We love getting our hands dirty. When you see us at shows in our air-cooled VW’s you can be sure that 95% of the work done on them has been by our own hands. What if we couldn’t though? What if the job was too big or time just wasn’t on our side? What then?
One of the biggest problems we face when owning old cars is who to trust with them. I rarely let other people sit in my cars let alone do a restoration or re-spray! If you are in need of someone to trust then we know just the guy. His name is Jon Hancock. With some air-cooled VW’s fetching silly prices these days you need to know your car is in a good pair of hands.
65 Deluxe looks like a great company. What is it you do and where are you based?
65 Deluxe is basically an extension of my hobby which has got out of hand. We are restorers of air-cooled VW’s primarily, however we have done bodywork and paint on later T25 and T4 vehicles. We do modification and maintenance of mechanicals too as well as servicing and ongoing care for people. We are based in Westbury, Wiltshire.
From the images we can see you seem to do early VW’s. What do you specialise in?
We really love working on early cars, there is simplicity to them and a real satisfaction from working on something so old. There is also a massive sense of satisfaction getting something back together that if it was a Ferrari, would probably be scrapped. I’m not afraid to take on serious projects, either for myself or for customers. I’m also happy working on Bays and later bugs as well. We have a few bays in at the moment as well as a 1303 and a final edition Beetle – all in for full restoration. As long as the customer has a passion and a vision of what they want, I can make that happen
How long have you been established?
I set up about 5 years ago as a part time business running alongside a full time job. About 3 years ago I made the decision to make it full time This was more of a lifestyle choice as I was disillusioned with the day to day stresses of corporate life. I now enjoy life much more and get to do what I love very day. If I have a day off I miss it and want to go to the workshop. Sad isn’t it?
How many people work with you and who do you have ties with?
I work full time (6 or 7 days). I have a prep and painter guy (Chris) as well as a couple of guys who do a day or 2 a week. Finding people who have a passion to do the best work they can on a day-to-day basis is really hard – to most it’s just a job and that’s not what I’m after. It may be my business but it’s also my hobby still. I don’t really have any ties with anyone on a professional level, I have trade accounts as you would expect but no real tie-ins – I’m happy to recommend the people doing a good job, have a good product. Rusty Lee beds for example, I have a good group of contacts and will send people in the right direction if it’s something I don’t or can’t do.
Can people just come and visit you?
Yes, no problem. I’m happy for people to just pop over and have a cuppa – I would always advise they ring first to check we are about – no good someone coming in if we are painting in the booth at the time. There are always quite a few cars in, in various stages of restoration so people can see what we do as well as have a look at what we have around, there is normally something interesting lurking somewhere if you are into VW’s.
What projects have you got on the go at the moment?
As we have such a big workshop we have the ability to have lots of stuff on the go at once, catering for most budgets. Not everyone has 3k for a job, but they may have 300 a month over a 10 month period. This we can accommodate. Currently we have 15 window split, 11 window split, 4 x bays, 52 zwitter, 1300 beetle, 1303 beetle, last edition beetle, Volksrod, Type 25, 1200 beetle and a friends MG Sprite . As well as my projects.
What is your favourite project you’ve ever done?
I guess my favourite is Gareth Hamnetts 21 window. This is now having its final fit up and will be amazing when done. I did the metal restoration, then it went to Midland Paint Works and is now being fitted up elsewhere. It’s a 66 lotus white samba and is just going to be amazing when it hits the streets/scene.
You’re obviously a VW nut. What do you own yourself and what have you had in the past?
Joe, its too many. My first VW was a GT beetle when I was 17 (long time ago) and I’ve had pretty much everything since – Split bus, bay, t25 t4, Split beetle, small window beetle, 67, 72 beetles, Type 3 fastback, Type 4 (412). Easier to say I’ve not had a ghia, notch, 1302 or 1303. Currently I own a couple of projects- 1953 Ambulance, 1964 21 window, I have also got a 911 project and 928’s, My daily driver is a T4 caravelle. I am generally a car nut, I have also had a really nice 924, patina’d 1948 chevy stepside – oh and I forgot my 59 Karmann cabriolet and a mk1 caddy, Gti and a couple of Mk1 Cabs!
Do you ever venture into other cars/genres?
I just love cars Joe. Doesn’t have to be a VW for me to get exited about it. I also run Autobahn Exiles Facebook page as a bit of fun. Just posting up cars for people to appreciate. I’m happy to work on other cars as long as it’s interesting and the owner has a passion for it . Doesn’t have to be expensive to be cool. Look at all the “stanced” 80s Japanese stuff out there.
Have you ever built a show car? What are the most important things to think about when doing so?
I used to show my 924, it’s still around and still one of the nicest on that scene (google Racer 86 924). I guess that Gareths samba will win a few awards and be featured in the usual mags etc, however I try to work to the same ethic all the time. Do the job the best you can. I try to treat each part of the job as a project – if you are doing the metal then treat each little piece as a project and get that right before you move on. Having a touch of OCD helps I guess!!
Top 3 most important tools in your garage?
Welder, Big compressor, Hammer and dollys.
Are you apart of any clubs or regular meets?
I try to attend the Wilts VW meets every month. They meet in Lacock, just down the road. Im a member of SBS as well.
Where can people see your work?
I try to show most of my work on Facebook, it allows customers to keep updated on their cars as well as showing what we are doing. Obviously customers take there cars to shows etc, but I’m not generally a media whore.
What is your favourite show to go to?
My favourite show of the year – I have a few.
1 Volksworld – mainly as a season opener, see all the new cars but more importantly catch up with friends from around the world, have some nice food and a few drinks in good company.
Bus fest – I am always amazed at how many people are into this scene and how welcoming it is to anyone and everyone – 1000s of people gathered for one reason.
3 DTA End of Season Meet – just amazing chilled out stupidness with a top group of people and some amazing cars that make a big effort for a gathering of just a few hours.
Best thing about the VW scene?
Friends/people . Every show you go to you end up making new friends, not based on anything other than a liking for the same vehicles.
Worst thing about the VW scene?
Money. I wonder how long a scene can survive when some vehicles are now commanding 100k. There are some scary numbers out there and it shows no sign of
stopping. I can remember when we used to scrap splits because no one wanted them – Oh how times have changed!!
What are you loving about the most recent crop of show cars that have been released recently?
The attention to detail is getting really good. Every inch of a car is treated like it was in the direct eyeline of the viewer. I’m also liking the use of slightly different cars – Ned Faux Type 4 for example. Cars are made by the choice of wheel and I love rare unusual wheels. My vehicles will not be on rims you see everyday. Stance is all about the owner – I love a stock vehicle as much as a slammed one , but it has to be done right.Taking the top layer off the road when you are just driving along, well I’m too old for that. My Samba is being built with Full Hydraulics so I can get the best of both worlds , and still walk when I get there. I’m a big fan of fully restored vehicles as well and OG paint in any form. Not too keen on the “take a grinder to the bonnet
of your MK3 golf estate and call it Patina” look though!
Where can you see the scene going in the net few years?
Really not sure. I can see a growing number of water-cooled cars getting serious restoration. A surge in Type 25 interest as theyare the only real value out there
in a bus. Beetles making a big comeback. Not sure if it will go more stock or custom. I just hope prices don’t put people off getting into it all.
What do you have on your toast?
Im old skool – “we like hot butter on our breakfast toast” Rappers Delight – Sugar Hill Gang!
What’s your favourite VW of all time?
I’m really not sure – most influential is the Street machine car in the 80’s – like so many we all read street machine and custom car – we couldn’t afford a 34 3 window (still can’t) or a lead sled. However the building of the red Beetle (at Volksworld 2014) showed something we could afford and was available over here – that and the influence of Keith Sueme at Custom car did it for me . I was hooked. My favourite car of all time is Hector Bonillo’s original DKP 67 – for me it is the ultimate cal looker. Always the bridesmaid to Greg Aronsens Cal Looker we all know from the same era, however just like in real life, the bridesmaid is ofter sexier than the bride!
Huge thanks to Jon for taking part and being such a good sport. Also massive thank you to Henry Powell for taking these amazing photographs. Since this article was done Jon has bought and sold many cars and now owns a stunning Porsche 356 which you will be able to see on the Air Monkeys stand at the 2016 Volksworld Show in April.