Charlie was at the cover of February 2010 issue of Volksworld Camper & Bus.
Here are the copies of the pages where Charlie was published.
Please scroll down to read the article.
Words James Peene, Pics Dan Pullen
We’ve all done it – gone into a shop for one thing and come out with something entirely different. Shaun Knight did exactly that while looking for a Camper and bought this special edition Microbus instead
Okay, first things first, I apologise about the title of this feature. Champagne Supernova is one of my all time favourite tracks off one of my all time favourite albums and once it popped inside my head there was simply no shifting it – so it stayed, in all its (What’s the story, morning) glory. I will, however, make no apologies for the rest of this feature. I’m going to out myself (in automotive terms, of course) and state here and now that I love this Bus. Around the office I’ve been accused of favouring Early Bays, which I suppose is fair dos and something I can hardly argue about, but I’ve noticed I’m starting to take a lot more notice of Late Bays lately. Don’t get me wrong, there’s never been anything wrong with post 72 Bays, but I’ve always been an ‘earlier is better type of guy’ and it would have taken a very special late model indeed to turn my head, like, let’s say a Champagne Edition Microbus. In fact, in our 2008 Vanfest show report I took a picture of one and said I would have swapped the Panzerfaust for it – no foolin’. Then the owner of this Champagne Edition sent me an email saying “I just wanted to introduce you to my Special Edition Champagne Micro Bus ‘Frank’. I was looking through some back issues of your magazine and noticed a photo in the December issue of one you spotted.” Having flipped my wig for the one I saw at Vanfest it was a no-brainer that I’d want to feature this minty-mint example.
Owned by Shaun Knight from Norfolk since April, it wasn’t the model he was looking for at all. Shaun has been into VWs for more than 10 years now and in all that time he had always wanted to own a Camper. He says, “My wife Hayley and I went to view a right-hand drive Aussie import in Sussex with all the spec we wanted, ie pop-top and full camping interior etc. But that Bus turned out to be more rotten than we’d hoped. However, on the way home we popped into another VW dealer in Colchester and he had this Champagne Edition masked up in the spray booth ready to receive a coat of primer. We took a look inside and were blown away by the condition of it, with all its original trim and seats, etc, being in perfect order, it was also really solid and the only welding it needed was a battery tray. We made our minds up there and then that we would have it, even though it didn’t tick any of the boxes we set out with – it was a Microbus, there was no pop-top and no camping interior.”
What they had stumbled upon though was a very rare and arguably a very cool beast. For those who’ve never heard of them before, Champagne Editions were made for VW of America between 1977 and 1978. They were designed to bolster flagging sales of Late Bay Windows in the US and were available as Microbuses, like this one, or based on Westfalia Campers – and for an example of one of those you need to check out a back issue of our October 2008 issue.
Vehicles built in 77 are known as a CE I and those built in 78 CEII. Shaun’s Bus was first registered in 1979 so is a CE II model (model code S765) and was finished in Fox Red and Datenut Brown. To really make the exterior pop, it came from the factory adorned with those snazzy stripes along the lower section and chrome bumpers with rubber centre strips. To compliment all this, VW fitted a (word I don’t use often) groovy two-tone Beige and Sienna corduroy interior.
Shaun says, “We had every intention of changing the colour and putting a camping interior in it at first, but after much humming and hah-ing and some research we realised it would be criminal to alter it, so we took a deep breath and decided it should keep its original colours and stripes!” I for one certainly think they made the right choice here.
Shaun continues, “The work started, and once I’d decided that taking it back to bare metal would be the best thing to do, the strip-down began. The windows came out, all the paint came off and then the only replacement panel the Bus needed – a new battery tray – went in. All of the little dents and knocks the Bus had picked up over the course of its life were pinned out and filled and then I blocked the bodywork before the fresh paint went on.”
Shaun used to be a panel beater and painter by trade, so none of this held any fear for him. And neither did applying the stripes. They’re a perfect match to the originals. With the help of Dissigns, templates were made from them before they were removed and the new colours were taken from the original shades from inside the sliding door as they hadn’t faded over the years.
This special edition left the factory with a fuel-injected 2-litre engine and Shaun saw no reason to tamper with it. Unlike the suspension. The lads at Type Two Detectives gave it a little tickle and lowered the front two inches. That’s not a lot by today’s standards, but was enough to level the ride height out as the rear had sagged a little with age.
With the Bus sitting pretty and with all the bodywork taken care of, Shaun says, “The wife then took over with the curtains and final details.” Mercifully, the carpets and upholstery are still in A1 condition, and I say mercifully because can you image trying to find replacements for any of this little lot?
Perhaps it’s for this very reason that Shaun often switches the middle seat for a Devon table – usability and preservation?
All in, everything was completed over the course of just eight weekends’ work! The MoT was a breeze and the CE sailed straight through it.
Shaun and his family might have wanted a Camper to begin with, and they weren’t even sure about the unusual colour scheme, but they struck gold with this Microbus. Shaun says, “Since completion we have used it nearly every weekend for day trips to the beach, etc. The kids just love it and with their beach gear loaded in the Bus at all times, we just hop in and go!” And you can’t ask for more than that, can you?
PS: The headings which do not exist in the original article are added later to make the reading easier.
You could find the german page about the same article here.