With the focus on making posters for my bus exhibition for MG Awareness, I completely forgot that it was to be the VW bus maiden voyage in Great Britain.
Which meant it was also my first time driving it !!!! How could I have overlooked that minor detail? And it was over 100 miles from the Bedford area to Grill-n-Chill at The Hop Farm in Kent …
On that drive down the M1, M25, M20 and a little country road (of which I do not know the number because every time I slowed for a traffic light or roundabout, the engine cut out!!) I discovered this VW is nothing like my smooth 1971 VW Westfalia. This Brazilian built split window has a different everything: engine, brakes, gear positions, pedal positions and angle, steering, seats, steering wheel position, noise insulation, windows, mirrors; and it has NO rear view mirror and NO heat.
What does all that mean in practice?????
- it loves to go into reverse gear instead of 2nd!!!
- you have to REALLY step on the brakes because they are drum brakes and neither are they power assisted as in my 71 Westfalia
- the braking distance is twice as far!
- the clutch pedal is so steep my arthritic left knee no longer feels the pain because it’s dead!
- the steering is baggy, baggy, baggy (where did you say the white line was?)
- the driver’s seat is so low that the steering wheel becomes a boob carrier
- the steering wheel is so high it almost hits yer chin!
- the lack of insulation anywhere in the van, means the engine noise is amplified in the cargo space and is deafeningly loud
- the lack of ventilation up to the front windscreen means I need to open windows
- the windows slide so it’s a new manoeuvre instead of turning a handle (just one more thing to learn as I’m driving as fast as I can to get to the show in Kent)
- the mirrors are small circular things that show almost nothing behind
- the lack of a rear view mirror is positively dangerous as I have to turn around each time I need to change lanes (but at least I have no blind spots in a 15 window bus)
- without heat it is so cold to drive in the English weather!!!!
BUT … despite all of the above ….
- I did make it to the Grill-n-Chill VW Show at The Hop Farm in Kent
- it’s amazing, as with all VWs, there is just something about them that captures your heart !!!!
P.S. This story also published on sister site VW4causes (Vehicles Working for Causes) at http://vw4causes.org/2012/09/25/a-3rd-to-celebrate-driving-a-vw-bus-on-its-maiden-voyage/ … with more photos and chatter on using the 15 window bus to tell an important story
Filed under: Driving, Spontaneous joy, VW Engines, VW Family, VW media Tagged: | 15 window, bird poop, brakes, Carole Brown, classic, driving a VW bus, engine, gears, Great Britain, Grill-n-Chill, Kent, maiden voyage, rear view mirror, split window bus, The Hop Farm, vintage, vintage VW, Vintage VW clubs, VW