Well, what can we say – Richard Booth is a catch if we ever heard of one. Not only is he a fire fighter, but he also owns this beautiful 1965, 13 window deluxe! A winning combination surely! Though we should warn you ladies, he is already taken, sorry!
Richard has been the owner of the split since August 2012. He regretted selling his early 60 panel van and wanted to get back into splitscreen ownership, after owning a bay and a Ghia. Rich found this on thesamba. com, it was originally from Washington but was being sold out of LA. He had previously imported around 6/7 vehicles from the states so knew the score with phoning and getting the price down, knowing full well from the pictures it would require a load of panels. He used his local importers, Californian Connection, who he has always found to do a great job for him. It arrived a week before his wedding, so he had to sneakily go and collect it to move it to the workshop, as he was on wedding duties that week!
As soon as he arrived back from their honeymoon he made a start on the 11 month restoration. Working on the bus for 2/3 days a week around his shifts in the fire service, with a bit of help along the way from his friend Andy, and the paintwork was done by his friend Anthony. Both of whom he’d like to thank, not just for their hands on help, but for letting him take up half the workshop with boxes of parts everywhere!
Richard was inspired by the 60’s surf bus look when he restored split, wanting to keep it simple and plain. He chose to have it one colour all over, and picked the early colour of L31 dove blue. To achieve the final finish the underside had etch primer then 2 coats of dove blue 2pac and clear waxoil, the top had a dove blue base coat then lacquer to give a flat look. Not being a fan of deluxe trim on a single coloured bus, he smoothed out the trim holes. He also removed the towel rail and overiders from the bumpers and the front number plate to give it a clean, smooth look.
Richard has ran with this simple, clean look inside and out. He has had a Rusty Lee Rock n roll bed fitted, a solid oak floor, tongue and groove headlining with simple LED downlights, stained VW heritage panels for the doors and the curtains were made by Faye Simnett, from a fabric he spotted while on his travels, that had a Westfalia feel to them, but for a much smaller price tag! Rich upholstered the front seats himself, and got the rear ones done by a local boat building firm.
The bus has been lowered minimally at the moment,as Richard wanted to get it out on the road so he could start enjoying using it for a bit and work out any teething problems before he fiddled with it too much, but he has plans to take it down another 2-3 inches with some adjustable spring plates in the future. The engine is a stock 1600tp which he bought as scrap, but got it running within an hour! Though he did have fun three hours before the buses first MOT, when it decided to run on 3 cylinders. So he speedily took the engine out and found a loose head bolt. He tightened it up, and thankfully after that it ran sweet as a nut, but then ran out of fuel on way to test centre!
One of the things we like so much about this van is the fact that, as Rich put it himself, he doesn’t “… wrap it in cotton wool”. Rich and his wife enjoy wakeboarding and often use the van to pop the boards in and go off to the lake, they also use it to camp in and to go to shows. The bus is driven nearly every week, even if it is just a run out to the local pub on a weekend. Its look is unfussy and elegant, and it has been restored with a view to be used as it was intended and enjoyed, and what could be more perfect than that!?
Rich would like to give a shout out to his wife, Jenny, for putting up with constant parts turning up and never ending bus conversations, and also to The Vintage Bus Mafia, the collective Richard is involved with.