View Full Version : Vee dubs

12th Oct 2011, 21:13
I've just been watching a thing on the lantern about some guys doing up a VW Beetle. It's going to be a show standard car & the guy doing it up helpfully works at a garage & has all the gear, but he's spending thousands on the thing & you have to wonder if he'll see much of it back come sale time.

A few weeks ago, I found myself at one of these VW meetings at the seaside & there were hundreds of campers, vans, Beetles & other old VW's. A lot of them were average, but some were absolutely stunning and had clearly had thousands of pounds and hours lavished on them.

What makes people go to such lengths and why Volkswagens in particular? It must be the single biggest custom & restoration scene around.


Airborne Aircrew
12th Oct 2011, 21:22
You should come to Detroit in August for the Woodward Dream Cruise... More restored cars than you can shake a stick at. A million people turn up to watch. I avoid it like the plague...

12th Oct 2011, 22:37
It's not just VWs - almost every town has youngsters who spend money on 'customising' their cars (such as installing expensive sound systems) - money that can never be recovered.

It's a hobby, and some will go on to acquire a classic car that they will restore from bare-metal and even retrim the upholstery.

There are classic vehicle shows (and also custom car shows) where you will see examples of vehicles that have had small fortunes spent on restoring and/or modifying them, including trucks and buses.

It's what some people do - others spend their money on cigarettes and beer in pubs.

Captain Dart
12th Oct 2011, 23:19
The VW will always be 'Hitler's Revenge' to me!

12th Oct 2011, 23:21
My view is that this is an opportunity to reclaim some of their lost youth.

Hundreds of thousands of backpackers around the world had the times of their lives driving around foreign climes in a VW / Combi. Once you're married with kids you dream about those great days and want to go back, this is the only way it can be done.

Our first car, first date, first drive all left indelible memories and for some this is a way of reliving those times again and again. Money in these circumstances is no object. Resale value is not the point.

The sound of the engine, the smell of the vinyl is the point and the sole aim of the exercise. I will never understand it myself but I guess it comes down to "whatever floats your boat".

12th Oct 2011, 23:43
Cpt Dart writes:
The VW will always be 'Hitler's Revenge' to me! I wouldn't call any of the early (pre-1990) VWs revenge. They were actually pretty good vehicles if you could cope with them.

I fondly remember the 1973 Bus I had back in the early 1990s. It was fairly cherry - I put in a rebuilt transmission and had a local VW enthusiast build an engine for it.

In many respects it was a fantastic vehicle - rugged, sort of reliable but one must keep up the maintenance fanatically or one gets stranded.

But fast, no. Going up the hills in north and eastern Arizona was a process that required everyone's patience.

When trekking out for a weekend camping trip, I used to put one of those portable cig lighter powered TV/VCR combos up on a milk crate in the back, playing one of the movies we were taking along on the trip. People generally got a kick out of the idea.

The van also made more trips than I can count between Phoenix and Puerto Penasco, Mexico - one of my favorite old haunts.

Used to park it in the Sea of Cortez, up to the hubcaps in the gentle surf, and just sit there in with the barn door open with our feet in the sea watching the sun go down. Never got even close to getting stuck.

Meant to add this... I owned that vehicle many years too soon. It would be a perfect fit here with me now in Rehoboth Beach, DE. Sea level, low speed limits, always 6 to 8 people wanting to go to the same place at the same time...


13th Oct 2011, 05:50
What makes people go to such lengths and why Volkswagens in particular?

The basic platform, engine, running gear etc. was in production for a long time and parts are very easy to get. Also it is relatively simple to work on.

james ozzie
13th Oct 2011, 08:19
All car restorations are labours of love. You NEVER get back anything like what you spend on it, even costing your own time in at zero, although you kid yourself you are adding value to the project.

Moral is: buy a restored classic car for next to nothing that some poor soul has toiled for years over. And then have a perfectly usable car for a few years.

Been there, done that...

13th Oct 2011, 08:20
I wouldn't call any of the early (pre-1990) VWs revenge. They were actually pretty good vehicles if you could cope with them.

and of course there's the Mk1 GTI. I often see a Mk1 golf convertible on the roads, and it is in showroom condition and is to be honest a head turner.

it's also a constructive hobby, rather than spending time slouched in front of the TV some of these people are out in their garages and sheds rebuilding engines, gearboxes etc. and putting and keeping modern design engineering, not only on the road, but in fantastic condition.. good luck to them..

Triumph stag anyone ?

13th Oct 2011, 08:24
The VW will always be 'Hitler's Revenge' to me!

Being ex REME myself blame a certain Major Ivan Hirst who was also REME and his remit was to see if if was viable to ressurect the factory post war. Did a good job methinks!

13th Oct 2011, 08:25
The labour is the reward in itself for those who like this kind of thing I.e. me. I'm handy with most things & rebuilt my first car engine at 17. I never lost the bug.

To this day, I keep builders & mechanics in hair shirts wherever I can & usually only cave in if the only thing stopping me is getting hold of an unreasonable piece of equipment to carry on with a job - say a ten ton press to remove a wheel bearing that I may need once every ten years or so.

I'm actively looking for an old VW bus to restore at the moment. To me it's about occupying my hands with tools & ideas rather than with remote controls & tv guides.

Edit: SG read my mind as I was typing.

Lon More
13th Oct 2011, 09:01


Please can I have this for Christmas?

13th Oct 2011, 09:01
Major Ivan Hirst was a distant relative of mine I'm afraid.

Sorry folks.

Ancient Observer
13th Oct 2011, 11:15
When engines were simpler I would happily re-build, modify and generally muck about with them.
However, modern electronics make that much more difficult.
For me the downfall started with twin cams and weber 40 dcoes, which I could never get to balance.
i did once put a spare pair of webers on to a 1275 block/stage 3 head in a 1954 moggie. No speed improvement over twin 1 1/ 2s, and just about impossible to get to work efficiently.

Nowadays, it is electronic everything. When my pdf went on my golf diesel, I suggested that the garage just by-pass it as repair was so expensive.
I have no idea why the garage were so insulted. Man drove for 100 years without bloody pdfs.

Lon More
13th Oct 2011, 14:17
When engines were simpler I would happily re-build, modify and generally muck about with them

as did most of us here I think.

Main car now 5 years old. I've had almost no reason to open the bonnet in that period other than to put in screen cleaner. Everything is covered up and sealed.
In previous times the Owner's Manual was about 10 pages thick and contained essential details like spark plug gaps. This one's is about 3 inches thick, most of it dealing with the info displayed on the sat.nav screen - like actual tyre pressures - and that was introduced to simpify things.

13th Oct 2011, 14:28
This is to a good degree a matter of perception. If you undo the plastic cover, you still find cylinder heads, inlet manifolds, oil and air filters and all the stuff that has been needed on engines ever since ever since.

It's not as if they've been superceded by di-lithium impulse drives. Today I replaced the camshaft sensors on my BMW. One bolt, one connector, thirty minutes. Job done.

13th Oct 2011, 15:52
Wife's car, little Ford (the only vehicle I've ever owned in the past 20 years that needed spark plugs), origin 2003, passed it's very stringent government inspection technica today. Again. Never failed, never needs anything except plugs, filters and oil at service time. And gives 40 mpg.

Yes, I remember my old VW with some affection, but it wasn't that reliable. Sorry, I forgot the VW-KG and VW-transporter.

My old VWs, plural, and they, not it, weren't that reliable.

Usual German propaganda.

13th Oct 2011, 16:03
i never had you pegged as a heretic !


Had two Golfs, 16v MkII and the big bumper facelifted one. Great cars, absolutely superb, could trash it to an inch of it's life and it would happily sit there tick, ticking in the car park as it cooled down, then off again for more of the same... push it in the bends, oversteer, oversteer,, bit mor oversteer, lift the inside rear wheel, oversteer some more, lift foot, back it comes on line.

predictable handling, rugged, and quick (in it's day) and practical. no wonder the Mk1 and Mk2's are classics.

And if you want to do work on them, all very easy and little in the way electronics required for lifiting the sun visor. !

13th Oct 2011, 18:35
I'm told you can pay over 10k for a half decent early VW camper.

Seems a lot for a slow, noisy, cramped box on wheels.

Wouldnt give you 500 for one.

Worst rotbox I ever owned was a 1600TL fastback. Two years old and you could poke your finger through the bodywork.

Hitler's revenge? Just about sums them up :*

13th Oct 2011, 18:57
Gotta say, there's something quite romantic about seeing them lined up on Fistral...


Apologies, that one's in Safeway Car Park, Newquay, (it get's a bit confusing- there are at least 3 beaches in Newquay).

These two were parked at Fistr...


Must say, they always look tempting, but have to tackle the M6/M5/A30 at least 8 times a year, surfboard, brats, wife and Max in tow - a diesel Astra Estate doesn't have the kudos, but doesn't seem to overheat on the hills:)

13th Oct 2011, 19:45
a diesel Astra Estate doesn't have the kudos, but doesn't seem to overheat on the hillsStick an old 911 engine in the back. No imagination you youngsters.:)

13th Oct 2011, 19:58
In the back of an Astra?

That could be an interesting project...........

13th Oct 2011, 20:02
One used to have that very VW camper van Mr Ginger, only it was in a cream/white colour scheme. Bought to cruise the european backroads and out of the way places at a leisurely pace, it was a romantic dream......The reality was that it spent a lot of time resting in airport carparks across the continent and was let us say, 'moody'. It seemed to have a mind of it's own, worked best when more than 3 people were inside, worst when just the driver. With the arm out the window and puttering along at 60km/h life was good. Motorways and wind and hills and heat and cold added to the frustrations of owning it, but all in all I enjoyed our time together :)

Old VW's, just like Landrovers instill a pride and connection between vehicle and owner that few others seem to be able to do so. Perhaps it's because they are simple beasts and there's a part of us in them, rather than the modern day technologically superior offerings. Perhaps the renovation route is a way for the owner to integrate at a closer level than normal ? I went to a show a couple of years back at Santa Pod for VDubs and the sub-genre of 'Rats' was very interesting, at least visually.


Lon More
13th Oct 2011, 21:22
you still find cylinder heads, inlet manifolds, oil and air filters and all the stuff that has been needed on engines ever since ever since.plus so muc more that, if touched, would invalidate an extended warranty.
My previos car, Avantine, hadthe Nissan 350zx (?) engine. IIRC the spark plugs needed special spanners, there was one coil per cylinder. Special electronic kit needed to read out most of the data. I don't think the nose pulley even had timing marks on it.
I think my old Lotus Elan was the last vehicle I owned that I felt confident to do anything on. The Chevy C10, although from 1963 aswell, has modern Corvette engine management

Sir George Cayley
13th Oct 2011, 21:29
Classic car (or bike) restoration; if you don't get it you never will.

Just as I don't get Bowls, Bridge, Fishing, Classical Music, Opera, Patchwork Quilts and Glamour Photography.

OK I lied about the last one.

Turning the ignition key and hearing an engine you have brought back to life and then driving the resto car (or bike) it's in is simply heart warming.

Sir George Cayley

13th Oct 2011, 21:37
Warranties are a different question. The fundamentals are nonetheless the same as they ever were. I've maintained Audi TT's, BMW's & A couple of recent Fords with a basic toolkit.

Diagnostic software is readily available, there is a wealth of information available over the internet, almost all cars have fan sites & yet you still need a club hammer if you want to seperate a ball joint. A ball joint splitter also helps.

Like I said, it's perception, as well as attitude & will. Personally, I like the challenge & I'm yet to find a car that wasn't put together with nuts and bolts, rivets & screws.

13th Oct 2011, 22:00
Stick an old 911 engine in the back. No imagination you youngsters.

keep Max warm:p

14th Oct 2011, 19:44
Something quite photogenic about these things....(again Fistral)


14th Oct 2011, 20:02
We sold our '74 bay for 2500 about 15 years ago.

I had a sort of ritual with the thing. Every seven days I'd spend some time with it and every session began with removing the engine. Didn't matter what job I needed to do, it always needed the engine removing first.

Occasionally I get a hankering for the idea of a camper. Then I remember how I had to remove the engine every seven days and sanity returns.

I have a Triumph Stag now.

14th Oct 2011, 20:02
The appearance is a classic, helped by the utility of the interior.

My cousin has one of the original type II Kombi caravan that has been stored in his garage for at least twenty years. Now that he has retired he has had it 'serviced' and it's a runner again, although he has also bought a brand new current model transporter caravan that he is using to tour around to visit friends and family.

flying lid
14th Oct 2011, 20:13
VW's, love em and hate em.


Just spent today touching up the paint & polishing one of these. Bought it off a mate in 2004 for a grand. Just for a run around for self / wife, take some pressure off the family bus. Not a very nice looking or inspiring car, in fact it's a Seat Cordoba with VW badges on.

Trouble is (!!) its got a 1600cc 100BHP engine which is a cracker. It will fly, and do over 35mpg. Big boot & 5 seats. It's also reliable, apart from servicing & tyres etc it's only needed 2 wheel bearings and a starter motor in 7 years. Passes it's MOT with flying colours too.

Keep it for another year I supose (said this last year, year before etc)

Yes I had a tatty old Beetle, a 1302S (1600cc) back in 1979. Bought it off a mate for 300, sold it to another mate for 300, he sold it to another mate for 300, he did it up, new wings, running boards & respray. Sold it back to me for 500, I ran it for a couple of years and sold it to yet another mate for 500, he wrecked it (pillock !!).

VW's - Love em and hate em.


14th Oct 2011, 20:16
I have a Triumph Stag now

:} Nice bit of irony there :D


west lakes
14th Oct 2011, 20:48
I remember many years ago driving to Bristol airport with my father and one of his friends.
The task to remove the engine from a VW camper and take it back to Blackpool for repair after it packed in while they were on holiday!

14th Oct 2011, 20:50
gingernut - when I see that picture I think of all the thousands and thousands of razor blades it might have been by now. Definitely a case for euthanasia!

14th Oct 2011, 21:09
Oh the humanity!

They weren't unreliable per se...they were just of their time. I'm guessing that the detractors of these lovely old wagens owned at one time or another Allegros, Maxis or top of the pile, TR7's and are just looking on with bitter memory.:E

Of course nowadays, the scene is so developed that it's perfectly possible to build a vw flat four, air cooled, tinware clad engine that's far more reliable than anything emerging today from Wolfsburg. Probably.

14th Oct 2011, 21:28
the thing is that splitty (split screen) is what a 1966 plate !

there's not that many vehicles of that vintage in regular usage.. in the 1966 the UK had the ford anglia :hmm:, the US had the ford mustang v8

now there's an oldie i wouldnt mind having (the mustang v8, not the anglia, obviously) though personally i've always liked the 1969 Camaro SS


the whole VW scene just doesnt do it for me, but good luck to those who do (unless they own a surf board and try to do the whole california surfer dude thing in the UK)..

14th Oct 2011, 22:10
Owner's Manual

???? Wot's that ? My car ? a Red one.

I open the door, sit in it, turn the key, engage automatic gear shift to 'D', put foot on right hand pedal to go or larger pedal to stop.

( except when I forget to turn the headlights off after being, apparently, the only one to use them in heavy rain, when I then have to stand at the side of the thing and hopefully wave a set of jumper leads at other passing motorists - usually works, 'cept one or two mutter things like computers at me, and shake their heads )

Unfortunately it seems to need large amounts of money poured in liquid fashion down a tube in the back end. which lasts about a milli-second and results in embarrassing telephone calls from someone called a 'Bank Manager'.

14th Oct 2011, 22:32
:Dgingernut - when I see that picture I think of all the thousands and thousands of razor blades it might have been by now.:p

tee hee .....

Lon More
17th Oct 2011, 15:32
Thread drift, but still within the expanded VAG croup.

Has anyone had any experience with the Skoda Yeti? Daft name, but the spec looks good.

17th Oct 2011, 15:37
I seem to recall that Top Gear and JC (Clarkson, not Christ :p) were raving about the Skoda Yeti a while back. As to whether that's a good recommendation is anyones guess.


Lon More
17th Oct 2011, 17:20
I'd need a bit more than that. Did they put the Stig in it?

17th Oct 2011, 18:02
Skoda Yeti 2.0 TDI SE (2010) long-term test review | Road Testing Reviews | Car Magazine Online (http://www.carmagazine.co.uk/Drives/Search-Results/Long-term-tests/Skoda-Yeti-20-TDI-SE-2010-long-term-test-review/)

17th Oct 2011, 19:17
Apart from owning a 1978 Audi 100 5E for a few months, I've not had anything to do with cars form the VW group.

Last month though, Mechta Minor persuaded me to take him to Thruxton to see some motor racing. The classes which really inspired me were the ones for the Mk2 Golf GTIs and the VAG All-Comers race. Even Flying Lid's Vento could compete in the latter race. Here were cars which can be bought for a pittance (under 1K in many cases), being raced hard and in considerable numbers. It looked great fun and would love to have a go once my student days are over.

17th Oct 2011, 19:58
Who remembers the 400 Aley Mini Racer?

Fully-equipped with roll-over bar and all the necessary modifications for racing.


Lon More
17th Oct 2011, 21:10
thanks for the road test info. Looks interesting definitely a contender if my spine agrees.

Sir George Cayley
17th Oct 2011, 21:23
I did a 17.1 pass in a Beetle at Santa Pod. Priceless:ok:


17th Oct 2011, 22:37
Firstly, I have a great interest in "old" motor vehicles, be they 70's or 20's, and am involved in several events to this end.

Secondly, The VW Beetle/Panel Van whatever thing does nothing for me... I don't know why but I hate the sight of these things. Sorry.

G-CPTN, I am a Mini fan (suprise, suprise...) Aley Bars?

My garage* is currently occupied by a 1996 mini which had a 2003 shell up rebuild that has a 1440cc engine built by one Brian Slark. It won a national championship and other awards prior to breaking a crank...

* the garage is actually my mothers, she lives in the country and has lots of space.

Brian has now taken a step back from the business, his son unfortunately is more money than quality.

18th Oct 2011, 01:19
Well I certainly wish I had all the VW campers and Beetles I have owned back, number double figures and would be worth a mint today. Great vehicles and if you can't enjoy driving one then you are missing the point.

18th Oct 2011, 02:32
Those who have had any form of Beetle will know they are generally simple and can take a lot of punishment, particularly off-road; but they are bereft of all comfort, features and safety. My '63 model had a single seat belt running from shoulder to hip. The six volt windscreen wipers and washer served a purfunctory purpose only, you were far better off if you left them off. The electric choke never worked and England's own Prince of Darkness had a twin in Germany equally inept at auto-lighting design. Drive through water crossings with the heater tap on and you have an instant water cloud in the cabin.

Off-road was where they came into their own; they just seemed to plough on. In the mid 1980's, Australian driver Larry Perkins drove a 1964 Beetle in the Wynn's offroad safari. He was putting other heavily sponsored competitors to shame by leading the race before crashing out; though not before making the point that this vehicle can take a great deal of punishment. The Baja class wasn't created by accident.