Just Kam­pers In­surance re­cently over­hauled a 1977 Bay West­falia Cam­per that had come to their at­ten­tion as an un­fin­ished project

Classics Monthly - - Reader Resto Westfalia Camper - WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY PAUL KNIGHT

Last year, Just Kam­pers In­surance ran a com­pe­ti­tion to win a Kar­mann Ghia cabriolet, which went down a storm hence, when it came to pick­ing a ve­hi­cle to over­haul and give away in 2018, the JK team cer­tainly had their work cut out for them! Mark reynolds called to­gether his staff to dis­cuss some op­tions and, whilst chat­ting, it seemed that one of the sales team, alex nole, had just the kind of ve­hi­cle they were look­ing for in the shape on an un­fin­ished Bay win­dow Cam­per project.

Like so many JK em­ploy­ees, alex is a pretty se­ri­ous VW fan and al­ways has a project of some kind on the go. He ex­plained, “This West­falia Cam­per was a project I’d started a while back, but just hadn’t had the time to com­plete, as I was work­ing on other VWs at the same time”. and so, sell­ing the project on to his em­ployer suited alex as it would slim down his fleet of projects, and it was per­fect for JK too as they wouldn’t have to waste months chas­ing up leads, plus they knew ex­actly what would be re­quired to com­plete the over­haul.

It seems the project had ini­tially turned up via a chance con­ver­sa­tion with a cus­tomer. as alex ex­plained: “The cus­tomer men­tioned that he was look­ing to sell a Bay win­dow project, which had been im­ported from Ger­many some years ear­lier”. He con­tin­ued; “it sounded like a de­cent Bus, hence I went to take a look and ended up buy­ing it and driv­ing it home that day’. The Cam­per was pretty much com­plete and, best of all, it was rock solid un­der­neath, how­ever the up­per body was in need of restora­tion work, as it was both dented and rusty (in all the usual places).

The ve­hi­cle came with an MoT and was run­ning and driv­ing, but it was clear that it wasn’t ex­actly ‘good to go’, hence alex de­cided to tackle the ob­vi­ous body is­sues first, which started with the re­place­ment of a rear cor­ner, bat­tery tray and the mud­flap panel. next, alex tack­led the outer sill on the non-slid­ing door side of the body be­fore re­plac­ing the slid­ing door with a good, used panel. He said: ‘There was still some way to go, but that’s as far as I’d got be­fore Mark bought the Cam­per from me”. But that wasn’t to be the last time alex worked on the Bus – far from it! Mark be­came what is prob­a­bly best de­scribed as the ‘project man­ager’, as Mark asked him to con­tinue with the over­haul, al­beit now with the as­sis­tance of the team at JK work­shops. Of course, this also meant that alex not only had a skilled team and a fully equipped work­shop at his dis­posal, but also ac­cess to the JK stores (i.e. all the parts re­quired to com­plete the job!), hence things moved along quite quickly.

Be­fore long, the other sill had been re­placed and re­pairs had been made to the lower front sec­tion, the off­side rear quar­ter (lower sec­tion) and the B-pil­lars, too. Closer in­spec­tion re­vealed that the front steps and wheel arches had al­ready been re­placed at some point in the past, so the JK team moved

straight on to the front panel. ap­par­ently, the old Westy had been fit­ted with a spare wheel car­rier in the past, which was not just ugly, but had also twisted and dam­aged the front panel. The ob­vi­ous solution was to re­place the en­tire panel, hence alex grabbed the re­quired sheet metal from the stores and set about fix­ing the nose.

With the side win­dows re­moved, the JK team moved on to fix some rust around the win­dow aper­tures, the worst of which be­ing the lower sec­tion of one rear win­dow frame, which re­quired a sec­tion of metal from a donor Bus to be grafted in place.

alex con­tin­ued, “For­tu­nately, the cab doors were in good shape, so we stripped those – along with the rest of the body – so that we could be­gin to pre­pare the body for paint”.

With the met­al­work re­pairs now com­plete, the stripped body was handed to Sylvester Coach­works where it was re­painted in a cus­tom-mixed teal green hue. “This was orig­i­nally a Westy Ber­lin, how­ever, but it seems a pre­vi­ous owner didn’t like the fac­tory green, hence it had been re­painted to a high stan­dard in the teal colour you see here”, ex­plained alex’. as this had been a com­pre­hen­sive colour change (i.e. in­cor­po­rat­ing the in­te­rior and en­gine bay etc.), the JK team de­cided to re­paint the ex­te­rior in the same colour, as this would save a lot of time... plus it looked good against the white Westy pop-top.

Speak­ing of the pop-top, this was re­moved from the Cam­per and treated to some TLC while the body was at the paintshop. The fi­bre­glass top sec­tions were painted white while the in­side was cov­ered with some fresh ‘stretchy car­pet’ ma­te­rial, which suits the theme per­fectly. When it came to re­fit­ting the roof, a fresh can­vas was added and as you can see, it now looks as good as new.

When it came to re­fit­ting the body, alex de­cided to re­place the orig­i­nal (and some­what ugly) dou­ble-glazed side win­dows with reg­u­lar glass us­ing fresh rub­bers and seals from the JK stores. In fact, the stores were raided for many other trim pieces, seals and parts re­quired to build this body back up to ‘as new’ con­di­tion.

alex ex­plained, ‘re­gard­ing the in­te­rior, the de­ci­sion was made to re­tain as much of the orig­i­nal West­falia charm as pos­si­ble, hence the wood­work, fit­tings and seats are pretty much ex­actly as they were when I picked the Cam­per up’. How­ever, the floor­ing has been re­placed and more re­cently, the faded front seat cov­ers were swapped for top-qual­ity re­place­ments in the orig­i­nal Westy plaid ma­te­rial (the seat cov­ers were changed shortly af­ter our pho­to­shoot).

Mov­ing be­neath the Cam­per, alex over­hauled the brakes and fit­ted new flex­i­ble hoses, ca­bles and dampers be­fore equip­ping the gear link­age with fresh bushes and joints through­out. The van now stops on a dime and the once-sloppy gear change is now as tight as the day it left the fac­tory, thereby mak­ing this Westy real treat to drive.

Fin­ish­ing off the rolling stock is a new set of 14-in steel wheels (from the JK stores), which have been painted and fit­ted with new white­wall ra­di­als and fresh chrome hub­caps.

This left just the en­gine to tackle. “as the Westy was run­ning when I’d col­lected it, we de­cided to re­move it, clean things up and check it all over be­fore treat­ing it to a full ser­vice and some fresh an­cil­lar­ies”, added an ob­voiusly very pleased alex. With re­painted tin­ware, a new car­bu­ret­tor and a com­plete ex­haust and heat ex­changer kit

fit­ted, the en­gine was re­fit­ted to the van and it was soon time to take it for an MoT in­spec­tion prior to dis­play­ing the ve­hi­cle at some VW events. How­ever, fol­low­ing a few is­sues on the test drive, the Westy was soon back in the work­shop. as alex summed up later: “De­spite our best ef­forts, it soon be­came clear that the en­gine wasn’t as good as we’d hoped and the Bay has been fit­ted with a brand new 1600c long block en­gine’. In­ci­den­tally, this isn’t just some re­con­di­tioned mo­tor we’re talk­ing about, it’s one of the ‘Preser­va­tion en­gines’ that JK stock, which in­cludes a new crank­case, crank­shaft, com­plete cylin­der heads… That’s right, this is essen­tially a fac­tory-fresh, zero-mile power plant that’s been fit­ted to this great look­ing Van.

The end re­sult of all this hard is a great look­ing Cam­per, which has been over­hauled to a very high stan­dard – al­though the Westy’s gas and wa­ter sys­tems haven’t been re­stored and the in­te­rior is largely as it was when alex col­lected the Van. This means that the Bay’s new owner will now be busy stamp­ing their mark on this su­perbly re­stored Van in time for some se­ri­ous camp­ing ad­ven­tures when the long sunny days make a wel­come re­turn.

The stan­dard of fin­ish on this re­built West­falia Cam­per can only be de­scribed as ex­cel­lent.

This isn't your nor­mal T2 en­gine – its a more pow­er­ful Just Kam­per's 1600 long stock unit and pro­duces a de­cent amount of ex­tra grunt. Rais­ing the West­falia pop top roof pro­vides a de­cent amount of ex­tra head­room in the liv­ing area

One job that took a while to ac­com­plish was re­fur­bish­ing the glass fi­bre pop top, which was also lined with a 'stretchy car­pet' ma­te­rial to help in­su­late the in­te­rior.

The left-hand drive con­fig­u­ra­tion makes this the per­fect van to take on an ex­tended Euro­pean tour chas­ing the sun. Equip­ment lev­els are gen­er­ous and the rear bench seat folds down to make a com­fort­able dou­ble bed.

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