CLASSIC CAR REVIEW – 1979 VW Bay window camper – THE SUNFLOWER
2 aka, the sunflower? Yes folks! This is a 1979 volkswagen type, 2 t2 bay window bus, and it has been in the same ownership for the last 20 years and is kind of prolific in irish vw, air cooled circles. So um ive seen it around quite a bit im friends with the owner. As well so uh yeah finally dropped by, i was changing the brake light switch for him, so i couldnt couldnt shy away from the opportunity to take it for a spin. This, like most vw buses, has a back story. You cant have a volkswagen van that doesnt have some backstory, but this is a really interesting one. Basically, this van has been in the family, been in my friends family for the last 20 years. Essentially, what happened was my friends: wifes uncle died and he um. The the intention was is that he was over in london. The family were in london and they wanted to bring a headstone back to ireland to commemorate him and to put in mount jerome cemetery. Now the uh uncles son was an avid vw. Enthusiast and ive been chasing this particular vw bus in london for quite some time and had eventually the owner of it, had eventually capitulated and decided to sell it so that uh so so did the cousin bought it. Okay, now he needed to transport a headstone over to ireland, so he used this particular bus to do that in steps darren the current owner because he met the cousin at hollyhead, uh, well off the boat from hollyhead to dublin port and had uh, and this van Was with him now it was originally orange and white.
It was a box of to paraphrase and uh needed a lot of work, but it was uh, mechanically sound and was driving so darren expressed a particular interest in the van and said i would absolutely love that bus now darren expressed an interest in indias boss to His uh, his wifes cousin, mike and mike, turned around and said its yours darren. If you want it – and he said, hed been looking for this particular bus for ages for darren and ive been looking for an excuse to bring it over to ireland and to give it to him, and darren obviously said i cant afford it. Im not gon na im, not gon na, buy it off and he said, buy nothing its free. You can have it so he handed him the keys out the window and gave him this van, who the hell ever gets given a volkswagen van. It just doesnt happen. Call me a little bit jealous at this point, so darren led mike back up to his house um in his uh 91 volkswagen gulf, which is uh coincidental and because theres one parked behind us at the moment the 91 volkswagen golf. So he led him back up to the house, and darren was shaking, as you can imagine. Hes just been given a volkswagen bus and arrives back at the house to cheers of the family who are bearing in mind that breathing, because theyre theyre bereaved, theyve just lost their um theyve just lost their uncle and their father and uh.
You know theres so theres a loss there, but um in amongst that the the uh, the fact that darren had gotten this van and from the family and had been given it and they were all working towards it and working towards getting it over to him. You have to say, you have to understand it: darren has had volkswagen fans in his family, his whole life and has always wanted another one. You know so, 20 years later, this van has undergone two restorations, its on its been painted a couple of times, and it hasnt been very much personalized, as you can see, walking around it its an absolute thing of beauty, but to be honest with you, its one Of those stories its well worth and its well worth relaying because of the fact that thats, the personal part behind what we like about them about classic volkswagens, the metal is one part of it. You know the tinkering, the the bits that you see me doing, uh on the channel and all that sort of thing is only one part of it, the emotion that goes into it and the uh, the love that goes into it and the friendships that happened through The whole volkswagen club scene, its whats, kept me interested in it and its you know. I mean myself and darren are friends. Now we wouldnt have met if it wasnt for vws ive met lots of other friends as well through it.
You know ive gone through my fair share of volkswagens as well, and you know it. It is its really thats the important part of it. You know i mean i dont, i dont think theres any other um car brand out there thats the same. You know it just yeah theyre, just communities in that, but theyre just not the same, and that is the thing about air cooled. Vws and classic vws just keeps people coming back, and you know i mean the story of this particular van is just its phenomenal Music. Music, okay, theres, nothing for it and to get out and go for a drive. I am really excited about this. I have to say its like driving a priceless family early because really thats what it is. So i cant say: im not a little bit kind of nervous, but ive driven bays before Music drive a bay its one of those type of machines. You go with the flow you you just youre along for the ride, if youre racing it youre driving the wrong vehicle, thats thats, the god, honest truth, but what i love about them is the driving position is just fantastic. You kind of just lean on the steering wheel. You just slouch forward just going along. You know, listening to your music and kind of enjoying the scenery, the engines down down the back, so the engines, quiet and theyre smooth. You know torquey, but not particularly fast this.
This particular uh engine is a 1600. It would originally have been a 2000 cc, but they were quite um. Quite an expensive engine to rebuild and the 1600 1600 twin port is arguably a better engine in many respects as well. Plus you can do a lot more with them, um, so thats why this ones had a 1600 transplanted um visibility is uh generally very good, albeit a little compromised in this stickers on the window. It has to be said, but its all part of its charm, but uh. You know if youre, if youre, if youre expecting to be able to go quietly into tonight or kind of uh, just um sort of go, go anywhere and conspicuously forget about it. This one is um its going to turn heads its going to make people smile its going to brighten up peoples day. I absolutely love them. You know its been a while thatll. Be reverse sorry darren! Now you just you take your time. This one has brake servo its got discs on the front they dont they didnt all have that so the brakes arent always as sharp as this and they dont have power. Steering the steering can be quite weird on them. It shouldnt be too wayward. You know i mean a lot of people uh criticize the steering for being worse than it. Actually, uh really should be. You know, theres lots of body. Roll suspension is bouncy its um comfortable, very, very comfortable, but, as i said, you know its not a rally car.
They were designed for hauling loads of blocks and building equipment and stuff, like that. You have to remember theyre, a commercial vehicle that was designed in the 60s, based on a design that was originally from the 50s, so theres a theres a lot to keep in mind there, but this is a really really well driving example. You know i mean its uh as i was saying uh. The reason it was over with me is because i was doing a little job on it for darren. I was just replacing a brake light, switch common failure point on them by the way. If you have one of these and you find your brake lights, arent working change, your brake light switch its usually that i i would have put money on a bin that had been the case in this instance, and i i was right, its a simple job. Music. All this is doing is making me want another day and thats. The last thing i need right now is another project, because you can never you never get one that doesnt at least have something to be done: Music prices for these upwards of 20 grand. You know you will get cheaper ones. It depends really on how much youre willing to take on you know. But if youre looking to get a well sort of one, you can just jump into and drive over to 20 grand ive seen them going for 30 grand and as for split screen van money, mental money, you know the reality is, though, is that i suppose the Thing is the trade off in a sense.
Is myself my wife, as you are probably aware, we have a t25. The trade off in style is that the t25 is a bigger vehicle and it has a diesel engine and stuff like that and is a little bit more practical, arguably speaking, a split screen van for example, especially in its stock form, especially if it has a 1200 Cc: engine beautiful, looking van and at the pinnacle of the style, but very small inside and a very difficult van to live with as a daily. If you were that way, inclined if you want the 70s style and you want the um, if you want the 70s style and you want the the the look but you dont want like you, dont want to make the split screen level of commitment and youre not Willing to trade off as much style for the t25 bay window. Bus is for you and, of course, its a personal preference thing as well. I love the look of a bay. You know i mean and who doesnt to be honest with you, but here we are now, like i mean, were going to get up to about 50 miles an hour im not going to push it beyond that. Yeah itll do more thats fifth gear now, but like look at 50 miles an hour, not a bottle to it, maybe the speedos a little a little off, i think, were only doing about 50. Now its an indicated, 60 theres no way were doing 60 now.
Ah, its an absolute thing of beauty, folks, it really is youll – have sore cheek muscles from smiling or grinning just when youre driving it. So many people tell me time and time again and every vw owner hears it all the time its like. Oh id love a campervan, oh id love to get one jesus ive, always its on my bucket list of cars, and you have to go out and spend 30 grand at a ford focus and they wont spend 20 grand on one of these. Well, i know whatll give me more smiles. If you want a camper van and its your dream, car go and get one folks just go and do it. You know theyre one of those cars or fans that people should have at least once in their life. If theyre a real car enthusiast right up there with minis as well, i always think minnie is the same. A car enthusiast should have a mini at least once in her life. You know ive driven a few bays and um. Generally speaking, the handling can be a little bit in the wayward side of things, but one thing i will say about this: one: its its really together its really tight, okay, its been lowered a little bit, which will certainly help with the body roll and handling, and That kind of thing, but it is its its planted on the road you know i mean it, doesnt, feel like im, im going to be thrown off into a ditch at any moment and or get get into the wrong lane.
Just because of the fact that there was a stiff breeze on the motorway, its uh and some bays can be like that. To be honest with you, usually its because bushings and ball joints or the steering box are worn out or accumu an accumulation of a lot of different things. But you know im driving along a back road here and you know one hand on the steering wheel just guiding it along and the engines doing its thing, its pulling really nicely. You know Music, the brakes pull you up nicely as well. Here were on a rhonda twistys here now you know, i suppose uh one of the questions people might ask is: what are these uh vans like to live with? Well, they do need maintenance. You do have to look after them if youre going to expect to treat this the same as a modern nissan micra forget about it, okay, its not the vehicle for you, you do have to service them more regularly. You do have to be able to use a spanner, maybe you know well, you dont have to be able to get into the kind of in depth stuff, but it certainly helps if you can do some basic service items and stuff like that. You know and id be a little bit mechanic mechanically sympathetic, i think, is the word i would use um. So if something is sounding different feels different or whatever there probably is something wrong with it, and you need to be attuned to that and a lot of the time breakdowns are caused by people just leaving something gold that actually needed to be fixed about a thousand Miles before and the other thing is theyre a little heavy on juice.
You know youre talking kind of 20 25 miles per gallon, thats all youre getting out of one of these, so you know you do have to be kind of aware of that. Not all of them have brake servos as well, so you know having a been not been too afraid to give give the brake pedal. A shove definitely helps um theyre, not as big as people make out, and they they really only have the footprint of say, a um, a large family saloon or station wagon kind of thing. You know i mean they really dont theyre, not much bigger. Just dont. Forget you dont have a bonnet, you dont, you know theres, not much overhang, theres, not its, not really wide. It. Doesnt have big wide kind of shoulders. Like many modern cars, have it its uh. You know the panels arent as uh the the the doors arent as thick that kind of stuff, so we make use of the space one of the nice things as well, actually, which is handy about these and t25 shared, is because the engines in the back – and You want to pull out at a junction like this Music youre come on baby and youre right up the front, so you dont have to stick your bonnet out before you look out. As i said folks, i hear it all the time. People say no id love a camper van and all this go and get one case in point.
What an absolutely beautiful van – and i just feel i feel so privileged to have gotten the opportunity to drive it. It really really was a treat for me now. I have to say, and thank you so much to darren, for letting me uh. Let me get it out on the road and uh getting a spin of it. Its um yeah thats gon na its gon na take a while to wipe this smile off my face ill.