Welcome to wheels, Len! That’s a beautiful Type 2 you’ve got — but it isn’t the only iconic motor you’ve owned. Tell us about some of those old Fords of yours…
Well my first car was a Capri which I paid 30 Great British Pounds for (I was offered a BMW 3.0 CSI — but since that was 300 GBP and I couldn’t afford to insure it so didn’t get it) but that was the beginning of my love of beautiful cars.
My second was a Capri 1600 which I had to leave in the UK when I was posted to Germany with the RAF in the late Seventies. I returned home for vacation a year or so later to find my father had hand painted it gloss black with a paint brush! He very proudly told me it was his way of keeping the rust out… we all know that is impossible with a Capri!
Rust is what held most of them together! What did you get next?
An embarrassing bright green Triumph TR7 — it was ok but I didn’t keep it too long.
Then I ventured into the MG scene with a 1974 Midget 1275 which I knew needed a little work but when I started taking it apart it this was a turning point in my car restoration life. I was given an address of a guy in Lightwater, Surrey, who did some welding etc. He was not very mobile due to his age but his wife did all the welding and spraying. She didn’t have time to work on my car due to the ill health of her mother and husband but after a cup of tea she said I could use the facilities at their home which consisted of a rickety old four post lift, a pit and an Aladdin’s cave of tools. That cup of tea changed my life forever.
She taught me how to weld, body work and paint work. She used to make sausage sandwiches every lunch time, one for me and one for my dog. This lady, who is still super mobile and amazing, is still my friend.
I spent all my days off there restoring my Midget followed by a 1964 and 1967 MGB, 1968 MGBGT, Triumph Stag and a Jensen Interceptor. Some people will never learn!
Not at all, those are all awesome cars!
Actually, I’ve had several Interceptors over the years and sold my last one when I bought this Volkswagen Type 2.
Prior to this I had a 1974 Bay Window camper van fully fitted out with a bed, kitchen and pop top. It was amazing touring around UK and Europe with the kids, dog and all the headache that goes with it! It only ever let me down once when a valve pushrod snapped. It was an easy fix — all I had to do was to take out the spark plug and drive on three cylinders.
Great presence of mind. Tell us more about the Splittie.
I decided it was time for one but not just any old one, it had to be a 1966/67 so it’d be a 12V not 6V, painted blue and white with lots of shiny bits. I kept searching for one I could afford but it was proving hard to find. I watched one on eBay and missed the end of auction due to work but it didn’t sell so I contacted the guy in the US and asked him if I could buy it and we struck a deal. I did what we all know we should never ever do... buy a car off the internet from another country, unseen, untested and sent him money — but I had to have it!
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We can relate. What was it like in the metal?
It was as honest as the man I bought it from; well used but no surprises.
I had decided on a full restoration from the beginning so immediately took it apart and blasted it back to bare metal.
There was not too much metal to replace, just the usual stuff, cab floor and lower parts of body panels and dog legs. I overhauled the engine and steering and started getting it ready for paint which I did under the close supervision of a friend of mine and it came out quite well. Such crazy excitement even with just the primer as it takes on a whole new dimension when it’s all one colour even if it is boring grey. I painted it in the original colours — Sea Blue and Cumulus White and then it took a couple of weeks (and an overdraft) but it all came together.
Then it was off to get the MOT…
Yep, the actual registration test only took 15 minutes, but I was there for almost two hours talking with the testing station guy who served his apprenticeship at VW on Buses and Beetles.
Once I got the number plates on it, I drove everywhere — I was in a Split Screen Bus and I didn’t need a destination!
How did it get here then?
Almost eight years ago I was offered a job in Dubai which I accepted. I left the VW in storage in the UK and just drove it for the annual test each year. I realised it was a waste so shipped it here four years ago. Now I drive it all year round — it’s my daily driver, which is tough with no AC…
As all VW’s of that era, it keeps you on your toes; I once had the throttle cable snap and had to drive around 60km with the cable coming down the side and in through the window. I had to accelerate by pulling the cable with my left hand and changing gear with my right!
But, it’s amazing how people relate to it. They smile, point and wave. I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve seen taking pictures and selfies with it. It gets lots interest wherever we go and I like it. I’ve let it be used for a couple of weddings here and it’s been great.
I got involved with Dubai Air Cooled VDubs here and it is the best VW club I know of. We have coffees almost every Friday morning and there are lots of great cars and amazing people in the group.
I’ve driven it to Jabel Jais, Al Ain, Fujeirah and Abu Dhabi but as I kept it stock it still has the reduction boxes on the rear wheels so 85kph is about it as fast as it’ll go which can be quite painful!
Besides this, you own another very special VW…
That’s right, I have a 1952 Split Screen Beetle here currently under restoration. My plan is to complete it and drive it to the UK next year and leave it there for my eldest son. Then I’ll decide what project to start for his little brother.
As for this bus, I can’t ever see me parting with it.
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