Before & After VW Restoration
We found our Bus on Craigslist and drove to Sacramento to see it. We hadn’t seen a hightop before but loved it right away. There was so much space we could stand up in it but Wandxr needed some major love. Dents, rust, and spray paint surrounded the outside. It was also leaking oil.
Over the years and many owners it had, our sweet camper looked neglected and tired like a hiker after a backpacking trip. We spent a year and a half pouring love and sweat into it to get it ready for the road. We dreamed of someday restoring a classic car and building a van for off-the-grid living. So we did both. A vintage VW Bus is the only car we agreed to live in but neither of us had experience working on cars or with manual labor. We realized soon that we were in over our heads but we had to finish what we started.
Body & Paint
The Craigslist ad warned that the paint job didn’t look as nice in person as it did in the photos.
We were surprised to see how bad it was. It looked like it was spray painted by amateurs circa 1980. The windows were sealed tight with chunks of paint and silicone. 5 bottles of paint stripper and days of scraping with steel wool I got rid of the residue.
Finding someone to paint it was another problem. It was overpriced or would take too long. When we found someone at a reasonable price, it took 6 weeks longer than expected. The bus was so beat up with dents the body shop joked the only place that didn’t need repair was the ashtray.
3 months later our Bus looked new from the outside. We installed German seals with chrome on the windows, new lights covers, and a chrome VW emblem. We still had major work to do on the inside.
Cab & Steering Wheel
The front seats were destroyed. There wasn’t any door panels and we needed vice grips to roll down the windows. The existing headliner was hanging down and most of the bus was covered in dirt.
The finished work shows custom upholstered door panels and seats that we made with the help of a seamstress. We installed black and chrome finishing and a new stereo. It has a vintage look with an auxiliary cord and USB plug-in. We also added the essential dream catcher.
Bed and Trunk
When we bought the bus there was an old Westfalia bed in it missing a cushion but we slept on it anyway. It was like sleeping on the bare ground. The new rock’n roll bed we installed turns from a spacious sofa into a cozy bed. We built the cushion ourselves and added a layer of memory foam.
Ceiling & Cabinets
We removed the existing ceiling and replaced it with bamboo and chrome trimming for a beachy look. For the cabinets we used 1/2″ plywood and did the measurements and building ourselves. More detailed description on tools and methods used to build our campervan see restoration article coming soon.
For the rear top cabinet we created an arch on the bottom for support instead of the original flat wood design to leave more headspace below. We have plenty of storage with the hightop I couldn’t imagine living in a van without one.
The floor was one of the ugliest parts of the van. It was full of glue and dirt and needed to be cleaned well before we could install a new one. We spent days using a drill and wire buffer wheel to prepare it.
We used a laminate wood floor that’s safe for indoor/outdoor use. It’s waterproof and temperature resistance.