‘Westy’ is a 1971 Westfalia camper. This era of camper is termed the ‘Bay Window’ bus (also known as a ‘transporter’), from the redesign of the front windshield from a flat plate glass to a more rounded shape. Westy was previously owned by my friend Conley Myers, who had largely disassembled the camper in a rented garage in preparation for a renovation. However, he was about to lose the garage and sold me the bus, and all its pieces.
And I do mean pieces. The shell was in good shape, and most of the fixtures were included, even some that he had sourced for his own planned restoration. The camper had the full retinue of furniture, a working sink and sleeping area. The original engine was problematic, so we replaced with a reconditioned long block from Bug CIty (Berlin, CT). Westfalias had an interesting take on the interior. Rather than any sort of fabric or plastic headliner, they were finished in blond 1/8″ Baltic Birch plywood. Conley had the foresight to save the original roached plywood, which made for an effective cutting template. I located a lumberyard in California that still manufactured the product. I’ve always been good at woodworking and this part of the refinishing process was fun and rewarding.
The ‘pop-top’ was rebuilt and new fabric tenting was purchased. The although the pop-top was fiberglass, the tenting was secured via staples sunk into oak runners on the inside of the shell. This oak must have been the hardest wood I’ve ever worked with as no stapler could penetrate it. Eventually one of the VW Forums had a thread that recommended a ‘stapler on steroids’ that could do the job.
Driving Westy was fun, although you do have pause to reflect that there is precious little between you and a front end collision. This prompts some folks to bolt the spare tire to the front of the bus as a means of protection.
Westy was finished two-tone, which although common in the earlier transporters, is not ‘historical’ for the Bay Window series of transporters. However many people do it anyway, because it looks so cool and retro. Westy was finished professionally by a company in Danbury, the lower part in ‘Ceylon Beige’, the upper in ‘Pearl White’.
I drove Westry around for about a year. However as this was done before KdF, I did not really have the storage facilities for keeping the bus long-term. I eventually sold the bus to a nice kid who wanted to drive around the country in the time left before he shipped out to Afghanistan. I hope he enjoyed driving Westy as much as I enjoyed rebuilding her.