1971 VW Bus Restoration.

This little mini-site documents the 'restoration' of my 1971 VW camper. I put restoration in quotes because that's not exactly what i'm doing. The bus is a daily driver - [more like weekly, since i don't drive much, but the point is that it's my only car]. I want this bus to last for at least another 10 years. So, the main priority is to prevent any rust from spreading and to keep the engine running well. It's not a true restoration in that i'm not trying to keep everything original, i just want to keep it from falling apart on me.

Let's start with the purchase of the bus. I live in Boston, MA, where rust is a real problem, and its unlikey that you'll find a bus with a decent body around here. So, I took my vacation time in 1999 to go to Arizona to find a bus that was rust-free, or at least close to rust-free. What i found was that there wasn't much for sale out there in june, and that phoenix should just be abandoned during the summer because it's just way too hot there. it's an utterly dismal part of the world in the summer. anyway, i wound up with a 1971 Westfalia that has the pop-top from a '74-'79 camper. It spent the first part of its life in Southern California, then it was sold to someone in Arizona, where it lived for quite a while, through several owners. It had an engine rebuild 36,000 miles before i bought it, and has very little rust - none structural.

I needed to do a bit of work to it before coming home. namely, the tires were shot and the front brake pads and rotors needed to be replaced. After being thoroughly screwed by the Big-O tire store in Prescott Valley, Arizona, it was in a safe enough state to drive 2500 miles home. The only rusted areas that i could find on it were under the windshield and in the back below the poptop's rear-end. As you'll see, i found some more, but it's not life-threatening.

Since i plan to have the bus painted at some point soon, i figure these spots aren't so bad. besides, the engine is in great shape and was well maintained, which was important, because this had to get me back to boston in a week.

So, that's the history of how i got the bus. Now onto the restoration. I looked into getting it painted, which turns out to be fairly expensive because I plan to have it stripped to bare metal, then primed and painted from the ground up. remember, the point is to make this thing last. So, since it's fall and getting cold, and i don't have the cash on hand to do the work immediately, i decided that the best thing to do is to put the paint job off until spring, and concentrate on the interior. so let's start there.

A quick note about this site - it does use javascript to display the images in a separate window. If you have javascript turned off, you can open the large images by clicking on the word "open" below each thumbnail image. you'll see what i mean when you start...

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