Restoring a 1972 Deluxe VW Kombi Microbus - Sprout
This is Sprout. A Kombi that started life as a 9 seater deluxe microbus with full headlining and interior trims. We have just finished restoring her for a client in Brisbane - who saw it for the first time on completion.
I was initially taken by the fact that she was a complete, original Kombi that had not been mucked around with, resprayed or bogged in the usual places. A very straight body with no dents, but I do remember the seller mentioned, "its just got a bit of surface rust". The original 1600 engine was missing, but thankfully We had just finished rebuilding a nice 2L engine that was looking for a home. I knew that there were some sections that needed some TLC, but overall I thought she was a good starter.
At this stage, I can introduce Craig, who was looking around for his dream Kombi, but couldn't quite decide whether to buy an existing project or to start from scratch and get a design that met his exact requirements. Craig just wanted a nice green and white kombi that he could use to take the family camping and fit his surfboards into. It needed to be able to sleep 3 people in comfort, and have seating for 5 people.
Despite the fact that Craig was in Brisbane, and we are 800km away in Newcastle, I though we could still provide a project brief, and keep Craig up to date with the usual photo diary that we create for every Kombi that we restore. A bit risky considering the first opportunity that Craig would get to see his new Kombi would be the day he flew down to take delivery - and then drive it home. We introduced Craig to some of our past clients, and within a couple of weeks a budget was agreed to, and we started work.
As we began to dismantle and label the working parts, we noticed that there were a few areas that needed a cut and repair:
· A minor section on the rear roof
· The back floor was severely compromised where it met the front seats
· The left and right door steps needed repairing
· The drivers side door had completely disintegrated below knee high
· The tailgate was badly rusted
· Some rust in the front wheel arches
· Just a little surface rust on the front nose cone
· and there seemed to be some rust hidden behind that front bumper
Thats not much - is it?
OK, YES IT IS!
The scary stuff was hidden behind that front bumper. As we cut and ground our way back to the chassis, it became obvious we would need a new inner front skin + an outer front skin. Thankfully these pieces of steel are readily available, and soon the welder was hard at work.
As we worked our way up the front nose cone it became obvious that the windscreen channel had also rotted away , as well as a few areas near the headlights so more welding was needed. Surface rust my ass!
Inside the Kombi, the dashboard was badly rusted, so a new dash was purchased & fitted. We decided to keep the original deluxe doorcards as they were in such good condition. However that beautiful, original headlining was water damaged around the window line, and there was little we could do to remove the brown stain. Another judgement call, and sadly we had to rip it all out – the headlining, the sound deadening mats, and all of that bloody glue! The roof supports and interior were completely resprayed, and a nice marine trim was refitted to the ceiling. At the end of the day, no surfboard fin will ever damage that finish.
We also sourced an ADR Rock n Roll bed from Kustom Kombis on the Gold Coast. These are a safe way of providing a nice comfortable full width bed that converts into a solid 3 seater. The kick panel was designed to fold down so that someone sleeping on the floor might have some more leg room. It depends on your engineer, but we always fit the seatbelt lifter brackets on the sidewall of the Kombi – this ensure the belts are above shoulder height.
As for the undercarriage, we started by giving the fuel tank a full steam clean, and a gurney underneath and in the engine bay. The black tar that seals the welds and framework was falling away and rotten, so this was replaced with a new sealant and the signal green 2Pak was applied over the top. She was now ready to receive our 2L engine and gearbox.
Up front we fitted new ball joints on the left and right, while also fitting some later model brake callipers to the 72 front end.The brakes should have been easy – but then we discovered that a previous owner had put what looked like engine oil in the brake system. After some serious head scratching we ended up flushing the entire brake system – twice.
The electrics had us baffled as well. What was previously a fully functional system, started to short circuit, and then fail as we had bumped a few wires during the refit. Our trusty indicator stalk gave up the ghost and the starter motor wouldn’t kick in. If I could time travel back to 1972 and grab the engineers by their neckties, I would be asking them to put an inline fuse between the indicators and the indicator stalk!!
After 3 months of hard work, things started to come together. Craig was flying down from Brisbane with his family to drive Sprout home, and we still had work to do. I felt like I was stuck in an episode of Masterchef or something, because it went right down to the line. The road trials were going well but we still had work to do on those brakes…
2 days later and I received the following text from Craig, “1 pull over from the cops. 1 thumbs up from a road worker. 2 peace signs from passing Kombis. Plenty of looks!... Great drive back, even if a little slow. Thanks for enabling our dream to be realised.” Phew!
Join our Facebook Page to receive exclusive updates & discounts!
Recent blog posts
- Sunny - 1975 VW Kombi Microbus by Righteous Kombis
- How much is a Kombi Worth? The value of a pre-purchase inspection.
- How do I Turn a 2 Seater VW Kombi into a 5 Seater
- Transforming a beatup 1974 VW Microbus into Ariel, the turquoise mermaid
- Restoring a 1972 Deluxe VW Kombi Microbus - Sprout
- How to Restore an 1971 Ex Army VW Kombi Lowlight - Earl
- A Day on the Green with Orange Crush
- Do VW Kombis really catch fire and why?
- Orange Crush - A 79 Camper restoration
- Ruby - The 1971 Ex Army VW Kombi Lowlight