Shawn Marsters 1969 Bay Window camper
“The jury was out when I first saw the bus” Shawn said. When Shawn viewed the bus it was parked on the side of the road, covered with melting snow with a nice oil slick pattern under it.
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1969 Bay Window camper
Most vehicles bought start on a forum thread, don’t they? This 1969 Bay Window camper’s story certainly did. Shawn Marsters, the owner of this early bay window camper tells me, “I was bored and was scrolling through the VZI for sale section when I saw the advert for the bus and arranged to view it. That turned into me collecting it a week later and I have had it since 20th December 2012”.
However the story started a little before that – Shawn explains to me, “I had my first bus, a 70 early bay back in 2003 but had to sell it to fund a more usable car when I got posted to Scotland with work. Before that I had always had beetles etc... I soon found out buses were better to sleep in and since then I have been hooked.
“I had just gotten back after doing 4 months in Afghanistan with the RAF, I had managed to save up a little bit of money, the shopping out there wasn’t all that and was looking to do something with it. Everyone else used their money to put deposits down on new cars. I already had a car I was happy with plus a 1969 Beetle so another vehicle wasn’t high on my list. This was probably the first time this happened, but definitely wasn’t the last, I got bored and started browsing forums, just seeing if there were any bargains out there. The rest like they say is history”.
“The jury was out when I first saw the bus” Shawn said. When Shawn viewed the bus it was parked on the side of the road, covered with melting snow with a nice oil slick pattern under it. The inside absolutely stunk of damp / mold and the makeshift tinted windows were dripping with condensation inside. Not the best start.
“The owner took me for a spin in it, it ran but kept stalling, the seller told me they all do that before they warm-up”, later it turned out the accelerator pump diaphragm was shot and one of the HT leads wasn’t on the plug correctly. Most people turn round and leave around now. Any person in the right mind would have walked away and rightly so but the more Shawn looked at it the more he started to think with a bit of work it could be good fun. It was mostly cosmetic and some mechanical bits, easy hey.
First thing Shawn did was spend an entire week removing the grey primer that covered the original paint, using several different methods, t-cut, wet and dry, razor blade, polish. “At the end of the week, I had no fingerprints left as I had worn them down. But the end results were worth it, the blue really came out, a nice looking bus that stunk inside, leaked oil and didn’t run right”.
When I purchased the bus, it had a narrowed and 8” lifted front beam with front tubs and notches. The rear had also been notched and 4” horseshoe plates fitted. Since then patinated over riders have been fitted, the correct deluxe trim sourced, air shocks front and rear with compressors under the front seat, gives about 1” lift – every little help. All but front window rubbers have been changed and deluxe trim installed.
The interior has also been done, including new ply panels, custom decorated, new ply roof liner, rear bench seat removed from the back and made to fit front, laminated flooring, Propex heater and leisure battery with USB points and lights fitted. The Rusty Lee rock and roll bed was also fitted as well as custom self-made seat covers and curtains, made from an old duvet cover and borrowed sewing machine from trusty mum. Shawn said, “I was just trying to think of something fun and different to do. I appreciate a well-built interior by some well-known names in the business but they kind of all look a bit same. I didn’t want that”. Plus, being cheap and cheerful they can be changed when wanted.
The 15 inches Batted chrome 356 replicas have been fitted, 4.5” on the front and 5.5” on the back. As well as a full overhaul for the engine and running gear; it’s now a 1914 TP type 1 motor, built by Hector Howes with 110 cam, lightweight lifters, 1:25 pro street rocker assemblies, standard crank, big valve 044 heads which have been ported and polished by Hector. As well as that the added bonus of Twin weber 40’s with polished and ported manifolds and full flow oil system with remote cooler and fan, estimated to be 100bhp. The gearbox has been converted to a 6 rib but next on the cards will be an engine and box raise along with rear tubs and rather than the 6 rib box a custom-built beetle box will be made.
I asked Shawn what his best and worst experience with the bus has been, this was his reply; “best experience was either using it to go to Ninove in 2018, the furthest show I have been to it in or winning an award for the best camper in 2019, after years of owning it, this is the first time I have won anything, must have entered it into 100+ show and shines, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Some people are just flat out rude about it and worst is either hitting a raised manhole cover on a road being resurfaced and ripping the engine brace bar out, this resulted in the engine basically falling out, a jack-up and some makeshift straps had it holding in till I limped back home or when someone filled my fuel tank with sugar in July 2013, the night before I set off for bug jam. We managed to drain the tank, fit inline filters and use it nonetheless”.
“Whether it’s popping to the shops, using it for work or just going to the coast for a bag of chips when driving it I enjoy not being in a rush to get anywhere and the clear roads in front of me, mainly as all the traffic is stuck behind me”.
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