Restoration Process of a 1975 T2 VW Kombi Baywindow
Ever wanted to know what was involved in restoring a vintage vehicle? Here’s our journey, beginning from August 2018 – month-by-month. If you have any questions – we’d be happy to help you out (although we are learning as we go), leave us a comment below.
If you are restoring a vintage vehicle you are doing so at your own discretion and risk. The information here is not a ‘how-to’ article, just a snapshot of our journey during particular months.
These are the first photos of the Kombi before we bought it. A bit of an old rusty heap. Although, when we inspected it we made sure there were only small patches of rust to cut out and weld, as much as we could. On the first inspection, it was impossible to see absolutely everything, nasty rust areas can be hidden.
We were lucky, we discovered when we got home there were only small areas of rust. The vehicle was towed back home, the Kombi’s engine worked but not the brakes.
Once home, we stripped out everything from inside, including the kitchen sink, cupboards and seats (we wanted to try and keep all the originals as much as possible). We gave it a thorough washdown. We spent sometime bleeding the brakes, which seemed to take for ages, myself in the driver’s seat taking instructions from my husband, “push down on the brakes slowly,” “are you pushing slowly?” The answer, “yeeeeeeees!”
We replaced the canvas on the pop-top roof, which was purchased through Volkstrim – who were extremely helpful and provided a great quality product! The pop-top roof itself needed some fibreglass repairs due to cracks and chips (the fibreglass was horrible to work with). We made sure we wore personal protective equipment (PPE) whenever advised to do so.
To remove surface rust we used a sand grinder. We then cut out deep rust areas, and welded pieces of metal replacements. Applied rust treatment, then sanded the area. Then applied body filler where needed, and sanded back the body filler. Etched and primed the exterior.
With the first applications of grey paint (primer) the Kombi started looking better already, not as scary looking anymore, and certainly not old or rusty looking. The next step – the exciting part, choosing the paint colour! We chose tropical (Fiat) turquoise for the body and off-white for the roof area. With no windows or headlights yet, we managed to take it for a really short drive in a no-traffic area. We were happy to see that the brakes worked (driving downhill), after much bleeding! The Kombi looked amazing on the road, even without headlights and windows!
The next stage was stripping and re-spraying the interior. Complete paint removal, then applying rust treatment where required. We added rust inhibitive primer, and then we added a top coat of colour, which was an original VW Lotus White. During the process, we had to remove the dashboard, due to rust. We removed the rust, painted it, kept it! And we welded new metal to replace the rusted sections on the door.
A couple of before shots
All our windows are now in! With a few handy pieces of equipment around – helped to prevent blistering fingers and hands. More hard going than what we thought.
Gluing, stapling, sewing (material for back seat), more painting – mandala theme, and installing assembling the rock ‘n’ roll bed, this was hard, but it’s done. We upholstered the back seat and panels (some slight bubbles in the panels). It’s not perfect, but we will correct it, modify it as we go, we just want it on the road! We must say a big ‘THANK YOU’ to the online Kombi Club Forum, we needed some advice on the rock ‘n’ roll bed, and other bits and pieces, without their help, this journey would have been much more difficult, or perhaps not completed at all!
A few weeks behind schedule due to an electrical fault in the distributor, but we have made it for the Kombi blue slip, we excitedly leave our Kombi behind for a list of corrections we’ll probably need to make! But we made it there without breaking down.18th January: The Kombi passed the test, just :-)! Our adventures begin! Can’t believe we did this in 5 months! There’s a whole lot more we can do, such as installing solar panels etc, but this is a work in progress. We are now on the road.
The whole engine is taken out, heads, pistons and cylinders are replaced. We hoped that we would remember how to put it all back in.
We’ve changed the interiors and added a bit more colour by changing the panelling on the doors and glove box. Bought some MDF board from Bunnings, and used spray glue to attach the material for the panelling. The most exciting edition is our solar panel (and battery) and having our own electricity generated. We are off the grid!
We now have a 40L fridge which sits neatly between both the driver’s seat and passenger’s seat. And we can also charge our phones. We have just completed a 1-month warm-up road trip to test everything out (which we recorded on Facebook and Instagram). We had no breakdowns, and the solar panel generated electricity the whole time during our travels. We placed the battery and all its connections to the left of the outside/inside cupboard sliding doors. Our tiny house was very comfortable. Our trip was a success.
Keep in touch!