Member’s motor – Gill Burgess’ 1968 Early Bay Claude

Gill bought the bus in 2015, after a holiday
with a friend where they rented a VW T2. It was
a modern Brazilian model, but they were both
bitten by the bug and it was a camper that she
had admired for many years from afar.
After months searching the internet and
auction sites, she spotted this old light blue
van on vwcampercrazy, liked the fact that it
was pretty original and had a look about it that
gave a lasting impression on her. Gill was living
in London, so had arranged to see a couple of
vans that seemed OK. Meanwhile, she noticed
that Claude was listed on eBay. She certainly
didn’t want to do an online bid for a bus she
hadn’t seen and had bought a book on what
to look for when buying an old van, which
was invaluable. Gill noticed that Claude hadn’t
sold for his reserve on eBay, so contacted the
owner and asked if she could view it.
Claude is a 1968 Westfalia (with a SO62 interior)
Kombi. A LHD, he remained in Germany for
most of his life, before being imported by the
previous owner around 12 years ago. He has
had no modifications and so is as far as Gill can
tell, completely stock. That is part of the charm
that attracted her to him. The only change
from standard is that he was repainted in
Guinea Blau to replace the original Savannah
Beige. “It isn’t a complete paint job and the bus
is still beige inside, but it’s a nice and bright
shade of blue, although not totally original to
the period, it makes him look quite chirpy” Gill
told us.
With the SO62 comes the turret top which, are
more often seen on late Westfalia Splits. This
was an one year only design from the transition
from the Split to the Bay. Unfortunately the
kitchen elements had been stored in a garden
shed for many years and had rotted, but there
were some salvageable items such as the
Rock’n’Roll bed and Formica swivel table. The
back ‘head banger’ overhead locker was huge
and not ideal, as it blocked out the rear view of
the van, especially being LHD. The front bench
seat configuration was in good condition but
the upholstery was very tired as was most of
the trim.
Gill bought the bus as a solid example, but
planned to upgrade his interior to something
more contemporary and comfortable for
camping. Gill set about this by firstly stripping
out the inside as much as possible before
taking him to the Camper Shak, where they
helped her come up with a custom design
that kept the dark Westy style wood, in a layout
that nods to the old SO62, but with everything Gill needed.

Gill also had white headlining put
in with cool blue mood lighting and then had
all the interior panels trimmed to match the
freshly upholstered front seats.

Gill bought some material and had VW Camper
Curtains make them into curtains to add to
the custom interior look and as a last finishing
touch, installed some Mad Matz flooring and
cab mats which really finish him off.

Gill enjoys that Claude is mostly standard and
plans to keep him as original as she can, with
the straight forward engineering that seems to
always work.
As for the rest of Claude, he is maintained as
is with a standard 1600 single port engine. Gill
says she finds him pretty slow, but finds it quite
liberating to find the roads off the beaten track
to avoid any fast traffic, for Gill, her travels are
all about enjoying the journey in a vintage bus
and not having to rush anywhere.
Some of her adventures include a trip to her
first festival at Big Bang and some coastal trips
to Ireland and Isle of Wight. Gill always looks
forward to the summer so that her journey
with Claude can continue.
Don’t forget, if you want your pride and joy
exhibited on the front cover of the Club
magazine and a feature inside; send us some
information about your van, memories and
pictures. Your van could be on the cover of the
next issue!

Don’t forget that we are a club for all types of
VW Transporter Van/Bus and would love to see
some Splits, T25’s, T4’s, T5’s and even T6’s too, it
isn’t just about the T2 Bay!.

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About Nick Gillott

Website Manager and General Committee member of the Owners Club. Owner of Eric the Viking (converted panel van with Viking roof) undergoing complete restoration. Tinkerer to Poppy the camper van (1972 Crossover dormobile).