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Welcome to the Spring 2014 portfolio of aTHOMPSONsPHOTOGRAPHY

This portfolio is available to browse and download via Issuu and available to purchase in print from Everything you see in this portfolio, including all photography, writing and page design, is my own work. I hope you enjoy viewing these features as much as I enjoyed meeting the owners and photographing their vehicles for a selection of different magazines.

For more information and full contact details, visit the contact page on my website -


The West Country is renowned for lots of great things, like The Wurzles and Scrumpy Cider and now to add to that list is Joe’s unique style of modifying!


at look - You either love it or you hate it. Some see it as a cheap way of modifying and sometimes that’s what it is, for some owners all that’s needed is some paint stripper and a few stickers. For others it’s real wear and tear from years of use and abuse from the sun but solid underneath but Joe is in a category of his own... Lots of great things have come from the West Country, The Wurzels,

Scrumpy Cider and now Joe’s unique style of car modifying! Joe’s been into his dubs for a long time now, owning a 90’s styled VR6 Corrado before owning a MK2 Breadvan and then the unforgettable Two Face Scirocco. But we aren’t looking at those right now, today we are focusing on Joe’s show-winning Polo. Joe told us that he picked up his 1.3 Genesis Polo completely standard around three and half years ago now. He had some

plans on what modifications he was going to do to the car but nobody could expect it to turn out like how it has! Joe wanted to rat this car in a similar style to the ‘Two Face’, he told us that he wanted people to “instantly recognise his style of modifying” but have something completely different to everybody else.

paint stripper and stickers; there are some out there where a lot of time and effort has gone in to make them look the way they look. The car was finished off with a paint job the same style as Joe’s Scirocco to help people instantly recognise that it was one of his cars!

The first wave of mods’ included lots of smoothing and welding, the rear three windows were all welded up, the back seats were removed and a bed took their place ready for a weekend at RTTS. Corsa B side skirts were fitted and a smooth front end with bad boy bonnet and bike indicators in the front grill were all fitted. Bike mirrors were added to the

I needed some new haters because my old ones started liking the polo

wings of the car, along with custom manifold and bike cans coming out either side on the front bumper. The arches from a trailer were used to fit the wide Revo wheels. The more time you spend looking at the car the more things you spot and start to appreciate that not all ‘rat style’ cars are

At this point it was time for the next big wave of mods to the polo. Joe told us how he’d seen Mk3 golf estates, bread vans etc being chopped up and turned in to pick-ups, ‘it was time to start fucking with peoples heads again and doing things people have never seen before’. With

several days booked off work, £250 quid’s worth of metal, a welder and an angle grinder it was time to get creative. I asked Joe if he had any inspirations and he said that “it’s more crazy imagination than inspiration”. Again the more you look at the car the more you see (or in my case if you have somebody pointing everything out it’s a lot easier... there are to many things to point out with the car!) But here is one example for you, the boot lid from the Polo was used for the back of the ‘cab’ but a MK3 Breadvan lid was used for the back of the pick up. There are internal structural supports added in the shape of an A-frame just behind the front seats. Around the edges of the pickup there has also been metal tube sections installed again to add to the structural support of the vehicle. A new set of wheels were also added to the car in the shape of a set Compomotive Turbo’s 9j up front and 11s out back!

So what’s it like to drive this beast, how do people react to it? Well in person it’s generally positive reactions although people don’t understand it, when they look carefully and spot all the different modifications they can appreciate the time and effort gone into the car and I guess this is reflected by the trophies Joe has won from different shows around the country. With Wörthersee happening down in Austria not long ago now and reports of people being given lots of on-the-spot fines for cars being too low (and the whole deal of registering every modification and getting it approved by the TÜV), I wondered if this was ever put in place in the UK if due to the nature of Joe’s style of modifying, it would put a stop to these crazy creations. I’m glad to say that it may slow him down a little...

re a s r a c ’ e ty l S t a R ‘ l l rs e k c i t Not a s d r an e p p i r t s paint

but definitely wouldn’t stop him!

So what next for the Polo? Well unfortunately it’s up for sale as a whole or in bits as Joe has a new project on the go, which some of you may have seen in the RTTS show

report. The Ice Rat is the latest addition to the family and will be ready for Edition this year! Rolling on 8J up front and 11J on the rear 3piece Gotti splits with some serious sound

It may slow me down but won’t stop me!

inside coming from the 8 amps, 4 subs and 16 speakers all being controlled by a top of the range Alpine head unit! To keep up-to-date with the progress of the Ice Rat and in due course to buy parts of the Polo pick-up, get on to SWDubs Forum or ToyTown Dub Nutz on Facebook run by Joe which holds monthly meets in the Taunton where you will be able to catch up with all the progress in the flesh.

With several mag features under his belt with previous vehicles in Performance BMW, Scott Walters knows a thing or two about creating some awesome rides. His past feature vehicles include an E30 325i sport, E34 525i and an E36 M3. Although Scott has a T4 now he hasn’t completely moved away from the ‘beamers’, he still has a convertible E46 325 in

Atlantis blue which has been lowered and rolling on a rather nice set of rims! After spending many years loading up the BMW’s and going away on camping trips Scott decided he wanted something with a little more room and something that would be more comfortable than the air bed in

the tent and that’s why he choose to get his T4. This wasn’t his first van though, before this Scott owned a 1.9TD Caravelle and he managed to keep hold of some of the parts from that vehicle to use on his new olive drab satin green bus. Scott had done a lot of work on the previous




This is Scott’s second T4, it’s an ex-private ambulance turned military-inspired first vehicle for him and his girlfriend...

bus himself, he had to replace lots of panels where they were rusty and rotten away. The sills needed changing, wheel arches and some of the front end but it was worth the work because he got the van for a bargain price! Along with replacing lots of panels Scott made all the interior units and painted the outside of the bus, most of the work was done outside his house as well! No job is too big for Scott, he will have a crack at anything and he does a good job of it! After purchasing a trailer and a boat, Scott found that his old van didn’t quite have enough power to pull the heavy weight on the back, “on the way home from collecting the boat we were getting overtaken by huge lorries. We needed to get something with a bigger motor, the old van had 250k on the clock as well so it was

about time we got something with a bit more life in it.” Here at VWBus we’ve had all sorts of different vans across these pages, from old battered builders vans to well used ex-AA vans. I was a little shocked to find out that this very van was once used as a private ambulance! Once you get over that initial fact of what it was used for and you then find out that Scott knew the

owner and they originally purchased it new, you can understand why he went for this one. “It was in excellent condition, and well looked after. It had to be because of what it was used for. It only had about 90k on the clock and the engine was more powerful than the previous van.” This van was a fresh project for Scott and his partner; the idea is that it will also be her first vehicle once she passes her

or even getting a kit, he tackled the interior units head-on and decided to completely custom fabricate them. This started with careful measurements and collecting a whole lot of steel tube. Scott went about making a framework for his units to fit, exactly how he wanted it to look. However after welding the frame to the van,

test so there was some input on style from the missus! Luckily for Scott his missus loves camo patterns and that’s what made him decide to go for the military style for the van. He knew what he wanted to do with the van; he wanted to completely transform it into a camper and wasted no time with getting on with the build.

After building custom made units from scratch, Scott changed his mind and ripped out the first lot to try something else! After ripping out the old interior on the drive way at home he had a blank canvas, it was time to get to work. Now I’ve said it before that no job is to big for Scott and he will have a go at anything so rather than giving the van to a conversion company

making the units out of wood and finishing everything off, it was only then that he actually decided he’d rather have them a different way and consequently ripped them all out and started over again! The new units were made from Ikea furni-

“We were getting over taken by lorries in the old van, we needed some thing with more power!�

ture that Scott has bolted together for added strength. Scott has fitted sliding doors next to the rear seat to make the most out of the space he has in the back of the van. He has also fitted runners underneath the rock-n-roll bed so a large drawer slides out of the back of the van and on this he has a camping stove. If you take a look at some of the exterior photos of the van you may

notice that the side bars are slightly different to some normal ones. This is because Scott made this himself as well! When he got the rectangular steel tube for the framework of the units he also got some much larger circular tubing to create his own side bars. The captain seats in the front of the van have been re-trimmed by Ade at Mid England Re Trims who has done a great job on them with camo center pieces and matching piping. In the dash there is an Alpine double-DIN head unit and a custom made sub underneath the dash, which looks good and also packs a good punch! There are a few more things planned for the van including getting the rear seats re-trimmed to match the fronts and install some curtains but for the mean time Scott is looking forward to getting out in it and enjoying it over the summer! Over and out.


2 7 L I 9 1 AZ R B ‘A





If you think Howard, the owner of ‘The Daddy Van’, looks familiar, that’s probably because you may have caught his unusual feature ‘Red Razor’ about his T4 RazorBack pick-up. No doubt you will be seeing Howard again because right now as I’m typing these words he has a lovely patina Ghia on its way from across the pond, as soon as it’s on dry land we will be paying Howard a visit!


oward told us about how he recalls flicking through a book about VW buses and discovering that when Volkswagen stopped manufacturing Splits in Germany, they sent all of the leftover parts to Brazil where they then played around with them. From 1972 onwards various Split-screen hybrid models were produced, later badged as ‘Fleetlines’ – export specific models for the South African market as a rugged and basic alternative to the modern German-built VW buses of the day. “I was reading the book and it said that they assembled some (I’m not sure how many) from all of the old stock from VW,” Howard said. “I wrote to VW to get the chassis number dated and they confirmed that mine was in fact built in 1957!

Much of the van seems to be from a slightly later model, the floor, all of the doors, rear quarter panels and front nose – it’s quite the freak really! That being said, it’s never been welded and it’s in very good condition – plus it’s tax and MOT exempt!” So although it was put together in Brazil in 1972, the all-important chassis (seen by many as the true heart of

any vehicle) was actually produced in 1957 in Germany. This split was a domestic market (i.e. South American version) though, and was purchased from a local VW collector who had a whole stock of vehicles for sale as he was thinning out his collection. Howard wanted a 15 window, so a deal was done and it was time to get the bus over to

especially concerning factor seeing as Howard had already paid for it. Finally, the truck was fixed and eventually made it to the port in Brazil, where the next hold-up in its journey was being taken back off the ship by customs, who apparently wanted to check it for drugs and guns!

the UK – but in the event, actually getting the bus to British shores transpired to be nothing short of a nightmare! To get to the export point, the bus had to travel over 1000 miles on a flatbed truck. But along the journey, the lorry snapped an axle on a remote mountain pass! The driver then decided to leave it there on the truck... for over two weeks! An

Yes, this really is all a true story, and a very crazy and stressful one at that for poor Howard, waiting for updates on the bus back in the UK. He really had no control over the situation and just had to wait for updates as the departure was delayed for another entire moth! And the problems didn’t end there... once it was finally aboard the ship and under way, it then had to go to France for yet another delay – the French authorities were typically ‘relaxed’ about moving things along, adding

further hold-ups before Howard’s bus finally arrived in the UK. Ironically, after all that, the very first time Howard got to drive his new toy, he nearly crashed the thing! So with the bus home (and thankfully in one piece), his next task was to get to grips with the paperwork; this included a document for the import, declaring any damage on the bus... every single panel had been highlighted, from things broken, to rust, dings and dents of all sorts. After such a long and tiring process just getting the bus to UK soil, it clearly still had a long journey ahead. As it happened though and luckily for Howard, most of the annotations of the document were just over-cautious marking by an overly efficient customs man. The bus was actually in pretty good shape all things considered; this meant that the expected restoration was kept to a minimum, with Howard even being able to retain the original paint the bus was

wearing when it was imported. Another discovery Howard made was that every part of the van was filled with a thick coating of orange brick-like dust. It had come from a really dry region, so it was filled with the stuff; even the heater channels were packed with it! “Every time I went over a bump in the road, a little more of the stuff would get dislodged and fill the van like a red smoke screen; this lasted for months.” When Howard got the bus, it was a nine-seater minibus and very spartan, not even having any interior panels, etc. He’s still using the original seats in the front, but he always wanted to change it into a camper for himself, his wife Bryony and their young son. They took the split on a surf trip right down through the Southwest coast of France when their son was only five months old. They had some amazing times together, although there were a lot

of problems due to the bus being so slammed – in fact, they couldn’t even get on the ferry at Plymouth; that’s not a great start when you intend to travel down to the south of France! In the end, several routes of the splits first proper family trip had to be re-navigated because of the ride height. This prompted Howard / gave him the excuse to buy and install air-ride for the bus (smoothly done Howard). This eventually entailed having custom-made billet shocks built in the States and shipped back to the UK; he then fabricated the rear mounts himself and even made the air tank out of an old fire extinguisher! Over the years, Howard has also installed dropped spindles, plus a straight axel conversion with adjustable / notched spring plates; he also decided to upgrade the gearbox to

one from a Beetle. Inside there are heated seats in the front and DVD screens in the back and even a custom, digitally controlled Eberspacher heater for the kids (his family has grown since the trip to France). In addition, lots of bits and pieces have been acquired and added to the old ‘Daddy Van’, as it’s affectionately known by Howard’s kids. In fact, from being super-simple before, the more you look around the bus now, the more you see! Howard closes by telling us how, unfortunately, the bus doesn’t really get much use these days: “my boy has multiplied somehow into three now! So it’s a little small for us all. So we use the Karmann Gipsy for our trips and the old Daddy Van now comes out for the sunny days to cruise in. I’m hoping in the future my kids will have it and enjoy as

many happy times and surf trips as we have in the old tin. If they continue to love it as much as they do now, it will be going nowhere! It’s been with them all since day one, I’ve had several different vans, but this is the one they remember and love, so it holds a lot of memories already, and hopefully many more to come.”


When the recession hit and a change in career was on the cards for Mike Fletcher but no jobs were available, he had only one option and that was to put everything into setting up his own company...


ike trained and developed his carpentry skills for several years with Redrow Homes. When the recession started to hit the building industry, Mike thought it was time to switch career paths. At the time being only 21 he had the whole world to explore and nothing tying him down. He wanted to be part of the building and camper conversion industry; he took the time to contact all of the recognised conversion companies throughout the country. He was willing to move wherever to gain experience in the industry and grab any opportunity he was given. However unfortunately for Mike all of the companies that he contacted were not employing anyone at the time. For some this may end the quest for achieving what they wanted to do, but not for Mike and this pushed his dream even further. He got on the forums and set up his account under the name ‘T5 Dream’ to get an insight into the conversion world... who would of thought a few years down the line he would now actually be living that dream! After making the decision to start converting vans the first thing Mike did was sell his own personal car at the time and then headed down to Measham Auction where he picked up a 2005 T5 2.5 130BHP Black panel van. At this point Mike didn’t

have a large premises or a team to work with - he was on his own! Being a self-taught converter he has had to do years of research and it’s taken him a long time to adapt his skills and know-how to convert a vehicle. He told us how he has learnt from mistakes and is still constantly researching and trying out new things now! Now owning the keys to his first van it was time to get to work on the first conversion. All of the work took place at his mother’s garage, he refers to it more as ‘potching’ with the first vehicle. After that Mike went on to complete a few local conversions and then started to rent a small 1,000sqft workshop from a friend and set up New Wave Custom Converisons. In 2010 Mike made the decision to expand the business and invest for the future. Moving to the premises where he is now in Pontyclun, South Wales, with more than 3,500sft workshop space! It was time for Mike to build his six-member team

I set up an account on the forum as ‘T5 Dream’ hoping one day I would own a T5 and convert it, now it’s what I do everyday

although that proved difficult over the years finding the right people to work with but he persisted and now has employed skilled traders bringing their knowledge and expertise in different fields all under the same roof. With each member of the team having their own set of skills in the workshop it has developed NWCC’s product into what it is today! Mike told us how investing the time and money into employing the members of staff they have today insures that all aspects of the conversions they undertake are completed in-house, from upholstery to auto-electrics and carpentry. This is great for both Mike and his customers; he knows exactly how each part of the build is coming along and his customers can see everything in the one place and it helps with keeping the standard of the builds to the highest level whilst ensuring all deadlines are met rather than relying on other companies.

With this van being the demo bus for Mike and NWCC they wanted to make it special, when they picked it up it was brand new and a perfect clean blank canvas ready for conversion. They wanted to try out a few different products on this year’s van. All the work was completed in house by the team of experts on hand at New Wave Custom Conversions. This means throughout the build they knew exactly where they were and never had to wait on anyone else to complete parts of the bus. Everything is done in house from designing and creating the cabinets, stitching logos in the seats and floor mats to wiring looms for the lighting and audio. Being the demo bus for the company they went all-out, slamming the bus on a set of 3SDM alloys and full digital four-way air ride system, enabling you to have pre-set heights and pressure settings, the kit also enables you to control

each strut individually. The system is fast with two compressors filling up the tank underneath the bus, all hidden out of sight. The benefit of having the pre-set heights means you can have one for normal driving, one setting for if you want a big of extra clearance when you’re driving across those fields to your camping pitch and then another setting to air out once you park up and want to show off that slammed stance. Inside a traditional ‘LUX’ conversion was fitted with this seasons latest ‘Driftwood’ cabinetry, the warm ‘Wild Berry’ leather stitched seats gives the bus a cosy feel inside with matching gearstick and gaiter. An SCA deluxe elevating roof with roof bed has been fitted giving extra bed space for when the bus is used away at shows and events. A new Fiamma F45s awning has also been installed on the outside to complete the camper conversion.



A familiar face and a familiar vehicle to the VW show scene, meet Reza from Van-X and his awesome pick up!


’m sure as we flick through the pages of any issue of VWBUS we will see vehicles with parts from Van-X, in fact I think it’s fair to say that a lot of the readers of the magazine probably have Van-X parts on their own projects at home but what does the owner of the company drive himself? You may be thinking a Porsche or something like that (well he has one of those and it’s over 500bhp!) but we’re more interested in the dubs and this month we bring you his Duka Twin Cab. I wouldn’t be sur-

prised if you have seen this already at a show in one shape or another over the past few years either on the Van-X stand or cruising around with a few friends hanging out the back letting everyone know they have arrived with the 190db train horn! Reza told us how he has always been a VW enthusiast and when he started his business selling parts for vans nearly ten years ago there was much more going on with VW’s than any other manufactures and he fell in love with them. He acquired this vehicle around four years ago now, “I found it in the most Northern part of

Northern Ireland. It was very unique; every extra that was available at the time was on the vehicle. When I bought it nobody had a clue that it even existed!” These extras included cruise control, heated seats, air con, 12 disc CD changer and lots more but we want to know a little more about the outside at the moment... It started off as a basic crew cab, Reza told us how he made a sheep-carrying cage for the back to start off with. He also nearly had a pool table on the back! “All the bolts are there, I

had to dismantle it because of poor weather... I’ve put a 1960s style pickup body on the back now”. All of the ideas for the vehicle were initially sketched out on a piece of paper, it wasn’t long though and Reza had picked up his tools and started to modify it! All of the work was carried out by himself and a friend, Dave Edwards who is a rather good welder, which was handy for Reza as this was a real custom job and there was lots of cutting and welding that needed to be done in order for the new back end to fit properly. A couple of other close friends helped out with cutting timber and fitting the slats on the back of the pickup. You may have seen the van before when it used to be silver, Reza had another friend come over and wrap it for him in matt black. He told us how he spent a long time researching and watching loads of videos of custom vehicles and looking at photos on the Internet to help him figure out what he wanted it to look like. After doing lots of research and also creating different images on Photoshop with different colour designs, he decided what would look best and that was black “the matt black makes it look mean!” “It’s retro on the back and then stylish and classy on the front” You may think the rear arches look familiar and that’s probably because

they are; they’re from an old 60’s VW camper. This means the lips of the arches can sit nice and low, the wheels can then tuck up inside of the bodywork just like an old camper. “It’s retro on the back and then stylish and classy on the front” Now don’t be fooled by the lack of wheel showing under the arch, if you look from behind you will see the monstrous width of the 335/35 tyres on the 20” rims! On the front of the pick-up the wheels are a little thinner but still have a chunky 245/45 tyre wrapped around them. The front has been treated to a 2014 facelift bumper which helps to keep that stylish front-end look. Under the hood there’s a Harbut turbo, a full stainless steel exhaust with removed cat and deleted EGR valve, not forgetting a bigger intercooler which all helps the 2.5L TDi engine sound lovely when on the move, especially when it’s being raced up Santa Pod drag strip! However there was one time

“The matt black paint makes it look mean!”

“I can’t find anywhere in the UK that will sell me just the engine of a passenger aircraft”

‘When I bought it nobody had a clue that it even existed!’

where Reza blew the turbo a few years ago whilst racing at the Pod’ which he told us has been his only bad experience in the pickup. Inside Reza’s fitted a lovely set of Audi S5 seats which really hold you in place and are very comfortable, a RS4 steering wheel & paddle-shift has also been fitted. ‘I’ve also got 4x Sony 60W speakers but I listen to Radio 2’ - nothing wrong with a bit of ‘Week-

end Wogan’ Reza! So what’s next? Well, Reza and his pick up are going nowhere (apart from shows that is). “It’s more than a vehicle to me, there’s a huge community that is so enthusiastic and friendly when it comes to VW’s. When I drive on the motorway and through cities I see flashing cameras everywhere” (I know what you’re

thinking with those engine modifications, but no, Reza doesn’t mean speed camera’s). “It doesn’t matter where I am in the country, people always come up to me to talk about my van. Everyone wants to know what I’ve done to it and how I did it.” Reza told us how it’s been two years since he finished the conversion and now he is looking to do something different with it, “I’ve got a few ideas... I want to put a jet engine on the back and move the exhausts inside the engine so when the engine fires up smoke will come out of the back! However I can’t find anywhere in the UK that will sell me just the engine of a passenger aircraft, so that plan is on hold for the moment! It would be amazing if I could do this, I got the idea from the film Despicable Me”. Reza we hope you find someone who will sell you an engine and when you do, let us know because we want to see it!

FIELD OF DREAMS BARRY’S 66’ SPLIT I think it’s fair to say and we would all agree that there is a certain lifestyle that goes with owning some VW’s. Some choose to be part of that lifestyle, some are born into it. Barry was definitely born into it...

“My dad had a late bay in the 70’s and we had the best holidays away in it”


arry was one of the lucky ones who were born into that lifestyle. His Dad used to own a late bay back in the 70s and the family had their best holidays away in it. Whether they were travelling down to Cornwall or over to Wales they had some amazing trips away and Barry told us how they were off on days out every

weekend, picnics in the Penines... “I just loved that van so much” The seed was sown for Barry and there was no way out! “I always knew I wanted one myself eventually, it took me a while due to personal circumstances but now I have two! My daily is a T5 which I also used for longer journeys and trips around Europe.”

Barry told us how his splitty was originally imported from Chicago, USA in late 2011. It was stripped back by the importer, there wasn’t too much work that needed doing, the main part of the work was a new front panel but after that it was looking good and was re-sprayed. Originally the bus was green but it was painted in the turquoise and white, the colours you see now. This was one of the things that attracted Barry to the bus in the first place! Whilst searching on Gumtree for a splitty, the advert for this one stood out from the crowd with its bright colours and clean finish. After looking through the advert description and finding out it was only just over the Severn Bridge in the Forest Of

“I love the colour of the bus”

Dean, Barry took his brother (who is a mechanic and a classic car enthusiast) over to have a look around. The exterior of the bus was as you see it now, “it was in excellent condition” however the interior was a very low spec and minimal job. The whole interior was basic and just black, Barry felt it was letting the high quality exterior down and it would be perfect for him to rip out and make his own! After finding a few faults with his brother (nothing major), which made a little more room for negotiation on the price, they came to an agreeable amount and in September 2012 Barry became the new owner of the splitty. The previous owners were using the bus as a wedding vehicle; it had a ‘Just Married’ sticker on permanently in the back window. Barry told us how the first thing he did when he got home was rip that out and start to get to work on the interior. “When I first saw it I couldn’t believe how beautiful the exterior was and how rubbish the interior was... I knew that was the first thing that had to change!” Now with the bus back at home it was time for Barry to get to work on that interior. Everything came out and was all re-done. “I wanted a full-width Rock n Roll bed; I’ve suffered with three-quarter-width beds for years and I find they just aren’t big enough. That’s why I decided

to go for the units behind the seats (seeing as it is a walk thru model), I also knew from experience that I wouldn’t use a sink in the bus and the only cooking I do is a brew and a bacon butty! I’ve got a portable stove in the top of the unit behind the passenger seat and an electric cool box under the buddy seat. It’s nice and tidy and hidden away. The one thing I knew I wanted and needed was for it to run off the 12v leisure battery or mains through electric hook up.” With all this in mind Barry had the new interior made and refitted by Bromsgrove Auto Trimmers and Spektrum interiors for the furniture. Now this may sound like a rather nice build at this stage, although Barry told us how the drive from Bristol to Bromsgrove for the new interior in the snow and ice-cold weather in March with no heating and a miss-firing engine wasn’t the best experience he has had in the bus! With the new interior in the bus there were still a few other jobs to get done. The front end needed lowering, a new stereo was fitted and a few other bits and bobs too. The axle needed repairing as it was leaking and then it was ready for a fresh MOT. After a new battery it was ready to hit the road just in time for VanWest where it won a top-10 position and trophy in the show and shine! Barry celebrated with

fish and chips and drinking some Champagne he had bought in France the year before. When the splitty is winning awards at shows its being used for camping, Barry has plans for almost every weekend in the summer with different VW shows, Camaraderie, the whole scene really. “I love the fact I can park in a normal space at Tesco and in the same vehicle I can sleep and live, go anywhere and do anything!” Although the bus runs surprisingly well on its 1200cc flat four Beetle engine being able to cruise along nicely at 60mph, Barry is looking into fitting a bigger engine. Also, longterm plans are to go for a full IRS conversion on the back end but he’s in no rush. The bus runs and stops fine, “I’m just going to enjoy it for this summer and then look at doing some work over the winter months.”



RAT LOOK - YOU EITHER LOVE IT OR YOU HATE IT WE DEFIANTLY LOVE MATT’S T25.. I knew Matt’s vans long before I had ever met him. The first time I saw one of his rides was when I was driving past the local petrol station. As I drove by I looked over and spotted what was at the time his white T25 with his signature yellow tinted windows, side ladder, white walls and black checkers. I instantly fell in love with it and wanted to find the owner to arrange a photo-shoot. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to stop and say hello that time, and it wasn’t for some months until I saw it again. I spotted Matt’s white van driving in the opposite direction, I got to the end of the road and span round but by the time I had caught up to where he was, it was already too late and he was long gone. The next time I saw Matt’s van was when it was on eBay and unfortunately it had been stripped of some of its character ready to sell. I was gutted! That was until I was driving one evening in the local area and I spotted a new, even cooler slammed T25! It was parked up on the pavement on the side of the road. This new T25 had the same yellow tinted windows, the same side ladder and banded steels with awesome white

walls. Could this be why the old one had so many parts removed before it was sold? Had this replaced that lovely one I spotted some months before in the local petrol station? There was only one way to find out and I left a flyer tucked into the driver’s window, hoping to get a phone call in the next few days. It was wet and windy that night so I didn’t expect the flyer to last long but to my surprise the following morning I had a call from an unknown number and to my delight it was Matt; the flyer had lasted the night and we were on for a shoot of the new van! I mentioned before this isn’t Matt’s first dub. In fact it turns out he has had a fair few VW’s over the years before the ones I had seen more

recently, including an old 67’ split camper, a 66’ bug, 76’Sirocco and more modern vehicles including a few different Corrado’s and a Army green T4, but he has gone back to and stuck with his T25.


Matt told us how his T4 was a panel van and he wanted another one ever since. “The problem with a camper is all the windows; it’s like a gold fish bowl. When I’m away with the family we want some privacy, with the panel van you don’t get people coming up and looking in through the windows.” Matt found his panel van on eBay, it had been left in a builders yard with the engine in the

back loading area and not moved for about 12 months! It ticked all the right boxes for him, the only problem was it was in Nottingham. He headed north with a friend and a trailer who was sure it would fit, “I’ve had a load of vans on the back of this, it will fit no problem” however when they got there it didn’t fit. The van had wider alloys on it and they couldn’t get it on the trailer. There

were big puddles of water in the foot wells which wasn’t great but it did move and steer easily so they headed back home to pick up a tow bar and made another journey back up North to collect the van. It’s safe to say the journey home the first time wasn’t as pleasant as the trip up to the van! Once the van was finally home it was


time to get working on it. The engine in the back was knackered so Matt picked up a second-hand motor for the van. The plan was simple, to get it nice and low and running in time for Bristol VolksFest. Matt was a regular with his previous T25 at the Old Dub Shop and knew they would take good care of the new van so let them get to work on it. The previous owner had started to do a little bit of work on it but never got very far.

They had started to spray primer on bits here and there but it was in a sorry state. The guys at the Old Dub Shop were mopping the grey primer from the van to reveal the original blue paint work when they found a face in the paint work by chance! Matt thought they were having him on but when you look closely at the rear near side corner you can spot the face! Matt decided to go with a full air-

ride kit, “The van is perfect for the sport I do which is mountain boarding. The downhill events are always down a rutted, pot-holed lane in the middle of nowhere. I just fill the air bags and the ground clearance makes it like having a syncro, then once we get to the end of the lane and park up I can drop it. Air ride is sweet; I love the look on people’s faces when I drop it on its arse!� Matt told us how the van is as low as

it would go without tubing the front. As promised The Old Dub Shop had the van back to Matt up and running the evening before Bristol VolksFest. This left a little bit of time for him to sort out some of the cosmetics on the van. He had kept his signature yellow tinted rear window from his previous white T25 with his sticker collection on it, which is from attending different shows, events and trips away and is ever growing. The stock 14” steel rims upfront with white walls were fitted along with the banded rims on the rear. The ladder, roof rack, side bars and light lenses all from the old van were brought over and fitted to the new one. Inside Matt had just enough time to fit a few odds and ends including his charity shop picture gallery, sink and a simple cooker ready for the show and weekend away where it was revealed to his friends for the first time. Matt’s future plans for the van are to tub the front wheels and get the sills on the ground (judging by these pictures he’s almost there now!). He’s looking into some old-school sign writing on the sides and an engine upgrade, something with a bit more go and grunt on the motorway. We look forward to seeing the progress Matt and see you soon!


When you spend all day painting completely one off custom airbrushed masterpieces, you know that one day your own vehicle is going to end up having that same treatment.. This is John and Sammy’s T4 from Re Born To Be Wild, based in Cheltenham, who specialise in a range of custom work for both motorcycles and four-wheeled vehicles. Whether it be custom-built choppers or restoration and new paint on old campers, the team at Cheltenham produce an exciting and mixed variety of work. The T4 was originally purchased as the workhorse for the business “it’s a LWB so we found it perfect for moving bikes to and from shows” it was their first VW and spent the first couple of years with vinyl graphics down the sides advertising the custom paint shop. It was perfect for them being a 2.5tdi as it’s very reliable and great on fuel, even when fully loaded with abike in the back! After a few bumps and grazes, one involving a rather large council industrial bin, now (we won’t mention any names, Sammy, who has now been banned from driving it!), they decided it was about time it was taken off the road and given the Born To Be Wild treatment.

So, that industrial bin may have actually been a blessing in disguise, or at least that’s what Sammy tells us! The plan for the T4 was to make it a rolling promotional vehicle, which meant it had to be perfect but the team were struggling on a theme for the van. It’s a big decision on choosing a theme for vehicles, especially when it’s going to be used to promote you! John told us how in the end they went for a ‘Hollywood Stars’ theme from the 50/60/70s. “We felt that it would be a fantastic way of showing off Sammy’s capabilities because if you can paint a realistic portrait,

you can airbrush anything.� We agree with you there John! The bus definitely shows off Sammy’s skills with the airbrush. After deciding on the theme for the bus, the team then had to find time to actually work on it. With a busy schedule with customer projects in the week, the T4 got left to late evenings and weekends where John spent endless hours prepping, repairing, priming and blocking the bus

to get it back in great condition ready for the paint. They went for the Mitsubishi Burnt Orange Peal colour paint which has been painted inside and

out and gives a really nice deep colour and looks great under the lighting for the photos. Once John had worked his magic on getting the paint spot-on, it was time to hand the bus over to Sammy, so she could have a go at working her magic, Airbrushing text and characters all over the van, giving it a unique style and finish. After

several more coats of Glasurit lacquer and many more hours spent polishing the van to perfection, the paint was finished! It was time to work on other external features, before the van was painted, the rear ‘Volkswagen’ panel from an old caddy had been cut out and installed on the bottom of the boot. To make the bus stand out it was decided to fit some chrome on the outside,

Like any custom paintjob it’s often hard and a big decision to decide on a theme for the vehicle, it’s even harder when it’s your own!

so the front grill, bull bars and side bars were all fitted along with a set of 18” BBS’s with polished lips. With the outside looking good it was time to pay some attention on the interior. It had already all been stripped out and painted in the Mitsubishi orange colour, they then decided to paint parts in a contrasting ‘mushroom’ colour which matched the leather Porsche tombstone seats in the front. The seats also had the plastic trims

colour-coded to match the exterior paint. The purpose of the bus was always to use it for work. It needed to be able to fit a bike in the back so Sammy and John decided to keep it fairly simple, but wanted it to still look smart. Simon Hancock (who works with them) is a bit of a dab hand at interiors, so he started to work on

the inside, carpeting the walls, rear doors and head lining. He made he sure he left some areas exposed to show off the orange paint, both to bring the colour inside but also to show the bus had been painted properly everywhere, inside and out! In order to keep plenty of space in the back, side-mounted leather seats were installed, which also slide further back to gain extra room for when a bike needs to go in. Up-rated stereo equipment was fitted with a Clarion touch screen DVD head unit with iPod control and up-rated speakers in the front doors and a Vibe sub in the back. You may think you have a busy schedule with attending different shows around the country but now the team at Born To Be Wild have got involved with four-wheeled vehicles as well as two wheels they

have even more shows to attend! This year they are aiming to attend Camper Jam and BusFest, before heading over to Germany in August to exhibit the bus and bike at Grefrath airbrush festival, then Kustom Kulture Blast Off in Spalding in September along with visiting smaller local shows as well as holding their own open day at Born To Be Wild! To see more work and build photos, check out

(or search for their Facebook page by searching ‘re-born to be wild’), where you will be able to see photos of another personal project they’re working on - a Passat which when they took hold of the keys it was in perfect condition, but now has been lowered on coilovers and is rolling on a set of AMG mono block rims. You may think that

doesn’t sound too bad, well Sammy has taken a DA sander to it and gone through the layers of paintwork on every panel to age it and has set about airbrushing faux rust and scratches, it looks awesome! Be sure to check it out.


DROPPED NOT SHOPPED Not for the fainthearted or amateur.. You need a lot of skill, patience and a certain element of insanity to take on the task of a body drop...


saw photos of this bus on the Internet, like I’m sure many of you have. It was a T2D demo bus for a while and they gave it an incredible transformation. I always thought it would be one of those vehicles that I would only ever see on the Internet, or perhaps one day if I was lucky, I may spot it at a show. When I found out the owner lived less than ten miles away and the bus had been there for over a year, I couldn’t believe it! It was time to set up a photo shoot and check out this awesome vehicle in person! I arrived at our location for the photo shoot early on Saturday morning and there was still a layering of snow left on the ground from a snow shower a couple of days before. As I was unloading my gear and set-

ting up, I heard the sound of metal crashing into the ground, I looked up, and there was Ian in his early bay scraping along the road. Ian jumped out of the bus grinning from ear to ear and there are no surprises as to why he was so happy - who wouldn’t be, owning a bus like that. Over the years Ian has owned a variety of different vehicles, anything from old-and-slow to fast-and-pres-

tigious vehicles including a few RS Turbos and Escort Cosworth’s (one of which was running 380bhp and another which he converted to rear-wheel drive that was running 523bhp!) Ian takes part in tarmac and gravel rallying, rage buggy track days and off-road racing but he told us that “I always go back to old rusty

so he took over the restoration and finished it off. His friends all had fast cars at the time, RS Turbos etc and made fun of his Cherry Beetle until they went down to RTTS with him. They drove through Newquay high street and people dropped down onto their knees and started praising them! Their views on Ian’s love for

The bus scrapes everywhere, driving around corners or roundabouts the front bumper gets buried into the ground every time it’s insane..

cars, Beetle’s, campers or ghai’s, anything air-cooled really.”

air-cooled vehicles changed from that day.

So where did this love for air-cooled vehicles come from?

Ian’s bus was originally a deluxe micro bus with a 1600cc twin port engine which was imported from the States. It was T2D’s demo vehicle for a while and Matt Balls worked on the bus giving it a 4” body drop. What is a body drop? Well, it’s exactly as it sounds; the body of the vehicle is dropped. The body is cut away from the chassis and then lowered down and welded back on to the chassis. This gives you an insanely slammed vehicle, but at the same time you have good ride quality and fairly good clearance. Whilst it was at T2D,

Ian’s grandfather owned an L-reg Beetle from new, back in the 70s when Ian was a teenager. Ian was always told that one day if it failed the MOT he would be given it, and at 17, Ian took ownership of his first VW. Unfortunately it was too far gone and eventually was broken down for parts. A year later Ian got his second Beetle; this was his girlfriend’s at the time. She had been restoring it but ran out of money

One of the over riders is hanging off on the front bumper, I could go and tighten it up but it all adds to the character of the bus

hydraulic suspension was installed. This means Ian can raise or lower the bus at a flick of a switch, which makes it even more practical. You may be thinking that you can drive along at standard height and then drop it once in the show ground. You could... but that’s not what Ian does. The bus gets dragged around all day long! Up front on the bus there are Porsche 944 hub’s with disc brakes and an 8” narrowed beam. Major front and rear chassis notches were needed to get the bus running how it is and the steering box had to be raised. Most of the panels are still original on the bus and so is the paintwork; the only areas that have been painted are around the sign writing where different logos have been painted during different ownership. Inside there is a full rock and roll bed and

It was an impulse buy, it’s stupidly low, ratty but solid underneath.. Perfection!

two buddy seats in the back with leather-affect trim and leopard print details. As far as audio and entertainment installs go, you have the sound of scraping metal to listen to or you can stick on a cassette in the Sanyo ghetto blaster propped up on the dash, with spare batteries in the glove box. Ian’s owned the bus for around a year now, as far as restoration and upkeep goes, “it’s faultless and tonnes of fun.” The only things he’s had to do is fill it up with fuel and collect the back bumper after ripping it off occasionally! So what’s next for Ian? Well, the bus is for sale for the right money and then Ian plans to get another splitty, but in the mean time perhaps some new wheels or a bigger engine and high ratio gearbox. Ian still has a top-of-the-range audio system from

one of his old Cosworth’s, so perhaps that could be installed, although personally I do like the character of the Sanyo on the dash. Ian tries to get to as many local shows or events as possible; later on in the year he will be at Bristol VolksFest & VanWest, whilst he also plans on attending Bug Jam at Santa Pod scraping around the campsite, you won’t miss him just follow the crowd...


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#1 Portfolio - Spring 2014