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.