For this edition of Member’s Motor, we look at Nigel Came’s Late Bay Window as he shares some stories of his early ownership.
My Late Bay T2 Camper (DET 710V) is ‘Ferrari Mio Ferrari’ (Ferrari My Ferrari); this is a word play on ‘Ferrari La Ferrari’ (Ferrari The Ferrari) a £2m hyper car.
The following may sound like a tale of woe but:
- Whilst there is a big lesson to learn when it comes to a restoration project, ‘don’t be led by the heart but approach with extreme caution’!
- I am the proud owner of an almost new (?) 41.5 year old T2 bay and over the last year, my first year running it, I have had a lot of fun & pleasure using it and a lot of compliments made about it.
Back in the summer of 2018 I had a retirement job working as an onsite driver at the BCA Blackbushe car auctions. Every now and again an unusual vehicle (not an ex-company car or van) turns up for auction, this T2 Bay camper being one of them; from what I could see it was rusty in all the right places! For some while I had been thinking about getting a campervan for my motorsport marshalling trips and from the moment I first saw it, I could see how I wanted it to look once restored; a big mistake!?
The first week going through the auction it did not sell getting nowhere near its reserve of £10K. The second week, the van was up for sale again on Thursday, I told everybody at work that I was not going to put in a bid for it. But on the Wednesday morning I could not help myself and I had to put a bid in. I put in what I thought was a low bid, relative to the reserve, but close to the price offered the previous week. At the end of the day, on Thursday, I found out that for £7k I was the owner of DET 710V.
My initial plan was to restore the van myself. A neighbour was restoring a split screen van and had all the relevant equipment and offered to help me. [As an aside his van is another story in itself, he bought it from the estate of an acrimonious divorce and the wife had attacked every body panel with an axe!] So, I bought the Haynes VW Bay Transporter Restoration manual (written by Fletcher Gillet) and having read the introduction I knew I was in trouble! I had also discovered a local VW specialist and decided to take the van to them for a restoration estimate. Based on their experience, from restoring vans in similar condition, the owner gave me a pre strip estimate of £20 to £30K. This was within my budget range so in July 2018 I left the van with them.
This VW specialist is a very successful and busy business, there are lots of air-cooled VW’s and early Porsches on site at any one time, and it took just under a year for my van to reach to top of the queue and the work began in June 2019. From then on it was like walking down a slippery slope and I describe the experience of being like ‘peeling the rings off an onion’; the more you exposed the more that need restoring! After a further 18 months, progress being delayed by COVID, 2000 mhrs of labour (plus parts and VAT) I collected my ‘Ferrari Mio Ferrari’ in November 2020. She looked fantastic, the VW specialist had done an excellent job, and it looked exactly as I had envisaged it back in the summer of 2018.
I knew I could expect some teething problems with a fully restored van but did not expect, and I was more than a little disappointed, the first one to occur on the drive home. The steering was almost uncontrollable; to say it was vague and sticky was an understatement. After a couple of short local drives and an exchange of emails, with the VW specialists, I took the van back to them in December 2020. Again, the work was delayed due to COVID but I collected the van in February 2021; with a new steering box and anti-roll bar fitted, the steering was fixed.
My next problem occurred a week later when I took the van to a tyre fitter to get the wheel tracking/alignment sorted; the VW specialist did not have the laser equipment. Firstly, as the van has been lowered, their equipment did not fit and on driving away after a few hundred yards I lost all drive! I was pushed to a safe place and called the VW specialists, the owner said it sounded like a gearbox issue; once again I was more than a little disappointed as the gearbox had been refurbished as part of the restoration. The van was recovered back to the VW specialist later that day. Fortunately, the loss of drive was not a gearbox issue but was due to the drive shaft bolts working loose! I collected the van in March and it has run like a dream ever since (touch wood) and it has not been back to the VW specialist again.
My marshalling season runs from March to November and during the past 2021 season I have used the camper most weekends covering around 3000 miles visiting race circuits around the country. This year I am planning to go even further afield and drive it to the Spa circuit, in Belgium, and marshal there.
Whilst I will never fully recover from the trauma and expense of the restoration ‘Ferrari Mio Ferrari’ is everything that I wanted for my weekends away marshalling and I am a very proud member of the VW T2 Owners Club. PS: my wife calls the camper ‘my 5* plus hotel’.