Forum Friday: We Bought A Bus…

Volkswagen’s practical and fun bus models have long been cultural icons, but lately, they’re enjoying a real resurgence. Particularly, Westfalia conversions are demanding top dollar in places like southern California, where aging baby boomers are re-living their youths in these compact campers.

But then again, people have done that since the 50s, so there must be something to it. To find out, Zman86 picked up a genuine air-cooled 1972 Kombi Bus converted by a company called Dormer. As an Ontario resident, Zman avoided the high prices of the US market. But, busses demand a premium in Canada too, so it was off to British Columbia to find the right deal.

From One Icon to the Next

The story begins with the sale of a project ’57 Chevy, and while it was a drag to see the car go “unfinished,” Zman can be proud of the fact he got it up and running. The sale took four days, after which he made the trek to BC, had the van checked out by a mechanic and sent the sweet blue Dormer to Ontario by train.

In the initial post on the thread, you can get a good feel for the look of the vehicle. Zman did a great job of photographing the blue bus from all angles, and while it’s got some patina, it’s in perfect shape for a driver. With 50-plus years under its belt, the bus had some minor imperfections such as an oil leak, but nothing worth getting too worked up over.

The Joys of Bus Ownership

After doing battle with the first round of mechanical demons like fixing the oil leak and attending to a few solenoid issues, the Zman commenced with the plan of getting the bus out to see the world.

Despite its age, the blue bus appears to be a fairly trusty travel companion — if you can handle your side mirrors coming loose every now and again. It’s actually pretty trendy to buy busses and turn them into homes, and they’re not that expensive either. If this one had air conditioning, it’d be a great candidate. So what’s a five-hour road trip?

By the way, you may want to brush up on your Canadian geography if you plan on following Zman’s road trip adventures. There’s a lot of terra firma up there!

A Bus, Reborn

By the middle of the thread, the Dormer is looking happy as a clam on the road and has even found its way into a car show. In 2016, the bus took a winter break in preparation to have a thorough service. Zman showed off his wrenching skills with a full bearing service and fluid flush, installed a new distributor, dropped the transmission and serviced that, and had the engine fully rebuilt. That’s commitment!

With a new shifter, rebuilt engine and upgraded headers for good measure, the Dormer rejoined bus-kind at a Canadian campground crawling with vintage VWs. It looked like a family reunion, and according to Zman, the upgrades worked flawlessly on the highway.

We love this build. It’s creative, has character, and has introduced its builder to new places and friends. What’s your next project? Let us know in the comments below!

Check out the entire build and adventure thread here.