rise 12cm and the rear a huge 17cm. With six weeks until it was due to arrive he got started on the AccuAir e-Level air management kit. AccuAir (accuairsuspension. com) is big news in the air scene at the moment, with possibly the best, most simple to use kit available. The principal behind every AccuAir system is the use of electronic ride height sensors to measure the height of the vehicle and offers three different preset

There are plans to get it even lower but Iain wanted to test the kit before going crazy

Air bag full at the back end.

heights, plus a fourth ‘parking’ height. By measuring the height of the vehicle rather than the pressure in the air springs, the system adjusts accurately regardless of how much load you have in the vehicle. Whether it is a change in passenger weight, lugging around bits of vehicle, or mounting your bike on the back, the system adjusts accordingly and automatically for this weight change. Two Viair compressors and a five-gallon tank with custom mounts fabricated and fitted, everything has been hidden underneath tucked up out of the way of danger without taking up valuable interior space. The very simple to operate touchpad controller is mounted in the cab for easy-to-access funtime! Three presets were loaded into the system; low cruise, drive height and 90 percent full (for an off road stance). Oh, and don’t forget the regularly used ‘All Empty’ button, giving the van a very low but still driveable stance, also meaning that any problems with an air bag won’t render the vehicle un-driveable. There are plans to get it even lower but Iain wanted to test the kit before going crazy.

As for wheels, after chatting through various options with Alex at Merseyspeed, the chosen wheels are 20-inchers from 3SDM. On paper they don’t fit, but the only way to really find out is through

Very smooth front end.

Very useful space for work materials, and of course, the surf boards.



Bus feature

One completely empty air bag.

The finished van gets used as a workhorse for iKustoms duties, so inside it has been kept very simple, smooth and clean

trying. While these were the first set to be used on a T5, they fit perfectly and tuck in really nice when the system has no air in. 22inch wheels had been the original plan, but it was decided that it would be at a cost of height, so extra low was the winner. The engine started out as a 1.9tdi, 85bhp, but with Angel Tuning ( doing their well-established remapping, it now produces an extra 40bhp and 70lb/ ft of torque.

The finished van gets used as a workhorse for iKustoms duties, so inside it has been kept very simple, smooth and clean. Cab seats are from a Range Rover, recovered by Louis at Newbury Creative Interiors ( Finished in black leather with the hard-to-find VW GTI tartan (as seen in the latest golfs), giving a gentle nod to VW history. A DVD head unit rescues any rainy evenings at the beach, linked to some tasty speakers by Vibe. Hidden rear speakers sit behind the smooth one-piece carpeting, giving the back a very usable but custom cargo/ after-surf chill area. Iain’s passion is in the building and customising of vehicles, and he will enjoy using this headturning T5. He is, of course, already thinking of his next project… and probably the one after that. But this is what true, blue-blooded, VW sticks of rock do, isn’t it?

Iain And I’d like to thank… Paul at leisure Vehicle Windows Installing the windows Alex at Merseyspeed for helping source my wheels Angel tuning for my remap How low can you go? This low!



Louis at Newbury Creative interiors for recovering my seats

T4LIFE Create your own unique interior for your T4/T5 choose from our 500 colour combinations from a full run of units to a cooker pod HAND CRAFTED BY VW ENTHUSIASTS FOR VW ENTHUSIASTS

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18/11/2011 09:11


Beaulieu VW T4 forum at

Let me take you on a journey, a journey back through time and space. It’s August 19, 2011, and the T4 forum is getting together at Beaulieu Motor Museum for the second annual Forum weekend Philip Forsyth


rganised and put together by Jimbo, the T4forum founder and Godfather of all things T4ish, this weekend is all about likeminded T4ers and T5ers coming together for a good time as a family, without the commercialism that is rapidly taking over the majority of shows and weekends associated with the T4/T5 scene. It was decided that the draw for the Help for Heroes Camper would take place this weekend; it seemed appropriate that the draw for the camper built by the forum should take place at a forum weekend, so as not to get lost in the hustle and bustle of larger more heavily attended events such as Vanfest. Unfortunately, due to my good wife being poorly, we were unable to make it on the Friday to see everyone else arrive and set up, but we assured Jimbo we would be there first thing Saturday morning. Although I missed out on Friday, I’m reliably informed that once people started arriving it was like Brits and Germans laying towels on loungers on holiday trying to get the best spots close to the toilets. Saturday morning we set off bright and early with some rather large military tents and an even larger camouflage net to supplement the ‘Dad’s Army’ theme of the weekend, only to face a flat tyre on my trailer. Once that was sorted we were back on the road only for my wife to ask 20 minutes down the road, “did you lift the tickets off the table?” Silently, I turned the van around and drove calmly back home. Eventually we made to Beaulieu, dropped off the trailer and jumped on the back of the convoy for the cruise around the New Forest Area ending at Sammy Millers Motorcycle Museum. We were lucky to make the cruise due to previously mentioned delays and only got on it because Jimbo and Jimmer delayed the



National Motor Museum, Beaulieu Founded in 1952 by Edward Douglas-ScottMontagu, 3rd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu, the museum has grown from originally housing just five cars and a small automobilia collection, to displaying around 250 of the most historically important motor vehicles produced since the late-19th century. Exhibitions mix technical achievement, in the shape of four land speed record holders, with culturally significant vehicles, from James Bond’s Astons and Mr Bean’s mini, to the immense World of Top Gear exhibition.

departure by a “few minutes” waiting for us to get there. On return to Beaulieu following an interesting cruise dodging wild horses and getting lost, we set about erecting the large military tents. Very quickly a large crowd of people gathered to help and in no time at all we had a very impressive tent. Next on the agenda was the kid’s assault course, a declaration of war between adults and kids (using water pistols of course), the water slide and a bit of dressing up. The kids’ assault course took on a nice military theme with the kids having to duck, dive, dodge, weave and scramble under a net before shooting stuff with their water pistols. It was a huge success

If you ask of the adults who won the battle, I’m sure they would claim victory over their offspring, however I believe the pictures show a very different outcome and all the kids had a great time. It also acted as a nice warm up for them leading into the water battle with the adults. If you ask of the adults who won the battle, I’m sure they would claim victory over their offspring, however I believe the pictures show a very different outcome; the sheer volume of water flying in the adults’ direction in the form of water pistols and balloons was enough to drown a whale. Even when the adults upped the ante (cheating) by using buckets, the kids pressed on with the onslaught and before long parents






and non parents alike where lying on the ground, saturated, gasping “please God, let this end and give me a beer.” At this point it was decided the best way to bring peace to the campsite was to get out the water slide and garden hose. Once the ground was suitably soggy and everyone was rested, the kids were sent hurtling towards the water slide at great rate of knots only to get faster once they hit the plastic, proving that all you need to break the speed of light is 20 metres of plastic and half the lake district. As the day turned to late afternoon and the childrens’ energy levels and core temperatures dropped, the parents stepped in to dry and redress the young ones. This allowed the bigger kids the chance to show “how its really done”. Now as you can imagine, when a bunch of middle-aged men start to think they are 12 again, whether encouraged by alcohol or not, the outcome is going to be messy. It was whilst sliding down said 20 metres of plastic that poor Jim Doodle lost all his chest hair and most of his torso skin and the unfortunate Mr Jimbo dislocated his shoulder. Luckily Jimmer was on hand to help him out and gave him a shoulder to cry on away from the public eye. Now most people after popping a shoulder would call it a day and head back to their van for the night, but not Jimbo. Not only did he soldier on, but he did so dressed appropriately in his commander of the world uniform kicking off the start of the fancy dress theme. Now, for all of you who were unaware, due to unforeseen circumstances we didnt manage to get a H4H patron to come do the draw of the winning ticket. So after a quick discussion on how to pick

someone to do the draw, it was decided that the child with the best fancy dress would get the priviledge as part of the prize. The fancy dress turned out to be very popular with pretty much everyone taking part. Out of so many great costumes it was decided that the clear winner was Jordan (Ski dudes Jnr) who was stretchered round with fake gunshot wounds by his parents. As the end of the day closed on us and dusk was drew in, there was just enough time for a couple of group shots of the forum and few photo opportunities with the H4H camper. After this, everyone retired to their own vans and tents to feed the masses, generally chill out and unwind with a few glasses of chardonnay. As darkness fell the disco could be heard across the campsite, along with the sound of laughter and other intoxicated jolliness. On Sunday morning when I headed over the fields with my border collie so we could both pee in a hedge. Returning to a breakfast

HALL OF FAME Best Regional Meet GazHow, Best T4 Martyn Lawrence with his Devon Green T4 Best T5 Rob Gibb with his very sexy Brown T5 Best fancy dress The ski dudes family with their wounded soldier (Jordan) on a stretcher carried by a nurse (Mum) and medic (Dad) Youngest Forum Member Baby Dylan, son of Scott and Becs Furthest Travelled Djespie, who came from Qatar (3,280 miles give or take a few) Help for Heroes Project managers Mrs Jimmer and Mrs Farquad Most Outstanding Member Jimmer H4H T4forum camper Drawn by Jordan, won by David Hydes

I particularly found it refreshing to catch up with forum colleagues and friends in a place where everyone was in the same frame of mind…

of chilly cheese burgers and bacon and egg butties, it was time to start prepping the H4H camper to take down to the show ‘n’ shine park. Once there, Mr Bullfrog appeared with a few friends sporting cleaning equipment and a megaphone. They were left cleaning and polishing the H4H camper and selling a few last minute tickets, while myself, Jimmer, Jimbo, Spence and a few others wandered around the show ‘n’ shine park trying to decide which was our favourite T4 and T5. It was quite a tough decision to pick my favourite, but after much deliberation and taking it right to down to nitty gritty bits that I liked and didn’t like, I finally had my winning two. Judging went on for a couple of hours while ticket sales started going crazy. Eventually the call for last tickets went out and I set about placing all 14000-ish ticket stubs into the tombola ready for the presentations and big draw at midday. With Jimbo giving a small speech and announcing the winners, the prizedraw took place. The winning ticket was bought online many months previous and, unfortunately, the only contact details we had was a name, David Hydes, and an email address. With a congratulatory email sent, a final presentation was made to Jimmer, who, for the extraordinary amount of work he put into the camper (quite often at the expense of family time and work for his own business), was presented with a specially made table by Kim and Val at Laidback larry’s (www. Now all that was left to do was to go for cream tea and scones and take advantage of the museum tickets that came included in the weekend passes. The museum was fantastic to walk around with some seriously interesting exhibits including a huge quantity of Top Gear cars and projects from over the years. All in all the weekend was a fantastic success and an amazing time was had by all who attended. I particularly found it refreshing to catch up with forum colleagues and friends (as well as make some new ones) in a place where everyone was in the same frame of mind… chill, chill and chill some more. I for one will definitely be booking up for next year, just as soon as Jimbo decides he’s running another one. I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone that made the weekend great, congratulations to David on winning his camper (and I look forward to seeing him at the next Beaulieu). Until next year, folks.




Showtime All the latest reports and news from events & shows

Oktoberfest Now in its third year

Two gorgeous T5s

Final Fling 2011 North Devon VW club

I may have failed to remember my wedding anniversary the past two years. But apart from 2006, owning to man-flu, I haven’t missed a Final Fling. Nor would I...


orth Devon VW club’s annual late season show is up there with the very best, and is probably the most relaxed VW event I have ever attended. This takes nothing from the fact that these guys are serious VW enthusiasts. The club’s membership has some wonderful vehicles of all genres and a few true one-offs too. Moreover these guys know how to throw a show. And this year, the weather was great, so no one thought the world may end in a meteorological catastrophe, unlike last year. Don’t expect there to be hundreds of trade stands. In fact unless you want to purchase an entire vehicle from Totally T4 (or 5!), don’t expect to buy anything front engine related at all. This year there were probably more T4s and 5s than at any previous FF with T4forum and Mikey’s mates waving the the new school flag. Interestingly almost every club camping group had at least one

Inexpensive, fun, down to earth, and welcoming 32


front engine van in their midst, with the exception possibly of the Old Volks Club, who’s attention deserving splits and bays give us all something to judge our vehicles by. Great local bands played in the marquee on both Friday and Saturday night as ever, with this year’s fancy dress theme being ‘Gone, but not forgotten’ adding to a fabulous time. Inexpensive, fun, down to earth, and welcoming – this year with added good weather. Final Fling… it’s not for softies. finalfling

A favourite for many, this show marks the close of the VW season. It’ easy to see why this show, held at Broadway House in Cheddar, is a sell-out. Row upon row of tasty T4s and 5s; I know there is plenty for the air-cooled masses to enjoy, but honestly the impact our buses are having on the scene is very noticeable here. At the first Oktoberfest there were just a few of the new wave, but now it seems as though every other van is a T4 or 5. This show is about meeting up with your mates and relaxing. For many it is an opportunity to review the year just passed, a beer in hand sat around a nice warm fire with much reminiscing being done. In the evening, grooving (not all of it alcohol induced) to the bands and DJs along with hanging out at the bar. Yes, there are trade stands, but the places are limited for good reason. New this year, ‘Cartooniez’ roamed the site drawing his excellent van caricatures. The chilled out Show and Shine rocked, with two T4s winning through, Mike Lewis’ T4 and Gary ‘Browner’ Brown’s uber-low T4. On Saturday night the fancy dress was much in evidence, and themed as ‘Halloween at the OK Corral’, it was… splendidly confusing. Next year look out for Jocktoberfest! A trip into the world famous Cheddar Gorge is de rigueur. It has much to offer with plenty of cider, cheese and sightseeing, not forgetting some splendid pubs and restaurants. If you haven’t attended before then you may well be beginning to understand what a great show you’ve missed. It sold out this year so I will be booking early to ensure getting a ticket for next year. If you do as well, there is one thing you can be sure of… there will be plenty of cheese and lots of cider!

Look at that phat bumper.

A Busy Bingley Hall last bit off shopping before the season ends.

Bus Freeze

Show report from the last VW event of the year


s I drove in there were plenty of vans who had braved the October night to be rewarded with the shinning sun. The last show of the year, Bus Freeze was making the most of the lingering sun, with reported temperatures of 18 degrees – I was hoping it wouldn’t live up to its name and I could break out the shorts one last time! The sister show to Dub Freeze, Bus Freeze is all about the vans rather than general dubs. This is a small show and one last opportunity for folks to pick up a bargain before the winter months. An indoor event with traders in the main hall, while

in the side halls, show and shine, and a Devon, Danbury & Dormobile display, with club displays outside. Undoubtedly, the highlight of the show is the charity auction, where if you haven’t already picked up a bargain, you will here, with everything been auctioned donated from the traders on the day and all money raised going to charity. The show could have done with some more T4/5 traders and when I chatted with the organiser, he felt the same – it could also have benefited from a T4/5 display like in previous years. Maybe I’m biased as a T4 owner, but these are the vans people are buying as there affordable and easy to convert. People use these shows to

So shiny, what a colour!

get inspiration for their van; vans converted by the everyday person who drive them every day and don’t just bring them out for the shows! All in all Bus Freeze is a good little show and well worth a visit, even just for the camping and the opportunity to catch up with friends while picking up a bargain.

Undoubtedly the highlight of the show is the charity auction, where if you haven’t already picked up a bargain, you will here, with everything been auctioned donated from the traders on the day, and all money raised going to charity VWBUS T4&5+







Bus feature


Magic For nearly 20 years VW has held Brian Moyles under its spell. His enchantment contains at least 45 VWs in one form or another Alan Hayward



Brian Moyle

Instrument cluster from a Caravelle and R line Scirocco steering wheel.


e can lay claim to previous possession of, in no particular order, a Beetle, some Golfs and Polos, a 1967 Canterbury Pitt split screen that he restored and which appeared in the ITV series The Royal, a couple of bay windows and in excess of 30 T25s (yes 30!), plus a half dozen T4s, before finally settling on the dazzling white T5 that you see before you In amongst this list of VWs are some stunning vehicles, including that Canterbury Pitt Split, but this T5 too, is something extra special, something magic. It all started when Brian was just 17 years old, a mate of his had purchased a bay window camper. Brian wasn’t initially impressed, and when he was offered a lift in it, his first thought was “Why would I want a ride in that ..... .. ....” (insert your own colourful epithet). A couple of weeks later, the bay’s charms had worked their magic and Brian was beginning an enduring love affair with the brand and its models. His record suggests that he has been looking for the perfect VW,

Brian had no idea at this point that the van and he were about to embark on an epic modding journey and what he has achieved with this particular T5 suggests that he has got pretty close to just that. Best T5 at Camper Jam for two years running, rather backs this up. Brian sourced the van on Gumtree in 2009. He had been searching all the usual sites on the net when he came across this unmolested example, it was just what he had been looking for. It started life as a works panel van and had been used mostly to carry staff and parts around the UK, fitting, servicing and maintaining lifts mainly in hotels. To be specific it is a 1.9tdi pd of 2004 vintage. Now if like me you’ve always wondered what the ‘pd’ stands for, I looked it up, and you will probably be disappointed to learn that it stands for ‘Pumpe Düse’ literally meaning pump nozzles, or more accurately the integrated direct fuel injectors on this diesel engine. Disappointed? Yeah, me too! At this point a key figure enters the story, Brian’s mate Gary Higgins. Now you need a bit of background here. Brian had previously taken Gary to Vanfest and after attending the show, Gary developed a bit of a VW habit of

his own and decided to buy a T4 to convert. He used to build awardwinning hot rods including a Custom 1955 Ford Popular which was good enough to win an NSRA ‘Best street rod’ award in the past. He takes enormous pride in his work and has subsequently built and restored numerous custom cars, including VWs; I mention all this only so you get the idea of the very high standards to which he works. After Brian bought the T5, he decided that the first thing it needed were side windows all round and a rear seat/ bed. These were fitted post haste by Gary at his company SCC, or Skelmersdale Camper Conversions to give it its full title. Brian had no idea at this point that the van and he were about to embark on an epic modding journey, but a chat with his mate and the journey started with SCC fitting the elevating roof. Over a short time, plans began to be hatched, and Brian hit the net again… this time it was serious. Between them, Brian and Gary (with some help from a very local kitchen fitter) have come up with a totally bespoke camping interior,



Bus feature

Full Sportline front end.

using only the very highest quality fitments. A details man to the end, the kitchen units feature the type of soft close catches that you would normally find fitted to high end domestic kitchens. A very stylish tambour door gives access to the ‘wardrobe’ style cupboard similar to those found on a California, with very cool blue LED lighting throughout and a Waeco fridge. Brushed aluminium finishes abound, on the tambour door, the fridge, as well as the electrical fittings and drawer/ cupboard handles, giving the interior a well thought-out factory look. The factory look is something key to the design concept of this cool camper and consequently, it has been designed with as many OEM parts as possible. On the net, Brian sourced two Highline executive captain seats for the front and then the rear bed/ seat was professionally re-trimmed to match in detail the fronts. Staying inside you will find pedals from the semi mythical T5 Business Multivan, illuminated Executive Multivan step covers and a Caravelle cab carpet, with a Sportline over mat. Get the idea that Brian has scoured the VW parts bins of Europe to collect the very choicest of trim parts with cost put to one side.



Brian wanted to retro fit electric windows to replace the ‘keep fit’ ones that came as standard. And also on the list was cruise control, which is where he hit a snag. Everybody, including some at VW, told him that this couldn’t be done. The reason is very esoteric; it’s to do with the original spec of the vehicle without the electric pack, wiring looms the ECU and assorted dark magic. Suffice it to say, this was not going to stand in Brian’s way. After consulting with a few talented electrical engineers that he knows from his day job as a vehicle salvage sales manager, he finally found one who said that it could be done… in theory. He then set

Bus Details What did the van start as? Panel Van Colour? White LWB/SWB? SWB Engine? 1.9pd BHP? 140bhp Wheels & Size? BBS 20-inch Tyre Size? 255/35/20 Lowered? OEM Springs front and rear Why is it special to you? Because I have built a unique bus that gets positive comments every were I go & having owned a few nice cars the van gets far more attention which gives me great pleasure

With that rabbit firmly pulled from its hat he moved on to his next trick about constructing a new part loom, removing and replacing various pins from the controller under the dash, and no doubt uttering some unfathomable incantations under his breath. But hey presto… retro fit electric windows and cruise control. With that rabbit firmly pulled from its hat he moved on to his next trick. He located an instrument

2011 Caravelle lights just don’t fit on a 2004 model.

cluster from a Caravelle, then with extensive research and a little help from another electrical wizard friend, they extracted the code from the clocks, and programmed them to the vehicle matching mileage, etc. Next step was to get the MFA miles to empty fuel trip working. MFA for the uninitiated stands for Multifunktionsanzeige or the Multi-function display (disappointingly dull again, I know). Brian found a guy in Germany who had performed this wizardry before, who shared the secrets of how to wire the switches to the clocks, and another “can’t be done mate” trick was pulled off. An R line Scirocco steering wheel adds another stock, but not stock, finishing touch. A Kenwood Sat-Nav, radio, DVD and digital TV unit which is linked to the rear screen for the TV, put the icing on the cake. As the man himself says, “you have to have a few home comforts.” Up front it may have been pulled by a humble 1.9 tdi pd when he got it, but since then the van has been remapped. Not entirely satisfied with it, Brian has subsequently had the map tweaked three times until it matched his exacting standards. It now pumps out a reliable and driveable 140bhp, happy days. Outside it has a full Sportline

Brian And I’d like to thank… Gaz from scc campers Fran the bespoke cabinet maker Phil the electronics wizard for helping programming the new clocks and re-mapping my van three times!

front end, side bars and rear spoiler. Suspension from a 2.5 with Eibachs and OEM lowering springs. Everywhere you look this van is subtly enhanced using parts from all over the VW catalogue. One of the neatest touches, that tells you all you need to know about this bus and the man who built it, is the 2011 Caravelle rear lights. Why? Because this is a 2004 bus, 2011 Caravelle lights just don’t fit. That man Gary was pressed into service again to reshape the rear doors to accommodate the bottom corners of the lights, and now like all good mods, you don’t notice them at first, because they look as though they have always been there. Attention to detail, a refined conversion, with a cohesive design plan, full use of the VW parts inventory and an ultra professional execution of the plan, this bus has it all. Brian has pulled off something… magic.



Help 4 Heros

Heroes The stuff of

Ian Garrad

The official handing over of the T4Forum Help for Heroes campervan and cheque


he Help for Heroes T4 Camper built by members of the VWT4 and T5 Forum was finally won by one very happy David Hides. The handover of the camper was a proud moment for everyone involved, but as we saw on the day, the work of this important charity is what it is all about.

Welcome to the Tin Hut On the edge of Wiltshire, near the Hampshire border, is the small and pretty town of Tidworth. Here, in a typical-looking business park stands an unassuming looking little building. This is the lovingly named ‘Tin Hut’, the small but mighty hub of fundraising operations of Help for Heroes. Five members of the VWT4Forum including the forum owners, the build project managers had arrived here to hand over the forum-built VW T4 camper to the competition winner, as well as to present a cheque of money raised for the charity.



We were given the warmest of welcomes the moment we stepped inside said hut, as we were drawn through a small labyrinth of offices bustling with activity. We noted an obvious spirit of equality among the staff and volunteers that comprises members of the military, their spouses and civilians alike; with a Generals’ wife no less helping to bring us tea and cake! The team is mostly made up of ladies, all of whom have a spirit that can only be described as feisty; high energy and with a thoroughly irreverent sense of humour clearly being the best way to handle the gravity of the things they deal with every day. Amid the buzz of the office we met a baby girl sleeping quietly in her carry cot. We learned that the baby’s father was a soldier who’d lost both his legs – the baby, quite rightly seemed only concerned with having a lovely nap – a fitting image seeing as there was a clear lack of politics of any kind present.

Making it official; David finally know s his new

A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards. More than that no man is entitled to, and less than that no man shall have

Theodore Roosevelt

toy isn’t just a toy!

It is abundantly apparent the objective of this charity is solely about the support they provide to individuals and their families. Work of Heroes The walls of the hut are covered in photos and news cuttings depicting the many stories of the service men and women who have already benefited from this charity. One picture showed an athlete running on futuristic new prosthetic legs. Another shows an A-list Hollywood actor next to a British soldier who’d lost

Smart bed/ seat with custom front valance.

David was half expecting he might turn up to be presented with a model instead Custom interior cabinets and Smev hob unit.

his sight to combat injuries, yet somehow had the bigger smile! We then viewed a video presentation explaining more about the charity and the lives of the service people it helps. The accounts told of young wounded soldiers who’d survived massive injuries, with one losing both legs and an arm to a land mine. In all cases the soldiers speaking did not consider themselves heroes though, and when they gave accounts of sustaining their injuries, their first thought always seemed to be for the well-being of the colleagues they were with at the time. We heard about how in the modern battlefield, the survival rate is now much higher than in war zones of previous decades, due in part to training and preparation by the soldiers themselves, as well as provisions such as mobile airborne surgical units. It was a sobering thought to appreciate that far from being just a career choice, these men and women enter conflict zones fully aware of

the possible consequences of the job they do – it puts a different perspective on the often all too matter-of-fact 30-second news clips the rest of us get to see when things go wrong. Finally we saw how beyond the immediate medical treatment, the importance that is aftercare; helping individuals to cope with injuries and providing ongoing support for them and their families. This is where the work of Help for Heroes comes into its own – the apparent difference between simply surviving with one’s life and actually living it.  H4H Camper So after we looked around the offices and saw the film, etc., the exceptionally patient David was finally able to go and have a proper introduction to his new pride and joy (he didn’t even finish his cake!). David had travelled with his father nearly 200 miles down from Chesterfield but was clearly more excited than tired, and after a worthy go of trying to maintain

About Help for Heroes Help for Heroes is a charity set up in 2007 by husband and wife team, Bryn and Emma Parry, after visiting injured soldiers in Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham. Bryn is an ex Royal Green Jacket himself and they also have a son serving in the 2nd Rifles. After their visit it struck Bryn and Emma that these soldiers really needed a lot more help. After a meeting with the head of the British Army, General Sir Richard Dannatt, the organization was set up.   The core role of the charity is to offer immediate support and rehabilitation as well as the provision of comprehensive long term support to those who have become wounded, injured or sick in the service of the country since September 2011. The charity helps provide the quality of life and the ongoing help and support with provisions

such as the Quick Reaction Fund (QRF) providing financial assistance within 72 hours for individuals and their families, as well as supporting those who have to return to civilian life with Individual Recovery Plans (IRPs). Since its inception the charity has raised over £100 million that has been allocated to numerous projects such as a Rehabilitation Complex at Headley Court near Epsom, with other funds going towards additional residential and recovery facilities, including three more Personnel Recovery Centres planned, as well as completion of work at Tedworth House.  Aside from working with the Royal British Legion and the MoD, Help for Heroes also works with other Service Charity partners such as Combat Stress, SSAFA, BLESMA and St Dunstan’s.



Help 4 Heros

a dignified cool, it was not long until he reverted to full-on kid on Christmas morning mode. He was apparently half expecting it to be a joke and thought he might turn up to be presented with a model instead; when he got up close to his prize in the metal though, he naturally could not stop grinning. We left David alone for a bit to let things sink in. A few boyish giggles and quiet mutterings of “it is real then”, a perma-smile that Jack Nicholson’s Joker could not match and he knew it really was his! After a few walk-arounds and a pressing of all the buttons, etc., it was time for the first drive. We had kindly been invited by the charity to visit the magnificent Tedworth House rehabilitation centre a few miles up the road. David had not driven a camper before, but a bit of getting used to the gears, remembering to mind the low splitter on the slopes and learning where all the corners were and our little convoy was soon moving.



Tedworth House Getting back on the A338 with the spire of the beautiful Gothic church of St Mary’s coming into view just as you turn up a long lime tree lined avenue, we are led to the glorious and gargantuan slab of British architecture that is Tedworth House. We parked up and approached the entrance set in the imposing front façade of bone white York stone, flanked by ornate stained glass windows and carved masonry. There is a wide gravel path leading to the front door, but as you near the entrance you see the first sign of this listed buildings’ new role – the area in front of the entrance has been cleverly repaved with a compacted material that matches the gravel yet provides a stable surface for wheelchairs, walking aids or ‘new’ legs. The house is just as stunning inside, with the main lobby decorated with leather and plaid sofas surrounding a massive fireplace and a dizzying view straight up to a glass atrium

Strategic moves! Custom matching H4 H chess

that tops the building. But the emphasis of course is not on the beautiful building, but rather its vital role as a Personnel Recovery and Assessment Centre (PRAC). To this end we were then shown the state of the art physiotherapy and rehabilitation unit itself. In the main gym we saw rows of top-end equipment and a team of physiotherapists specially trained to teach soldier new ways to walk and rebuild their bodies and their lives after battlefield injuries. We were then shown newly appointed offices of other organizations and charities that work in conjunction with Help for Heroes as well as more about the £17 million renovation work that is still going on. Further to this we were shown well-appointed


Grand vista – German auto design meets Palladian architecture at Tedworth House.

Feeling at home – the H4H van arrives outside Operations HQ.

History of Tedworth House The origins of the Tedworth estate are unknown, but there has been an established house there since the 1690s with many prominent civilian and military figures (from eccentric plantation owners to Lord Nelson himself) residing here in this time. The original house was demolished and rebuilt in the 1830s, remodeled in the 1870s in the ‘Palladian’ style of architecture that is present today. The estate was sold to the War Office in the 1890s at the same time they acquired Salisbury Plain. During the Second World War, it became an American military base and was host to the Red Cross Club run by the daughter-in-law of the then US president,

State of the art physio room.

Theodore Roosevelt – whose famous quote at the top of this article now adorns the entrance wall. The house has also been home to army nurses from nearby Tidworth Hospital before it later became the garrison officers mess. While uses of the property have ranged from the signing of international agreements to military horse trials, royal polo matches and air tattoos, Tedworth House has finally settled into the vital role that it now plays for Help for Heroes – a great and historic house, now serving an even greater future purpose.

Top-end equipment and physiotherapists trained to teach soldiers new ways to walk and rebuild their bodies and their lives after battlefield injuries dining rooms, meeting areas and lounges – until finally, down one anonymous looking corridor in a less remarkable corner of the building we came to an unmarked door that opened onto a windowless room and housed an octagon of black monitors and banks of top-end technology for playing out every imaginable tactical battle scenario. Had we stumbled upon a secret con room? Were we even allowed to be in there? As the lights flickered on we saw an LCD screen hooked up to every latest generation games console a nerd could dream of, complete with black leather captain’s chairs

stationed in front of each screen. In unison we said how we’d be happy to stay in the room for a while, but all jokes aside, it was in fact a good marker of the breadth of care methods that take place at the facility, including the importance of respite during recovery. Eventually we found our way back outside to arrange the photo shoot of the T4 and the formal prizegiving. We were granted the privilege of being able to park the van right outside the front entrance of the building. As gates were unlocked the groundsman joked that he couldn’t remember the last occasion a vehicle was allowed right



Help 4 Heros

VWT4forum members handing the cheque over to staff at the Tin Hut accompanied by David Hides and his father.

The emphasis is not on the building, but its vital role as a Personnel Recovery and Assessment Centre up to the house. The VW Horizon blue paintwork on the camper seemed to glow electric against the bright stonework of the front of the house, looking like a sapphire set in an ornate crown. The VW T4 campervan, representing the evolution of automotive design set against the backdrop of this historic grand house made for an impressive aesthetic indeed – linked by the custom bonnet bra on the T4, proudly presenting the Help for Heroes emblem. The shoot itself took a bit longer than planned as people kept coming out of the building to have a look, take their own pictures and ask about the van. The unanimous praise everybody showered on this amazing camper was worthy credit indeed to the mammoth personal effort of time, energy and resources ploughed in by project leader, Jimmer, and so many others in the army of people and contributing businesses behind building this amazing one of a kind vehicle. Not to mention of course the coming to fruition all of the exposure and managing of the competition by the VWT4Forum that made it all possible. To finally see the van parked right there seemed to represent the completion of a long but worthwhile journey.



Got stance; T4 proudly wearing H4H bonnet bra.

Presenting the Cheque After the formal presentation of the keys to David we all headed back to the warmth of the Tin Hut where we presented a matching custom Help for Heroes chessboard and set to Gina, the lovely and lively Personal Assistant to the Head of External Operations. Then came the culmination and main purpose of the whole event, which was formally presenting the official cheque for £27,213.03 that was raised by all the sales of tickets for the H4H camper competition. Then, after the various presentations and the official signing over paperwork for the camper, David and his father finally headed back on their long, but doubtlessly fun journey home, with David already planning the vans’ first outing, the Great North Run (and maybe a little bit of showing off along the way).

As they went to drive over the slope leading out of the complex all thoughts once again turned to life’s real important issues as ‘mind that front splitter’ was called out in chorus! Summary After all was done, the gratitude and sincerity from the charity was brilliant. We only wish every one of the great people who purchased tickets or made contributions to the campaign even after the draw had closed could have been there to see their response. As it was though, we were the guys there, so before leaving we all cashed in on yet more free cake and tea… and maybe the teeniest bit of flirting with the gorgeous and high spirited ladies of the Tin Hut, who in all seriousness so well represent this charities’ vital role – that of providing help for heroes!

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bikes op tio na l

France Tour de

Stage Two of the campervan ‘Tour de France – bikes optional’ took place earlier this year, with T4s and 5s (and a solitary T25) descending on northern France for a week of family camper fun Alan Hayward

Various contributors

Chilling out after the bike ride

t the end of May 2010 a group of mates all with T4s and 5s, save for one interloper with a T25 (but we try not to hold that against him, poor soul), went on a week’s break in northern France, dubbed ‘The Tour de France – bikes optional – Stage One’ (snappy title, eh?). We had a blast, so much so that I agreed to organise Stage Two this year. So on Saturday May 28, 2011, I arrived along with one other team member on the Dover dockside bound for Dunkerque. Last year we had gone in convoy, but our speed had been determined by one of the more misguided team members, who has a 2.4 non-turbo Coach built



This year we agreed to make our own way to the campsite thereby increasing the average speed to a figure over 30 mph So this year we agreed to make our own way to the campsite thereby increasing the average speed to a figure over 30 mph. This led to a range of crossings being arranged (with the showoffs going for a Friday departure). Friday departees included the now three-strong Phat Camper group, who obviously would require the extra time, and one other, who was rewarded for

his treachery by suffering a complete turbo meltdown en route. Incidentally this led to him having to leave his (LWB) T4 full-on campervan in Le Havre and pack all of his and his fourstrong family’s belongings into a hire car. The hire company had originally offered him a Citroen, but he steadfastly refused to accept this on the basis of the amount of ridicule he would receive on

What a motley cre w?!

Men, women and kids wearing this years Tour de France T-shirts just before the land yachting.

This should be a LWB camper.

When the doors were opened they spilled out onto their pitch like shopping from a split carrier bag! What a day , gre at fun

arrival at the campsite. Eventually after much foot stamping and the threat of a family sit in, they supplied him with a Golf. When they finally arrived on site they looked from the outside like one of those jars full of jelly babies you see at school fairs, where you have to guess how many are inside. Faces squashed against the windows, noses out of shape, and when the doors were opened they spilled out onto their pitch like shopping from a split carrier bag! I was one of the last to arrive, having selected the crossing (Dover to Dunkerque) furthest from the destination (Erquy in Brittany); that and having an

(unknown to me at this point) sat-nav that had lost its mojo. Another late comer was a good friend who had driven the whole distance himself without sharing the driving. He parked up a few metres short of his pitch, got out ostensibly to decide exactly where to park on the pitch (really he got out for a chat). He called out to his wife and asked her to drive the van onto the pitch, where upon when selecting reverse, a previously loose bolt dropped out of the gearbox (and to much hilarity) the gear resolutely refused to be selected. After a bit of mucking about the van was parked and the problem determined with an easy fix carried out the next day. He, however, will not miss an opportunity to remind her of the day she broke the van trying to drive it less than ten metres. Seven days lay ahead of us in the Yelloh! Village campsite at Erquy. We have used the Yelloh! Village chain of campsites many times as a family and on both Tours de France to date, and would recommend them for families of all ages with plenty to do for all the children. On the first night when all of the group were in attendance, it would be true to say that beers were quaffed. Three particular group members quaffed up a storm and were later wandering loose in northern France. Having failed to gain access to a local wedding, they looked around for more entertainment, spying the onsite swimming pool complex complete



Travel with flumes, which was due to open for the season the next day. Keen to get a head start they soon ascertained that early entry was not possible due to the high fence designed to keep out just such midnight beer thinking. However, a small square window in the laundry had been thoughtfully left open and our three svelte wouldbe swimmers gained access. With great consideration for the collective, they carefully and quietly Great tried out the facilities and reported back to the group the next day. Unfortunately by the time the three reprobates had risen, most of the children had already tried the pool out for themselves, rendering the reviews offered pointless. Wisely, due to the temperature at this time of year, the children had also opted for the indoor pool further up the hill anyway. If any representative of Yelloh! Village reads this, this is clearly a made up story and need not detain you further. There were some group activities planned, but with one exception they were all optional (a bit like the bikes). The one compulsory activity is the group van line-up picture; this year it



One of the key features of these holidays is the family element was shot just off the beach at Erquy. Looking at the photo you can see that again this year we tolerated that T25 again, as well as a friend of the group who doesn’t even have a van! Both have been told in no uncertain terms that the fun easily uttered promise of “I am intending to buy a T4 or 5 soon, honest”, only works for so long. During the week we held the now firmly established, Family Tour de France bike ride, followed by a few beers and a barbecue. As usual the bike ride went off without hitch, so long as you don’t count some people turning up late and missing the whole thing, some people turning back a third of the way in, and some other people going a different way, because… well… just because really. That said, the post-tour beer and barbecue was fully attended, which is as it should be. Two team members, one of them my wife, celebrated their birthdays whilst on tour – so

that was another two parties lined up. Cake was smuggled abroad by willing accomplices from within the group, and was accompanied by singing, much to local bemusement. Also during the week some customary sightseeing was carried out with group members variously visiting amongst other places St Malo, St Frehel, Dinan and Mont St Michel. One of our number had organised, for those that wanted it, a sand-yachting session, which went down well with the children and daredevils alike. In fact that was a great afternoon spent on the beach in the sun followed by a cracking meal at a local restaurant. Unsurprisingly the seafood was a

speciality and very tasty, although one of our diners asked for what turned out to be a selection of stuff scraped off the sea bed, thereby spending an adventurous hour or two with an assortment of small but perfectly formed medieval surgical instruments – digging, poking and scraping indescribable bits of flesh from unidentifiable shells and assorted flotsam and jetsam. He said it was great, but it was noticeable that for the remainder of the trip seafood was off his menu! Another feature of these trips is the communal barbecue, a sort of ‘cook what you took’ affair. On one night all the tourists gather together in one place and cook. This leads to much sharing of food, wine, beer, and the odd tall tale. On this occasion one group member cooked what he caught on the beach earlier that day, needless to say it was disgusting! This year also featured a guest spirit, the name of which escapes me. Suffice it to say, this liquid (purchased locally) that was blue in colour, was potent by nature. It was quickly dubbed ‘screen wash’ and rather than cleaning things up like it’s namesake, it tended to leave the vision of the user blurred (or so I’m told), and was altogether much more messy! One of the key features of these holidays is the family element. There were days at the beach, days at the pool, and during the course of the week just as in the previous year, the children ranging from babies to 15-year-olds bonded,

These trips are best organised on the net and this trip was no exception with The T4 Forum being used as the primary method of communication and they could be found in groups or all together playing football, riding bikes, playing hide and seek, and generally having a good time together. Towards the end of the week the ailing camper was fixed and an early morning three-hour dash to Le Havre was organised, followed by the three-hour return journey of course. The owner returned full of beans with stories of just how fast the Golf was. If any Gendarmes read this, this is clearly a made up story and

What a line up! Can you spot the two odd one s out?

need not detain you further. It would be wrong to write this without mention of the ‘Wrong Dennis’. These trips are best organised on the net as it makes communication easy, and this trip was no exception with The T4 Forum being used as the primary method of communication. During the organisation, one of our number, namely Denis, was proving difficult to contact and after numerous private messages sent via the forum, I was eventually contacted by Dennis (note with two ‘n’s this time), who said “I think you’ve got the wrong Dennis mate, but it sounds like a fun trip, can we come too?” This is why we ended up with two Dennis’s this year, the right one and the one now known as the ‘Wrong Dennis’. With the trip nearly at an end, the group members left at various times heading for different ports, with the show-offs this time going for a Monday departure. I left before my camping next door neighbour, but due to my wayward sat-nav, I did three laps of the local town before leaving the vicinity. The look on his face as we drove past the entrance of the campsite just as he was leaving three quarters of an hour later was a mixture of disbelief and pity… and he likes to remind me of it regularly. Next year Stage Three of Tour de France will take place, only this time it may be France that’s optional rather than the bikes. Watch this space…



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I’ve got

Wood! Alan Hayward


A wise man once said, I think it was Sir Humphrey Appleby, that when writing reports one should, “Always try to get the tricky bit out of the way in the title, and then you don’t have to bother with it in the text”. So there, I’ve done it and any more below the belt wood jokes or similar will all be in your mind! So stop sniggering and pay attention


att Bond, known to many who frequent VW van based internet forums as Mr Woodcraft, had his fate sealed for him at a very tender age. His father, who is clearly a prince among men, elected to give him his first few driving lessons in a vehicle which could have been designed for that very purpose, an LT35 flatbed truck! When you think about it, it’s a wonder more driving schools don’t use them. Starting the softening up process years earlier, young Matt was taken to autojumbles and classic bike shows in various Type 25 single and double cabs; indeed while he



was still a mere sapling aged eight, young Matt showed signs of being able to ‘see the wood for the trees’, as it were. As proof of this it is written into family folklore that, when confronted at the house of one of his father’s customers with a pile of die cast models and told that he could take one of his choice, he homed straight in on a VW Kubelwagen… good lad! So you see, as I said, fate sealed at a very early stage – the die cast collection is a fair bit bigger these days too. Wind on a few years and the now self employed Exeter-based sign maker is reviewing his ‘company van’, an Audi A4 Quattro V6 Avant, thinking that maybe he needed

something a bit bigger. In a fit of misguided nostalgia he bought a 1986 T25 doka, but it didn’t take long for him to realise that much as he loved it, it really was a more long term project. So the T25 was pushed to the rear of the garage and a more modern equivalent was sought. Roll on to May 2008 when Matt attends The Newport Mega Van Auction. Among the 250 vans going under the hammer that day, were 25 or so AA vans, one of which was due to become the WoodenWagen that you see on these pages. Matt says, “there were better vans and definitely there were worse vans. The one I chose was fairly tatty, but had no

Audi TT seats offset the expected unique touches.

The one I chose was fairly tatty, but had no major rust, and most importantly it was bang on my budget major rust, and most importantly it was bang on my budget.” Of 2003 vintage it is consequently a fairly late model and with the AA racking up 130,000 miles, it was barely run in. As with most AA vans it was resplendent in a rather sudden shade of yellow; up front there was the usual 2.5 TDI engine pushing out 102 bhp; on top the expected roof light bar with accompanying holes in the roof; and in the back it was standard AA fare too (12volt water supply and sink, toolboxes, bulkhead and a tow hitch capable of dealing with 3.5 tonne). Also, as many reading this will already know, those little yellow tinkers at the AA fit their vans with just over 2.5 miles of surplus wiring, used for some mysterious and arcane purpose by those rescue rangers. Matt’s van was no exception. Now before we get on to what Matt did to the van, let’s deal with this wood obsession once and for all. Matt’s Dad (yes him again) passed at least one other thing on to his son beyond the love of a good VW. Dear old Dad is a master carpenter, and at an age when most of us are still playing with our Kubelwagens, he introduced Matt to the ways of wood. Indeed Matt was a competent lathe jockey at the age of eight and his love of lumber remains to this day. The WoodenWagen Starting with the outside and the all important colour choice, Matt’s brief was that he wanted “something retro, something natural

and neutral”. It goes unsaid that it would need to complement the inevitable wood-based interior that was to follow. The brown and ivory combo you see before you was settled on and in October 2009 the van was entrusted to good mate, Stef, otherwise known as Pike, money changed hands and the outside took shape (or is that shade). Now wood is not Matt’s only obsession. Oh no, he has a keen eye for form, function and detail as well. “I wanted to follow a different tone line to the norm, hence the two tone spoiler rather that a solid one.” By his own admission he is a fussy sod (our editor JN describes it as borderline OCD, but then he would), so in an effort to get exactly what he wanted, Matt marked up the van before handing it over to Pike and he is very happy with the results. Not wanting to run with the herd he didn’t colour code the bumpers or mirrors and they remain a more practical shade of factory black vinyl. Again against trend the indicator lenses stubbornly remain as orange as VW intended. Factory glazed barn doors were sourced but never fitted, Matt preferring to stick to the “more commercial look” that the solid doors offer. Enter Mart, Matt’s brother, who fashioned from 60mm lorry exhaust pipe the bespoke sidebars took shape. The ends were fabricated from six triangular pieces of steel, shaped, welded, and attached to the bars, which were then powder coated ivory to match the van. Windows were tinted with a mirrored gold, which suits the van



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to a tee. Better still the two metres of film required were effectively free, as they came from “a large job I did for a jewellery shop”. Now to the wheels, the van came with standard 15-inch VW steels as you would expect, and Matt confesses that he has “always loved steelies and there was never anything else that was going to be fitted”, but nevertheless he started the search for something a little bigger soon after buying the van. Matt reckons that he “was always mocked for having boring wheels”, but that stopped when he found something “a bit bigger and a bit wider” and then had them custom painted – people started to take a bit less mickey and a bit more notice. The wheels in question are Mercedes S-Class winter wheels, at 7.5j x 16-inch. They are substantially bigger than the originals and were a good price at just over £200 for all four, box fresh direct from the local Mercedes dealers. The custom paintwork utilises ivory as the base colour, but many hours (many, many hours) were spent with a tin of gold size and sheet after sheet of gold leaf which Matt applied to the rims. He doesn’t really do bling, but these wheels are stunning! Thanks should go to Bully and Dave, who fitted the tyres VERY CAREFULLY! A little bit of Matt’s sign making magic completes the look. The wooden interior is where Matt’s obsessive nature really kicks in. This is the fourth interior that he has fitted since owning the van. Yes, you read that right… fourth. They have all followed the same ethos, of using recycled timber, but



the design has been refined each time. “I love camping in the van, the wood lining keeps it so warm, even in winter, because of its natural ambient temperature qualities.” The floor started life as a Cedar pallet from an aluminium sheet delivery. Dismantled, de-nailed, and taken down to a half-inch thick. The roof lining and walls were fashioned from damaged nine mm sheets of ply, some of which had been driven over, it was cut into strips, sanded and oiled before fitting. The seating and bed are made from off-cuts of two-inch by two-inch planed pine, and more nine mm ply. The lattice work cupboard doors and table

Bus Details What did the van start as? AA Van Original colour? LL1F AA Yellow Colour now? Brown/ Ivory with nut brown pinstrip Long or Short nose? SHORT LWB/SWB? SWB Engine? 2.5TDI BHP? 102 bhp ( AA 114 bhp urban myth maybe?) Wheels & Size? 16-inch Mercedes S Class winter Steels Tyre Size? 205/55/16 Lowered? 60mm Why is it special to you? Because it has been my daily drive and has been tailored precisely to suit my lifestyle

Of 2003 vintage, it is consequently a fairly late model and with the AA racking up 130,000 miles, it was barely run in were made from cutting up an old airing cupboard door. The table top is a piece of oak from Dad’s shed. The eagle eyed will have noticed from the pictures that the off side

The porthole window is made from a two-inch thick slice of beech taken from a storm damaged tree.

window is a slightly different shape inside than it is outside! The porthole window is made from a two-inch thick slice of beech taken from a storm damaged tree in the grounds of The Lost Gardens of Heligon; “I simply cut out the hoop and routered the edges, then I inlayed some acrylic window, cut the VW logo in window tint film and applied it.” The base box is constructed from one-inch thick lime. It is fully lined, sealed, and for attention to detail, check out the bark edge and the fact that whole interior is screwed together using only brass screws. Would you expect anything different from a man with a van that has gold leaf wheels? In the cab a set of beige leather Audi TT seats offset the expected unique touches. The gear knob was turned on a lathe from a piece of burl oak from Powderham Castle, and the steering wheel, originally a standard chrome and gloss mahogany job was stripped back and re-painted to match the rest of the interior. If you see Matt at a show take the chance to have a look at the perfect replica VW badge hanging from the mirror, in wood of course. All that’s left is to thank Mart, Pike, Dave, Bully and, of course, Matt’ dad too. This is an individual van from a man not scared to step off the well beaten modding track worn thin by others. First place in a very strong Show and Shine at this year’s Cornwall Jamboree suggests I’m not alone in loving this van. There you go over 1,000 words and no more off colour ‘wood’ jokes. See it wasn’t hard… damn.


(Mr Woodcraft)

And I’d like to thank… Biggest thanks goes to my brother Mart for his superb maintenance of my van. (especially spending the best part of one Christmas repairing my driveshaft) Stef aka ‘Pike’ for a truly one off paint job. Bully and Dave for taking care of my Gold wheels when fitting the tyres!




Where [four] art thou “Why on earth would I want a van? That would just be frivolous. I already have a perfectly good estate car. A company car, I pay tax on it, but that’s it… a cheap vehicle.” On countless occasions I’d had the ‘van’ discussion with myself, probably three or four times a year from the late 80s for the next 15 or 16 years Dave Wayman


’ve been lucky enough to have outdoor interests and enough time to pursue them – even if my very understanding wife did sometimes choose to stay at home, especially in winter. Windsurfing, snowboarding, mountain walking and biking; all activities that demand carting kit around, having somewhere to change (ideally out of the elements), and all best enjoyed away from home, in their appropriate environments, over a weekend or on holiday. Late in 2005 I had just agreed to take a job where a car was not a necessity, and my life was about to change, like many people’s has, since the advent of the campervan. The archetypal VW campervan, an icon with kudos beyond its Volkswagen roots has come a long way in 60 years; a journey shared by its platform vehicle, the humble Transporter. ‘Campervan’ is actually something of a misnomer – until recently VW transporters were converted to ‘campers’ after having fulfilled their commercial purpose, with vans of all models getting a

second lease of life by providing transport and accommodation to hippies and holidaymakers, surfers and sun-seekers alike. I’d been overwhelmed by the workmanship involved in restoring some split and bay VWs, but deeply concerned by the amount of air-cooled vans I’d seen on the hard shoulder of motorways in the summer. In fact, I had even gone as far as actually buying a ‘Wasserboxer’

Various Contributors

miles a month to go surfing. My head had begun to argue with my heart and not so slowly, but ever so surely, my mind was made up. I wanted a T4. Just before Christmas 2005, my van pulled up outside our house. The preceeding few weeks had been a marathon. I had needed another chat with myself with more specific questions this time. It had all hinged on the budget. “Two thousand pounds at most will do it” I’d told my wife. “Long wheelbase or short?” “Diesel or petrol?” “Single rear tailgate and two single seats up front, I think?” I discovered that the T4 had undergone a facelift in 1996; minor exterior changes, alterations to the dash and importantly some

My head had begun to argue with my heart and not so slowly, but ever so surely, my mind was made up



(watercooled) 1.9 petrol T25 during the summer of 2005. By the autumn though, I had successfully failed to replace it’s rusty panels or cut apertures and fit windows to my camper-in-waiting, mostly because at already almost 20 years old, it would cost as much to fit out as a newer vehicle would, and it was already 100,000 miles from that ‘new car smell’! Several friends had T4s, and used them to travel a few hundred

I quickly set about creating my dream… what I actually created was a plywood box

engine range changes. So there it was, my shopping list – long wheelbase, 2.5tdi (88 or 102 bhp), tailgate, not red, less than 100,000 miles and a full service history… all that late 90s German build quality, for under £2,000. Simple. The van I so proudly pulled up in was red. It had a short wheelbase. It had double rear doors. And it cost almost £6,000. Luckily, it did have an 88bhp 2.5tdi engine. And built in 2000, at Poznan in Poland (as many transporters are), it also had a service history which showed that its previous owner had taken it to a dealer, for not just its services, but also when a bulb, or wiper blade needed changing. It had also covered just 48,000 tool-carting, site-parking, timber-fetching miles, having been bought by a property maintenance company from VW, following its early life as a demonstrator vehicle. Once more a blank canvas sat outside. Now far more driven by the viability of my T4 as a one-vehicle-does-all solution, I quickly set about creating my dream… what I actually created was a plywood box. Large enough to hold all my windsurfing kit with a futon mattress placed on top, it was something to behold.

“No more tents for us then, love!” I announced to my wife in January 2006. “No dear…” came a slightly unconvinced reply. A few weeks later, it was obvious that my “That’s it, it’s finished” attitude was behind me. The VW bug (yeah I know!) had bitten. Winter 2005/6 saw a turning point for me, way beyond what simply purchasing the van had ever been. I joined the T4forum at its grass roots level. There were just 124 members – seriously well informed and practical guys all. At that time another mag had produced a rare article about a guy converting a black T4 panel van. It was a work of art. I discovered that they had been fitted by M-A-D Workshop at Kingswood, Bristol. Visiting their workshop I realised that whilst they were fitting windows, sunroof and lowering the suspension on my T4, that owning it was going to be a less ‘garage-based’ experience than an older air-cooled van. Some of the vehicles I saw that morning being expertly restored had to be taken apart to such a point to find non-rusty structure, that they barely resembled what they were. This was to be my first contact with guys on the VW scene, perfectly happy to be working




on watercooled, front engined vans, knowledgeable about them too and eager themselves to see the T4 ‘come of age’. Spring 2006, my wife and I began to use the van properly. In fact, it became ‘our’ van which ‘we’ used. Day trips and weekends away to the coast, bumping into old friends along the way, gave us the confidence to decide on a summer road trip to Italy. A 2,500-mile roundtrip ensued. The van, now with over 60,000 miles on the clock, had a full service before we set off. Laden with camping stuff, windsurfing kit, mountain bike and all the other gear we needed, it performed faultlessly. I was delighted. The rise of the T4 in the minds of both the existing VW enthusiast and of people just wanting practical vehicle to travel for fun and camp by now seemed to be gathering a pace. One guy, who has become one of my closest friends, bravely posted on the T4forum the idea of a ‘Midlands’ meet, in November, at a halffinished retail park near Lichfield. Six vans turned up. Each was different: two panel vans, a kombi, an original Multivan, a Westfalia ‘California’, and a long wheelbase, hi-top full-on camper/motorhome



conversion. Getting inspired, I began to create a wishlist and skills inventory to refit our van. Early the following summer my wife and daughter went abroad for a week; I spent the week with my limited skills portfolio, a big pile of plywood, some tools and the van. Remarkably, following a few hundred saw cuts, several boxes of screws, much measuring, signing for small parcels and half a tank’s worth of fuel in trips to B&Q, and although I’d hardly slept or eaten properly, I had created the

You won’t become a rich person by buying a T4, but you won’t lose your shirt on one either interior of our van which remains largely unaltered over four years later. Basic DIY skills, some time and enough of a budget can result in something truly individual, seriously satisfying and practical.


You won’t become a rich person by buying a T4, but you won’t lose your shirt on one either, so long as you think through what you want one for. You will however enjoy a rich experience of broadening horizons. Our holidays and weekends have since become much more pleasurable; awaking in the van is no longer followed by an uncomfortable scramble out of bed and search for what’s needed for the day, more likely by a cup of coffee in bed and a relaxed start. But probably the greatest lifestyle change as a direct result of the van, is becoming part of the VW scene. At shows, seeing how other people are using or



customising their vans, is both interesting and inspiring. I’d challenge any T4 owner not to be awed by some of the custom vans produced by club members from Kerbside Kustoms or Totally T4, for example, or indeed some of the one-off vans from various converters. Many remain practical, while being beautifully finished, with engine and handling performance to match. Vans that demonstrate how a very basic homespun van interior can work for some people, equally as well as a fabulously appointed and specced-out factory conversion. But my overriding experience from being part of the ‘scene’, is one of making firm friends with other

But my overriding experience from being part of the ‘scene’, is one of making firm friends with other T4 and T5 owners T4 and T5 owners, with whom we have spent many fantastic times, on holidays and trips, to mountain bike or snowboard, as well as countless trips to the coast. You can’t put a price on times like these. That’s why I wanted a van. Don’t you?

To be continued

See the next issue for more of Dave’s VW adventures.

Friendly & fun, a family VW bus event for all types Organised by the publishers of:

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Bus feature

Green eyes Prior to purchasing his first T5, Simon Mountford from Wetherby, North Yorkshire, had not been involved in the VW Scene and had never really thought about owning a campervan Louise Battey John Hutchinson


owever, after watching a TV program in February where a chef was travelling around the country in a VW Splitscreen, the idea of the freedom afforded by owning a campervan suddenly started to appeal to him and before long it was all he could think about. Whilst getting his car serviced, Simon mentioned the idea of buying a VW Splitscreen to his local mechanic, who wisely pointed out that if Simon was to buy a classic car, the two of them would most likely be seeing a lot more of each other, and recommended that as a busy hair salon owner, who needs



reliability from a vehicle, he might prefer a more modern campervan like a VW T4 or T5. Simon liked this idea, and excited about a new project, he shared his thoughts with a friend who by coincidence had once shared a premises with Dubtricks, a nearby VW restoration business. A few phone calls later and Simon’s dreams of owning a VW campervan were on their way towards becoming a reality. When Simon visited Dubtricks to discuss ideas he did not yet have a vehicle, or even a clear picture in his mind of how he wanted it to look. But what he was absolutely certain of right from the outset

was that he wanted something cool, smart and stylish, that would stand out from the crowd. Luckily Dubtricks already had an idea for an ultimate bespoke interior up their sleeves, which they had been saving for their own van conversion. But seeing how excited Simon was about the design, they decided to let him use it instead. With a few modifications incorporating Simon’s own ideas and specifications, a formidable van interior design was born... on paper at least. The only problem was, Simon had still not found a suitable vehicle for his conversion. After several months

Right from the outset he wanted something cool, smart and stylish, that would stand out from the crowd

Massive 22-inch Range Rover Overfinch “Supersport” Rims.

of endless searching, disappointing test drives and frustrating trips to view promising vehicles, only to find out that they had sold just before he got there, Simon was becoming a little disheartened. But then his attention was caught by a T5 advertised on the online. He had thus far been looking at T4s, so this was a complete curveball, not to mention a blow to his budget, but something about this van spoke to him and he had ‘that feeling’ that we all get, when finding a must own vehicle. It had been re-sprayed in Mazda II Sport Metallic Green, with twin sliding doors, a 1.9cc engine (remapped to 151bhp) and the

biggest alloys he had ever seen on a van. He was initially unenthusiastic about the colour, and put off by the fact that the van was 180 miles away in Worcestershire, but everything else was right, so he persuaded mechanic friend, Les, to go and inspect it for him. When he finally got to see the van first hand, Simon saw that the photos had not done it justice. Even the colour was growing on him. It was a 360 mile round trip to go and collect the vehicle and bring it back to Yorkshire, but it drove beautifully and by the time Simon pulled up outside Dubtricks with his new purchase, he had well and truly fallen in love with it



Bus feature

Gleaming in the sunlight the fantastic colour Mazda II sport metallic green.

and was grinning from ear to ear. Needless to say, the team were more than a little surprised, expecting Simon to buy a plain T4 van, not the metallic green T5 monster on 22” rims that rolled into the yard! Having found his ideal van, the first (and easiest) decision was to fit a pop-top roof. Simon decided to go with a rear-hinging roof from local suppliers, Austops, as he liked the low profile design. The roof was colour coded and fitted by Jez Dyke and Rob Newman at Dubtricks. Limo black windows were then fitted all round and the vehicle started to look less like a van and more like a camper. The Dubtricks conversion that Simon had based his ideas on incorporated a revolutionary recycled plastic worktop made from plastic coffee cups, which when polished gives the effect of a granite worktop, but with out the weight. Simon loved this product and was so determined to have it, that when delivery problems threatened to stop him, he took a day off work, borrowed his halfconverted van back and drove all the way across the Pennines to collect the sheets of worktop himself! Wanting his van to have a sociable feel for camping, but also wanting to travel in comfort, he decided to replace the front bench seat with a pair of T5 Captain’s Seats on swivel bases. These were upholstery by Rob Annakin at Harlequin Car Trimming in a style based on the new VW Scirocco interior. Rob also upholstered the rear Rock & Roll bed and all the door cards in high quality vinyl



in charcoal and light grey, and this, along with a hardwearing, waterproof vinyl flooring, means that Simon’s best, four-legged friend Alfie, can jump in and out of the van without doing any damage. For lighting, the T5 was fitted out with dimmable LED spotlights and two adjustable reading lights in the rear. Knowing how much Simon loves gadgets and to aid usability, Jez wired the lights to be controlled and dimmed from a key fob. For Dubtricks, who have been designing campervan interiors for many years, the key to making

We expected Simon to buy a plain T4 van, not a metallic green T5 monster on 22-inch rims! this their ultimate interior was to make the vehicle as versatile and usable as possible, and in order to do this, they needed to resolve the issue of where to fit the sink and cooker. Having built numerous different styles of interior, and

Bus Details What did the van start as? Panel van Colour? Mazda II Sport Metallic Green LWB/SWB? SWB Engine? 1.9Tdi BHP? 130bhp Wheels & Size? 22-inch Range rover Overfinch “SuperSport” with silver centres and polished rim Tyre Size? 285/35/22 Lowered ? NO (Wheels too big for lowering) Why is it special to you? Because it’s my first ever campervan and enjoys having the freedom to travel wherever the mood takes him. Also enjoys the response that I get when I show it to people

This work top is made of plastic coffee cups.

Even the kettle is colour coded. Alfresco cooking.

trialled them extensively, they had come to the conclusion that the ideal interior should allow cooking on the outside of the van, so that the interior does not end up smelling of cooked breakfast, while also catering for that early morning cup of tea or coffee by having water boiling facilities on the inside. The solution; Rob built a custom rear cooking station with a draw unit containing a sink and stove, which pulls out from a unit underneath the rear of the rock and roll bed. In addition, inside the van, he fitted a beautiful stainless steel CAN sink with fold out burner... an innovative, space saving design. Simon commented “so far, the best thing about my T5 has been showing it off. It gets a fantastic reaction from all who see it. I’m very proud. In the last four weeks since it’s been completed I’ve taken it to Norfolk, via the Cotswolds, Stratford, the Peak District, Scarborough and on a golf trip to Bamburgh Castle and Brewick upon Tweed. Lots of fun!” In the future, Simon is planning to make a few more additions to his T5, including a bespoke rear awning for the cooking station, but for the time-being he just plans to enjoy using it, spend even more time camping in it and to start taking it to some VW shows, starting with BusFreeze, where he entered his van in the Show & Shine competition and won his first trophy for ‘Best T5’, If he wasn’t a fully-fledged VW campervan enthusiast when he first set out on this project, he most certainly is now!

Simon And I’d like to thank… I have to start with Dave Rouse, the guy I bought the van from; he chose a great colour and rims. Huge thanks also go out to Jez, Rob & Lou from Dubtricks (www.dubtricks., who have put together an interior to die for. For them it’s a passion. Ideas, quality, perfection. Its a massive and complex undertaking and they do it with humour and light. Thanks to Rob Annakin at Harlequin Car Trimming ( for the upholstery.Cool guys! Big thanks to Ian Conroy, at Leeds Car Audio for a sound and TV system that is awesome; Ian, you de man! Seats upholstered to look like the new VW Scirocco interior.



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Bought not built by Bill de Kampa

Not everybody who reads this magazine is going to be mechanically proficient. Some, like me, are going to be… how shall I put it… technically challenged


’ve read the build threads on the net, ogled the self-built and self-modded vans at shows, and I’ve marvelled at just how clever some of you lot are. Then there’s me and my brethren. We try, we really try, but frankly despite all our best efforts, whatever we do usually ends up making the van worse rather than better; and sometimes it requires pound notes and professionals, or exasperated but slightly more adept mates to sort out the mess. Let’s start with something simple, wheels. Way back at the beginning of my T4 owning history, I wanted to change the standard steel wheels. I looked long and hard at the ads for alloy wheels and soon realised that it was going to be hard to find something different, practical, stylish, and to put no finer point on it something cheap. I’d spent all my money on the van and had no budget left. After much searching both of the soul and of the net, I hit upon a plan… Moon Discs. I’ve always loved the smooth, clean lines that they give any vehicle and I thought they would be a cost effective alternative to alloys – how little I knew. At that time it was not possible to get 15-inch clip on discs in this country (I know, I tried). So I sourced some from the splendidly named ‘Hub Cap’ in Orange County, California. In my world the fact that they came from California added to their mystique. Anyway, I swallowed hard, poked PayPal, and they spat out the dollars at the other end. I then sat back to wait. In truth with the shipping costs added to the bill they weren’t

The van fitted with Moon Discs at 2009’s Camper Jam.

I’ve always loved the smooth, clean lines that they give any vehicle and I thought they would be a cost effective alternative to alloys. How little I knew a great deal cheaper than a set of alloys, and when HM Customs contacted me and informed me that I needed to pay import duty before they would be delivered, they weren’t any cheaper at all. Alright, alright, I was new to this stuff, OK? So I paid up, again, and they were delivered in due course. They looked great, everybody said so, “something different” they said, “nice to see somebody doing something outside of the box”, “cool”. Swelling with pride I visited a few shows and received many more positive comments, right up until the nearside rear one fell off. Of course I didn’t notice that it had come off until I stopped – I

then had to spend a fruitless hour or two retracing my steps trying to spot it in the hedgerows of South East England. Undeterred I ordered another from Mike Lord of Hubcaps, but when that too went the way of the first, I began to lose confidence. This time I ordered two more, to save on shipping costs. When a third went missing I called a halt – not only was this not cheaper than alloys it was working out to be much more expensive! The remaining four discs were put in storage (that’s the garden shed to you and me) whilst I took stock. Unwilling to give up the look that the discs gave me I formulated a new plan.

To be continued

See the next issue to find out what becomes of Bill’s hub cap dilemma.




Rear view by David Eccles (editor of VWCamper & Commercial)


Oh, the times they are a-changin’

ack in 2001 I took over editorship of the recently launched VW Camper and Commercial magazine. I was and always had been (well since taking one to India and back in ’76) a Split Bus person; I liked Bays; T25s (as I knew them then before re-education classes in the Brickyard) were called Wedges or Bricks and owners did not seem to wave; the T4 was something almost alien to me and the T5 was still a secret design project! But from the outset I wanted the magazine to be about all buses and bus owners (steep learning curve ahead). In my second issue of the mag (Spring 2002) I featured a Russ Dowson’s 1999 T4 Autosleeper and prefaced the feature it with these words: This issue we open up the magazine to include the T4 – it may well have its engine in a funny place and air-cooled it ain’t – but it’s one helluvva nice vehicle and maybe it’s time to share its delights with a wider audience. And after doing this photo-shoot, even this Split Bus freak was heard to mutter, I want one of these for my dotage.” Despite some initial hatemail from air-cooled purists for, “daring to include a soulless water pumper in our magazine” by the mid noughties the T4 was clearly a significant player at VW shows and with the setting up of the T4 Forum it seemed to explode. T4s clearly were here to stay as an integral and admired part of the VW Bus scene, and as such would always be part of the Camper and Commercial family. It was probably the T4 Forum display at the first Camper Jam event in 2008 that really made me realise the diversity of looks and styling and the passion felt by owners, as well as the strong camaraderie that exists. About then the T5 began to make an impression too, and stylish bespoke and custom conversions made people sit up and take notice. Over the past two years the number of requests for more T4/5 features and offers of stunning vans snowballed. Then this year, chatting at Stanford Hall, the idea for a T4/T5 magazine was born!

It’s cold at 22,000 feet! David and his first bus in the Hundu Kush 1976.

It may well have its engine in a funny place and air-cooled it ain’t – but it’s one helluvva nice vehicle… (David in 2002.) Finding the right person was another matter, but a conversation with Jimmer at Camper Jam soon developed into a firm idea – the result being VW Bus T4 & 5+ which you are reading now! Welcome to the first issue! And then VW lent me a brand new California to use at Camper Jam 2009. Cunning move on their part? OK, it had no charisma, it was not especially pretty, the sliding door was on the wrong side, it did not sound like a Split and children did not smile and wave as we drove by. But it was spacious, it drove like a dream, it did miles more to the gallon, it was luxury. And we loved the natty design features like the table in the sidewall and chairs in the tailgate! The seed had been sown. Looking back at the preamble to one of the first ever T4 campers featured in a VW magazine, my words about wanting something modern for my dotage were almost prophetic. A T5 would take us

back to our roots of travelling and camping. And when you get older your body begins to fall apart; unlike a bus however you can’t go to a restoration shop! Times change, and after all, we never really own things; we merely look after them for a while. And so the 67 Devon, owned since 1978, has gone and a new California arrives in January. Olympian Blue, leather/ Alacantara interior, pull out sun awning, fifth seat, privacy glass, towbar, parking sensors added to the impressive standard spec. Oh and an iPod dock! We spent a long time mulling over whether to buy a base and have it converted to our own spec and design (is an electric roof van an expensive gadget bound to go wrong?), but in the end went for the VW factory model. Always have been a stock person, and this is modern stock! A future classic maybe? The times they are a changing…

David Eccles is the editor of our sister title, Volkswagen Camper & Commercial. Although a long time classic VW Camper fan, it appears he’s going all modern. You can contact David on: Image: © David Eccles



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VW Bus T4&5+ Issue 1  

The very first issue of VW Bus T4&5+ magazine.

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