I’ve finally gone and done it. I’ve been hankering after a camper for a while now, and whilst I’d have loved a split, it just wasn’t a viable option. I spent hours browsing the forums, much to my other half’s chagrin, and it’s now become a reality. Quite a big reality as it happens, because I have no idea how the storage side of things is going to work! Yet again, John at Beetle People has been an absolute godsend, because I’m not sure I’d have bought it had it not been for him! But I have, and it’s awesome – I just can’t wait to get out and about in it! It’ll need a damn good clean first though……..

The ’71 tintop was advertised on both The Early Bay Forum and Volkszone, and looked pretty honest, despite a fairly ropey paint job. In comparison to alot of other buses out there it seemed reasonably priced, and relatively close being in Fleetwood. I wasn’t going to view it on my own though – if it was a bug, I’d be pretty confident in spotting any potential problems but a bus was another matter alotgether so I got on the phone to John to see if he could join me on my trip to the Lancashire coast. I was lucky – his wife was working that weekend so he was free – although his services wouldn’t be!

The Saturday we went over was a beautiful clear day, and the Pennines looked amazing with a light covering of snow. I really didn’t know what to expect, and I was really trying not to get my hopes up in case it turned out to be an absolute rotter. Paul, the guy selling the bus, was working that day but had agreed to come to work in the bus so we could view it. He was a really nice guy, and was happy to let John crawl around to his heart’s content. After an hour or so, I thought John was going to burst, he was so excited. It turns out we were looking at a very solid bus that had been imported from California the previous year and despite the rather iffy paint on the outside was very original on the inside.

After a brief test drive, the deal was done and in doing so I managed to cover the cost of John’s inspection which was a bit of a result. I agreed with Paul that I’d pick the bus up the following Saturday, which coincidentally happened to be my birthday (happy birthday to me!!). Driving back, I felt pretty numb – it really hadn’t sunk in that I’d just bought a ’71 Westy! Joh on the other hand was ridiculously excited – If you hadn’t bought that, I’d have bought it for myself! was one of the gems he came out with – so at least I could be confident it was a pretty good bus for the money!

Unfortunately the weather the following weekend was the complete opposite of the previous weekend, and heavy snow was predicted for Pennine areas from midday on. My other half wasn’t particularly excited at the prospect of the early start, but it was my birthday so she couldn’t grumble too much! By the time we’d arrived at Fleetwood the rain had started, so it was a question of jumping in the van and getting back before the snow came down. The wipers worked, which was great, but they struggled to cope with the rain that was by now freezing on the windscreen and making seeing anything pretty tricky! And I had no de-icer! Fortunately the nearest petrol station wasn’t too far away so I wasn’t stresed about it for too long. But the thought of snow on the M62 was still lingering at the back of my mind…..

I needn’t have worried though, because the rest of the journey was a breeze – despite some snow falling – but getting used to the fairly hefty amount of play in the steering box was something of a challenge! She’s now tucked up, safe and warm, waiting for the weather to improve so I can get some cleaning done. Whilst we’re waiting for the Spring to come, John will need to do a couple of minor jobs, like replacing the front screen seal, and she’ll need some new curtains (am having to be very nice to my mother in the hope she’ll get the sewing machine out!), but once that little lot is sorted we’ll be ready to get out there and enjoy the Spring!

I’ve now had the birth certificate back from Wolfsburg (who are very cheeky and put the price up by €16!!) and she was built on the 19th March 1971. Destined for San Antonio she was originally painted Pastelweiß and fitted with a Westfalia camping conversion (although I haven’t figured out yet whether she’s an SO69 or a Campmible 70). And after 40 years in California, she’s now living in sunny Yorkshire!!

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