Best use of money

Discussion in 'Buying a VW Camper' started by idris, Sep 15, 2014.

  1. I've owned a classic car before and don't want to go down the route of restoring a bus myself. Been there: done that, wore the t-shirt out, and tore it up for rags. I don't have to get greasy with my sensibly priced 10yr old, boring family hatchback, and I don't believe it should be necessary with a bus as long as I start with the right budget and the right bus.

    There's a huge the range of prices on eBay and in classifieds, that claim to be for very similar vehicles. And there doesn't seem to be much difference between late bays or early splits at the top and bottom end of the market.

    We went to Busfest and spoke to several restoration firms but none were prepared to suggest a sensible budget either for a full metal and mechanical restoration, or for buying a bus to start with. It was all teeth sucking and "it's wouldn't like to say, mate."

    So I reckon I either start with a cheap rusty heap and pay a shed load for a full restoration, or pay a shed load for a shiny bus and hope the maintenance is cheap.

    But what is a sensible budget for both scenarios?

    (I'm perfectly happy to fit out the interior myself, as long as I have a bus that will sail through an MOT for several years without even anything "advisory", presuming it gets serviced properly.)
  2. Silver

    Silver Needs points/will pay!

    Mattlad likes this.
  3. What would you expect to pay someone else to do all the metal/mechanicals/MOT for on a £2.5k bus?
  4. It varies depending on bus, bit of an impossible question to answer really. You could buy a mint one for 12k, then find out it's made of chicken wire and filler.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2014
  5. Baysearcher

    Baysearcher [secret moderator]

    Buy one someone else has already restored.
    Unless you're minted.
    Mattlad likes this.
  6. Silver

    Silver Needs points/will pay!

    It would still end up costing you 10K but you would know what you've got for sure. Providing you keep a close eye on the works and find a good restorer, or welder then paint sprayer. Buying the cheaper one and fixing it up is like buying in instalments, you don't get the benefit straight away, but spread the costs.

    If I did another bus, I'd get a better base vehicle i.e import and then sort the paint and mechanics only. Welding is like opening a can of worms!
    Mattlad likes this.
  7. I agree with the above / once your in for x grand either restoring a van and no end in sight you'd wish you'd spent the cash on one that works - just buy very carefully and take advice.
  8. Been there, done that ...

    Define "minted".

    This is my usual philosophy.
    Is £10k a sensible resto budget for a £2.5k bus?
    If you imported, would you expect to pay more or less to get on the road, or is it just a case if less hassle?
  9. I thought so. I'm at 9500 so far, look at my resto if you wanna see how far that got me hahahahahahahaha
    idris likes this.
  10. My advice would be to buy a solid original bus that has not been painted or messed about with - it will probably be left hand drive.

    Don't buy a wreck & get someone restore it as it will end up costing you a fortune

    Don't buy a bus that has already been restored, as it will probably be full of filler anyway, but you would be paying more for the filler as it is nice and shiny, UNLESS you see loads of photos showing that the bus was nice and rust free before being restored.

    Good solid unmessed with buses are out there, although you may have to search.

    I have seen SO, SO many people caught out buying overpriced 'restored' buses that need restoring again after a couple of years when the filler starts to crack & the rust that's been painted over starts to come through again.
    Beaver and Moons like this.
  11. Moons

    Moons Moderator

    Buy an American dry state or SA/Oz bus in the first place would be my advice.

    £10k for something that needs welding and paint is not enough I believe - if the starter bus is an old Marmiteter.
  12. Baysearcher

    Baysearcher [secret moderator]

    It depends what you want.
    If you want show quality I doubt £10k would get you close.
    If you want useable it would be.
    It probably won't be as good as a 12.5k well done bus though imho.
  13. Baysearcher

    Baysearcher [secret moderator]

    There are plenty of well restored buses out there where someone else has taken the hit on cost.
    Agree you need plenty of photos though.
  14. you'll pay thru the nose for an unmolested, original, rot free import, that needs little or no stated before, a dry state import is less likely to need lots of welding (the most expensive aspect of restoration)...10K will go a long way on mechanicals, electrics, interior and ancilliaries (seals etc.)
  15. sANDYbAY

    sANDYbAY On benefits-won't sponsor!

    It might be worth talking to @Top Banana Racing who has imported vans from South Africa and you may be able to do a deal with him.
    I personally, knowing what I now know about vans, would be very very very very very suspicious of a freshly refurbished shiny van.
    Lasty likes this.
  16. sANDYbAY

    sANDYbAY On benefits-won't sponsor!

    Oh, and if you do need to get any welding done don't go anywhere near anyone who welds VW's for a living. Find a good jobbing welder and you can get good welding done without the scene tax.
  17. I was working on one last week. Early x-over owned by lady-someone-or-other for it's first 20 years. Lady Muck only used it once a year to go to the South of France and garaged it with the Bently the rest of the time. It's a time wharp underneath with bits of rubber I didn't even know existed, all like new still/ A real beauty, RHD OG Dormobile and if it's ever been welded, I certainly couldn't find evidence. £13K 6 months ago.

    Resto on a £2.5K bus? £15K if the restorer actually made a living while doing it, then you still don't have an interior and the engine might blow up next week. As Baysearcher suggests, the bargains are the ones the owners had to sell after getting into too much debt paying for restoration.

    And as sandybay suggests, be very, very wary of newly painted. Could be superb, could be quickest route to a paintable surface, or anywhere in between.
    idris and tyke2 like this.
  18. Arse. :) And utter plums if I might say so.
    paradox and brothernumberone like this.
  19. I don't think know this wasn't directed at you.
    But to be fair Steve, you're on of the, very small, minority who both know the scene and do a good job.
    Moons likes this.
  20. I think that's also unfair. The trouble TBH is that if anyone "scene" or otherwise quotes properly, the job is patently not worth doing. If you do this work, you either charge for 1/3 of the hours, or take 101 short cuts to come in within an acceptable budget, or get no work and do something else. Just because something costs a "lot" doesn't make it a rip-off.

    BTW if you're learning to drive, don't use a proper instructor they charge a fortune, you can get your mate or a relative to teach you for far far less. :)

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