1955 Westfalia Camper Restoration Story

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What does it cost to do a project like this?

Would I sell it?
I've had several people ask me if I wanted to sell this bus. At first I resisted, but then I remembered I still have the '54 to restore some day. I'm easily into this bus for $10k in just parts and materials - no labor factored in at all. If you're serious about buying, I'm serious about selling. Still needs front floors, one frame piece, and new roof wood inside. Go ahead, find another one anywhere near as complete.
Here's the details:
  • Rare European model with semaphores
  • California YOM (Year of Manufacture) license plates with correct '55 registration tag
  • One of the earliest westies surviving
  • One of the first hatch models (I don't know of another '54 or '55 westy with a hatch)
  • New transmission (tunnel case with adapter)
  • New clutch, motor mounts
  • New reduction box bearings
  • New front wheel bearings
  • New brakes on all four corners
  • Strong 36hp motor - cruise @ 100+KPH easily
  • New shocks
  • New tires
  • Brand new wiring harness, completely rewired.
  • 6 volt electricals - bright lights due to new harness
  • New paint
  • New curtains
  • All new rubber
  • New battery
  • New center pivot bushing
  • NOS semaphores
  • Sloped roof rack
  • Rebuilt hatch hinges
  • Blasted and painted 15" wheels
  • KM, clear-needle speedo
  • NOS European symmetrical (aka 'barndoor') headlights
  • European taillights (integrated reflector) - no separate reflector
  • Correct tent in super-duper nice shape
  • Complete westy interior, with cot, beds, cabinets, curtains - only missing one cabinet.
  • Took 1st place at Sacramento Bug-O-Rama 44, Type 2 Class - the first time it was ever shown since completed
  • NOS Blaupunkt Frankfurt 3-band radio, although it doen't work that well.
  • Correct front seat covers by Lenny Copp of West Coast Classic VW Resto
  • Complete crank start setup. Crank starts easily.
  • Rare westy camp stove to go with it
  • I'll even throw in a July 1955 Popular Mechanics magazine with the westy on the cover
  • '55 owners manual, in English
  • Single long-side curtain rod - HTF
  • Needs
  • New front floors (parts weren't available at the time)
  • One cabinet in the back
  • One outrigger
  • "Claws" that hold ebrake cable to backing plate
  • New roof wood - Complete wood set is $600 from West Coast Classics
  • Chronology

    9/4/99 - First show! 2000 Bug-O-Rama 44, took First Place in Type2 Class!

    9/1/99 - Assembly complete!

    9/1/99 - Interior...

    9/1/99 - Next to my friend Tom Mink's '66 Karmann Ghia (I painted his car, too)

    8/29/99 - Almost assembled!

    6/20/99 - Paint!

    6/18/99 - Bodywork!

    6/10/99 - Correct taillights!

    6/2/99 - The tent

    3/29/99 - New curtains and front seat covers!

    2/17/99 - Here's my new seat/bed material

    2/17/99 - Re-working the interior panels


    2/10/99 - Next step, registration, YOM plates, and insurance! An hour-and-half wait at DMV finally pays off. We're street legal! Oh, and a mangled back bumper!

    12/19/98 - Today I moved the westy into the garage and put it up on the dollies. I bought all new brake hardware today, including shoes, wheel cylinders, brake lines, and master cylinder. I also bought new reduction box bearings and a new shift coupler. My goal is to have the car on the road in a couple weeks.
    Here are some pix of the inside, particularly the components I have questions about

    10/4/98 - I just bought this 1955 Westfalia flip-top camper, one of the older ones around. More as the story unfolds!

    Some more pix of it in my backyard.

    Here it is in the field where it sat since 1982


    chassis: -20-124438
    body: 121312

    Condition: fairly straight, light surface rust in a few spots on the body. Holes in the battery area, front floors pretty bad, cargo area has a couple soft spots. The bummer is that it didn't have to be this bad: if he'd kept the windows and doors shut, and not piled so much crap in it, the cargo floor could have been pristine! There was a bunch of paper-type stuff piled in the front of the cargo area, which mulched the floors. There isn't anything but surface rust on the rockers and 3-piece (aka barndoor) doglegs. Oh the temptation to take them for the '54! The nose has a minor ! in it, which was previously poorly fixed. Completeness:

    Hacks: Westy stuff: Cool features: Extras: Problems:

    What am I going to do with it? I have no idea. I can't afford two simulateous restos. I think I'll just let it sit for a while, maybe do a little cleanup hear and there, and think about it. I could get it running pretty easily, although it will need a tranny first. I have an extra set of bubble taillights, so I could be rockin' and rollin' in no time!
    This bus is actually in much better shape than my '56 was when I bought it!