Without a doubt, modding your camper has to be a matter of personal taste. Many years back, even before I had laid spanner to nut (or something like that) I scoured several places looking for inspiration on my project. The main resources were:
- Shows -never underestimate the ideas you can get from other owners/modders
- Magazines – old and new, the best ideas end up in here
- Photos that I took
With the advent of the internet, it is easier to find inspiration but you still need a degree of motivation which can only come from seeing these machines in the flesh.
I often find it easier to watch a video and pause it, looking at key points in another modder’s work. I don’t copy if the idea is unique, instead taking notes and then simply trying to put my own twist on it.
Have a look at this video. It’s mostly made of static photos but when you stitch them all together and stream them one after another, the creative juices start flowing:
Of course, sharing a beer with someone while discussing the finer points of lowering the suspension by an inch is always a good thing and is to be encouraged!
Don’t underestimate how much support you need from family and friends. After all, these projects can take years to complete and many sacrifices have to be made. Your labour is a labour of love, just make sure you prioritise who you give the bigger love to. And for each bruised knuckle there is often a bit of family time going to waste. Plan your project around your home life, not the other way round or else you will always be playing “catch-up” with your loved ones.
The killer feature
A friend of mine, Terry, has a 1973 camper which looks perfectly standard but has one show-stopping feature. It took him 2 years to build this feature in and now is the major talking point when he goes to rallies and shows. To stand out from the crowd you need a ‘draw’ and that can be anything from a gullwing door to a modified roofline. Done properly and carefully, this will increase the value of your vehicle and give it the edge over others.
Read the manual
Read up on how others do it so you avoid the pitfalls that they already had. One great book which I refer people to is “How to Modify Volkswagen Bus Suspension, Brakes and Chassis for High Performance“. A lengthy title but a manual which really does give you good knowledge of the workings of all the major components. Upgrading the engine and forgetting the brakes and suspension is often catastrophic so it’s money well spent.
Here’s the VW Beetle chassis tuning book which I own too (present from the kids) and find it an equally good read. Finally, on the ever-bending bookshelf is my guide on How to restore a VW bus which is truly insightful and I often make reference to this book.
I’m currently extending this article when time (and my VW project) allows but have been asked for it by quite a few people so here it is. If you want to link to it please do but don’t copy the content.