Tell me Thursday: My dad’s 1967 VW Microbus!

22 Apr

Yes, that is a hippie wagon in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  To be more specific, that is my dad’s 1967 split window Dormobile/Westfalia VW camper Microbus sitting in front of one of the most famous world landmarks in the spring of 1969.

Why am I showing you this retrospective photo into my father’s past?  Because after years of nagging, begging, and conspiring, I now have possession of this vehicle, and am in the process of having it restored to original.
A highly condensed history of “the Bus”
My dad bought the Bus while in the Army, stationed in Germany; he had it delivered on his 21st birthday because you had to be 21 to own a vehicle in Germany.  During the next 2 years of his military tour, he toured Europe all the way from Spain to Finland, England to Italy. 
After returning home (the Army shipped the Bus back to the U.S.), my dad found his true love (my mom), married her by the end of 1970. They drove off on their honeymoon in — you guessed it — the Bus.  Over the next few years, their little family grew from 2 to 5, and the Bus was the vehicle of choice for many vacations.   However, by the beginning of the 1980’s, the family had outgrown the Bus for vacations, and she began her “long sleep” in the pole barn in Ohio.  She fell into disrepair.  Rust set in.
What is a penny worth?
After I reached adulthood, I started asking my father, “So, what are you planning to do with the Bus?”  I got vague answers about the repairs it needed.   
So, I started asking, “How about you give it to me?  I’ll fix it up!”  It’s not even that I got a No. I got blank stares of disbelief.  You have to understand: my dad does not part with ANYTHING.  Pack rat does not begin to explain his attachment to his stuff.
This non-conversation continued for about 15 years.  Occasionally my mom or my brother would chime in “You really should let her have it.  Then you could drive it again!”
Then, one day, we were over at my parents for dinner.  I had brought my dad some additions to one of his collections (he’s a pack rat — remember?): a whole bag of smashed pennies. 
I was about to hand over the stash to my dad, when my mother quipped, “You shouldn’t just GIVE him those.”  
I quickly threw out, “Dad!  I’ll trade you the Bus for this bag of smashed pennies!” 
As usual, I got a non-response and a weird glance from my dad.  In fact, he left the room.  Ah, well, I thought. 
A few minutes later, he returned — and handed me KEYS.  To the BUS! 
Restoration begins
The bus now sits at State of Mind Customs — a restoration company in Oxford, Michigan that specializes in VWs.  Did you see the weird VW commercials where Heidi Klum is talking to a vintage Bug?  Yeah — he did those.  They are in the final stages of the body work — paint is going on soon.  We are hoping to have the Bus completed by mid-summer, but these projects are never on a solid timeline.  It’s an expensive process, but fortunately VW buses are rare birds that are truely worth something as vintage vehicles, so all the work is going to be well-spent.
Curious about the details of restoration?  I’ve put up a facebook fan page for The Bus that has lots of pictures showing the process.

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