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During a night out having a few pints with my son Finn on the NC500, he and I chatted about camper vans and surfers. VW campers are iconic vehicles and we saw and got stuck behind one or two labouring around the beautiful NC500 coastline roads but nevertheless we couldn’t help admire them sitting on the beach while their owners sat outside them or were enjoying a beach somewhere. What if we were to build one – how would we do it and could we make it better? And so Project Betty was born…

We decided: –

1. It had to have a Porsche engine to make it easier to drive and faster.
2. It had to be minimalistic – no fridge, oven or other “niceties” just simple clean and easy to use.
3. It had to stand out and be an advertisement for what Porsche Jasmine could do.

So the search began for a Betty and an engine!!

After 6 months of searching and a few false starts we located a second generation of the Volkswagen Type 2 (T2), built in Germany in 1972. Our car is a T2a (or “Early Bay”).

The second generation VW, ‘Bay Window’ model replaced the ‘Split Screen’ in 1967. It was a radical rethink with changes such as ball joint front suspension, rather than king and link pin. Independent rear suspension (IRS) was fitted instead of reduction boxes and swing-arms, a one-piece windscreen, wind down cab windows . Engines were fitted with a ‘back bar’ to stabilize the engine. In fact just about every body panel and mechanical part was changed.

In 1969 New front axle, fuel tank was hidden behind a bulkhead, door handles were changed.

1971 to 72 Introduction of front disc brakes and new rear brakes. Also the introduction of the small 5 stud wheels with flat hubcaps.

In 1972 Bodywork changes included flared front and rear wheel arches. Tall rear lights, with reverse lights as an optional extra. This year also saw the introduction of the 1.7L flat Type 4 style engine with twin carbs. There were some vehicles with early style arches and disc brakes. A few of the late ‘72 vehicles have high front indicators and ‘73 on front panels but still have the wrap around style front and rear bumpers.

Our shell vehicle – is exactly that – a shell, a blank canvas. It is a pretty rare car as a T2a and has benefitted from an extensive rebuild and repaint in white over blue. There is still a lot of work to do including: –

  • Engine bay strengthening to take a heavier Porsche engine to achieve our objective of more power and speed.
  • We need to renew all the windows and replace some louvre windows with clean glass.
  • We don’t have a roof!! So we plan to commission a new Perspex roof that we can raise for additional height.
  • We have no interior so need to think our open canvass with respect to our second objective of minimistic and simple.
  • We need to respray and chrome the car and find some great wheels and tyres to differentiate our Betty from the rest and so achieve our third objective of standing out from the rest.

Our engine? Well we have one! An early 70’s 2.7. The engine needs a lot of work so given things quieten down at Jasmine PorschaLink UK over winter we plan to strip the engine down and rebuild it. We will also change the ignition system to twin carburettors, remove the old points and fit electronic ignition to make the car easier to drive and more reliable. But there is a lot of structural work to do in the engine bay to help mount the engine and we need new running gear and stopping gear to safely bring this beast to a halt!!

Stage 1:

Strengthening of the engine bay, to enable Betty to carry the heavier Porsche 2.7 911 engine…

Stage 2:

Now the engine bay is structurally sound and ready to take the Porsche engine, it is time for Betty to go in for paint…

Stage 3:

Decisions are yet to be made on the colour… Betty needs a change from the vibrant blue, into a more subtle hue, suited to her age.  She will most probably stay on the blue spectrum, but which shade will Betty be reborn in?  Watch this space for the big reveal!

Stage 4:

Betty is finally back from the bodyshop and after having a full respray in Porsche Metallic Baltic Blue and panoramic roof fabricated and installed.  The next stage will be to marry up our Porsche 911 2.7 Flat Six Engine and Gearbox to the already custom made and fitted mounts.

Stage 5:

Change of plan… After fitting the 2.7 Engine and Gearbox to Betty, a lovely Porsche 911 2.7RS Replica came in for recommissioning.  This 911 however was fitted with a 3.2 litre engine. Whilst discussing the options with the 911 owner, we agreed, upon the customers request to exchange his 3.2 engine for our 2.7 engine.  Now Betty would benefit from a later air-cooled engine.

Stage 6:

The dashboard was sent off for painting and refitted upon return.  Whilst waiting for the dashboard the suspension system was overhauled and lowered with new components.  The suspension beam was also narrowed by 4″.  New brake discs and pads were fitted all round.

Stage 7:

New front and rear Chrome bumpers fitted.  Oil tank, oil cooler and oil pipes sourced, fabricated and fitted ready for the 3.2 Engine.

Stage 8:

Boxster seats are now fitted, along with a period 70’s steering wheel.  A new steering boss was fabricated and also fitted.  The gear stick was sourced, fitted and fabricated to suit our gearbox.

Stage 9:

Betty is fitted with the 3.2 Engine. All the starting and charging sytem is wired up along with the injection system.   Fuel pump is fitted and the fuel system is piped up.  

Stage 10:

A new one-off custom made Stainless Steel rear silencer/exhaust is fitted to Betty to suit the engine requirements for both flow and sound!

Stage 11:

Betty is now fitted with Porsche Original 15″ Fuchs Wheels and Continental Tyres and the front area is carpet lined.  Now Betty is fully running and externally complete, the remainder of the interior can be designed and fitted to create a lovely bespoke Campervan.

Stage 12:

Adding a touch of modern day technology, a bluetooth amplifier has been fitted – enabling streaming of music and USB charging.  A split charge leisure battery has also been fitted to enable Betty to be used off-grid. 

The interior panels have been sound-deadened using reflective insulated materials to make a more comfortable and quieter ride.  Door panels have been made and covered in bespoke period fabric.

Reclaimed oak planks have been used to clad the floor and make a useful cabinet with useable worktop.